DEPTFORD – The Collingswood High School football team came into its game with Deptford looking for two things – a victory, of course, and also some respect.
The Panthers, 2-1, coming off a 49-27 win over Bordentown in a game which saw them explode for 27 first quarter points. Yet, they didn’t feel like anyone was giving them a chance in their WJFL Colonial Division matchup against the 2-0 Spartans.
“No one was picking us to win, not anyone in the newspaper, not any of the websites,” Collingswood coach Mike McGowan said after the Panthers got their win, 14-7, over the Spartans.
“We knew they were a good football team. They’re athletic. They fly around on defense. They’re relentless. And we knew we were the underdog . But we were motivated.”
Part of that motivation, McGowan said, came from an article the coach read on Friday about Deptford running back Khion Smith wo came into the game having scored four touchdowns in the Spartans' first two games.
“I made copies of that article and made sure everyone in the locker room read it,” McGowan said. “He is a great player but we had a good game plan and didn’t give up the big play.
"We feel we have a good back too in number 20 (Michael Jenkins). He’s a Division 1 football player and nobody seems to notice.”
Jenkins is not likely to be overlooked any longer. He took the opening kickoff at the Collingswood 14-yard line, burst through a huge hole in the middle of the Deptford coverage, then cut left and up the sideline for an 86-yard touchdown return. The kick failed, but Collingswood had a 6-0 lead 15 seconds into the game.”
“I owe it all to my brother,” said Jenkins, who finished with 73 yards on 16 carries. “I just listen to him. I set up my blocks, find the hole and take it to the house.”
Deptford answered right back. Marching 58 yards on its next possession and taking a 7-6 lead on Tyrece Brown’s 4-yard touchdown run. Jake Lynch added the extra point.
With 54 seconds left in the first quarter, Collingswood took the lead for good when quarterback Andy Clark hit Victor Vasquez for a 19-yard touchdown. Jenkins added the two-point conversion and the Panthers took a 14-7 lead then turned the game over to the defense.
“We knew they would come out fired up,” said Panthers’ linebacker JaQuan Paige. “We knew they could put some points on the board, but out defensive coordinator and defensive coaches did a great job getting us ready. We played our base defense and went after the football.”
Deptford moved the football and the Spartans put themselves in position to score several times, but Collingswood’s defense responded.
On the third play of the second quarter, the Panthers’ Zahir Smith intercepted a pass at the Panthers 25-yard line to stop one drive.
In the third quarter, with Smith picked up 54 yards on six carries, Deptford marched 73 yards to the Collingswood 11-yard line, but a fourth down pass was intercepted by the Panthers’ Marquis Hayes at the Collingswood 6-yard line, stopping another Spartans scoring opportunity.
Then, in the fourth quarter, Smith fumbled on the Collingswood 38-yard line and the Panthers’ Marcus Boldurian recovered, ending the Spartans last opportunity.
It was a disappointing loss for the Spartans who moved the football with Smith leading the way, rushing for 179 yards on 26 carries, but the turnovers just killed them.
“I thought the defense played great,” said a disappointed Steve Scuderi, Deptford’s coach. “Offense, I have to do a better job. I have faith in my kids. We didn’t execute at times, but that is on me as a coach.”
Collingswood got what they wanted. The Panthers improved to 3-1 and walked off the field having earned some of that respect they were seeking.
Collingswood 14 Deptford 7
Collingswood 14 0 0 0 - 14
Deptford 7 0 0 0 - 7
C-Michael Jenkins 86 kickoff return (kick failed)
D-Tyrece Brown 6 run (Jake Lynch kick)
C-Andy Clark 19 pass to Victory Vasquez (Jenkins run