HAMMONTON - The saying on the back of Hammonton High School football coach Pete Lancetta's T-shirt said it all Friday.
"Surrender the ME for WE."
He may have wished he wore more than his patented T-shirt and shorts, however, as his team doused him with two buckets of ice-cold Gatorade in celebration of his 200th career win, a 41-0 rout of Bridgeton.
Hammonton quarterback Christian Mortellite completed three of the four passes he threw on Friday with two touchdowns.
But the senior signal-caller's best setup of the night came in the waning minutes of the fourth quarter when he gave Lancetta a hug on the sideline. The hug gave Mortellite's teammates time to ambush their coach with the Gatorade bath, which amazingly was Lancetta's first one.
"That was my first one and leave it to Christian because I thought he was truly giving me a hug," Lancetta joked. "That was cold."
Lancetta has been deflecting talk of the impending milestone for weeks now, but Mortellite had no problem heaping praise on his coach.
"Our senior class is just so happy and so proud of him," Mortellite said. "He always recognizes everybody else, but this is a real tribute to him. He's the man. He does everything for us and he treats us like we're his kids. That's why he is so special to us."
Hammonton led 34-0 after one quarter on Friday and quickly pulled most of its starters. David Williams had two touchdown runs. Dominic Williams and Dylan Rosu also scored rushing touchdowns.
The team was joined in its post-game huddle by cheerleaders, members of the band and student body, administrators, fans and 15 members of Lancetta's family.
Lancetta took the time to thank his supporters.
"That was for everybody that has been a part of this program since 1989," he said. "They aren't my wins. They are our wins."
Rita Lancetta, Pete's mother, has attended every one of her son's games since his playing days but was forced to stop attending after an accident three years ago.
Not even doctor's orders to stay off her leg kept her away Friday.
"I came to this one late because I didn't want them to lose," Rita said with a smile. "I was superstitious because I haven't been to the games.
"I'm not supposed to be out here. I made a special trip for this one. I wouldn't have missed this for anything. I'm very proud. I know his father is looking down on him."
Lancetta becomes only the fourth coach in area history to win 200 games along with Paul Sacco of St. Joseph, Lou Vircillo of Lacey Township and Chuck Donohue of Southern Regional.
"It's very impressive," Rita Lancetta said. "Especially because he is only 50 and has only been coaching for 24 years. I think it's a big accomplishment and I wish him many, many more."
Contact John O'Kane:
H-Da. Williams 29 run (kick failed)
H-Carnesale 21 pass by Mortellite (Salmon kick)
H-Da. Williams 2 run (Salmon kick)
H-Rosu 3 run (Salmon kick)
H-Porteones 10 pass by Mortellite (Salmon kick)
H-Do. Williams 27 run (Salmon kick)
Records-Bridgeton 2-2, Hammonton 3-1.
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