When Mitch Tullai began his coaching career at St. Paul's, Louisville sophomore Johnny Unitas was starting to turn heads on college football fields. Yesterday, nearly 40 years later, Unitas' son, Joey, helped the Crusaders to a 45-0 win over visiting Southwestern for Tullai's 200th career victory.
Though the victory marked a milestone in his career, Tullai was quick to pass the credit to the more than 1,200 players he has coached since 1953.
"It's not 200 wins for me," said Tullai. "It's 200 wins for the kids who took part in it. They're the one's who made it happen."
Joey Unitas, a defensive end, recovered a third-quarter fumble and played a key role in the Crusaders' defense, which held the Sabres to 41 yards en route to recording its fifth shutout of the season.
"He kept on telling us not to concentrate on No. 200," said Unitas. "He said that it was something that would eventually come, but as a team we just really wanted to get it for him."
Tailback Ben Strutt, who scored on runs of 1 and 6 yards, and opened the second half with an 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, said he had a more personal reason to help his coach reach the milestone.
"My father played for him in the '60s," said Strutt. "He's been here for so long, and he knows so much about the game. He said it wasn't that important to him, but we knew it was a big thing."
Strutt helped St. Paul's score on its first possession, gaining 35 yards and capping , a seven-play, 55-yard drive with a dive from a yard out to make it 7-0 3 minutes, 11 seconds into the game.
After holding Southwestern in check on its opening drive, the Crusaders struck again, with Chas Offutt hitting Mike Watson with a 10-yard touchdown pass to extend the lead to 14-0.
Then, 49 seconds before halftime, St. Paul's made it 21-0, with Offuttconnecting with Tucker Radebaughfrom from 9 yards out.
The Sabres' deepest penetration in the first half was to the St. Paul's 42.
St. Paul's (7-0 overall, 5-0 in the Maryland Scholastic Association Conference) dominated in every aspect of the game. Tullai, 200-124 lifetime at the school, said this team might be one of his best.
"Frankly, they've really gelled," he said. "We seem to have the guys whofit in well. This is one of the best teams I've had in some time."
The Crusaders have now outscored their opponents, 240-14.
Though Tullai said he's had many fond memories of coaching the Crusaders, he said one of his finest moments came five years ago while confined to a hospital bed after suffering a heart attack. In recognition of what would have been career win No. 165, his players wrote "165" on the backs of their helmets, and St. Paul's went on to defeat Boys' Latin.
Paul's .14 7 7 17 -- 45
Southwestern 0 0 0 0 -- 0
SP -- Strutt 1 run (Mueller kick)
SP -- Watson 10 pass from Offutt (Mueller kick)
SP -- Radebaugh 9 pass from Offutt (Mueller kick)
SP -- Stutt 83 kickoff return (Mueller kick)
SP -- Strutt 6 run (Mueller kick)
SP -- Mueller 65 interception return (Watson pass from Unitas)