Anthony Cerruti had to wait to get on the football field.
Cerruti, a senior at St. Joe’s Prep, grew up in St. Jerome’s Parish, and when he was in grade school, he was always bigger than most of the kids his age. Because of that, he couldn’t play pound ball, so football was out of the question.
He stayed active, but he couldn’t do what he wanted to do.
“I didn’t play until CYO in sixth grade,” Cerruti said. “I played everything, basketball, baseball, swimming. I wanted to play football, but I didn’t have anywhere I could play.
“I liked baseball because I could hit the ball. That was a way to use my size and strength. That was my favorite sport before football.”
Now Cerruti is not only allowed to beat up on smaller guys, it’s encouraged, although he’s no longer much bigger than most of his opponents.
The starting center on the Hawks goes 5 feet 11 and weighs about 290 pounds, which is down about 30 pounds from his days as a sophomore, so he’s far more athletic now. And he’s helping an offense that is headed to the biggest game in the state on Saturday.
Cerruti and his teammates defeated Pine Richland 37-0 on Saturday in a Class 6A state semifinal at Altoona. The win not only sent the Hawks back to the state championship game, but allowed them to get a measure of revenge against a team that upset them last year in the state final.
“It was nice to beat them because of that, but the reason we wanted to beat them, at least the reason I wanted to beat them, was because they were the next team up,” Cerruti said. “We wanted to win because it meant we’d go back to the state championship.”
The game was fun for the Hawks because it meant hitting the road to take on an opponent they knew pretty well from playing last year. And thanks to a stout defense and a high-scoring offense, the Hawks had little trouble moving on.
In the game, which was played in wet conditions, the Hawks threw for more than 300 yards and rushed for more than 100.
“I love blocking for this team, I love playing for Prep because every game you play next to guys who are really good,” Cerruti said. “I like run blocking more, but I love pass blocking for (quarterback Kyle McCord), he’s having a great season. I just enjoy playing with them, the whole team.
“Road games are fun because I think it brings us closer. It makes us more like a family. The trips.”
Prep has enjoyed a fine season. After having its first game washed out due to a thunderstorm, the Hawks have reeled of 12 straight victories. They won the Catholic League Red Division championship and outscored opponents 528-172.
Cerruti moved into the starting lineup after the first game of his junior year and since he got the nod, Prep’s only loss was in the state championship.
Winning is fun, but he’s happy to be winning at Prep.
“Whenever we play anyone, they want to beat us,” Cerruti said. “Everybody hates us. Everybody gives us their best game. That makes games more fun. We can never take a game off because every game, we’re getting the other team’s best. That makes us better.”
Winning games is nice, but Cerruti knows he’s a few days away from the biggest high school game of his career when the Hawks meet Harrisburg on Saturday night in Hershey for the 6A championship.
Harrisburg advanced to the championship by knocking off Coatesville and spoiling an All-Southeastern Pennsylvania final.
“We thought we’d play Coatesville and we wanted to because everyone said that would be a good game,” Cerruti said. “But Harrisburg is a good team. Whoever you play in the state championship is going to be good.
“We just wanted to play together for as long as we could. We always wanted one more game, and next game is our last, so we’ll do everything we can to win it.”
Cerruti, a First-Team All-Catholic selection, is starting to figure out his next move. He wants to play college ball, but he’s unsure where he’ll end up.
“I definitely want to play, but I still have to talk to a lot of schools, I don’t know where I’m going to go,” he said. “I think I want to do something like design video games. I’m also attracted to the ocean, maybe do marine biology or something there. I’m not sure what I’ll do, those are just some things I’m interested in.”
But before college comes Chocolate Town.
This year, Cerruti hopes to not only bring home the state championship, but the big Hershey bar that comes along with winning the crown.
“I’ll want to save it, but I’ll probably eat it,” Cerruti said. “I just want to win.”