King’s Crushes Wilkes For Mayor’s Cup
EDWARDSVILLE — A year ago as a freshman at King’s, Elijah Demosthene got his first taste of the Mayor’s Cup game against cross-town rival Wilkes playing exclusively on the Monarch’s special teams. On Saturday, Demosthene made his first Mayor’s Cup start a magical one, equaling a King’s single-game record with three interceptions, including another program record 95-yard touchdown return as the Monarchs posted a 45-0 victory over the host Colonels at Schmidt Stadium.
With the win, King’s concluded the regular-season with a 5-5 overall record and a 4-4 Middle Atlantic Conference mark. The loss dropped Wilkes to 5-5 and 4-4 as well. The victory over Wilkes was the third in a row for King’s and the fifth in the last six seasons. It also marked the first time King’s shut out the Colonels since a 20-0 triumph in 2000.
King’s and Wilkes will now await word on a possible MAC-Centennial Conference Bowl Series berth. The participants are expected to be announced Monday morning.
King’s struck first quarterback Tommy Klock scored on a keeper. Wilkes’ Derek Schneider blocked the extra-point to keep it a 6-0 game.
Midway through the second quarter, Demosthene picked off Wilkes quarterback Jose Tabora for the second time in the half, returning the offering 15 yards to the Colonel 29.
On fourth-and-six, Klock found Gabe Boccella at the Wilkes 6 to give King’s first-and goal. On the next play, Klock scored again on a option-keeper to extend the Monarch lead to 13-0, the lead King’s took to halftime.
On the opening possession of the second half, King’s put together a six-play, 67-yard drive, capped by a 6-yard scoring toss from Klock to Boccella to stretch the King’s advantage to 20-0.
Wilkes looked to get back in the game and as Tabora moved the Colonels to the King’s 14. But on third-and-eight, Demosthene picked off Tabora at the Monarch 5 and took his third interception of the game 95 yards to the end zone. Klock ran in a two-point conversion, stretching the lead to 28-0.
Demosthene’s return broke the previous school-record of 91 yards set by Anthony Martuccio in 2014. He also equaled Craig Hayward’s single game record of three picks set in 2006.
“I have been waiting for a game like this and it finally happened,” Demosthene said. “But it wasn’t really about me. I give props to the defensive line and the linebackers as they all put in the pain and stitches for me to be able to get coverage interceptions. I really appreciate them and all my teammates who always tell me to strive for greatness. There is no better stage for this to have happened.”
King’s added a 25-yard Jack Barreras field goal to make it 31-0 with 14:55 left in the contest.
King’s added a 2-yard touchdown run by Jordan Downes, who surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing plateau during the drive.
The Monarch defense then provided its second score of the day when Tabora dropped back to pass and was sacked by Charles McCall. King’s defensive end Myles Shelton scooped up the loose ball and raced 30 yards into the end zone for the final score of the game with 5:00 to play.
King’s defense was outstanding throughout the game, limiting the Colonels to just 178 yards of total offense. The Monarchs sacked Tabora five times while forcing the Colonel standout into four turnovers, leading to 21 Monarch points.
For King’s coach Jeff Knarr, the key to the game was being able to get pressure on Tabora, a run-pass quarterback who has given opponents fits throughout his career.
“We put some different pressures in and our safeties were involved in the pressures,” Knarr explained. “A lot of the pressures were coming from the middle so we could get in his (Tabora) face and force him to go side-to-side and have our edge guys sitting there giving him no where to run. If he gets on the edge, he is extremely dangerous. So, the key to stopping him was to apply a lot of pressure and make him uncomfortable.
Knarr was also thrilled about the play of Demosthene, who the Monarch mentor said is finally beginning to believe in his abilities.
Elijah is a very talented kid,” Knarr said. “But he has also been his own worst enemy. Sometimes he doesn’t believe he is as talented as he really is but he has played better and better and his confidence has gotten higher and higher as the season has progressed. We feel he can cover anybody. Those picks he made were huge, especially the one when they were driving and he came up with that pick-six. He was a game-changer today.”
Demosthene was named King’s game Most Valuable Player after his record-setting performance. Wilkes senior linebacker Lukas Wood was selected as the Colonels’s game MVP after posting a team-high 11 tackles.
“We just didn’t play well. We turned the ball over too much,” Wilkes first-year coach Jonathan Drach said. “We didn’t play well enough offensively to possess the football. It was really the offense and the field position things that hurt us more than anything. Offensively, we basically scored 28 points for them. You can’t just give teams 28 points, field position, a pick-six, and those types of things. If you do that you’re not going to win the football game. They (King’s) did a great job, they were prepared, and their kids played real well.”