By Michael McGarry
HAMMONTON – Rocco Ordille ran healthy for the first time all season Saturday afternoon.
As a result, an already formidable St. Joseph High School football team appeared even tougher to beat.
Ordille scored the first three times he touched the ball to propel the top-seeded Wildcats to a 50-0 win over fourth-seeded Queen of Peace in a state Non-Public I semifinal. St. Joseph (9-1) will play third-seeded St. Mary of Rutherford (9-2) for the state title on the weekend of Dec. 6-8. St. Joe has won four straight state titles and 15 championships since the state Non-Public playoffs began in 1993.
Ordille, a 5-foot-10, 170-pound junior, was projected to be one of the Wildcats top running backs when the season began. He showed potential as a sophomore last fall and plenty of speed last spring when he finished third in the 100-meter dash at the outdoor track and field Meet of Champions.
But Ordille separated his shoulder in a preseason scrimmage against Shawnee. St. Joe tried in some games just to play him at defensive back. Ordille never found his rhythm offensively. He entered Saturday with just 31 carries for 221 yards.
Ordille didn’t start on offense Saturday, but he didn’t waste anytime taking advantage of the opportunities he got once he took the field.
Ordille scored on a 5-yard run to give St. Joe a 7-0 lead with 4 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first quarter.
Ordille’s second touchdown put St. Joe up 14-0 with 11:43 left in the first half. Ordille eluded several would-be tacklers and sprinted 26 yards for the score.
Ordille also showed his speed on his third score. He sprinted up the middle 62 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats a 21-0, second-quarter lead.
Queen of Peace (6-5) featured one of the state’s top running backs in Kevin Momnohin, who entered the game with 1,975 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns.
The Wildcats held him to 55 yards on 20 carries.
St. Joe controlled the game from the start. The Wildcats only real moments of concern came in the first quarter when St. Joe quarterback Salaam Horne threw an interception that Queen of Peace returned to the St. Joe 19-yard line.
One play later, Horne atoned for his mistake. He made a one-handed interception at the St. Joe 10-yard line and returned it 80 yards to the Queen of Peace 10-yard line. The turnover setup Ordille’s first touchdown.
The St. Joe defense was as dominant as the Wildcats offense. St. Joe defenders Chris Gabor and C.J. LaFragola each intercepted a pass. Defensive lineman LaQuay Brown recovered a fumble.
St. Joe is No. 2 in The Press Elite 11. Saturday’s win not advanced the Wildcats to a state final it also enhanced their resume.
The shutout was St. Joe’s first of the season.