NUTLEY, NJ--With the fall sports season winding down, Nutley High has put together some good performances.
After a slow start, the Raiders' football team has begun to play well. Coach Steve DiGregorio's team won its second straight on Oct. 26, defeating Snyder, 38-8, at the Oval, on Senior Day.
Nutley improved to 4-4 with the victory, and put itself in position to qualify for a playoff berth in North, Group 3. The top 16 teams in the group qualify, then the schools are assigned a section, based on the opponent. If the playoffs were to start today, Nutley would travel to top-seeded Ramapo in the first round of the NJSIAA North 1, Group 3 playoffs, either on Nov. 8, or Nov. 9.
But since there's another week left in the season, the Raiders still need a victory in the season finale, on Nov. 1, at Caldwell High, in a 7 p.m. kickoff to stay in the playoff hunt.
With the new playoff system this year, most coaches will admit it's hard to look ahead and calculate what could have been, since there are multiple variables in determining who qualifies, and where and whom it will play. It used to be power points were the top priority, but that's not the case this season.
Nutley won its last two home games, defeating Lincoln, 27-7, on Oct. 19, which was also 'Coach D Day' and last week's win over Snyder. The win over Lincoln propelled the Raiders into a playoff spot.
While DiGregorio is the team's head coach, most fans know he's been battling an illness, which has limited his time on the sideline. He's still a presence at the games, but J.D. Vick is the interim head coach, with the rest of the coaching staff very much involved with the team's progress.
Nutley quarterback Justin Lucia had a tremendous day against Snyder, throwing for 211 yards and three touchdown passes while also rushing for a score kicking a field goal and converting three point-after boots. Dante Contella rushed for 70 yards and scored once and Christopher Kruse caught a pair of touchdown passes.
Giovanni Coppola caught a 60-yard pass from Lucia for Nutley's second touchdown in the first quarter. Nutley led, 19-8 after one quarter and extended its lead to 29-8 by halftime.
DiGregorio expressed his appreciation to the Snyder coaching staff and team, as the Jersey City-based school gave the Raiders' head coach a get well card before taking the field.
"That meant a great deal," said DiGregorio. "It was a really nice thing to do and was heartfelt."
GIRLS SOCCER: The Raiders concluded its season with a 4-3 loss to Somerville in the first round of the North 2, Group 3 sectional tournament, in Somerville, on Oct. 28. Mackenzie Albert scored twice and had an assist for the Raiders, while Kristina Lopomo had one goal. Catelena Robson turned back 12 shots in goal.
Nutley finished 7-10 on the season, but the Raiders won six of its last nine games and lost seven games by one goal each.
Nutley defeated North Bergen, 6-2, on Oct. 25, as Sydney Hess registered a hat trick. On Oct. 23, Nutley stopped Bloomfield, 3-0, as Albert, Cameron Coffaro and Samantha Gabrielle scored for the Raiders and Robson had four saves.
"The team played well against a tough schedule," said Nutley coach Mike DiPiano. "We were in just about every game, and we played our best as the season moved on. It meant a lot to coach these kids. The seniors will be missed."
BOYS SOCCER: The Raiders improved to 12-5 on the season with a 1-0 win over Matawan, in the first round of the North 2, Group 3, playoffs, on Oct. 29, in Nutley.
Nutley, the eighth seed, will visit top-seeded Cliffside Park in the sectional quarterfinals, on Nov. 1, at 2 p.m. Entering that game, the Raiders had won seven of its last nine games.
Jean Paul Maruri scored the game's only goal against Matawan, off an assist from Nick Kirby. Nutley goalies Cameron Schilp and Sebastian Lembo both excelled in goal, with seven and five saves respectively.