BASKING RIDGE, NJ — The Ridge High School football team will play its first game under new head coach Andy West Friday night when the Red Devils host Bridgewater-Raritan as the revamped 2020 season finally gets underway.
It will be the first of six scheduled regular season games on a slate that was delayed and condensed after the NJSIAA issued its adjustments for the 2020 campaign based on COVID-19 restrictions.
Tickets to all Ridge football games will be advance sale only. Two tickets will be made available to each player, cheerleader and marching band member. Any remaining tickets will be made available to students.
"We are excited to be out there and remain optimistic that we will be able to have a season," said West, who was an assistant under previous head coach Bill Tracy, who stepped down last November after the second of two consecutive 8-2 seasons. "We know that we have to do all the right things on and off the field in order to help make that happen."
Ridge will be more experienced up front, on both sides of the ball, than the Red Devils will be at several of the skill positions. Seniors Colin Scherzer (G/LB), Nolan Murphy (DE/TE), Andrew Taddeo (OT/DT), Mark Minsch (center) and Jack Prentiss (DT) are starters who are returning up front. Senior cornerback Luke Roberts is back in the secondary. And senior Jake Beckman returns for his third season as the Red Devils' placekicker.
That leaves a lot of spots to be filled in the backfield and on the perimeter.
Senior two-way back Quinn Bunsa was not a starter, but he did see some significant time as a junior for the Red Devils. Juniors Michael Olivo and Jack Santonastaso were competing for the quarterback job. Whoever starts will be the fifth opening night quarterback in the last five seasons for Ridge. The brother of one of those QBs — 2018 starter Wes Hudkins — is Lucas Hudkins, who could start at fullback and linebacker this season.
Junior Matthew Lusardi will play tight end and linebacker, senior Will Conkling plays guard and defensive tackle, and senior Christian Allora will see time at running back and defensive back.
West learned of his hiring early last spring, during the depths of the pandemic, when the status of the fall sports season was very much in doubt. When Ridge and Bridgewater-Raritan take the field Friday night--barring any last-minute setbacks--it will represent a victory in itself for both squads and for the sport itself.
"Just the way that this team has approached everything this off-season, their mental fortitude throughout has truly been impressive," West said. "They have concentrated on winning each moment and controlling the things they can control: their energy, their focus, their determination, their attention to detail. They have been incredibly resolute from the very start."