BUENA VISTA TOWNSHIP — Jada Byers must have gotten tired of running the ball into the end zone.

The junior figured out other ways to put points on the scoreboard for the St. Joseph High School football team Friday night.

Byers threw a touchdown pass and returned an interception for a score to lead the Wildcats to a 30-8 win over St. Augustine Prep in a West Jersey Football League interdivision game.

“It feels great putting on a show for everybody,” Byers said. “I try to put on a show every time I’m out here.”

The 5-foot-7, 165-pound Byers carried 24 times for 155 yards and a touchdown. He has been the story of the season so far, with 12 rushing touchdowns, 13 TDs overall and 710 rushing yards in the three games.

Is there anything Byers doesn’t do on the field?

“To be honest,” he said, “I really don’t know.”

Fans filled the home and visiting bleachers to watch Friday’s game. St. Joe (3-0) is ranked No. 1 in The Press Elite 11, while the Hermits (1-2) are No. 5. The two parochial schools are rivals, and the game is affectionally nicknamed “the Holy War.” St. Joe and St. Augustine compete not only for victories but also to attract the region’s top players.

“All week, we practiced with way more intensity,” St. Joe senior running back and defensive back Nate Johnson said. “Everything was full speed — 100 percent. This was like a state championship for us.”

Byers gave the Wildcats an 8-0 lead on St. Joe’s first possession of the game. He grabbed a handoff, ran right and lofted a 14-yard TD pass to Keshon Griffin.

The Wildcats installed the play Wednesday. They ran it twice in the St. Joe elementary school gym, where they practiced that day because of rain.

Byers completed the pass both times during practice and wasn’t worried about throwing it in the game.

“I knew it was going to get there,” he said. “I knew (St. Augustine) was going to worry about me too much.”

Byers gave the Wildcats a 22-0 lead when he intercepted a pass midway through the third quarter and sprinted 74 yards for a score.

St. Joseph got several other standout efforts. Griffin, Jayden Shertel and Ahmad Ross each intercepted a pass.

St. Augustine rushed just 16 times for 9 yards. Brad Lomax, Wisdom Quarshie and Sean Morris led the Wildcats’ defensive line. Lomax and Morris had sacks. Griffin had a tackle for a loss.

“We knew we wouldn’t really be able to run the ball consistently,” St. Augustine coach Pete Lancetta said. “We were throwing the ball all over the place, and it’s tough to make a living that way.”

Despite St. Joe’s standout team effort, it was Byers who again dominated the post-game conversation.

The Bridgeton resident at times appears to be playing in a video game. Byers ran from one side of the field to the other to turn plays that seemed hopeless into positive yardage.

Lancetta played at St. Joe from 1976 to 1979 and coached at Hammonton, once St. Joe’s biggest rival, for 26 seasons.

“You’d be hard-pressed to find a better player than (Byers) at that place,” Lancetta said. “They’ve had a lot of great ones, going back to when I was in school. He’s a heck of a player.”

St. Joe coach Paul Sacco, who has 320 wins in 37 seasons, smiled when told what Lancetta had said.

“I never like to say that stuff,” Sacco said. “In my heart, we’ve had so many good players. He’s the most exciting one we’ve had in a long time. I can say that.”

No one in attendance Friday night would argue.

St. Joseph; 8 6 16 0—30

St. Augustine 0 0 8 0—8


SJ – Griffin 14 pass from Byers (Johnson pass from Shertel)


SJ – Byers 9 run (run failed)


SJ – Byers 74 int return (Johnson run)

SA – DeCoteau 16 pass from Allen (DeCoteau pass from Allen)

SJ – Johnson 68 pass from Shertel (Byers run)

Individual leaders

Rushing: SJ. Byers 24-155; SA. DeCouteau 1-9

Passing: SJ. Shertel 2-4-0-71; SA. Allen 12-26-4-165

Receiving: SJ. Johnson 2-71; SA. DeCoteau 6-107

Can't get enough High School sports? Get the latest scores, game highlights and analysis delivered to your inbox each week!

Contact: 609-272-7209 MMcGarry@pressofac.com Twitter @ACPressMcGarry

I've covered high school sports and variety of other events and teams - including the ShopRite LPGA Classic and the Phillies - since 1993.