NUTLEY, NJ--After a pair of defeats following an opening-day victory, the Nutley High football team got back in the victory column on Sept. 28, defeating Newark Central, 26-8, in Nutley.
The 2-2 Raiders have some tough road games coming up. On Oct. 4, it's off to Newark West Side, in a 7 p.m. kickoff at Untermann Field and on Oct. 11, Nutley visits West Essex, also at 7 p.m. The team's next home game will be on Oct. 19, against Lincoln High, on what will be the Homecoming Game. Kickoff time will be 1 p.m.
Nutley's interim head coach, JD Vick, was pleased with his team's performance against Central. The Raiders came into that game having lost to Montclair and Wayne Valley.
"Justin Lucia played a great game for us," said Vick of Nutley's senior quarterback, and team captain. "He made great decisions and led our offense. It was just what we wanted him to do.”
Vick noted that with two starters out of the lineup, the Raiders had the chance to build some depth.
Central scored first to take an 8-0 lead in the first quarter.
“Our guys did a great job of responding, something we have been challenging our guys to do when faced with adversity,” said Vick. “Our coaches did an outstanding job of getting our team ready to play.”
Nutley tied the game in the first quarter on an 8-yard run by Giovanni Coppola, followed by a successful 2-point conversion from Gennaro Longobardi. In the second quarter, Lucia took over. He put the Raiders ahead, 15-8, on a 55-yard scoring run and kicked the point-after. Then, in the closing seconds of the first half, Lucia booted a 32-yard field goal to make it 18-8 at the half.
In the third quarter, the Raiders extended its lead to 24-8 on a 45-yard interception return by Brandon Martins. Nutley added a fourth quarter safety from Michael LaTorre to close out the scoring.
Dante Contella led the Raiders with 74 yards on 14 carries while Lucia had a big game. He completed 15 passes for 108 yards and also rushed for 73 yards and a touchdown, as well as kicking a point-after and later a field goal.
Christopher Kruse and Longobardi had good games receiving. Kruse caught three passes for 45 yards while Longobardi had seven receptions for 32 yards.
“(Newark) West Side has a good team,” said Vick of Nutley’s next opponent, on Oct. 4. “It will be a good challenge for us, and I’m looking forward to how our kids respond.”
NOTES: Head coach Steve DiGregorio has been at all the team's games. "It's always good to have Steve there," said Vick. "He's our head coach."
DiGregorio is recovering from surgery last summer.
Raiders defeated Newark West Side, 29-16, last year. The schools also met in 2009 in football, with Nutley winning. West Side is off to a tremendous start this season, with a 4-0 record. The Roughriders finished with winning seasons in 2018 and 2017, under coach Marion Bell.