Staff Writer
GLASSBORO — When it finished, Steve Scanlon stood in the end zone here at Rowan University’s Richard Wackar Stadium as he detailed the cogent points. None were more valid than that which spoke to the condition of his Clearview High School football players, white-clad and worn out.
“A man’s game pays a man’s price,” the third-year coach said. “Mike Ancona, that was a man’s touchdown.”
The quiet quarterback sheepishly shrugged, his stoic expression nearly unchanged. Ancona, the embodiment of what Scanlon’s program seems to be patched together with — determination, toughness and poise — stood the hero here Friday night.
His 29-yard touchdown run proved the double-overtime winner in a 14-7 victory over rival Kingsway.
“I saw their linebacker come in the backside B-gap, so I knew I was going to pull it and loop back around to our A-gap,” Ancona said as he recalled a similar situation earlier. “It was there. I was pretty surprised, actually.”

Quarterback Mike Ancona scored in double overtime to help lead Clearview to a 14-7 victory over rival Kingsway. (Glory Days photo/Mark Trible)

The final total ran along a similar vein of shock, given how the two teams began. No one scratched the scoreboard until Elias Collins put the Dragons on top with a 16-yard dash early in the fourth quarter.
Penalties, turnovers, wasted drives and lack of attention to detail wrote the tale prior Collins’ sprint.
Ancona and his Pioneers (1-0) responded later in the frame. After a shanked punt with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left set them up at the 23-yard line, the 5-foot-9 senior found Rashann Thompkins. On the short drive’s first snap, Thompkins broke open along the left seam and reeled in the toss to knot things at 7-7.
Missed field goals came from each side in the first extra stanza. After a loss of four on first down in the second overtime’s first possession, Ancona got through the line. He twisted away from defenders and headed to the right pylon.
In he went, with a dive to be sure.
An incompletion on a later fourth down for Kingsway (0-1) sent the result to bed and the Coaches Trophy back with the green-and-gold.
“Oh my gosh, it’s Week Zero and instead of college where they’re playing ‘Directional State D-II,’ we’re playing a Group 5 playoff team with great college coaches and former college players,” Scanlon said. “And they showed it tonight. What a tough opponent out of the gate.
“That was a warrior’s game.”
If that’s what it was, Ancona played the part well. He threw an interception in the first half, only to redeem himself with a pick of his own on the next drive at the goal line.
He limped on a left leg injury sustained earlier in the game, one his coach suggested others might not play through.
“Mike Ancona?” Thompkins asked rhetorically. “Real tough. Tough kid. Lowers his shoulder a lot. He does anything we need him to and he gets the job done.”
The 6-foot-4, 240-pound Thompkins also helped finish the task. He turned it on at his defensive end spot after halftime to prove why Central Michigan, Kent State and Monmouth have come calling.
He relished the defeat of the Dragons in this new-look grudge match. Moved up from Thanksgiving morning to the first dawn of the schedule and played at Rowan due to construction at Kingsway, the Battle of 322 stood as a focus all offseason for 2018’s South Jersey Group 4 runner-up.
Scanlon hammered it home with his speech. He touched on the importance of such an early-season result. No matter the path, each ‘W’ holds equal value.
His leader proved again why he’s built to find that letter.
“He was starting his first game at 14 for me as a sophomore,” Scanlon explained. “He is the embodiment. We call him ‘The Terminator’ in the weight room. I don’t think he’s ever failed at a set we’ve set him for.
“Somebody’s going to get a phenomenal football player. I’m just glad they don’t have him yet.”
Ancona elaborated on the essence of a roster that his coach believes he embodies.
“We’re not the fastest or the tallest or have the most D-I recruits, but we’re together and that’s all that matters,” Ancona detailed, a mere seven days prior to his 17th birthday. “We build on being together. It drives us to play with each other and win games like this.”
He hobbled to the sideline where the pristine silver football trophy got its turns for photo ops.
It shone brilliantly under the lights.
Minutes before, so had Ancona — in a way the Pioneers seem to expect and know best.
Mark Trible is a former sports reporter for the Courier-Post in Cherry Hill and one of the most popular high school writers in South Jersey. Follow Mark: @Mtrible on Twitter;