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Upstart St. John's at Prospect Hall wins its debut

September 09, 2002|by BOB PARASILITI

bobp@herald-mail.com

FREDERICK, Md. - If Brandon Monroe needs a nickname as a member of the St. John's-Prospect Hall football team, cast one vote for "Eraser."

First the Vikings' tailback rubbed out Bishop Walsh's defense on Friday. Then he took a few seconds to rub out the myths about the St. John's program.

"We are not just a first-year program," Monroe said with ice-cold conviction. "We are better than that."

Forget the first year. Try the first week. St. John's celebrated its coronation into high school football-dom by scoring 39 points in the first 24 minutes the Vikings ever played and held on for a 39-29 victory in the school's gridiron debut at McCurdy Field.

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It didn't take the Vikings long to prove the only thing new about them are their uniforms. Monroe scored on St. John's first two offensive plays from scrimmage en route to five touchdowns and 202 yards rushing as the Vikings' razzled-dazzled their way to a victory.

"We felt like we could win," said Monroe, who transferred from St. James to join SJPH's fledgling program. "Everyone doubted us. We believed we could."

It was tough to gauge how the Vikings (1-0) would react under the lights in their first real game. But a wide-open offense, paired with the speed of Monroe and receiver Guyvans Richard, was more than Bishop Walsh could fathom.

"We big-played them to death," said St. John's coach John Ricca. "(Bishop Walsh) had more experience than us, but we have two big-time high school athletes and a lot of other guys who can make plays."

The St. John's defense came up with a fumble recovery and three interceptions to help keep Bishop Walsh out of the end zone and keep the Vikings rolling.

A Richard interception of a Chris Hendershot pass on the second play of the game gave the ball to St. John's on the Spartan 29. The first play was a screen pass in the left flat to Monroe, who turned it into a 29-yard TD.

Then, after forcing Bishop Walsh to punt, St. John's quarterback Keith Ricca hit Richard on a 10-yard hook pass in the right flat. He turned it into a hook-and-lateral pitch to Monroe, who ran the final 50 yards for the score and a 12-0 lead.

"That was a good start, wasn't it?," John Ricca said with a smile. "I thought we had the athletes to get two touchdowns in two plays, but ..."

Monroe scored all five of his touchdowns - three rushing and two receiving along with a conversion reception - in the first half. The senior added runs of 4 and 74 yards along with another 27-yard catch to finish with 149 yards rushing and 92 yards receiving in the first half.

Richard added a 50-yard scoring catch from Keith Ricca to cap the Vikings' dream first half in its first-ever game. The only black mark was Brandon Grabenstein's 10-yard scoring run for a 39-7 halftime lead.

John Ricca decided to clear the bench early in the second half and gave Bishop Walsh some momentum. The Spartans put up a 22-point fourth quarter to make the game interesting, but the early hole was too deep.

St. John's held the edge on total offense 445-404, but the Vikings had 335 of those yards in the first half while the Spartans rolled up 294 of theirs in the second half. Grabenstein scored three times and rushed for 112 yards.

Still, it was a night of perfection for St. John's at Prospect Hall by Monroe's standards, even though it might only last one week.

"We worked hard," Monroe said. "I have to give all the credit to my offensive line. This was their best game ever for blocking ... It was only their first, but we have a lot to go still ahead."

SJPH 39, Bishop Walsh 29

Bishop Walsh 7 0 0 22 - 29

St. John's-PH 12 27 00 - 39

SJPh - Brandon Monroe 29 pass from Keith Ricca (pass failed)

SJPH - Guyvans Richard 10 pass from Ricca and Monroe 50 run (pass failed)

BW - Brandon Grabenstein 10 run (Ben Hendershot kick)

SJPH - Richard 50 pass from Ricca (Monroe pass from Ricca)

SJPH - Monroe 5 run (pass failed)

SJPH - Monroe 74 run (kick failed)

BW - Grabenstein 62 pass from Chris Hendershot (C. Hendershot pass from Grabenstein)

BW - Chris Shroyer 39 run (run failed)

BW - Grabenstein 14 pass from C. Hendershot (C. Hendershot pass from Grabenstein)

BW SJPH

First Downs Bishop Walsh - 18 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 13

Rushes-yards Bishop Walsh - 45-214 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 28-256

Passes-comp.-int Bishop Walsh - 17-9-3 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 17-10-0

Passing yards Bishop Walsh - 158 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 189

Total yards Bishop Walsh - 62-403 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 45-445

Fumbles-lost Bishop Walsh - 1-1 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 2-1

Punts-avg. Bishop Walsh - 2-36.0 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 2-26.5

Penalties-yards Bishop Walsh - 2-20 St. John's-Prospect Hall - 4-48

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