BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ - Injuries are a challenge any successful team needs to overcome, especially after coming off of a loss, however on Saturday afternoon, the GL Highlander football team answered this adversity with a 27-7 victory over the Johnson Crusaders.
Senior Victor Chait is GL’s leading receiver and second best in rushing yards, and his injury forced the coaching staff to move players around in different positions. Many players needed to step up to account for the injury, and junior Joe Riggi had and impressive offensive game, scoring two touchdowns, answered this call.
“After Victor got hurt we had to move some people around in practice to put everyone in the best spot they could be to make plays,” said Riggi. “The coaches had a great game plan going into the game, and we were able to execute it well. As a team we knew we had to stay on our assignments and do our jobs, and we would be fine.” The team’s defensive game held the Crusaders to a single touchdown.
Riggi opened up the scoring with a 32 yard touchdown run, which was answered by a Crusaders touchdown. From there a combination of passing plays from junior quarterback Connor Tracey to Jason Schmidt, and another touchdown run from Joe Riggi put the game to bed.
The Highlanders are a much improved team from last season. Riggi said, “I would say that the difference from last year's team is that everyone was very committed over the entire offseason. -- We worked really hard and had a complete change of attitude among everyone on our team.”
It is clear that the football team's 3-1 record shows great improvement from the previous seasons from the past few years especially since a global pandemic has made it hard for sports teams across the state to compete. Despite these challenges each player has one way or another brought the team to where it is today.
Each player has found passion and motivation towards football. A perfect example is the affect Riggi’s father had on his performance. Riggi's father, former JP Stevens coach and is currently coaching under Dan Guyton's GL coaching staff.
“My Dad has been a great inspiration to me ever since I was little. He’s coached me in football for as long as I can remember and has also tried to make play to my potential,” said Riggi. “I give a lot of credit to him for always pushing me and expecting the best from me.”
Similarly to Riggi, GL quarterback Connor Tracey’s father (who won two football state championships) has inspired Connor in a similar way. Wherever each player’s motivation and inner drive comes from, it will be put to test once again on Halloween against the Roselle Rams on Frye Field at 12 p.m.
Gov. Livingston: Riggi, Joe 32 run (Quigley, Liam kick)
Johnson: Flanagan, Thomas 6 run (Makowsky, Brett kick)
Gov. Livingston: Schmidt, Jayson 41 pass from Tracy, Connor (Quigley, Liam kick)
Gov. Livingston: Schmidt, Jayson 25 pass from Tracy, Connor (kick failed)
Gov. Livingston: Riggi, Joe 13 run (Quigley, Liam kick)