PENNINGTON, NJ >> With a 2-0 start now under first-year Hill School head coach Jeff Hollway, the Rams have already won one more game than they did in the past two seasons combined.
“This program is turning around,” two-way Ram lineman Will McCarter said.
The Rams picked up their second win Saturday afternoon with a 34-6 rout of Pennington School. They performed well on both sides of the ball, except for a few too many penalties. Those won’t work next week against Episcopal Academy, the team Hollway reminded his guys to focus on as soon as the bus arrived back in Pottstown Saturday night.
But it’s an excellent beginning for the Hollway era, which began in the steaming days of August.
“Coach had us really well prepared for everything,” McCarter said. “We went through the preseason, and nothing is harder than preseason, I don’t care what game it is.”
Daniel Adeboboye rushed for three touchdowns and gained 88 of his 107 yards (on 10 carries) in the second half as Hill School broke open a relatively close game (13-0 at the half) with 21 second-half points. Pete Boone added 85 yards on the ground and Gernard Finney 48 as the Rams rushed for 245 yards and a nearly 8 yards-per-attempt clip. The Ram O-line, providing plenty of creases and wide alleys, consists of McCarter, Griffin Lehman, Willem Mills, Simon Krizak and Khalif Jeter.
“The O-line was phenomenal,” said Adeboboye. “They’ve been working hard and blocking so well, I’ve just been running straight. “
Pennington came in 2-0 and averaging 25 points. They have a couple of dangerous running backs in Nyshear Woodson and Dante Wilson, but a swarming Ram defense basically shut down Woodson the entire game and limited Wilson except for a series leading to the Red Raiders’ lone score in the third quarter. Woodson rushed for 69 yards on 13 tries but 37 yards came on his last carry late in a long-gone game.
“We came into the game knowing we had to contain 1 (Woodson),” linebacker Daion Donaldson said. “We shut him down, and we played as a team with a lot of stops.”
The Rams also picked off three Brandon West passes, with Donaldson taking one to the house to make it 13-0 shortly before halftime. On the previous Pennington possession deep in Ram territory, the Rams’ Jack Bowen made a terrific diving interception in the end zone.
And Hill School made Pennington’s pads crackle numerous times. While the Rams were bringing the physicality, a large Ram student section making the road trip brought the vocality. Dymir Davis-Carruth, McCarter, Jeter, Wes Midy, Austin Keil and plenty of others led a spirited defensive effort.
“Our kids played solid,” Hollway said. “They run to the football and our guys really like to play defense.”
Hill School’s defense provided great field position several times early in the game but the Rams scored only one offensive TD in the first half. Penalties on both sides of the ball hurt a bit — 85 yards of flags for the Rams overall.
But the Rams quickly took charge in the second half as Adeboboye got rolling. Bowen, who had saved one touchdown, nearly scored one on a big 67-yard kick return that positioned Boone for a mid-third quarter TD that made it 27-6.
Early in the fourth, a couple of nice completions by Ram quarterback Syre Gruber to Mac Gallagher and Bowen got the Rams to the Pennington 8-yard line, where the drive stalled.
“We do have some weapons offensively, and we’re close to being as explosive as I think we are,” Hollway said.
Adeboboye’s 18-yard TD run put an exclamation mark on the day with 4:12 left.
“It was a whole team effort,” Donaldson said. “We’ve worked very hard and it’s paying off.”