Taking care of business was the mantra for the Staples football team on Saturday. The first stringers on offense scored all five times it touched the ball to go with a punt return for a touchdown and the first-team defense shut down Harding in Staples' 42-20 home victory over the Harding Presidents.
"We came out on offense and did what we had to do," said Wreckers Coach Marce Petroccio. "We played great defense and it was a great win for us."
Staples raised its record to 6-0. Harding dropped to 1-5.
Field possession also helped the Wreckers as they started their first three scoring drives in Harding territory and senior Tyler Jacobs scored their first two touchdowns.
"Last week, we came out fast but slowed it down," Jacobs said. "This week, we didn't want to let up. The starters did a good job."
Junior Jon Heil returned the opening kickoff 52 yards to the President 38-yard line. On the third play of the drive, Jacobs scored on a 20-yard run. Senior Jason Mawicke kicked the extra point to make it 7-0.
While the first-team offense played impressively, Staples' first-team defense was even better. The Wreckers bottled up the Presidents and saddled them with negative nine yards of total offense on their first four possessions.
This, in turn, forced Harding to punt deep from its side of the field and Jacobs returned the punt nine yards to the Presidents' 45. On the third play of the drive, Jacobs scored on an 11-yard touchdown run. Mawicke's kick made it 14-0.
Staples began its third drive on Harding's 43 after a 21-yard punt. On the fifth play of the drive, Wrecker senior Chet Pajolek threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to senior quint-captain Pat Murray on a shuffle pass. Mawicke's kick made it 21-0 with 3:37 remaining in the first quarter.
Jacobs scored the team's next points when he returned a punt 53 yards for the touchdown with 1:04 left in the first quarter. Mawicke's kick made it 28-0.
"The blocking did a great job," Jacobs said. "Jon Heil gave me a good block on the outside and I had room to run. We worked on it a lot in practice."
Defensively, senior Robby Herman led Staples with two interceptions. His first interception was at the Staples 47.
"Our scout team gave us a good look and the coaches put us in good position to make the plays," Herman said.
The Wreckers then marched 53 yards on seven plays and Pajolek capped it with a 5-yard touchdown run with 8:34 left in the half. Senior lefty Kosta Papadopoulos kicked the extra point to make it 35-0.
Herman set up Staples' last scoring drive with an interception on the Wrecker 45 and he returned it 33 yards. His return was negated by a holding penalty and Staples began the next drive on the President 45.
"I saw an opening and the blockers did a good job," Herman said. "A pick is a pick and I'm not worried about the yardage."
And he had no reason to worry because the Wreckers scored on the fifth play of the drive on Heil's 10-yard touchdown run. Papadopoulos' kick made it 42-0.
The offensive starters were done at that point and the defensive starters were temporarily done. Harding scored 14 points in the third quarter and senior quad-captain quarterback Julius McCord threw a 38-yard pass to junior Antwaine Clark to the Staples 16. Petroccio then reinserted his first team defense but McCord faked the unit out and scored on a 16-yard run to make it 42-20 with 1:52 left in the third quarter. From that point on, the Presidents couldn't move on the Wreckers.