LIVINGSTON, NJ — Although some high school football teams in New Jersey got through the abbreviated 2020 fall season unscathed and others had to deal with last-minute cancellations and postponements, Livingston endured two separate three-week pauses in a 2020 season that was already abridged from the start.
The Lancers had one COVID-19-related shutdown in October that lasted three weeks. Then, after returning to the turf for one game against West Orange, Livingston's season went back on hold for three more weeks. The Lancers were finally able to get on the field for two final games, wrapping up their season with a 44-21 loss to high-powered Ridge on the road on Thanksgiving Eve.
Consistent with the patchwork nature of this unusual season, the game at Ridge was not even added to the schedule until 36 hours before kickoff.
"We had a few 'interruptions,' but the players and my staff stayed strong and dealt with all the adversity along the way with poise and professionalism," said Livingston head coach Robert Breschard. "Football is not a sport that is meant for you to start and stop and pick right back off where you were."
In the season finale, Livingston found itself trailing by three touchdowns a minute into the second quarter; but instead of allowing the game to get out of hand, the Lancers clawed back and kept battling. Senior quarterback David Cotugno threw a seven-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Hauser with 8:18 left in the second quarter to get Livingston on the board.
Cotugno, entrusted with operating a pass-first offense, also did some damage running with the football, and he scored on a one-yard touchdown (TD) run in the third quarter. Livingston's final TD came on a three-yard run by junior halfback Quinn Devlin with 6:54 left in the game to bring Livingston within 38-21.
Livingston ended up playing five games this fall. Four of them came against teams with a combined record of 22-8. Livingston's one victory was a 49-7 rout of Barringer on Oct. 9; but any momentum that could have been gleaned from that performance was rendered moot by the three-week layoff that followed.
Cotugno—who also plays baseball for Livingston High School—finished with four TD passes, two interceptions and nearly 500 passing yards. Devlin was the top ground-gainer with 588 yards and six TD on 97 carries. He gained 205 yards on 32 carries against Orange.
Hauser, a junior, led Livingston in receptions with 14 for 163 yards and two TD. Senior Nick Guido caught 11 passes for 133 yards. Senior receivers Drew Mazzella and Vincent Napolitano each caught a TD pass.
Senior linebacker Michael Lillo led Livingston in tackles and also had a sack and forced a fumble. Senior lineman Thomas Gangi and senior defensive back Jack Schreiber were second and third in tackles on the Livingston defense. Hauser led the team with two sacks.
"I’d like to acknowledge each player who walked off that field on Wednesday," said Breschard. "They walked off with their heads up high because they accomplished something that many other programs in the state can’t say: We finished our year on the field where we belong."
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