Connor Tariche was positioned perfectly. He watched as the quarterback was chased from the pocket by Jack Fowler and Vincent Speranza, then tracked the underthrown ball before making a leaping catch for the interception.
That's when he felt it.
The Chaminade safety began to cramp immediately.
"But our coach has told us that at the Kentucky Derby all the horses are out of breath after a quarter-mile," Tariche said. "It's all heart from there and they keep going."
Well, giddy up!
After snagging the interception, the senior cut to the outside, showing only a slight limp, and picked up blocks as he raced untouched up the left sideline for a 66-yard touchdown -- the first of his career. His TD gave the Flyers a 24-point lead en route to a 31-13 win over Kellenberg Saturday in both teams' non-league season opener.
Jack Tigh had three rushing touchdowns and Chaminade forced four turnovers, christening its new Gold Star Stadium before a roaring home crowd.
But as the revamped field was unveiled and a revamped lineup debuted, the Flyers flashed some of their vintage signs. Chaminade won a CHSAA title in 2012 and reached the final last season, but the graduation of several standouts left some to wonder how potent this group could be.
"We have stuff to work on, but we definitely had a lot of great plays," Flyers coach Stephen Boyd said. "We expect a lot of our kids, and they expect to make things happen."
Tigh expected to make something happen immediately. The running back promised himself in the weeks leading up to the season he would return the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
Almost had it!
Tigh danced through the wedge and shook the coverage unit for 52 yards, setting Chaminade up at the 30, and later cashed in with a 1-yard TD plunge. "You want to create that spark early," said Tigh, who had 62 yards from scrimmage.
His 10-yard burst off right guard made it 14-0 with 11:27 left in the second quarter. Jack O'Hanlon added a 24-yard field goal in the second before Tariche's pick-6 pushed the lead to 24-0 with 5:16 left in the third.
Brian Goulard, Erick Pacher and Ted Capsis anchored Chaminade's D-line. Jack Morris had an interception and the Flyers recovered two fumbles, including Speranza's scoop of Fowler's strip in the third. They held Kellenberg scoreless until Jesse Clara's 35-yard TD catch from Robert Mossa with 3:54 left. Mossa added a late TD run.
Nick Crennan also was solid for the Flyers in his first start, filling the shoes of former superstar QB Sean Cerrone. Crennan was 6-for-14 for 101 yards, including a 41-yarder to his old JV buddy Tyler Toussaint in the first. Facing a third-and-16, he fired a perfect pass to Touissaint on a skinny post to the 22, preceding Tigh's second score.
"We've got some big shoes to fill and it won't be easy," Crennan said, "but we're building confidence and we believe in ourselves."
These colts might just have a run in them.