NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — West Essex led Nutley 20-0 in the third quarter, but was looking to tack on more points when Zach Lemanski crouched behind the center. West Essex stood in the class Wing-T formation, two wing backs flanked the line with one lone set back.

Facing a 3rd and four, when most would expect a run, Lemanski faked the run and rolled out to his right. Sophomore Will Perez streaked across the field, running a cross. Lemanski saw his opening and threw a strike to his speedy running back.

Fifty-two yards later, Perez had his fourth touchdown of the game and West Essex had a 27-0 lead.

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West Essex would shut out Nutley 40-0 in the first round of the quarterfinals of the North Jersey, Section 2, Group 3 playoffs on Friday. Perez finished with 132 total yards and four touchdowns.

Perez was the third running back all year, but an injury thrust him into a starting role and he did not disappoint.

“He is such a dynamic player, so athletic, explosive and fast,” West Essex coach Chris Benacquista said. “We certainly saw what he can do, he is only a sophomore, I’m glad we have him for two more years.”

Benacquista praised Perez for his all-around play. The sophomore has been a great blocker, runner and receiver all year. He has been a sophomore that has played more like a senior.

Nutley took the veer attack into West Essex. Benacquista said he was impressed with his team’s discipline all night.

Schematically, the veer is not hard to stop, but it all comes down to discipline. West Essex played disciplined all night, barely leaving any gaps open for Nutley.

Michael Lacovara and Vincent Scaglia also had great games in the backfield Lacovara totaled 101 yards while Scaglia finished the game with 92. Lemanski was not called on to throw often, but still finished with 109 yards through the air.

West Essex will play Parsippany Hills in the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 18.

“We have a lot of talent, but we have to eliminate mistakes,” Benacquista said. “If we play consistently and limit mistakes, we have a good chance.” 

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