State Non-Public I football final preview: St. Joseph vs. St. Mary of Rutherford

St. Joseph High School’s Miles Pease (32) races upfield during a game last month against Hammonton. The Wildcats play St. Mary of Rutherford on Saturday, a rematch of a 2011 game that St. Joseph won 51-0.

Staff photo by Edward Lea

St. Joseph and St. Mary of Rutherford have played seven times since the state Non-Public playoffs began in 1993.

St. Joe has won all seven matchups by an average margin of 28.6 points. The Wildcats beat St. Mary 51-0 in last year's state Non-Public I final.

But this year's St. Mary team is different, according to St. Joe coach Paul Sacco.

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The teams will meet at 4 p.m. Saturday for the state Non-Public I title at The College of New Jersey in Ewing Township.

"This is the best St. Mary team we've seen," Sacco said. "They're all experienced. They were young last year. They have a big offensive line. They have two good receivers. You can't just gear up to stop their running game."

St. Mary is averaging 43 points per game and has outscored its opponents 472-129 this season.

Meanwhile, St. Joe is ranked No. 3 in The Press Elite 11. Few New Jersey teams can match the Wildcats' tradition of playoff success. St. Joe has three straight state titles and 14 championships since the Non-Public playoffs began in 1993.

Key players for St. Mary: Connor Cuccinelli, WR, 23 catches for 688 yards and 10 touchdowns; A.J. Godsil, WR, 29 catches for 532 yards and six touchdowns; Jonathan Diaz, RB, 197 carries for 1,870 yards and 36 touchdowns; Ryan Monaghan, QB, 58-of-111 for 1,319 yards and 18 touchdowns; Matthew Rodriguez, LB, 96 tackles.

Key players for St. Joe: Anthony Giagunto, QB/DB, 68-of-119 for 937 yards and 12 touchdowns; Cody Sampson, RB/LB, 143 carries for 833 yards and nine touchdowns; Miles Pease, RB/DB, 114 carries for 581 yards and 21 catches for 358 yards; Kevin Goldsmith, DL, 74 tackles; Roy Lucas, OL/DL, 43 tackles and four sacks; Charles Cade, OL/DL, nine sacks.

Keys to victory: St. Joe must slow St. Mary's passing game, which is led by the 6-foot-6 Cuccinelli, a senior wide receiver. The Wildcats will try to establish the run on offense, but Giagunto could have a big game. He threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns in last year's win over St. Mary.


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