Wilbur Cross coach John Acquavita was fairly optimistic about his team’s chances entering this season. With the return of several talented starters, Acquavita believed his team was poised to have a winning record.
This was before senior quarterback Zion Setal suffered a season-ending knee injury during summer camp.
But even without Setal’s services, Acquavita still thought the Governors returned enough talent to be competitive.
Cross certainly was in a season-opening 40-21 win over Foran.
“We did feel even without Zion, and no disrespect to Foran, we would do very well,” Acquavita said. “The kids played well. It truly was team win.”
The Governors amassed 517 total yards. Sophomore Jasiah Barnes rushed 26 times for 236 yards, while junior Dyante Howard scored three rushing touchdowns. Junior Naszier Torrence rushed eight times for 87 yards and one touchdown.
“Jasiah Barnes was a workhorse,” Acquavita said. “And Torrence broke the big runs for us. We thought based on the matchup with Foran that we could run the ball, even if they stacked the box.”
The game was tied at 14 at halftime before Cross outscored the Lions 26-7 in the second half on a hot and humid late summer afternoon.
“I think we eventually wore them down,” Acquavita said. “It was a battle of hear and misery. It was a physical game, but the weather was worse than the physicality part.”
Acquavita was beyond pleased with the play of his offensive line, especially from 6-foot-4, 335 pound junior Travis Jones. Seniors Daequan Nicholson and Alex Toupou each made seven tackles, while senior Frankie Nelson recorded two sacks.
“We have a legitimate Division I player in Travis Jones,” Acquavita said. “We know that a lot of pressure will be on the offensive line and the defense for at least a couple of weeks, so I was very pleased with how they did. Foran is really good, they’re a good team. It was really nice to get a win.”
Junior Terrell Watts took over for Setal at quarterback. Watts completed 12 of 26 passes for 145 yards with one touchdown (to senior Will Simmons) and two interceptions.
“We told him it was pretty simple: do what you can do and don’t do anything you can’t do,” Acquavita said Watts. “We told him we weren’t asking him to win the game, but don’t lose us the game. He managed the game well and stayed cool in the pocket.”
It was the first game for Cross as members of the newly formed SCC Division 2 after playing in Division I last season. The Governors host Fairfield Prep (1-0) on Friday at 3:30 p.m.
“I thought the first two weeks would be really tough,” Acquavita said. “For us to be 1-0, you have to be excited about that. We’re very pleased with that. Friday will be a test to see where we really are.”