Mastrangelo helps Raiders run away from Judge

Joey Mastrangelo went for 100 yards receiving and returned an interception for a touchdown in Ryan’s 21-14 win over Judge. PHOTO: MARY DASILVA

Joey Mastrangelo always appreciates his blockers.

Even when they’re too good.

Mastrangelo is a senior on the Archbishop Ryan High School football team, and he uses his speed to help the offense at wide receiver and defense at free safety. But he’s also been doing a lot of damage on special teams this year, where he’s returned punts for touchdowns in each of the first three games of the season.

But only once did he get credit for the scores.

“I’ve had two called back because of penalties,” said Mastrangelo, who lives in Morrell Park. “I can’t be mad, though, because they’re just out there hitting people. (The player who committed the foul) hit three people on one play. If he doesn’t block, I’m not taking it back. I like running them back for touchdowns, but I never get mad at penalties. It means they’re hitting someone.”

On Saturday night, Mastrangelo’s punt return TD was called back, but he did return an interception 79 yards to help the Raiders defeat Father Judge 21-14 in an entertaining and well-played game in front of a packed house at Northeast. It was the first win for Ryan coach Bill Murphy, who graduated from Judge. It was the first loss of the season for the Crusaders.

Ryan got a pair of rushing touchdowns from Aidan Clancy, including a 55-yard scamper in the third quarter to give Ryan a 21-7 edge.

The Crusaders got a pair of rushing scores from quarterback Mike Van Horn.

Mastrangelo has become a star this year for Ryan, and every week he’s showing more and more. On top of the great plays on defense, he showed flashes of brilliance, especially on the final play before halftime when he caught a pass for 64 yards before his momentum caused him to fall before he was able to score.

“It felt good to get that ball, I thought I could score but I reached out to catch it and I just couldn’t stay up,” said Mastrangelo, who had 101 yards receiving on the night. “I think it gave us more momentum going into halftime. We really expected to win this game because we played two tough teams and lost, but we were getting better. I think it helped to play tough suburban teams to get ready for games like this.

“We were close. I think last week (against Upper Moreland), we showed that we’re a lot better than we were. But we still have a lot to do.”

If the Mastrangelo name seems familiar to football fans, it’s because it wasn’t that long ago when his dad, Joe, was the starting quarterback for Washington in 2001. Growing up, his dad would always throw balls to him, but he didn’t pass everything on to his son.

“I have no arm,” Mastrangelo said with a smile. “I was always fast. I’ve been playing football my whole life, but I’ve always been a receiver or defensive back. It’s just what I’m good at.”

It helps that Mastrangelo has speed. And he also has decent size, standing just under 6 feet. But that’s not what makes him special.

“He’s different,” Murphy said. “He has great vision and he uses that. He had some big plays for us. The punt return, the interception. He makes plays. He’s been doing it all year. He’s a player.”

According to Mastrangelo, while he is fast, it’s not the speed and quickness that makes him such a tough player to bring down when he gets the ball in space.

“I’m just really good at reading everything and we have great guys who block for me,” Mastrangelo said. “I’ve always been pretty good at seeing things. It’s like things slow down when I get the ball. I just see everything pretty well and I’m able to pick up yards. It looks slow to me, but it’s not going slow. It just how it seems.”

Mastrangelo hopes his early season success will lead to offers.

His dream is to play Division I football, but he really wants a chance to go to play college football. He’s put himself in position to do that, not only on the field, but also in the classroom where he has worked hard to become a good student.

“I’m embarrassed by this, but I couldn’t play my sophomore year because of my grades,” said Mastrangelo, who would like to study something that involves sports like physical therapy or become a teacher and a coach. “But I worked really hard and now I do great. I’ve worked really hard on that, just putting more time in and learning. I’ve also had a lot of help. It’s been great. Ryan has been great, the teachers, but I also had help from my mom and my girlfriend. They all helped make me a better student and I’m doing great. That’s all I needed, I just needed to do the work.”

He thinks if the Raiders continue to work hard, they’ll enjoy the same success.

“I think we’re better every week and we’re going to get better next game, too,” said Mastrangelo, who will lead the Raiders into battle on Thursday against Neumann-Goretti. “I really want to get back to the playoffs and play (Upper Moreland) again. I think that would be a great game. We lost two games so far, I really don’t want to lose many more. I think this team is good enough to win a lot of games.”