By STEVE GALLUZZO | Sports Editor
On his team’s very first offensive play last Thursday, Palisades High JV quarterback Roman La Scala took the snap, dropped back five steps and calmly launched a 36-yard touchdown pass into the arms of receiver Braydon Sanford. That throw set the tone for the Dolphins’ 24-0 victory at Birmingham and solidified La Scala’s role as the starting signal caller.
“Roman is light years ahead of where he was when we scrimmaged Birmingham in August,” JV head coach Ray Marsden said. “Back them he was a deer in headlights. It was like playing telephone with me. I’d dial something up and yet by the time it got to the huddle, it wasn’t the play I called. Last year he was in my Zoom class and I had four kids wanting to be quarterback. In camp we narrowed it down to three and by the time the season started it was Roman and Brett [Federman] sharing reps.”
A sophomore who missed out on his freshman season because COVID-19 canceled all JV competition, La Scala showed the poise and maturity of a senior against the host Patriots, sneaking three yards to cap Palisades’ second scoring drive and tossing a 31-yard touchdown strike to Evan Nehrenberg in the third quarter. He put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter by pump faking twice to freeze the linebackers before hitting Nehrenberg in stride on a 72-yard bomb. When he was not finding open receivers, he was gaining big yardage running the ball to move the chains and sustain drives.
To him, though, it was all in a day’s work.
“I like running and throwing but what’s great about quarterback is that I’m touching the ball every snap,” said La Scala, who played flag football for years before arriving at Palisades and will play lacrosse in the spring. “My goal next year is to win the varsity job. It’s a tough position because the whole team is depending on you. My coaches are hard on me, but it’s because they know the potential I have.”
Marsden appreciates La Scala’s versatility most and believes he will only get better as he gets more experience.
“Him losing his freshman year was huge,” Marsden said. “If I had him last year he’d be putting up video game numbers like today. He’s probaby our best tailback too.”
In Palisades’ first four games, La Scala has accounted for eight touchdowns—four rushing and four passing.
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