Despite returning only two starters on offense, the defending Division III state champion St. Vincent-St. Mary Fighting Irish picked up right where they left off last season with a 63-0 victory over the visiting Garfield Golden Rams on Thursday night at Green Street Stadium.
After forcing a three-and-out on the first drive, Garfield punted to senior running back and Ohio State University commit Parris Campbell who put on a series of jukes to take the punt back 52 yards for a touchdown, putting the Irish ahead 7-0 before the offense even stepped on the field.
Speed continued to be the name of the game for the Irish on both sides of the ball.
“I think that’s been the name of our game for the last few years,” Fighting Irish coach Dan Boarman said. “That’s something we’ve been identified with.”
The Irish defense consistently swarmed the Rams at the line of scrimmage, giving them little room to run on handoffs. The Rams were held to only 97 yards of total offense, being outgained 430-97.
Senior linebacker and fellow Ohio State commit Dante Booker led the Irish with 10 tackles, 3.5 for a loss.
“I know we’ve got a good defense,” Boarman said. “We’ve got a ton of experience back on defense and they’ve grown and developed. Our expectations are high for the defense, and they put the same expectations on themselves.”
After forcing another three-and-out, the Irish ran their first offensive play, an incomplete pass.
Their second offensive play was a 50-yard touchdown run, again by Campbell. He finished with four carries for 98 yards on the ground.
Another Garfield three-and-out was followed by another big touchdown run by the Irish. This time by senior quarterback Corey Whaley for 42 yards.
The Irish’s next drive took them five plays to score, driving 47 yards on four runs before Aaron Bushner took a direct snap from the 5-yard line and punched it in to put the defending state champs ahead 28-0 in the first quarter.
The Rams opened the second quarter with their first real drive of the game, moving 55 yards from their own 30 on 12 plays, picking up four first downs in the process.
However, a redzone fumble by running back De’Airre Saafir ended the scoring opportunity for the Rams.
The Rams responded on defense by stopping the Irish for the first time, forcing them to punt, but they quickly gave the ball back when Irish senior linebacker Newman Williams intercepted a Jatairis Grant pass attempt, bringing it back 19 yards to the Garfield 36-yard line.
The Irish needed five plays and a Garfield encroachment penalty before Bushner punched in a 1-yard touchdown to make it 35-0.
The Irish scored once more before the half on a 28-yard pass from Whaley to Jarel Woodridge for a 42-0 lead.
St. V-M opened the second half with a 15-play drive that ate up most of the third quarter and ended with a 1-yard touchdown run by Breyon Samuel.
The Irish rested Campbell and the majority of their starting players in the second half, but that didn’t stop them from running the ball effectively.
Sophomores Kyle Kelly and Jaylan Campbell both received fourth-quarter playing time and each scored a touchdown.
The main position of uncertainty for the Fighting Irish is at quarterback, where neither seniors Bushner or Whaley have started before. They didn’t showcase their arms much, throwing a combined four times, but Whaley threw a nice touchdown pass and Bushner looked comfortable running the ball.
“It was kind of a strange day,” Boarman said. “I’ll take a look at the film and evaluate but we’re probably going to continue this way until one shows themselves. They’re both good leaders that can run and throw.”