BLOOMFIELD, NJ – When the Montclair football team lost two straight games a few weeks ago, some people thought it might be a cause for concern.
However, one of those who did not worry was head coach John Fiore.
“We never looked at it that it was a problem,” Fiore said after the Mounties lost consecutive games to West Orange and Seton Hall Prep, dropping the Mounties from the rankings of the elite teams in New Jersey. “We knew that we had to just get on a winning streak and it started with Columbia.”
The Mounties got back on track last week with a solid 42-0 win over Columbia. Friday night, the Mounties continued their winning ways against their archrivals.
In what has been a season of sensational efforts, running back Daniel Webb had perhaps his finest moment, carrying the ball 34 times for 272 yards and scoring three touchdowns, leading Montclair to an easy 40-14 victory over Bloomfield in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group V playoffs Friday night at Foley Field.
With the win, the Mounties (6-3) now advance to the sectional semifinals, where they will travel to face Ridgewood Friday night at 7 p.m. Ridgewood moved on Friday night with a resounding 57-14 win over West Orange _ the same West Orange team that knocked off the Mounties just two weeks ago.
The Mounties wasted no time taking control of the game against the Bengals (7-2).
On the first snap of the game, Webb took a run off tackle and busted it loose for a 60-yard touchdown.
“First play of the game and Danny took it to the house,” Fiore said.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Mounties squib kicked the ball to fight the ferocious wind gusts. The ball was touched, then bobbled, then kicked and rolled all the way to the Bloomfield 11-yard line, where the Mounties recovered.
On the first play after the recovered kick, quarterback Tarrin Earle took it in for a touchdown.
“It was thirty seconds into the game and we’re winning, 14-0,” Fiore said. “It was big because it was a rivalry game and we were now rolling.”
Earle had a phenomenal game, passing for 92 yards and a touchdown while rushing for an additional 86 yards on 10 carries and two scores.
“We were able to throw the ball a little bit with the wind,” Fiore said. “But we really were able to run the ball.”
Fiore credited the return of Owen Drexel and Paul Bigelow to the offensive line. Drexel, already committed to the University of Pittsburgh, had missed the prior five weeks due to injury. Bigelow returned to action after missing two games.
“That was the reason why we were unable to run the ball against Seton Hall Prep,” Fiore said. “We were able to run the football against a good Bloomfield defense. It’s always a good feeling any time you beat Bloomfield.”
The Mounties will get another chance to beat the Bengals Thanksgiving morning, but have the crucial state playoff game against Ridgewood first.
“We’re all familiar with each other,” Fiore said. “This is my fifth time in seven years we’ve faced Ridgewood in the state playoffs. I think this year will be easier, because we’re familiar with them. This year, it’s all left to us. When our kids play hard, we’re tough to beat. It’s my job to make sure that the kids play hard. They’ve all bought in now, knowing we need a four-game winning streak to win this. The kids really want this.”
It was very obvious Friday night that all depends on which Montclair team shows up. Friday night, it was the dominant one. That team is very tough to beat.
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