The Summit football team will be headed back to the state sectional finals next weekend, looking to take care of some unfinished business. Mike Badgley threw a pair of touchdowns and ran in another two to help punch the Hilltoppers's ticket to the North II Group 3 state finals, comfortably beating Parsippany Hills on Saturday afternoon, at Tatlock Field, 30-13.
"It's the greatest feeling in the world," Badgley said of going to the state finals. "You get there and you're joyful now, but we have to start preparing as soon as we get up to that locker room. It's a whole new game in the state championship."
Summit began the game with two failed drives on offense, and fell behind 6-0, following an early first quarter seven-yard touchdown pass from Tyler Simms to Tyler Bartro. On third and two at the Par Hills 40, Badgley broke up a pass, forcing a fourth down punt. On the ensuing kick, a Par Hills player laid a hit on a Hilltopper away from the play, seemingly igniting the home team.
"I don't know exactly what happened, but I do know that it kicked our guys in the butt and we just decided to start playing football," Badgley said of the play. "We had thirty unanswered points and we just started pounding right through them."
The Hilltoppers scored four plays later, when Bagdley hit a wide open Will Shamim on a rollout pass to the right, starting a string of 30 unanswered points for Summit. The Vikings did not score again until there was less than six minutes left in the contest.
Early in the second quarter, with Summit up, 7-6, Nick Liberato recovered a fumble in the Viking backfield to set up the Hilltoppers with great field position, at their own 48. A.J. Iarussi and Badgley combined for 48 yards on seven carries in the ensuing possession. The drive was capped by an impressive Badgley run, where he began with a run toward the right sideline, and then cutback across the field toward the left, taking advantage of the defense's over-pursuit, to score from 25-yards out.
On the second play of the third quarter, Shamim made the first of his two interceptions in the game, deep in Viking territory, setting up the locals with the ball at the Par Hills 15. Badgley punched in a two-yard touchdown to cap the ensuing possession and put Summit up, 21-6, with 10:43 left in the second half.
But perhaps the knockout blow came on Summit's next possession, also set up by a Shamim interception. On second and 24, Badgley was flushed from the pocket to his right, he ran around the backfield to extend the play, just before hitting the line of scrimmage, he dumped off a short throw to Iarussi, who took the two yard pass and turned it into a 75-yard touchdown, cutting across the field from right to left, and then back to the right on the run. A missed extra point, staked Summit to a 27-6 lead, and a 27-yard field goal by Badgley early in the fourth quarter, put Summit up 30-6.
"I thought we played fantastic, the defense especially. The way we rushed the quarterback and our corners were just all over everyone," Shamim said. "Even on completions, there was someone right there to make the tackle. I thought the defense just played phenomenal, particularly the D-line."
Par Hills got a little momentum going in the fourth quarter, cutting into the lead with Simms's second td pass of the game, this one to Kire Milveski, from a yard out on second and goal. Despite recovering the ensuing onsides kick with well over five minutes to play, Summit held its ground and did not surrender another point.
The Hilltopper defense played exceptionally well, getting three turnovers, four sacks and five other tackles for a loss. Simms attempted a ludicrous 48 passes in the game, and completed 21 of them for 228, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Milveski led all players with 106 receiving yards, while Par Hills running back, Carmine Verducci, rushed for 86 yards to lead the team.
Defensively for Summit, outside of Shamim and Nicholas Watts playing extremely well at the corners, Par Hills had no answer for Mac Wiesner, Connor O'Malley and Andrew Oristanio on the defensive line.
"The coaches told us all week that the defensive backs were going to have to step up," Badgley said. "We had two weeks to prepare and Nick Watts and Will Shamim had a huge day for us at the corner position, they made some awesome plays for us."
"We had two weeks to prepare and our coaches prepared us better than we've been prepared for any game," O'Malley said. "We saw they scored one touchdown and we were just not going to let that happen. We were not going to let this game slip away."
Summit, which improved to 11-0 with the win, has not lost a game since losing in last year's North II Group 2 state finals to Madison. They'll face Palisades Park in next week's sectional final.