RUTHERFORD — As good as Jonathan Diaz has been on the field this season, St. Mary coach Michael Sheridan says he’s just as impressive off it.
The dynamic, playmaking senior running back exploded for five first-half touchdowns Saturday, as St. Mary dominated from start to finish en route to a 51-19 win over Weehawken.
“Every team has one,” Sheridan said. “But Jonathan … he’s the kind of kid who never says a word, he runs scout teams for us when needed, he wants to be treated just like everyone else.
“He’s someone who says, ‘I’m a teammate’ first’ and doesn’t want the attention he gets. It’s all about the team with him. On the field, he’s just a throwback football player. He just jumps out at you.”
He jumped out Saturday early and often, breaking five runs more than 20 yards in the first half and scored on runs of 1, 51, 36, 21 and 4 yards. He found the end zone on half his first-half carries (5-of-10) and went into halftime with 190 yards on 10 carries as the Gaels led, 44-6.
Staying true to his nature, Diaz deflected any praise for his performance and directed it to his offensive line instead.
“The O-line, those guys were amazing today,” said Diaz, who finished with 11 carries for 199 yards and the five scores and also converted four two-point conversion runs.
“They blocked hard all game. The whole week we prepared for this and we came out and did what we had to do. Our hard work this week really showed. We just took the lead early and kept it going.”
Diaz wasn’t the only offensive star Saturday, as Connor Cuccinelli picked up huge chunks of yardage with two long receptions in the first half from quarterback Ryan Monaghan. On the Gaels’ first drive, Cuccinelli was on the receiving end of a 62-yard reception down to the 1, setting up Diaz’s first score. Two drives later, Cuccinelli hauled in a 65-yard touchdown catch to put St. Mary ahead, 22-0.
“We really had a good, balanced attack out there [today],” Sheridan said. “Cuccinelli and [A.J.] Godsil, they give us options in what we can do. Kudos to the guys up front, though, too. They allowed us to have that balance.”
St. Mary improved to 6-0 and now sits in the driver’s seat in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference Patriot Division at 4-0.