EGG HARBOR TOWNSHIP - If Stephan Thomas is on the sidelines watching the end of a game, it typically means that the Egg Harbor Township High School football team has things well in hand.
That was only partially true on Friday night.
The good news was that the Eagles did have the game pretty much wrapped up. The bad news was that Thomas had his ankle wrapped up, too.
Before leaving the game with a sprained left ankle, Thomas had 80 yards rushing on 16 carries as well as two interceptions on defense as the Eagles beat St. Augustine Prep 24-14 in a Cape-Atlantic League American Division game.
Thomas left the game late in the third quarter with the Eagles leading 17-0.
St. Augustine almost made it a game with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, but it was too late.
"I just sprained it," Thomas said. "They just had me on crutches so I wouldn't put any pressure on it. But the trainer said if it was a closer game he would have taped it up, and I would have played. It was just a precaution. I'm not worried about it at all."
Thomas said he expects to be on the field next week for the Eagles' showdown with Hammonton.
After losing its season-opener to Absegami, Egg Harbor Township has reeled off three straight wins.
Quarterback Jon Kopistecki has played a vital role in that success.
"He's got swagger," Thomas said of his quarterback. "He's leading our team. He's very smart. He makes great reads. Jon knows when to pull the ball down, when to pitch the ball and who to throw to. He's a very smart quarterback."
Kopistecki set the tone early, leading the Eagles on a nine-play, 74-yard drive ending with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Marquez.
Marquez had three catches for 47 yards on the drive and Thomas had runs of 10 and 18 yards.
"That's pretty much what our offense is about - us throwing the ball to Kevin, us running the ball with Stephan and me just reading the ends," Kopistecki said.
Marquez finished the game with eight catches for 92 yards with most of his catches coming in traffic.
"Kevin is an amazing receiver," Kopistecki said. "He's my number one go-to guy. I just want to throw it to him whenever. He's not going to make me look bad. He'll just catch it or knock it down."
The Eagles had 200 yards of total offense and nine first downs in the first half as they took a 17-0 lead into the break. The Eagles' defense was just as impressive.
Egg Harbor Township (3-1) limited St. Augustine (0-4) to 15 yards of total offense and one first down in the half and 18 rushing yards in the entire game.
"Our defense is amazing," Kopistecki said. "Our defense keeps us in games. If they weren't as good as they are we probably wouldn't have a lot of wins."
The Prep has gotten off to a slow start this season.
The Hermits held leads in the second half of each of their first three games and lost all three by a combined 12 points. One of the positives the team can take out of Friday's loss was that it never gave up, even after falling behind 24-0.
"They're aggressive to the football," St. Augustine running back John Barillo said. "They play hard and they don't quit. They're just a good football team."
Barillo showed off his skills as a receiver in the fourth with touchdown catches of 17 and 10 yards.
"Our football team has potential," Barillo said.
"We've been so close to winning every game we've played. We just need to play hard in both halves. We can't give up. We need to keep our heads up."
Barillo finished with 51 yards and two touchdowns receiving, but was limited to 27 rushing yards on 11 carries, his lowest output of the year.
Kopistecki finished 10-for-16 with 102 yards passing and a touchdown and 43 yards rushing and a touchdown on 10 carries.
He said he wasn't going to wait very long to start focusing on the Eagles' game with a tough Hammonton team next week.
"The past is the past," Kopistecki said. "We don't look at it. We just want to be 1-0 next week against Hammonton and then move on to the next week."
Contact John O'Kane:
St. Augustine Prep 0 0 0 14 - 14
Egg Harbor Township 14 3 0 7 - 24
EHT-Marquez 23 pass by Kopistecki (Mason kick)
EHT-Kopistecki 16 run (Mason kick)
EHT-Mason 29 field goal
EHT-Newmones 5 run (Mason kick)
SA-Barillo 17 pass by Gatto (Gough kick)
SA-Barillo 10 pass by Gatto (Gough kick)
TEAM STATS SA EHT
Rushing 18 170
Passing 143 102
First downs 9 14
Penalties 4-35 7-65
Turnovers 2 1
Rushing-Barillo 11-27, Gatto 10-(-9) SA; Thomas 16-80, Kopistecki 10-43, Newmones 7-29, Moody 6-10, Marquez 1-5, Smith 1-2, Jones 1-1 EHT.
Passing-Gatto 11-23-143-2 SA; Kopistecki 10-16-102-0 EHT.
Receiving-Barillo 3-51, Mazza 1-37, Pollitt 3-37, Calatozzo 2-8, Imber 1-6, Cass 1-4 SA; Marquez 8-92, Thomas 1-12, Moody 1-(-2) EHT.
Records-St. Augustine 0-4; EHT 3-1.