HOLBROOK — Any time Cardinal Spellman needed a big play Friday night, it got one, on both sides of the ball. There was little St. Mary’s could do to quell the Cardinals’ explosive rushing attack or break through their impenetrable defensive line.
In the end, nothing would deny Spellman coach Ron St. George his 270th career victory — the fifth coach in state history to reach the total, tying former Savio and Austin Prep coach Bill Maradei — as his Cardinals dismantled the visiting Spartans, 35-14, in the Catholic Central Large matchup.
“Any win is special,” said St. George. “Obviously it’s an indication of my longevity but there aren’t too many guys who are in the 270s. I’m just happy with the win period.”
More impressive than the offensive output was Spellman’s defensive fortitude. The Cardinals (3-0) limited the Spartans’ starting offense to just 167 total yards, including 36 in the second half before both teams emptied their benches.
Spellman collected 11 tackles for loss with seniors Ayden Doyle (three) and Steve McBrine (2 TFLs, 1 QB hit, 1 sack) leading the way.
“We’re a 4-3 defense and made a lot of adjustments,” said St. George. “Against a team like that if you can’t stop the run against them you’re in trouble. Thankfully we were able to do that.”
The offense got things started early, moving the ball with relative ease before senior Jovan Marrero broke three tackles on a 35-yard rushing touchdown to cap a nine-play drive.
Just 20 seconds later, Spellman doubled the lead when junior Brian Morrill picked off the first pass of the night from St. Mary’s senior quarterback Derek O’Leary and took it 61 yards to the end zone.
“We were able to come up with a turnover at a good time but the turnover also turned into an instant 6 points,” said St. George. “It elevated our play and we took control back at the line of scrimmage.”
The Cardinals added another first-half score following a St. Mary’s touchdown by O’Leary. It took just two minutes for Spellman to march downfield on just four plays, capped by senior Mike Finneran’s 44-yard rush.
In the second half, Rocky Grillone (8 rushes, 119 yards) broke off scoring runs of 20 and 65 yards. Marrero had 114 yards on 10 carries.
“I don’t think I’ve had two kids in the backfield in my 40 years of being a head coach that at any time can take it to the house,” said St. George. “That’s three games in a row now the two have been over 100 yards.”
Dan Shulman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.