“It means I’m getting old,” Napolet joked. “It’s still gratifying to coach kids, and watch them grow up. It’s great to see them become good players, and good people as well.”
His players took special pride in helping him achieve this milestone.
“We’re playing this whole season for Nap,” said star running back Jared Province. “He’s like a father to me. It’s incredible everything he does for all of us. He’s a really great guy and I’m glad I can be a part of this.”
Province proved to be more then just a part of the win. He rushed the ball 23 times for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Added to his season totals, Province pushed passed 1600 yards rushing on the season, and extended his school record to 39 touchdowns.
Even with the totals he put up on the night, Province believes he could perform better. “I started out slow tonight, usually I get into rhythm pretty quick, tonight was a weird night,” admitted Province. “Coming out in the second half things really got going, our line took over.” As with any great running back, Province places credit all on the line. “Every week they just go out and execute, they all get it done.”
“I have to applaud Province and the job he did,” added coach Napolet. “He plays his heart out and gives it to you on both sides of the ball.”
McDonald head coach Dan Williams believed Province was the difference in the ball game. “Province was they key,” said Williams. “Every time we thought we had them he’d bust off a 30 or 40 yard run. We just couldn’t stop him.”
McDonald threw everything but the kitchen at the Kennedy Eagles, calling two fake punts, and an onside kick to start the second half. Each time though, John F. Kennedy, or the “K”, as they are affectionately referred to, was able to step up the defense and keep the Blue Devils out of the end zone until the game’s final series.
“We’re not to bad defensively,” coach Napolet understated. “Some of our kids aren’t big but they can run. Our coaches do a great job coaching them up and our kids respond.”
Kennedy held McDonald under 30 yards rushing while the first teams were primarily in the game.
McDonald reached into the bag of tricks early. On their first possession they faced a fourth and 3 from near midfield and elected to try a fake punt. The Eagles however, were not fooled and kept the Devils short of the first down.
“We always say, expect the unexpected,” said Napolet. “We actually called the first fake punt from the sideline and were able to stop it.”
The Eagles answered by going 8 plays and fifty yards before Province scored his first touchdown of the night to put Kennedy up early.
With the game still manageable at halftime at 19-0, McDonald recovered an onside kick to begin the second half. However, they couldn’t manage to pick up a first down against the stingy Eagle defense. The next time McDonald gained possession they again began on Kennedy’s half of the field, but they were again held without a first down turning the ball over on downs.
Aside from Province’s big night, quarterback Dominic LaPolla rushed 10 times for 86 yards, and was 5-for-9 passing for 79 yards and a touchdown.
McDonald’s season comes to an end with an 8-3 record and they were champions of the Inter Tri County League tier 2 division. Coach Williams is proud of the accomplishments of his senior class. “Our Seniors brought us a long way, we got a lot to be proud of,” said Williams. “They got us headed in the right direction with a league title and back-to-back playoff appearances.
Warren John F. Kennedy will advance to face Norwalk St. Paul next Saturday in the Regional Semifinal.