Craig Cicardo ran the spread offense as Lacey Township High School's quarterback last fall, and the Lions went 12-0 and won the South Jersey Group III football championship.
Cicardo, 18, a senior and three-year starter, will now try to have the same kind of success at the University of Rhode Island, which runs the same type of offense in the NCAA's Football Championship Sub-division.
Cicardo will receive a Merit Scholarship, which is academic, and he'll be a preferred walk-on, meaning he'll have a spot on the team despite not having an athletic scholarship. Cicardo has a 4.37 grade-point average and is a member of Lacey's National Honor Society. He plans to study finance at Rhode Island.
Lacey coach Lou Vircillo said Cicardo also was being recruited by Albany, Monmouth and Wagner.
"Rhode Island had everything I was looking for," said Cicardo, a resident of the Forked River section of Lacey Township. "I was looking for a good quality education, and far enough away from home, but not too far. It's a great area, really beautiful. The coach (Joe Trainer) made me feel comfortable. He made me feel like I could fit right in. It was a special atmosphere. We (Lacey) run the spread, and so do they."
Vircillo had high praise for Cicardo.
"Craig is a good story," Vircillo said. "He's a hard-working kid on and off the field. He's also a very social person and active in the student government. He's a special kid who approached the game in a way to give you an edge.
"We didn't put any extra pressure on him as a sophomore, but as a junior and senior, he mastered the system and he was with many of the same friends and athletes all three years."
Cicardo became a first-team Press All-Star last fall after completing 69-of-105 passes for 1,176 yards and a school-record 16 touchdowns. He also rushed 151 times for 592 yards and 18 TDs. The Lions beat Delsea Regional 56-7 for the South Jersey Group III title.
"I was always looking to do whatever it takes to get first downs and score," Cicardo said. "I could hand off, keep the ball off or change (the play). I don't have any preference, run or pass, whichever works."
The Lacey offensive situation was even more unique because Vircillo's offensive coordinator was Cicardo's father, Craig Sr., who played quarterback for Vircillo at Lacey in 1982 and 1983.
"Craig and his father were able to work on the offense at any time during the day or night," Vircillo said.
Rhode Island was 5-6 last fall, and the Rams were 4-4 in the Colonial Athletic Association.
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