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Converted fullback leads Haddon Township

With his starting fullback sitting on the bench, injured, Haddon Township football coach Nelson Epley had no idea how a converted guard would do at the position against host Overbrook yesterday in a Colonial Conference interdivisional opener for both teams.

However, 5-foot-9, 219-pound Vince Sampoli eased into Mike McGee’s bulldozer role with the ease of an eager demolition worker. In a debut worthy of a scrapbook, Sampoli, a senior captain who had never played in the backfield, rushed 25 times for 169 yards and a touchdown to lead the Hawks to a 27-14 win over Overbrook.

“They switched me at the second practice to fullback, and it worked out, I guess,” Sampoli said. “It’s all about the offensive line. We have big boys on our line, and they got me holes and I ran through them.”

Overbrook coach Mitch Brown knew that his defense and offense would have to handle bigger boys up front to get results, so he hoped that team speed would carry thze day.

It didn’t.

“We tried to get outside from the get-go, but they handled us up front,” Brown said. “They were quicker and stronger than us, and that’s not a good combination.”

Haddon Township (1-0 overall, 1-0 Patriot Division) jumped out to a 14-0 first-period lead on a pair of 1-yard touchdown bursts by senior quarterback Matt Donaldson, another player who has switched positions.

“Matt played wideout last year and was always in our defensive secondary, and this is his first year running the show back there,” Epley said. “We’re ecstatic with his management of the game.”

Donaldson completed 2 of 7 passes for 17 yards and threw two interceptions, proving that as long as the line opens holes for the backs, the running game will be key for a while.

The Hawks also fumbled twice for a total of four turnovers. However, the Rams (0-1, 0-1 Liberty) weren’t able to capitalize.

Their first score came in the second period on a picture-perfect pass by junior quarterback Dan Wilson to sophomore running back Deandra Dredden, whose arms were outstretched in the left corner of the end zone when he caught the ball a step ahead of a defender in hot pursuit.

The touchdown and Wilson’s extra point made the score 21-7 with 35 seconds remaining in the first half.

About a minute earlier, Doug Groff (13 carries for 68 yards) gave the Hawks their third touchdown on a 3-yard run.

Sampoli opened the third quarter with a 2-yard blast for a touchdown to give his team a 27-7 lead.

“That felt awesome,” Sampoli said. “That was my first touchdown.”

But Overbrook wasn’t through.

Switching to quarterback, Dredden pitched the ball left to sophomore running back Russell Forcion, who raced three yards for the score with 13 seconds left in the game.

Brown acknowledged that Dredden, who also had an interception, and his brother, Devon Dredden, are assets that can help the team win in the future.

Meanwhile, Sampoli was thinking ahead, too.

“We came into this game with a playoff mentality,” Sampoli said. “We have tough games on our schedule. We have to start off the season 3-0.

“We’re going to the playoffs this year.”

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2 Responses

  1. Vincent is a great kid and I commend his mother for raising such a good citizen.

    God Bless and best of wishes.

  2. Can’t wait to see them in action this year.

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