Sals defeat Middletown, claim state football title


For The Dialog


NEWARK – Second-ranked Salesianum defeated top-seeded Middletown, 23-7, Saturday night for the second time in three weeks, securing the school’s fall crown of championships – cross country, soccer, and now football.

The Sals were led at the University of Delaware’s Tubby Raymond Field by the three-headed offensive monster of running back Troy Reeder, tight end Brian O’Neill and quarterback Matt Sgro. Reeder and Sgro combined for 190 yards rushing, 130 of those from Penn State commit Reeder.

Salesianum’s Troy Reeder dives for a touchdown in the Sals’ 23-7 win in the DIAA Division I championship game Saturday night at the University of Delaware. The Dialog/

The biggest play, however, came from O’Neill, who caught a 63-yard touchdown pass with 53 seconds left in the first half, erasing a short-lived 7-3 Cavaliers lead. The 6-7 O’Neill leaped over a defender, then sprinted into the end zone to give his team a 10-7 halftime lead they would not relinquish.

Salesianum coach Bill DiNardo said he was “proud of the fight of this team as we beat a very good Middletown team.”

Middletown moved the ball downfield on its first two drives in the second half, but were turned away on fourth-down plays both times. The Cavaliers were 0-for-5 in the red zone for the game.

Salesianum held the 10-7 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth and 2 at the Middletown 6 on their first drive of the quarter, Sgro handed the ball to Reeder, who picked up three yards and a key first down. Reeder got the ball again on the next play, taking it in for a touchdown and a 17-7 lead with 7:31 remaining.

The Cavaliers turned over the ball on downs on their next possession, and Salesianum sealed the win with another score. Reeder and Sgro did most of the work, including on another fourth down, this time at the Middletown 11. Reeder took the ball into the end zone, giving the Sals a 23-7 advantage with 2:30 left.

Salesianum celebrates its first state title since 2009. The Dialog/

In his final high school game, Reeder scored two touchdowns. O’Neill called the running back “the rock of the team,” but Reeder credited the offensive line “for creating holes. They stepped up big.” For his part, O’Neill, who is headed to Pittsburgh to play his college ball, closed out his time at Sallies with five catches for 88 yards and that huge touchdown.

Sgro received praise from his coach, Bill DiNardo. “Sgro had a big year for them and was the difference this year for this team,” DiNardo said.

The Sals finished the season 11-1, including a regular-season win over Middletown at Baynard Stadium. They avenged their two shutout losses to the Cavaliers in 2012, once during the regular season and the other in last season’s championship.