Fordham Prep took its season opener against Christ the King as a measuring stick of how it will fare in the CHSFL’s Class AA division.
Consider the Rams right there with the top teams, but still in need of improvement if it wants to do more than just compete. Key mistakes cost Fordham Prep in a tough to swallow 27-20 loss to the Royals at Jack Coffey Field last Friday night.
“The fact that we didn’t play well, we didn’t play nearly to our best potential and we still only lost by a touchdown [says a lot],” sophomore quarterback Matt Valecce said. “We played with a lot of heart and soul. I think if we fix those mistakes I don’t think anyone in the league can beat us.”
The Rams rallied to take to the lead for the first time when Valecce connected with Rory Allen for a 19-yard touchdown pass and a two-point conversion to make it 20-19 with 8:19 to go in the game. It was the third time the two hooked up for a touchdown in the game. The score was set up by a tremendous 27-yard grab by Will Loffredo between two defenders.
The advantage was short lived. On fourth and 16, Christ the King quarterback David Navas lofted a pass out of the reach of cornerback Jack Casella for a 29-yard touchdown to Alex Miranda with 3:40 remaining in the game. A 2-point conversion run put CK up 27-20. Fordham was unable to answer.
“It was tough,” Allen said. “Jack read the ball a little wrong. He’s a great player, I know he is going to make it up.”
The final play was the last on the list of “big mistakes” the Rams felt they made in the game. Fordham allowed Christ the King too many big returns early. They saw the Royals’ Justin Terry strip the ball from Thomas Natkin for a 30-yard score to put his team up 19-12 on the final play of the fourth quarter.
“We played our hearts out we just made too many huge mistakes in the passing game and the running game” Valecci said. “A lot of huge mistakes, a lot of turning point mistakes.”
The offensive line struggled to protect Valecce. While the running game never got going, Valecce and his receivers were still able to successfully move the ball. He completed 18 of 27 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns. Allen caught seven passes for 110 yards.
“We can get the ball down field,” Allen said. “Matt has a great arm. We would have had a lot more plays if we had a little more protection,”
Fordham Prep know it has something to clean up before it faces St. Francis Prep Sunday, but it was encouraged by some of the things its saw against the Royals.
“I feel like we played a really good game, but they had some really big plays that killed us down the field,” Allen said.