HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - If New Milford versus Hasbrouck Heights has a familiar sound to it, there is a reason. The history is there. Neither side wants to forget their side of the rivalry. Hasbrouck Heights, the winner of the past two playoff meetings with so much as stake. New Milford, the aggrieved, they believe, of a quick whistle, of a bad official's call in 2017.
The rivalry even goes back down to junior football, as the two teams meet annually as two of the powerhouses of the Northern Division of the Meadowlands Football League.
It is a rivalry that has history, ill-feelings, great football in its past.
A look at the 2019 New Milford Knights:
Regular Season: New Milford finished the “regular” season in the New Jersey Interscholastic Conference’s Liberty Division in a three-way tie for second place, with a record of 4-2. Their two losses on the regular season were to Lyndhurst, who went on to win their first NJIC Championship, and to Hawthorne, who also finished 4-2 in the regular season.
NJIC Cross-over Games: When the NJIC broke the tie-breaker in the Colonial, New Milford wound up being placed in fourth place, which meant that instead of playing Garfield and Glen Rock (and going for the power points associated with beating a 5 win team and 4-win team, they drew Rutherford (3-3) and Lodi (2-4). The Knights defeated Rutherford (34-29) and Lodi (34-14) and finished the year as the 7th rated team in North Group 1. After tie breakers were done, and the snake was completed, New Milford was the 4 seed in North 2 (dropped to 8th based on Opponent Strength Index behind Boonton.)
Playoffs: The Knights drew another team that moved in the tie-breakers, this time up, in Hoboken. The Red Wings (5-3 regular season), moved up past Brearley due to OSI, and were the “dark horse” pick of the media. New Milford, prevailed, 15-14, in a game that was two games in one.
Both teams moved the ball on offense freely in the first half, with New Milford holding the edge based on a two-point conversion on their first touchdown, 15-14. In the second half, neither team scored as defenses tightened, turnovers occurred, and nerves were frayed.
Common Opponent: Lodi. Both teams defeated the Rams. New Milford traveled to Lodi for a 34-14 win in Week 8, in the second cross-over game. Hasbrouck Heights defeated the Rams at Depken Field 41-0 in Week 4.
New Milford on Offense: Running back Donald Coaxum (6’1, 195) is the Knights main threat on the ground, rushing for 908 yards on the season in a year, that was a bit of a roller coaster for the junior. Carrying 140 times (a 6.5 ypc average), Coaxum has been a bit hit and miss for the Knights. Opening the season with 234 yards against Pompton Lakes in a 19-7 win, he followed that up with a 170 against Harrison in a 19-7 win, scoring a combined four touchdowns. He did not break 100 yards again in the regular season, before breaking the century mark in the Crossover Games.
Last week, Hoboken held Coaxum to 49 yards on just seven carries, including a long of 32.
Senior quarterback Jais Juarabe rushed for 111 yards against the Red Wings last week, and finished second on the team with 438 yards on the ground, while throwing for 720 yards and five touchdowns.
Ivy League bound Tyler Picninic, a 6-3 tight end, a veteran of the Heights rivalry, was Juarabe’s favorite receiver, with 18 receptions and five touchdowns.
A pair of sophomores also need to be shown attention, in Shawn Mastrpierro (255 yards rushing) and receiver Andrew Medina (15 catches in 7 games.)
As usual, the Knights have plenty of size on the line.
Defense: Linebacker Matt Gilmour led the Knights with 75 tackes, with Picicnic’s 72 right behind. Gilmour led New Milford with nine sacks. New Milford has given up 130 points so far.
TAPinto Hasbrouck Heights/Wood-Ridge/Teterboro is Hasbrouck Heights, Wood-Ridge and Teterboro’s free daily news source, and is the official newspaper of the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education and Hasbrouck Heights Borough Council.
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