NUTLEY, NJ--The Nutley High has lost two of its first three games of the 2019 season, defeating arch rival Bloomfield, then losing to Montclair and Wayne Valley.
Interim head coach J.D. Vick will lead the Raiders, on Sept. 28, when it hosts Newark Central, on 'Senior Day', in a 1 p.m. start
The Raiders opened its season on Sept. 7, defeating Bloomfield, 15-8. All of the scoring came in the first half, as Nutley took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 5-yard run by John Coppola. Bloomfield responded on a 47-yard run by Xavier Antigua, followed by a 2-point conversion which gave the Bengals an 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Late in the first half, Nutley regained the lead for good when Dan Jennings caught a 45-yard scoring pass from Justin Lucia and Lucia then ran in for a 2-point conversion, which made it 15-8, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half.
The last two quarters were a defensive struggle, and the Raiders held on to its lead for the team's first victory over Bloomfield in six years. It was also Nutley's first season-opening victory in four years.
"I thought our experience up front helped us today," said Nutley lineman Billy Searle. "Last year, Bloomfield was more experienced, and it helped them defeat us. This time, we felt more confident. Bloomfield is tough, we knew we had to play well."
On Sept. 14, the Raiders were defeated by Montclair, 49-21. Despite the score, Nutley had its chances, especially in the first half, when the team turned the ball over on four different occasions within the red zone. (The red zone is when a team has the ball on the opponent's 20 yard line, or closer)
Montclair's speed broke open a close game in the second half, as the Mounties outscored Nutley, 23-7, in the third quarter to open a 43-14 lead. Nevertheless, the Raiders were led by Lucia and Anthony Haines at quarterback. Lucia started, before departing with an injury and Haines played well, in the second half.
Dante Contella had an excellent game running the ball, with 112 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Coppola also had a good game, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown. Chris Kruse caught three passes, including one for a score.
On defense, Kruse and Mitch Iaccarino led the Raiders with nine tackles each. Contella had seven tackles and Gennaro Longobardi and Matt Jaworski had six tackles each.
Nutley fell to 1-2 on Sept. 20, when it was defeated by Wayne Valley in an independent game, in Wayne.
Vick is serving as the team's interim head coach until head coach Steve DiGregorio returns to work. DiGregorio is recovering from an illness and has been at the team's first two games. Vick has been a long-time assistant with the Raiders.