Cadets Disarm the Gladiators

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St. John’s football team opened up their championship-defending season with a 49-0 rout of the Johns Creek (GA) Gladiators.

After the Cadets’ defense forced a 3-and-out on the opening drive, quarterback Sol-Jay Maiava ’20 stepped onto the field for the first time as a St. John’s Cadet.

“I was excited,” he said after the game. “Couldn’t wait to play, we’ve been working so hard…I’m not gonna lie, I was a little nervous, walking down those steps.”

Maiava got off to a quick start, completing his first pass – a long throw to Rakim Jarrett ’20 – before running the ball into the end zone on the next play.

Maiava finished with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions in 3 quarters of play.

“They want me to use my legs…we’re just making plays, that’s all,” Maiava said of his run game. He noted that the speed of play in the WCAC was the biggest change from his previous season playing for Kahuku High School in Hawaii.

On the other side of the ball, the St. John’s defense held strong, keeping Johns Creek out of the end zone and posting a shutout. Defensive back/wide receiver Mordecai McDaniel ’20 blocked a punt with less than a minute left in the first quarter and returned it for a touchdown, giving St. John’s a 14-0 lead. Afterwards, recent graduate Cam Goode ’18, who was on the sidelines throughout the game, presented McDaniel with a wrestling belt, adorned with the team motto “Iron Sharpens Iron,” for the play.

Running back Keilan Robinson ’19, whose availability for the game was unclear at kickoff due to a leg injury, ended up entering the game and scoring 1 touchdown over 2 quarters.

“We were seeing how it [his leg] felt, and it felt good all week, so we decided to come out here and give it a test drive,” Robinson said after the game.

“We didn’t want to run him, we just tried him a little bit,” Head Coach John Casamento said.

St John’s also tried out their passing game, with Maiava recording his first passing touchdown in the second quarter, a 31 yard pass to wide receiver Cam Ross ’19. On the next Cadet possession, Robinson worked around the defense on an 11-yard touchdown run, and after sophomore running back Colby McDonald got his first of two touchdowns, St. John’s would enter halftime with a 35-0 lead. In the third quarter, senior running back Ronald Cook scored on an 11-yard run to make it 42-0. Backup quarterback Wyatt Hogan ’22 entered the game for the fourth quarter in a drive ending in McDonald’s second touchdown.

“For Sol-Jay…this is his first time trying to run this offense; it’s not like he’s been here forever,” Coach Casamento said after the game. “So that was good experience…we just told him, trust the offense, just run the offense and he’ll be fine. You know, he’s young, he’s never really been coached. It’s gonna be great [having him].”

On the team’s defense, Casamento said, “we’ve had two scrimmages and one game and we haven’t given up a touchdown…all I know is, [these] kids play pretty well.”

When asked about next week’s road trip to play against Hoover High (AL), Coach Casamento said, “We have to go and win this game…they’ve got a great program and a great tradition, they’ve been champions for a long time. They’re used to it, we’re not; so we got to go down there and play like we are.”

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