By Jerry Del Priore
With South Shore Vikings starting quarterback Darius Thomson getting knocked out of the game on a punt return even before he took a snap under center and their backup, Ivancile Jules, out due to imjury, Frankie Cullum was pressed into action.
Fortunately for the Vikings, Cullum — who said he had zero reps as a signal caller this season — enjoyed the game of his lifetime, a night in which most high school student-athletes can only imagine. Cullum scored four touchdowns — two in the air, one on the ground and one as a receiver — en route to leading his squad to a 25-14 storybook comeback win over host Lincoln (5-4) Friday night.
Head coach Matt Ciquera said that he didn’t prepare the senior well for backup duties, but Cullum rectified the situation, using his quiet confidence to spur him to a four-touchdown monster performance.
“I was already thinking in my head that I didn’t do a good job as a coach in having him prepared,” Ciquera said. “But he really stepped in. He’s a cool, composed kid. He clearly made some big throws; he threw two (TDs), he caught one, ran for one. He did it all today. He did a great job of just stepping in and being a winner.”
The victory completed South Shore’s perfect 9-0 regular season while earning the number-one seed in the PSAL City Conference playoffs.
Felling uneasy at first, Cullum quickly settled into his new role and almost single-handedly beat the Railsplitters .
“I was definitely nervous, anxious; never played quarterback a day in my life — no reps at practice,” Cullum said. “I just came in after being told I had to play quarterback; that’s what I did. It feels amazing.”
The Vikings drew blood first on a Cullum 16-yard roll out pass, staking them to a 7-0 lead with 3:03 left in the first period.
Lincoln struck back on a seven-yard TD pass to tie the contest at 7-7 with 10:21 remaining in the half.
But the Railsplitters surged ahead, 14-7, on a three-yard scoring rush late in the third quarter.
Refusing to quit, Cullum connected with senior receiver Raynito Clemente on 44-yard touchdown bomb, cutting the lead to 14-13 with 8:27 left in the tilt. But Lincoln blocked the ensuing extra point attempt.
However, South Shore’s defense stood tall, providing its offense with a fighting chance.
With that opportunity, the Viking wouldn’t be denied.
Pulling the proverbial rabbit out of the hat, Cullum pitched the ball to running back Malachi Williams, who threw a pass to Cullum as he crept out of the back field and into wide open field, deep in enemy territory, corralling the floating pigskin for a thrilling touchdown and a 19-14 advantage late in the game.
After South Shore’s defense forced the RailSplitters to turnover the ball on downs, Cullum capped the scoring a 41-yard TD bolt up the middle.
No. 1 Vikings earned a first-round bye in the postseason, which starts next week.
Watch South Shore Vikings run back a kickoff for solid field position in video below.