Ten quarters after a disastrous four-interception first half against Archbishop Carroll in La Salle’s league opener, Explorer quarterback Tommy LaMorte has found his stride.
Last week, he calmly picked through Archbishop Ryan’s defense for 84 yards on 7-of-10 passing for a pair of touchdowns. This week, though, was the real coming out party. In La Salle’s 35-7 blowout of Father Judge, the senior put on an 18-for-21 clinic for 263 yards and three scores.
“We call him ‘Tommy Touchdown’ for a reason,” said La Salle receiver Troy Holland.
LaMorte, on the other hand, was a bit more subdued when talking about the success he’s had.
“The o-line was beautiful today,” he said, hesitant to take too much credit. “I had plenty of time.”
“I don’t think I got sacked once,” he went on. He did, but he eventually realized it: “It was my own fault. I should have stepped up.”
That was just about his only mistake. On a moist, misty night, it took until the third quarter for him to throw an incompletion.
“Tom’s nothing fancy,” said Explorer head coach John Steinmetz. “He’s just doing his job. He’s getting better every day.”
“He’s making the right reads, and it’s great,” Steinmetz went on. “He’s doing a great job—it’s as simple as that.”
He didn’t get a touchdown until the third quarter, despite providing 89 of 101 via his arm on La Salle’s first two touchdown drives. One of those drives—a 58-yard two-minute drill punctuated by a 4-yard Syaire Madden run (the drive’s only rushing attempt)—illustrated how locked in LaMorte was.
“We practice the two-minute drill all the time, so it was like clockwork,” he said.
A twenty-yard pass to Manny Quiles? Tick. An 18-yarder to Brett Mallee? Tock. Three more throws to Holland? Tick.
“It really wasn’t a problem,” he went on. “We just stuck to what we do in practice. It’s become muscle memory for us.”
In the second half, when the run game struggled, he broke through. With 3:29 left in the third, LaMorte connected with Joey Burnham for a four-yard score to extend La Salle’s lead to 21. A 22-yard strike to Holland put them up 28, and after Judge answered with their only touchdown of the night, LaMorte found Holland for another touchdown—this one for 64 yards—to conclude the game’s scoring.
Holland, a junior, was clearly his favorite target for the night. In addition to his two touchdowns, he finished with a whopping 13 receptions for 210 yards.
“He’s one of my trustworthy receivers,” LaMorte said. “I know he’s always going to get open—it’s just a matter of getting him the ball.”
It seems like it just started, but La Salle is now two-thirds of the way through its regular season. Halfway through their conference slate, the Explorers have dispatched their first three opponents with relative ease, but following a bye week next weekend, they’ll have to face Roman Catholic, St. Joe’s Prep, and Archbishop Wood. With the quality of those teams, it’s basically a playoff tournament before the actual playoffs, so it’s important that the Explorers and their QB are rolling.
“We feel pretty confident,” LaMorte said. “We still have a lot of improving to do, but considering where we started, we’re doing pretty well.”
“As the year’s gone on, we’ve gradually gotten better,” he went on. “I feel more comfortable, the o-line’s looking great.”
“In our bye week, we’re just going to prepare for Roman and the Prep,” he said, “because they’re our next two.”
Not to mention Archbishop Wood after that. It doesn’t get easier.
“No it doesn’t,” he said. “We’ve got a tough schedule ahead of us, but it’s nothing that we can’t prepare for.
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