Scavetta's return helps lead Washington Township past Atlantic City for first playoff win since 2011
SEWELL (N.J.) - It had been a long 12 years for the Washington Township high school football team.
Since 2011, the Minutemen clinched six playoff berths and came up short in the postseason each time.
Until this year.
Washington Township secured that elusive playoff win with a 43-14 victory over Atlantic City in the opening round of the Central Jersey Group 5 playoffs on Friday night. The win ended a 12-year postseason win drought.
Washington Township's Giuliano Scavetta (44) prepares to stiff arm an Atlantic City defender in the first round Central Jersey Group 5 football game played at Washington Township High School in Sewell, New Jersey on Friday, October 28, 2023. Kiersten Cowgill/D2 Sports Network
Giuliano Scavetta and Jared Dzierzgowski led the ground attack with a combined five touchdowns. Scavetta tallied 197 yards and three scores in his return from a lacerated kidney that sidelined him since September 29.
"I didn't know what to do without football," Scavetta said. "It was some of the darkest times I've been through.
"Thankfully, the timetable allowed me to return this season and I was cleared to play Monday."
The offensive line parted massive holes in the trenches to allow both Dzierzgowski and Scavetta to walk in almost untouched on each of their scores.
In addition to superb run blocking, the pass protection allowed Cole Aquino to link up with Logan Perez for a 60-yard catch and run that translated into a touchdown.
The Minutemen rattled off 36 unanswered points.
Atlantic City held a 14-13 lead before the outburst. Quarterback Joe Lyons threw a pair of touchdown passes to Sah'Nye Degraffenreidt and Shawn Williams before Washington Township regained the lead at halftime with a 30-yard field goal from John Franchi.
The Minutemen's defense suffocated their opponent on the ground and through the air. Dashawn Long, Jordan Potts and Dzierzgowski each snagged an interception.
On the defensive line, freshman Gabe Palaganas made a name for himself with a trio of sacks and a handful of tackles for a loss as he found ways to invade the Vikings' backfield.
Washington Township coach Mike Schatzman joined the program's coaching staff in 2011 as an assistant. It was fitting that Schatzman be the one responsible for ending the playoff drought in Sewell.
"I actually joined the staff in 2011," Schatzman said. "We've had some very good teams over the years, but we just never got the job done."
Before Scavetta's injury in the Vineland game on September 29, Schatzman would split reps between Aquino and Dzierzgowski at quarterback. With Aquino at quarterback and Dzierzgowski at running back following Scavetta's injury, his return to the lineup added to an already potent offense.
"We definitely missed him with the team during his injury absence," Schatzman said. "Getting him back just boosted our offense so much and it was evident tonight."