November 30, 2022

The least important part of a Thanksgiving Week rivalry game is the scoreboard.

After their Thanksgiving Eve game, the Paul VI and Camden Catholic football teams shook hands, traded the occasional hug, then retreated to their respective final post game huddles.  There was very little difference between the two.

For the record, the scoreboard read 51-0 for the host Eagles. Camden Catholic leads the all-time series 32-22-1.

Seniors said their final goodbyes. Underclassmen began the process to carrying on the mantle of leaderships for their programs. Clear evidence of the emotion of the night streaked their faces.

“This is awesome,” Paul VI junior quarterback Dom Santiago said. “It was great and special for the seniors. We have a great senior class. It was a nice way to send them off with a huge win, especially over Camden Catholic.”

Senior Gavin Bunt sparked the sparkling sendoff with a huge day, scoring on half of his six carries, forcing a first-quarter safety and deflecting a punt that was eventually returned by Santiago three yards for another touchdown.

Bunt scored on runs of 3, 7 and 15 yards. He ended with 54 yards total for his six carries. None of that compares to final lap he shared with his senior teammates before navigating a gauntlet formed by his teammates at the end of the senior lap.

“I’ve only been here like a year and a half,” Bunt said. “They already have this effect on me. These kids and these coaches are a part of me.”

Bunt transferred to Paul VI after his sophomore season at Audubon. He quickly became a big part of the Eagles program.

“Gavin is a great kid,” Santiago said. “He’s a phenomenal running back. He’s virtually unstoppable, honestly.”

Bunt’s impact has been indelible, honestly. Along with the rest of the Eagles’ senior class.

“I feel like the time we spent with everyone on this team and the coaches will help them be better. It will make them better leaders. We showed them what it’s like to be a captain on this football team. I we set that precedent.”

Paul VI finished off its second straight 7-3 season. Their final game sendoff has the Eagles looking forward.

“Our seniors really set an example for us for next year,” Santiago said. “We’re going to build off what they already built for us. We’re going to have another great year next year.”

Camden Catholic ended its season with a 1-8 record. Like Paul VI, the has already turned the page to its future. Seniors like running back Benjamin Concepcion set a worthy example through a challenging season.

“Football means a lot to me, especially because it’s my last year,” Concepcion said. “I feel like the young guys can use this as a lesson. They can learn from this.”

There’s nothing quite like a Thanksgiving Week football game, regardless of how the scoreboard reads.

“Football means everything to me,” Concepcion said. “Without football, I would have too much free time on my hands. Football has helped me. It has helped me. It just makes me happier. I’d do anything in the world to be out here with these guys. I love them.”

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