November 23, 2013 at 6:40 PM
Updated at 5:10 p.m. Sunday
The Championship game will be played on Saturday, Dec. 7, 1 p.m., at Kean University
CALDWELL, NJ - James Caldwell High School scored 43 unanswered points to defeat Lodi, 43-6, in the semifinals of the NJSIAA North 2, Group 2 Tournament on Saturday afternoon. The Chiefs brought a balanced attack, scoring two touchdowns on the ground and in the air, one on defense and one on special teams.
“We knew that we had to stop them and that was the key to the game,” Chiefs’ head coach Ken Trimmer said. “It’s not just the offense and it’s not just the defense, it’s a tribute to the whole team.”
Credit: Michael Romano
Lodi jumped on the scoreboard first after the Chief's three-and-out set up a 47-yard scramble by quarterback Emmanuel Appiah with 6:16 left in the first quarter. The Rams’ two-point conversion attempt failed on a rollout interception thrown by Appiah.
Chiefs’ quarterback Joe Salter fumbled on the first play of the ensuing possession and it seemed like Lodi was going to blow the game open with good field position, but Caldwell’s defense forced a three-and-out.
With 3:31 left in the first half, the Chiefs were faced with a fourth and five from the Rams’ 33 yard line. Salter took the snap and rolled out to find a wide open Dylan Sorriente over the middle of the field who took it in for the score. The extra point gave Caldwell a 7-6 lead going into halftime.
The Chiefs got to work in the second half starting with a 26-yard touchdown pass to senior Sean Clarkin on another rollout pass to the corner of the endzone. With 2:52 left in the third quarter, Jack Docteroff added to the Chiefs lead with a 49-yard punt return after a high snap led to a short kick.
James Caldwell's Jack Docteroff Credit: Michael Romano
Just before the end of the third quarter, Caldwell’s defense sacked Appiah and Clarkin scooped it up for a 20-yard return for a score.
“We put such an emphasis on defensive and special teams scores,” Salter said. “So that was huge to keep the momentum going and we didn't even give them a chance in the second half.”
James Stille and John Mannion each added a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter to put the game away.
"Our boys played great! I'm so proud of them!" cheered Christine Gurriere, of Caldwell, whose son Michael plays cornerback and running back. "They have played hard all season long and my son, a senior, along with many of his fellow players have been playing together since they were in flag football. This is such a sweet win for them to go to the championship game together!"
The Chief's next game will be against Verona - at home, 10:30 am. on Thanksgiving, before they play for a state championship against Mountain Lakes High School, Saturday, Dec. 7, 1 p.m., at Kean University.
James Caldwell's Raymond Iodice Credit: Michael Romano