MOORESTOWN – A lot of teams and a lot coaching staffs may have fallen into a bit of a funk when learning the news their starting quarterback would miss a game with an injury.
However, that was not the case with the Woodrow Wilson High School football players or with the coaching staff led by Preston Brown.
When it became apparent that starter Nick Kargman would miss Friday night’s West Jersey Football League Royal Division game against Moorestown, Brown simply called on senior Jairo Ramos to fill the void.
Ramos responded, passing for two touchdown and two 2-point conversions. He also scored a touchdown his own on a 9-yard run to rally the undefeated Tigers (5-0) to a 30-20 win over previously unbeaten Moorestown (4-1).
“We call Jairo Mr. Reliability,” Brown said. “He can do anything we ask him to do.”
Indeed, Ramos played multiple positions on both sides of the ball for the Tigers this season. This, however, was his first start of the season at quarterback.
But it is not that he’s new to the position. He was the Tigers starting quarterback for the final four games of last season before the arrival a Kargman – a transfer from Pitman.
According to Ramos, giving up the quarterback position was not a problem for him as long as he was able to see a lot of minutes playing other positions.
“It really didn’t matter,” he said. “Not at all.”
During the course of this season, Ramos said he has lined up as a wide receiver, a tight end and a running back, and he enjoys playing all those positions.
He did not see it as that big of a deal when he was told to prepare to play quarterback this week.
“I just worked hard at practice and I got some extra throws in with the guys,” he said. “I like making big plays, especially when we get a win.”
One of the things Ramos and Kargman both have in their favor is that Wilson has a number of big, skilled wide receivers who seemingly catch the ball if the throw is put anywhere within their reach.
One is Fadil Diggs who caught an 18-yard touchdown pass from Ramos in the first half and then added two 2-point conversion catches in the second half.
Diggs credited Ramos with finding his rhythm and picking up the team after the Tigers fell into an early 12-0 hole against Moorestown.
“He played great,” Diggs said. “He had it a little hard in the first half, but in the second half he came out and made plays like we expected him to.”
Early in the game, Ramos seemed just a bit off on his timing and he missed a couple of open receivers, but he gradually took command of the offense.
“He had to settle in a little bit,” said Brown. “But that’s the story of this team. We overcome adversity. These guys show up every day with the same mindset, the same goals – whatever it takes to win.”
One of his better throws came late in the game with Wilson facing a third and long situation. The Tigers led only 22-20 at the time, and could have been in jeopardy if they had to give up possession.
Instead, Ramos connected on a 32-yard pass to Stanley King who made an outstanding catch, keeping his feet in bounds along the sideline.
On the next play Mayheem McGargo ran 31 yards for the clinching touchdown with 2:14 to play in the game.
“At first we made a lot of mistakes, the team made a lot of mistakes,” King said. “We had some dropped balls and things like that. But then we came together in the second half. We just pulled it together like the Tigers do.”
Both teams approached the game with a lot of emotion, knowing it could give the winning squad a clear run at the division title.
Moorestown struck first early in the game when Killian LoRusso took a short pass down the sideline from quarterback Brian McMonagle and turned it into an 77-yard touchdown jaunt.
The Quakers carried the momentum into the second quarter and went ahead 12-0 when Josh Pearcy scored on an 8-yard run.
However, Wilson got untracked with the touchdown pass to Diggs and that seemed to shift the momentum going into the second half.
A 9-yard run by Ramos, plus his conversion pass to Diggs put the Tigers up 14-12 in the third quarter, but Moorestown had an answer.
They regained a short-lived lead when Nick Cartwright-Aikens scored on a 1-yard run with 1:09 left in the third quarter.
Moments earlier, Cartwright-Aikens kept a 63-yard drive alive with an 11-yard run on a fourth-and-2 play.
The touchdown gave Moorestown a 20-14 lead at the time, but the scores by King and McCargo allowed the Tigers to go on a 16-0 run in the fourth quarter.
West Jersey League
Woodrow Wilson 0 6 8 16 - 30
Moorestown 6 6 8 0 - 20
M: Killiam LoRosso 77 pass fro, Brian McMonigle (KF)
M: Josh Pearcy 8run (KF)
WW: Fadil Diggs 18 pass from Jairo Ramos (KF)
WW: Ramos 9 run (Diggs pass from Ramos)
M: Nick Cartwright-Aikens 1 run (S'wan Stewart pass from McMonigle)
WW: Travon King 7pass from from Ramos (King pass from Ramos)
WW: Myheem McCargo 37 run (Diggs pass from Ramos