BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Gov. Livingston’s 16-14 win over Hillside put Gov. Livingston's football team on the map. 

The Courier News moved Gov. Livingston in the Area’s Top Ten in the 6th slot and NJ.Com ranked them 10th in their statewide Group 3 rankings for the week. They now have a target on their back as the team that defeated the NJSIAA South Jersey, Group 2 championship who went 12-0 last season.

With that recognition the Highlanders won’t be sneaking up on anyone the rest of the way. 

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In this Hillside win, senior Jayson Schmidt, a great leader and 3-year starter on both sides of the ball, has again proven how valuable a player he is. On the opening kickoff, Schmidt fielded the ball at the 10, and cut hard to his right through a pack of blockers and defenders scoring a 90-yard score. After Gov. Livingston surrendered the lead late in the game, Schmidt lifted his team once again, scoring with two minutes left in the game to put GL back in front with a 38-yard TD run. 

Along with his offinsive performance, Schmidt led the team with 15 tackles. "We moved him to MLB on defense this year where he has played extremely well especially considering it is a new position for him," said Highlander head coach Dan Guyton. "His 91 yard kick return to open the game, his blocked FG, his team leading 15 tackles and game winning 38 yard TD run collectively represented one of the best all around performances in GL Football history, especially when you consider the tough Hillside competition who came into the game as the 24th ranked team in the state." 

“It was a lot of fun to take down a state champion,” Schmidt told TAPinto. “I was nervous before the kickoff as usual, but we had the return going to the right and I got a great block from Jake Quandt. Once I turned the corner I was pretty sure I was gone and that gave us a huge energy lift. They were definitely favored to win.”

Guyton couldn't be more proud of Schmidt. "He possesses obvious athletic talents, but in my mind his strongest attribute is his steadfast character as an ultimate role model for the underclassmen in our program," said Guyton.

Guyton was also impressed with the stellar play of senior defensive linemen. Among his linemen, Guyton is impressed with Luke Stallone's intensity on both sides of the ball and on virtually every special teams. He said, "Luke Stallone has really stepped up his game this season on the line where he registered another sack on Saturday, bringing his total to three in two games," said Guyton. "Our defensive line made up of seniors Luke, Peter Iossa, Nick Richel, Zach Glenn and junior Frankie DiMuzio have been outstanding during our first two games this season."

Stallone was moved from center to tackle this season on offense. "Luke has consistently fought off double teams from his defensive tackle position where he has been playing with great technique and pad level," said Guyton.

"We challenged Luke this summer and during preseason practices knowing the type of player Luke could be, and he exceeded our expectations in our wins vs. Keyport and Hillside the last two weekends.  We are extremely proud of Luke and the rest of our lineman for their great improvement thus far this season," he said.  

Schmidt and Stallone are named Valairco Heating and Cooling Highlander Athlete of the Week for their key contributions on both sides of the ball in the stunning victory over Hillside.  

Additional comments from the athletes:

TAPinto: What were your personal and team goals coming into your senior season ?

Jayson: Going into the season, me and the rest of the seniors had a bitter taste in our mouth from last year. Not only did we want to improve as a unit, we wanted to incorporate a new level of intensity and detail into everything we did, starting with our online summer workouts and conditioning. As far as personal goals, I just wanted to improve overall with leading the team in all aspects of the game. Whether it meant teaching techniques to some of the underclassman and freshman or getting on some of the older guys for showing up late or talking too much at practice. I feel like leading with example is the best way for others to follow, learn and for everyone to be on the same page. 

Luke: I don’t have personal goals other than playing to the best of my ability every play. My goals for the team are to stick together and win.

TAPinto: Do you have any particular plays or games that stand out in your mind as favorite football memories?

Jayson: I would say that my touchdown in the final minutes of the Hillside game was a play that stands out the most to me. Finally, being able to break through and celebrate with my teammates was one of the best feelings considering all the misfortunes we’ve been though the prior years. At that moment, everything was coming full circle. It started in 3rd or 4th grade when we all started playing football together, and it concluded with the same group of guys many years later taking down one of the best teams in the state.  

Luke: The game against Voorhees last year, although we didn’t win we came together as a team and fought till the last whistle.

TAPinto: Your favorite play: Big Hit, Interception, Touchdown?

Jayson: Two years ago, at the Thanksgiving game, I was able to run for 200 yards and score 3 touchdowns to help my team win over New Providence. This game was significant to me because of its magnitude, as it was the last game the seniors would ever play together, and the fifth consecutive win we had over New Providence. Just being able to have an impact on the game and contribute in any way I could is something I was proud of. 

TAPinto: Who has given you the best advice in football or otherwise?

Jayson: I think that Coach Guyton’s perseverance, love for the game and the team is something that I like to take away from him. He has a next game mentality and never gets caught up in the past. These traits certainly resonate with me, and I find myself applying these to more things in my life than just football.

Luke:  I would have to say one of our coaches from last year, Coach Marretta gave me advice that's helped me in the game and outside the game of football.  

TAPinto: Role Models?

Jayson: My grandmother is someone I look up to because of her willingness, hard work, and passion for life.  She has taught me that hard times can be overcome by being positive and working hard. 

Luke: I have a lot of role models in my life but in the case of football I don't have one in particular.

TAPinto: Who is your favorite football player of all time?

Jayson: I would say that Ray Lewis is one of my favorite football players of all time. I love how dominant he was and his great leadership skills. I try to implement some of his traits into my game as well. 

Luke: Lawrence Taylor and Aaron Donald 

TAPinto: What other activities at GL do you participate in sports or otherwise?

Jayson: Other than football, I love baseball and have been playing the sport my entire life. I also try to make it to as many sporting events at GL to support my friends and teammates. 

Luke: I am also the starting varsity lacrosse goalie. 

TAPinto: What are your plans for next year and does it include playing a sport in college?

Jayson: Next year I plan on continuing playing football at the College level.  I am still reviewing my choices, and unsure of what university I will be attending at the moment. 

Luke: As of right now football is not in the picture for college and i have not made a solid decision on a plan for next year yet 

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Valairco Heating & Cooling continues to be the proud sponsor of the Highlander Athlete of the Week. Kevin McHugh, Valairco Owner and President and Berkeley Heights resident, is an alumni of Gov. Livingston High School.

Click here to learn about Valairco Cares and vote for your favorite charity or nonprofit by October 31 for Valairco's next $500 giveaway. 

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