ELMWOOD PARK — After a last-minute loss to Chicago Christian in Week 7, Elmwood Park coaches turned the reins over to sophomore Brandon Romero.
The result was three rushing touchdowns by the quarterback for a 35-14 win over Walther Christian in the Metro Suburban East. In the process, Elmwood Park (2-6, 1-3) ended a six-game losing skid while the Broncos (0-8, 0-5) still are looking for their first victory.
Romero, the 5-10, 176 pound quarterback, guided the way.
“I just thought that was motivation for me,” Romero said. “He [coach John Freeman] told me I was starting this week. … I work hard during practice and so does the rest of the team. They work their butt off. I believe I just show that leadership. Leadership is just what perseveres me all the time.”
The Tigers didn’t start great. Dominic Cadetto fumbled while returning the opening kick and the Broncos recovered. Walther Christian capitalized with a 13-yard rushing touchdown by Corey Pugh.
On the very next drive, Elmwood Park was able to take advantage of multiple penalties by Walther. Cadetto redeemed himself with a 13-yard TD of his own. Then Romero scored on a 6-yard keeper to make it 14-6 Elmwood Park.
A second-quarter fumble by Romero set up Jaylen Pugh for a 4-yard TD run before the half and following a two-point conversion pass to Kevin Smith, the teams looked to be heading into the locker room tied.
At that point, Romero displayed his leadership that earned him the varsity start.
His second touchdown keeper of the night with 1:25 left sent the Tigers into halftime with the lead.
“Our athletic director [Douglas Noyes] always tells us to have a short memory,” Romero said. “So once that play happens, once you hit the sideline, it’s over. … You go out there, you get on the field and you just play.”
The Tigers would then distance themselves in the second half. Romero ran in another keeper in the third quarter and Moscatello returned a punt 21 yards to cap the scoring.
Cadetto was happy with Romero’s performance.
“He’s one of my best friends and I’m very proud of him,” Cadetto said.
Romero would finish 5-for-9 for 118 yards passing and had 42 yards on 12 carries. Freeman called it a coach’s decision to start him over Jason Polito-Carlson, who entered the game in the fourth quarter.
“He’s a sophomore. Each week, he’s gotten a little better,” Freeman said. “He threw the ball pretty well tonight.”