By ANTHONY SPAULDING
Director of Communications
Pope John XXIII Regional High School
In a much anticipated season opener, the Pope John Lions had a tough time against DePaul, as the defending Non-Public, Group 3 champion Spartans handed the Lions a 48-7 defeat at Pope John XXIII Regional High School on Saturday.
With the defeat, the Lions have now lost the last six meetings against DePaul and have dropped to 5-7 in the all-time series. The Lions’ last win against the Spartans was in 1997, when they rolled to a 44-13 victory in the Parochial, Group 2 championship game to capture their third state title in a row and 17th overall in school
The loss also put the Lions at 0-1 in the North Jersey Super Football Conference United White Division, while DePaul improved to 1-0 in the four-team division that also includes Delbarton and Seton Hall Prep.
The Lions could not get any rhythm going on offense, as they only had 134 total yards against the Spartans and were forced to punt eight times. The lone bright spot offensively in the game took place in the third quarter, when senior wide receiver Ryan Dengler hauled in a 74-yard touchdown reception from freshman quarterback Peter Delaportas, who filled in for starter Niko Hroncich after the senior signal caller left the game with an injury.
On defense, the Lions had a hard time stopping the Spartans, as they allowed 400 total yards, 294 of which were at the hands of Penn State-bound quarterback Ta’Quon Roberson. Roberson also had four touchdowns on the day.
Despite the amount of points and yardage allowed, the Lions had some solid performances from junior safety Mike DeNucci (team-high 10 tackles), senior linebacker Chris Sabo (seven tackles) and senior defensive lineman Ireland Burke (three tackles for loss).