Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

On Road to Recovery

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

On Road to Recovery

Article excerpt

HYATTSVILLE, Md. - Save the eulogies for the Don Bosco football season.

Led by senior quarterback Nick Crusco, making his first career start, and buoyed by big plays on defense and special teams, the Ironmen snapped a three-game losing streak and dominated Friendship Collegiate Academy, 26-8, at Marvin Wilson Stadium.

"We needed this real bad," Ironmen coach Greg Toal said. "We definitely had to get this thing pointed in the right direction. I'm proud of our kids. I think we played against a real good football team."

The Ironmen's season-long string of injuries hit the team again this week. Three more starters -- making an incredible nine for the season -- were injured over the bye week and didn't play Saturday. One of those was senior quarterback Frank Nutile (hamstring).

In stepped Crusco, who gave the Ironmen a definite spark, not so much with his arm (he was only 1-for-4 passing), but with his legs. He ran for 76 yards and kept the Knights defense from being able to key on senior tailback Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks.

"We needed [this]," Crusco said. "We wanted to get a little mojo going and just get our confidence back. Friendship is a good team; [they have] a lot of great athletes. It definitely helped our confidence."

The Knights, 2-2 and defending District of Columbia champions, didn't know what hit them. Crusco and the Ironmen showed a completely different offense than they ran the previous four games. Even the PA announcer kept calling Crusco Nutile well into the first quarter.

The Ironmen also got turnovers. Usually a Toal team's trademark is its ability to fly to the ball and generate turnovers. Lawrence Stephens and Danny Yankovich had interceptions. Anthony Malaguti recovered an early fumble, and the Ironmen blocked a Knights punt.

Yankovich was playing both ways extensively for the first time all season. He also made a huge play on special teams, swatting away a pass attempt on a fake punt from his punt returner position.

"At this point, some guys have to suck it up and Yankovich had to become a two-way player and I thought he played a real good game," Toal said. "I thought he tackled well. That's what we have to do. …

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