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BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - With a successful first half of the season in the books, be assured Gov. Livingston football coach Dan Guyton has his Highlander team keenly aware that they are in position to accomplish possibly all the team goals they set back in summer camp.
Gov. Livingston (3-1, 2-1) winners of three of their first four games can lock down one of those goals, a division title, when they host the winless Roselle Rams (0-3,0-2 ) on Saturday in Berkeley Heights. A victory over Roselle would give Gov. Livingston a share of the Division 2B crown in the newly formed Big Central Conference. A regular season winning record, a meaningful playoff game win, and of course a Thanksgiving Day victory over rival New Providence are all achievements that are all within the grasp of this Highlander team. There is plenty of football still left to be played, but this Gov. Livingston team has set the stage for arguably claiming the most successful gridiron season in over a decade.
Last week Gov. Livingston rebounded from a difficult loss to Bernards with a convincing 27-7 win over Johnson (1-2). Back to back physical games against Hillside (3-1) and Bernards (3-1) had left Gov. Livingston a bit nicked up, but despite that the Highlanders turned in their best game of the season on both sides of the ball in the Johnson win. The team should be at full strength when they host Roselle on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon.
Gov. Livingston multi-sport star Jayson Schmidt continues to build on his Highlander football legacy every week. As he has done from his first scrimmage as a sophomore when he ripped off an 80 yard TD run, Schmidt continues to find the end zone. Against Johnson, Schmidt went over the 30 career TD mark when he hauled in a pair of scoring passes from Connor Tracy. Schmidt (75-295,3TD) who continues to grind out yards on the ground has added another dimension to his game as a down field receiver. The Highlanders offense has looked more confident as first year QB Tracy (224 yds.,4 Td, 3 Int) and his O-Line have adapted to the new offensive schemes that have been implemented this year.This year's run/pass ratio is more balanced which has kept opposing defenses guessing. The new look offense has spread the ball around with Joe Riggi, Victor Chait, James Carbone, Nick Richel, and Matt Quinn all getting opportunities to make plays. However, the offensive line of Peter Iossa, Luke Stallone, Zack Glenn, Frank DiMuzio, and Tyler Pardo could very well hold the key to the teams second half success as they have continued to improve both blocking and protecting.
Roselle (0-3) comes in winless but the Rams will present some unique challenges particularly when they have the ball. Jared McRae and Josh Ruth give the Rams a great running combo as the pair combined for close to 2000 yards and 17 TD’s last season. Speedy reciever Daniel Destine will try to stretch the field as the Rams struggling offense looks to get on track. Last year Roselle lost their first six games before McRae and Ruth took over to lead the Rams to five straight wins. One of Roselle's wins was a 42-20 rout of Gov. Lvingston with McRae and Ruth rushing for a combined 274 yards. This season the Rams have been out scored 133-20 in their first three games. However expect veteran Roselle coach James Williams to have his team motivated to get that first win under their belt when they head up to the Heights.
Defensively, the Highlanders will be back at full strength with outside backer Chait returning. Physical play up front by Stallone, Iossa, DiMuzio, and Glenn has to slow down the Roselle run game to allow middle backer Schmidt along with his younger brother John ,and Jake Quandt to clean up behind the defensive front. Expect the Highlanders to crowd the line with sure tacklers Riggi and Chait protecting the edge. If Roselle gets down early like they did at Bernards last week they will go to the passing game. The Rams would up with 220 passing yards after having their running game completely shut down. It will be interesting to see if they counter the Highlanders stacked line of scrimmage by putting the ball in the air early in the contest. Coach Williams wants the ball in McRae’s hands in the open field, so look for McRae to be targeted with short quick hitters out of the slot. Highlander defensive backs, Riggi, Andrew Ciraco, Steven Manfreda, and Matt Quinn need to make sure they don’t just play the run as Roselle will also attempt go deep.
Needless to say, Gov. Livingston needs to get by Roselle before they start thinking about the remainder of their schedule or the “postseason” that he NJSIAA has proposed for this unpredictable pandemic scholastic sports fall season. On Friday night in New Providence, the Gov. Livingston coaching staff can get a good look at the Highlanders next two opponents when Brearley( 3-1) takes on New Providence (4-0) for the 1B division title of the Big Central Conference.
Gov. Livingston's match up with Brearley next Friday night in Kenilworth will have a major impact on the Highlanders' seeding in the NJSIAA “Football Postseason Grouping.” There will be no sectional state championships this year but instead a four team (two game ) “postseason” will be played during second and third weekends of November. This will allow most schools to have completed at least an 8 game schedule for the 2020 season.
The NJSIAA will oversee the postseason but the individual New Jersey football conferences will organize their member schools into four-team groupings based on competitive balance, school size and geography.The NJSIAA will announce the postseason groupings on Sunday, Nov. 8 .
There is a lot that happens between now and Thanksgiving, but it all starts with the Highlanders getting a Halloween afternoon win over Roselle.
The game will be live streamed on GLTV youtube. Attendance is limited in accordance with the state of NJ Covid guidelines.