By MARK TRIBLE

South Jersey Glory Days Football Writer

WOOLWICH TOWNSHIP — If there is any question about what Delsea’s football team wants to accomplish this season or how it expects to do it, postgame reaction here on Friday night answered it all.

After a 26-21 road victory over Kingsway in the TurnersvilleJeep.com Game of the Week, the Crusaders (4-0) and their coaches stewed on the effort. No one came close to a grin.

“I think they’re kids and they’re buying in to the old Nick Saban cliché, the ‘rat poison,’” coach Sal Marchese said. “The being ranked so high, you’re this you’re that and you hear all this stuff and it doesn’t mean a thing until the end of the season.

“But until you get to that point it doesn’t mean anything. It’s the process of getting better each day.”

Marchese and his players lamented their Thursday practice effort. They also were upset with the lack of emotion under Friday’s lights.

“We have no emotion and no fire to us right now,” senior star fullback and linebacker Jared Schoppe said. “And it’s showing out on the field.”

Schoppe scored three times on the night. He put the game away with a 5-yard run late in the fourth quarter to make it 26-14 — although the Dragons (2-2) would punch in a late score to get within range.

An onside kick recovery and one first down put it away for Delsea, ranked No. 2 in the South Jersey Football Frenzy Show/Glory Days Best 11. 

The final few minutes on offense were solid enough to escape with a win. Oddly enough, this contest teetered back and forth with golden opportunities wasted for each side.

Neither club really felt positive about the performance they’d left on the field.

“We didn’t execute during the game, we had way too many mistakes,” Delsea lineman Ashton Blose said. “It was a lot closer than it had to be.”

Schoppe’s two touchdown runs in the first half put the Crusaders in good shape with a 14-7 intermission edge. After Wayne Adair took a Zach Maxwell pass and rolled 30 yards to pay dirt with 5 minutes, 13 seconds left in the third quarter, it seemed the visitors had a hold on things.

Three plays later, Darrell Brown Jr. took a Nate Maiers pass and went across the field for a 62-yard score to make it 20-14.

Delsea’s next drive crept down to Kingsway’s 18-yard line at the end of the third frame. The first snap in the fourth ended up with a strip and recovery for the Dragons.

But any momentum that had swung to the home side ended on third and long when Blose sacked Maiers, who needed more time to hit Brown downfield.

“I knew what move I was hitting before the play, the ball was snapped and I just executed,” Blose said. “It was a huge play. I stunted outside and went back inside … he was oversetting me all day.”

While likely lost in the scoresheet, that snap loomed large. The Crusaders got possession after a punt and marched on a short field — 36 yards in 6:30 — to snuff out most of the fourth quarter.

Schoppe’s touchdown capped it on 4th-and-1 at the 5-yard line. He went for 116 yards on 23 carries, per Kevin Minnick of NJ.com.

He acted as if he hadn’t gained a yard.

That said enough about the 2022 Delsea football team. To win South Jersey and state titles, those are the goals — not midseason rankings.

The promised land is far away from here. Both in time and in the way the Crusaders performed on Friday. To a man, they spelled that out.

“We’re a timing offense and we have to execute on offense,” Marchese said of his squad’s Wing-T identity. “When you’re not focused and you’re making mistakes, you’re going to come back the next night and make the same mistakes.

“We’re very fortunate to win the game and play a subpar game. I don’t want to take anything away from Kingsway. They’re a great program, a well-coached team, (coach Mark Hendricks) does a helluva job and they don’t make many mistakes. But we just didn’t play well. And I think a lot of that is buying in that we’re better than we really are. We have got to get better and concentrate on the little things that will make us a great team at the end of the year, which is what matters.”

Mark Trible is a special high school football writer for South Jersey Glory Days. You can follow him on Twitter @MTrible. Also, catch his high school football show (The South Jersey Football Frenzy Show) every Wednesday at 7 p.m. at facebook.com/sjglorydays, and his “Hat’s Off” Podcast every Sunday at 9 a.m.