South Jersey Glory Days Football Writer

HADDON TOWNSHIP — Senior Night festivities here at Paul VI High School during Friday’s pregame involved plenty of upperclassmen from the football team, band, cheer and other programs.

By the time all the names were called, a line of students and parents spanned nearly 80 yards of Major Timothy M. Curry Field.

The roll call took a lot more time than it did for the Eagles to take control of the contest.

In just 5 minutes and 50 seconds, Paul VI grabbed a 14-0 lead and cruised the rest of the way in a 20-0 win over Moorestown.

But in victory, the lack of players in that early evening event showed. The Eagles (4-1, 2-1 West Jersey Football League National) held the same edge at intermission as they did at the final whistle.

“I thought we played well,” coach Dennis Scuderi Sr. said. “The thing is, we’re young. We go in at halftime and they think the game is over and it’s not.

“Once these kids establish that killer mentality, I think we’re going to be good.”

Paul VI forced a three-and-out on the first possession and marched the 30-yard short field in three plays to start the scoring. Quarterback Dom Santiago found Jemelle Brown for a touchdown along the right boundary in the end zone with 8:24 left in the first frame.

The next set of downs for the Quakers (4-2, 2-1) ended after three again. This time, sophomore Mo Keshen came off the edge and blocked the punt.

“It was a good highlight, but I’m just playing football,” the 6-foot-2, 220-pound two-way starter on the line said. “I do it for my brothers. The seniors, obviously — it’s their day.”

One of those elder statesmen, Winston Yates, scooped the ball and waltzed 15 yards for six.

The touchdown meant a ton to Yates. His little brother, Anthony, plays for Moorestown. So do many of his childhood friends.

“They’re dealing with some injuries, so he had to step up,” Winston Yates said of his sibling. “We were laughing about it at dinner. I told him I’m not taking it easy on him.

“To score was an extra good feeling. I know all these kids; I wasn’t going to let them get the upper hand. I told the defense how personal this game was for me and how we couldn’t accept a loss today. They took it seriously and showed up today.”

Boy, did they.

Keshen ran roughshod up front. Austin Bailey grabbed an interception. The unit allowed 103 yards — and 74 came on a late drive well after the game stood in any type of doubt. Even then, they forced a turnover on downs at the 6-yard-line to preserve their second consecutive shutout.

“We have a lot of returners and we have really grown as a group,” Keshen said. “I love defense. It’s the way I think. It’s the way I play.”

Santiago, who missed the last two games with a sprained MCL, spoke to Keshen’s ability up front.

“For only being 15, he’s unbelievable,” the 6-foot-4 signal caller said. “I don’t think anyone in our conference or South Jersey can block him 1-on-1.”

Santiago went 9-of-14 in the first half for 132 yards and that touchdown to Brown. His leadership on the field showed. The Eagles missed it in their lone blemish of the year, a 23-7 loss to Seneca.

Moorestown felt that pain here on Friday with John Zohlman out with an injury.

Paul VI took advantage and rolled. Even with a slow second half in the rain, the Eagles were never threatened.

“It’s crazy how time flies,” senior running back Gavin Bunt said. “It feels so good to help contribute to the other seniors to get them a win on their senior night.”

Bunt had the other score of the night, a 12-yard scamper in the second quarter.

Of the three touchdowns in the contest, two went to upperclassmen. But most of this club is green in comparison.

A senior night success on the scoreboard should lead to teachable lessons for those who hope to build a successful new future at Paul VI.

“Everything we talk about is ‘one game doesn’t make a season,’” Scuderi Sr. said. “We take it one game at a time. One down at a time, one series at a time, one quarter at a time, one half at a time.”

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, and his “Hat’s Off” Podcast every Sunday at 9 a.m.