September 16, 2011
It's far too early to definitively declare a miraculous touchdown as the high school football play of the year, but this particular score on the opening weekend of the 2011 season in New Jersey has to be a prime contender when everything shakes out.
In the truly miraculous play you see above, Chatham (N.J.) High used multiple backward scrambles, a recovered fumble and enough broken tackles to send any defensive coordinator into a fit to score a key second-quarter touchdown in Chatham's 28-14 victory at Hackettstown (N.J.) High.
Amazingly, the play might not have happened if the Chatham coaching staff's headsets were working correctly. Because they weren't, the Cougars' offense was constantly adjusting at the line and dealing with general confusion in the huddle. On the miraculous touchdown, that confusion translated to an unblocked Hackettstown rusher, who nearly sacked Chatham quarterback Thomas Guida as soon as he got the shotgun snap.
Instead, Guida wriggled free on the first of five remarkably eluded tackles. After retreating farther into his backfield, Guida was again met by a linebacker, but he ducked below that attempted Hackettstown tackle. An instant later he eluded a trio of would-be tacklers, though one dislodged the ball and sent Guida scrambling farther back toward his own end zone to recover the fumble.
While some players would have simply pounced on the loose football and killed the play, Guida picked it up and coolly connected with Cory Heidaran, whose ability to elude tacklers proved no less impressive than Guida's. After pulling in the pass at the 26-yard line, Heidaran backtracked directly into the teeth of the Hackettstown defense only to find a slippery seam that helped him elude three tackles himself and earn a clean sprint to a touchdown.
Afterward, Hackettstown coach Tony Villante made clear that he couldn't understand how Guida had avoided being sacked, insisting to the New Jersey Herald that his team would go back to the drawing board in practices to keep another quarterback from pulling off a similar feat.
"When you have a quarterback who's trapped 10 yards in the backfield and fumbles the ball and then is able to pick it up and throw the ball and get it to somebody, in practice you've got to go back to technique and fundamentals," Villante told the New Jersey Herald. "We go over [fundamentals] a thousand times and we'll keep on going over."
Meanwhile, Chatham coach Don Morgenroth's comments to Chatham Patch on the game -- and the play -- were more cryptic, yet they spoke to his offense's ability to make the best of a tough situation.
"In the first half we couldn't make the calls we needed to on the field," Morgenroth told Chatham Patch. "Our headsets weren't working. But the guys up top did a good job making some adjustments."
Perhaps the people who deserved more credit for "adjustments" were Guida and Heidaran, who may have adjusted their way into the play of the year.
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