The 2001 Football Team
Emotion, grit and talent propelled Head Coach Frank deLaurentis’ squad to an 8-1 record. The team boasted the Triple Crown of prep football—the Mid-Atlantic Prep League title, the Prep A championship and the Big Three Trophy, emblematic of the best record between Peddie, Blair and Lawrenceville. Central to the heart and leadership of the team were captains Jon Johnston ’02 and Warren Clanton ’02.
2001 football team

(photo above from left to right) Top row: coach Rucks, Coach Leonardis, Coach deLaurentis, Coach Maley, Coach Mooney, Coach Kraft. 5th Row: Coach Clements, Elliot Silverstein, Heath Benedict, Gavin Vetrano, William Golden, Bradley Tipper. 4th Row: Kyle Woodruff, Alex Suarez, John Johnston, David Bauer. 3rd Row: Ronald Musser, Drew Rucks, Warren Clanton, Brie-El Parker, Stefan Scoon, Jason Auletta. 2nd Row: Richard Sobala, James Parra, Anthony Belasco, Taji Morris, Keith O’Donnell, Derrick Guneratne. Bottom Row: Michael deLaurentis, Anastase Dacey, Bilal Morris, Erik Lohrmann, David Kuptsow, Eric Bowes

Not easily intimidated, the Falcons defeated Blair Academy, 28-27, in a game Coach deLaurentis referred to as a “great comeback and personally my most satisfying win as a head coach.” After Peddie fell behind 27-14 at the intermission, Taji Morris ’03, the all-time leading rusher with 3,158 yards, closed the gap to 27-21 on an extraordinary 59-yard run. Quarterback David Kuptsow ’01 went to the air and hit wide receiver Bilal Morris ’03 for a 40-yard gain to the Falcon four. From there Kuptsow slashed into the end zone to knot the score, 27-27, and Rich Sobala ’04 kicked the extra point for the eventual game-winner. There was no celebration until a Bucs’ field goal attempt sliced to the right of its mark with seven seconds to go.

Playing a ramped up schedule, the Falcons rallied to defeat Inter-Academic power, Penn Charter, 19-12, and reversed a 7-0 Hill School lead to climb past the Rams 20-7. The only blemish in the Falcons’ season was a loss to Poly Prep, ranked 10th in USA Today’s Super 25 poll.

The 2001 campaign was also a time of remembrance and reflection as the opening game between Peddie and host Lawrenceville kicked off just four days after 9/11. The emotionally-charged Falcons catapulted out to a 31-9 lead early in the fourth quarter en route to a 44-32 victory.

Records show that the 2,026 yards rushing and 1,065 yards passing surpassed the single season totals set by the 1988 undefeated team. Drew Rucks ’02 had 19 receptions for 350 yards and six touchdowns. Coach deLaurentis was named the Delaware Valley Chapter of the National Football Foundation’s Hall of Fame Coach of the Year for 2001 and tacked on two more honors, the Trentonian and Trenton Times Coach of the Year. One of the most successful football teams at Peddie, the 2001 Falcons embodied the spirit of teamwork, determination and courage worthy of the Hall of Fame.