South Jersey Glory Days Football Writer

BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Late in the fourth quarter here in the South Jersey Football Frenzy Show Game of the Week, St. Augustine Prep faced a 4th-and-1 at the Millville 16-yard line

Down 14-7, the Hermits needed three feet to keep the drive alive.

In the blink of an eye, Thunderbolts defensive end Jayden Jones picked up the ball and took a trip far down the sideline in front of his teammates and a throng of fans soon to break out into their “O! B! G!” chorus.

The play proved emblematic of the 21-7 win and the No. 1 team in the South Jersey Glory Days Best 11 rankings. No matter what skills and stars Millville (3-1) possesses on offense, its bedrock is the on the other side of the ball.

“All we need is us,” senior safety Kyon Conyers said. “All we need is a defense. We’ve got a bond.

“Everything’s clicking.”

Down 7-0 in the first quarter due to Tristan McLeer’s bruiser of a run that covered 29 yards for No. 3 St. Augustine (2-2, 1-1 West Jersey Football League American), the Thunderbolts never wavered. They could have after a fourth-down conversion late in the first half went incomplete.

And when Julian Onesti’s interception at the 7:58 mark of the third quarter thwarted a solid Millville drive, an upset chance lingered in the air.

That lasted all of two plays.

The second of which ended with an interception in the hands of Conyers. The senior Thunderbolts captain turned momentum with his pilfer.

The next snap resulted in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Jacob Zamot to Ta’Ron Haile and a failed extra point. With a 7-6 lead, the Hermits’ offense returned to the field.

Three plays and five yards later, they left again.

A short punt set up Millville at the Prep 30. On the first play of the fourth quarter, coach Humberto Ayala made a risky call. Faced with 4th-and-6 at the 15, he called for an outside zone run with Na’eem Sharp.

“It’s win or go home,” Sharp said of his mentality. “I had to make a big play there for my team.”

Sharp picked up nine. With a fast tempo, the team gave it to Sharp again and he scored. The two-point try succeeded and the teams traded empty possessions before that final Hermit march.

It lasted 12 plays and spanned 48 yards. Most of that came on the legs of the tough, rugged Julian Turney — he finished with 86 yards on 23 totes.

But yet again, the field shrinks and someone must actually cross the goal line. Therein lies the rub against the Thunderbolts (3-1, 2-0 WJFL American).

Last year, many on this same roster claimed the Group 4 state championship. The defense answered the call in that run too — its final three playoff games were won by scores of 18-16, 18-14 and 18-14.

“We’re a really good defense,” Ayala said. “People are looking for us to put up 50, 60 points a game. If we’re complementing our defense with some offense and we’re in battles and are able to sustain drives, control the clock, there’s nothing wrong with that.”

Conyers’ ability to play physically from his safety spot against the heavy-run attack proved critical throughout. He knows his frame may be slight at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds — but that’s not indicative of his play.

“That’s what they think they’re going to do, look at me!” Conyers said. “I’m not that big, but guess what? I’ve got heart.”

That heart showed itself in each of what they call their “1/11th” of the defense. From Conyers’ interception to A’Cear Cornish’s ragdoll throw a navy-blue foe.

And there goes Jones, down the sideline, his team back to the win column — a place they know all too well and never tire of.

“We’ve got everybody circled on our schedule,” Cornish said. “We get them, they don’t come get us.

“We’re the hunters.”

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