Home Sports It starts up front: John Carroll Catholic’s secret to state semifinal success

It starts up front: John Carroll Catholic’s secret to state semifinal success

It starts up front: John Carroll Catholic’s secret to state semifinal success

The pieces to the puzzle for the John Cspanrroll Cspantholic football team have fit just about perfectly in 2022.

Outside of one poor half of football against Cardinal Newman back on Oct. 3, the Rams will enter Friday’s 1S state semifinal against Trinity Cspantholic with confidence and also with good fortune having almost all hands on deck to try to get the job done.

A talented roster has been able to stay on the field together for just about every snap in games that have mattered for John Carroll and head coach Mickey Groody.

As the Rams try to redeem themselves after a 48-0 romp by Trinity Catholic two years ago in a regional championship game, there is reason for John Carroll to believe this time around things will be different.

Veterans on the offensive and defensive lines have been the foundation for the Rams to overpower lessen opponents and win games against teams as skilled as John Carroll is throughout their schedule.

Benjamin High School hosts John Carroll Catholic in a high school football game on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2022 at Benjamin High School in Palm Beach. John Carroll won 24-21.

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The offensive line is led by senior center Austin Shevak, an Ave Maria commit and senior tackle Will Thogersen, a Valparaiso commit, who are both surrounded by others who have emerged as key puzzle pieces throughout the season.

Star freshman tackle Champ Smith, who already has a handful of Power Five offers has often been joined by fellow freshman Quentin Dames but the final member of the current starting crew up front has had the toughest job of any.

Senior Zarious Raiford has had to fill in for senior starting guard Jordan Capraro, who went down with a season-ending foot injury in the Rams’ regular-season finale against Melbourne Central Catholic.

Groody lauded the performance of Raiford jumping right into a position he already had comfort in filling out a position group that has been huge for the success of the team in the postseason.

“He’s a guy that has played the position all year long, he had rotated in with Jordan giving him a breather during the year,” Groody said. “He’s played on the defensive line as well so he’s a guy we knew could step in and he’s done a great job.”

In John Carroll’s 38-7 win over Cardinal Mooney to start the playoffs, the offensive line gave senior quarterback Dawson Maehl time to work and throw for 253 yards and three touchdowns but against Lakeland Christian last week, it was a different story.

The Rams’ offensive line paved the way for junior running back Tony Colebrook to run for 242 yards on a bruising 42 carries in John Carroll’s 14-7 win.

Colebrook’s season high in yards surpassed another game in which the Rams’ offensive line sealed the deal with a late drive as the junior ran for 217 yards in a 24-21 win over Benjamin all the way back in Week 1. Groody knew then that down the road, his offense could win a key game in a similar fashion when they needed it the most.

“The offensive line, they were challenged and we had well over 40 carries on the night and that’s a lot to ask of those guys,” Groody said. “Some of those guys play both ways so it’s not always the easiest thing to do. To end that game with a 5-minute drive, pound the rock and go ahead and just finish the game off with that really showed the will and strength of our guys.”

John Carroll Catholic (10-2) at Trinity Catholic (8-2)

Time: 7 p.m.

Keys to the game: As critical as the offensive line has been for John Carroll, a formidable front for Trinity Catholic leads the way for its offense.

Buoyed by Miami commit Tommy Kinsler at 6-foot-6, 330 pounds, the Celtic offensive line also features 6-foot-6, 285-pound senior and USF commit Brayden Ramey, 6-foot-6, 310-pound senior Jacob Smith and 6-foot-4, 300-pound sophomore Gerrick Gordon.

The unit has paved the way for senior running back Beau Beard to run for 1,241 yards and 20 touchdowns on the season.

Sophomore quarterback Preston Wright has been very efficient when Trinity Catholic does go to the air. Completing over 77 percent of his passes, Wright has thrown 11 touchdowns against two interceptions and the Celtics have not lost when he has played this season.

A talented defense is led by senior defensive lineman Tyler Simms, senior linebacker Donathan Lecorn and a stout secondary duo with junior safety Jeremiah Rhem and sophomore Devontae Grant patrolling the back end.

John Carroll’s defense will have to handle Trinity Catholic’s size advantage and the Rams have the playmakers to do so.

Senior Josh Meltzer in the middle of the front seven is a relentless worker and with four more tackles for a loss last week has 30 on the season.

Auburn commit Wilky Denaud will have tough matchups to encounter and will need to be able to win at the point of attack to allow the likes of sophomore TJ Alford, senior Anthony Ferraro and junior Nico Kelly to clean up plays.

Senior and Lehigh commit Aidan Singleton caught his fifth touchdown of the season last week against Lakeland Christian and while he may not get challenged much in the secondary, he’ll need to make a couple of impact plays to give the Rams energy throughout the game.

Senior kickers Wyatt Dempsey for the Rams and Justin Arroyo for the Celtics have been steady for their teams all season with Dempsey 4-for-4 on field goals and Arroyo 5-for-5 and certainly could have a say in who wins the game if it goes down to the wire.

TCPalm’s pick: John Carroll Catholic 32, Trinity Catholic 30


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