Saints overtake No. 19 Pallotti for MIAA B football championship repeat (VIDEO HERE!)
by Derek Toney
Marcus Marshall heard the whispers. After the core of last year’s St. Mary’s High’s championship football squad graduated, there were questions whether Marshall, a reserve last year, among a host of new starters could make the Saints a contender this year in the MIAA B Conference.
St. Mary’s progressed each week and Sunday night, Marshall and the Saints silenced those doubts for good. The Saints won their second straight league title with a 21-7 decision over 19th-ranked St. Vincent Pallotti at Good Counsel.
Marshall and junior Alex Wicks each rushed for a touchdown, and Alex Goloni threw a score for the Saints (7-4 overall). Osei Dixon had a defensive score for Pallotti (6-5).
Behind a redemptive performances from the two-headed running duo of Wicks and Marshall and a suffocating defense, the Annapolis school dominated the final 24 minutes to become the first back-to-back champion in the MIAA B since St. Paul’s School in 2013 and 2012. It’s the Saints’ seventh MIAA title, third-most behind Gilman School (13) and McDonogh School (8).
Saints coach Jason Budroni didn’t think his team would be hoisting another championship plaque.
“It was a young team with a lot of growing up to do and so many different positions that had to step up,” said St. Mary’s coach Jason Budroni. “But as we started playing and they did not give up. I thought we had a chance to do this.”
“We didn’t play a lot as juniors so we really didn’t know what it felt like,” said Marshall. “To go out and win a championship with 11 other men on the field, it’s just a different feeling.”
A few weeks ago, an injured Marshall solemnly watched as Pallotti shutdown St. Mary’s, 14-0, in the rain at Fairland Regional Park in Laurel. On a chilly evening on the Good Counsel’s turf in Montgomery County, Marshall and the Saints returned with a vengeance.
Marshall rushed for 77 yards, including a 36-yard breakout down the sidelines, giving St. Mary’s its first lead at 14-7 late in the third quarter. Wicks, whose fumbled was returned for a Pallotti touchdown in the first half, powered his way into the end zone for St. Mary’s first score.
“Marcus was out and I got every single carry,” said Wicks, an University of Maryland lacrosse commit, referring to the first Pallotti match. “I knew with Marcus back we had a 1-2 punch and knew we could beat this team.”
The defenses ruled play in the first half Sunday. Pallotti struck first half as Dixon, a junior defensive back, picked up a Wicks fumble near the St. Mary’s sidelines and sprinted 75 yards to the end zone.
Momentum continued in Pallotti’s favor as St. Mary’s mishandled the ensuing kickoff and Alonzo Banks recovered at the Saints’ 43-yard line. The Panthers, who committed three straight penalties, went backwards and had to punt on 4th-and-36.
The Laurel school got another opportunity as Brookman Wallace blocked a St. Mary’s punt and teammate Marquise Allsup fell on the ball at the Saints’ 9. Pallotti advanced to the 3, but St. Mary’s stopped Panthers back Mehki McDaniels on 4th down.
Julian Ganthier intercepted St. Mary’s quarterback Chris Golini on the first play of the second half, putting the Panthers back in the red zone at St. Mary’s 20. The Panthers, hindered by a holding penalty on 3rd down, failed to convert.
The Saints started taking command. St. Mary’s went 73 yards in 12 plays, capped with Wicks score. The Saints sent Pallotti’s offense back to the sidelines in five plays.
On the next play, Marshall took a handoff from Golini, hit the sidelines and went into the end zone.
“We had Dhane Blair in motion so they all crashed down so I saw an alley in the back, said Marshall, “so I back cut and outran them.”
The Saints’ defense continued corralling Pallotti’s offense as junior linemen Quinn Donoway recovered a fumble with 6:42 left. Two plays later, Golini, a sophomore, hit Blair for another score.
Pallotti wasn’t able to recover.
“We came out in the second half and played behind the sticks with penalties every series,” said Pallotti coach Tony Ashley, whose team had more than 100 yards in penalties. “They mounted up and it just took us out of the game…You cannot come to a championship game, have turnovers, play behind the sticks and expect to win the game.”
Ashley, a former Good Counsel assistant who took over last spring after the departure of Ian Thomas (now a St. Frances Academy assistant), wasn’t disheartened.
“We’re very young. We weren’t even supposed to be here, we weren’t supposed to win a game,” said Ashley. “We take some great things from this year.”
It was special ending for Marshall and his 10 senior teammates. St. Mary’s, which started the season 0-3 (all vs. non-league competition), won 7 of its last 8 with four come-from-behind decisions.
“Our seniors have been through a lot, some of us have been here four years, some of us three years, some of us two years,” said Marshall, clutching the MIAA B championship plaque. “Tonight was the only night we could come together.”
And they did.
MIAA B Conference football championship
at Good Counsel
St. Mary’s 21, No. 19 St. Vincent Pallotti 7
Pallotti 0 7 0 0 – 7
St. Mary’s 0 0 14 7 – 21
Pallotti – Osei Dixon 75 fumble return (Pesos kick)
St. Mary’s – Alex Wicks 4 run (Dominic Donohue kick)
St. Mary’s – Marcus Marshall (Donohue kick)
St. Mary’s – Dhane Blair 31 pass from Chris Golini (Donohue kick)