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When the St. Joseph sophomore football team won its first conference championship last season since 1988, it represented hope for a varsity program that hasn’t enjoyed much success.
The Chargers believe the addition of many key players from the underlevel squad that finished 4-0 in the Chicago Catholic Red can make a difference.
“We’re looking to build off of that momentum,” second-year St. Joseph coach Anthony Griffin said. “Our expectations with the junior class now with us, and a pretty good senior class, are higher. We have some good playmakers.”
Leading the group of talented newcomers is junior Jervon Hudson.
The 6-foot-5, 295-pound offensive and defensive lineman helped the sophomores finish 6-3 overall and was named the team’s most valuable player.
“That experience was overwhelming,” Hudson said. “I was just so happy to help the team in that way. A huge amount of that team is coming up and we have that taste of victory in our mouths. We want to help the team win more games this year. I believe we’re heading in the right direction.”
Hudson figures to play a key role in what should be an improved offense.
“He’s a big, athletic kid,” Griffin said. “He’s a tackle and will play a little defensive line, but offense is his bread and butter. He’s a kid that can get some big-time college looks as he goes forward.”
Hudson has one main goal in his first varsity season.
“I just want to protect my quarterback,” Hudson said. “I’m pretty fast for a big guy. I can also block downfield.”
St. Joseph’s varsity finished 0-9 last season and returns a few key players.
Senior Robert Calvin (5-10, 190) was an all-conference selection as a linebacker and running back. Senior Aaron Bell (6-1, 150) led the team in receiving as a junior and is also a solid defensive back. Senior linebacker Hector Crespo (5-11, 200) paced the Chargers in tackles.
“We’re looking to be more competitive this season,” Griffin said. “We have no expectations as far as wins and losses are concerned. We just want to have a good showing each game and get better.”
Also among the talented junior newcomers are quarterback Casey Scalice (5-10, 155), wide receiver Demetrius Morrow (6-2, 165), defensive back Wesley Becton (5-8, 145) and linebacker Victor Johnson (5-8, 185).
“We’re a young team so there is going to be some growing pains, but the young guys know what it takes to win,” Griffin said. “We have a bunch of hard-nosed kids that never give up.