They started arriving on the St. Mark’s campus early, fans eagerly awaiting the renewal of the Holy War, the football game between the Spartans and longtime rival Salesianum. The outcome wouldn’t change much as far as tournament seedings were concerned, but that is normally secondary in this series.
The Sals scored early, building up a 26-0 halftime advantage on the way to a 47-12 victory on a chilly and foggy night at the Graveyard. They improved to 9-1 and will be the top seed in Class 3A when the brackets are announced on Sunday. Saint Mark’s finished 4-6 in the program’s first year at 3A.
The tone was set early, as two turnovers pushed the Sals into the lead. R.J. Johnson recovered a St. Mark’s fumble on the first play from scrimmage. After a 15-yard pass from Brady McBride and a personal foul put the ball inside the Spartans’ 3, McBride found an open Hunter Balint in the end zone for a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game.
The Sals would add six to that lead within a matter of plays. St. Mark’s started a drive at their own 29, and on third down, the Sals’ Nick Strusowski intercepted an Aidan Lehane pass and returned it 31 yards to the house.
The Spartans moved the ball at times on the Sals’ defense, primarily on the ground, but they were not able to score in the first half. Salesianum, meanwhile, added two more touchdowns in the second quarter to pull away on the chilly, foggy evening. B.J. Alleyne scored his first touchdown of the game with 5:49 to go in the half, taking a direct snap and running nine yards on a fourth down and three. The Sals got the ball back with1:07 to go before the intermission, and McBride returned to the air. He hit Bill Neumann over the middle on the only play of the drive for a 50-yard score that put the Sals up at the half, 26-0.
The second half was marked by a number of personal foul calls as the longtime rivals went at it. In between the extracurriculars, the Sals managed to add two more scores in the third. Alleyne ran 59 yards on the first play of the second half, and Aiden Lego ran one in from five yards out as the lead grew to 40-0.
Logan Klein scored both of St. Mark’s touchdowns, one on a 6-yard run and the other on a 14-yard reverse. Andrew Ransome answered for Sallies for the final margin.
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