WAYNE, NJ - A year ago, the Mounties of Montclair High School started the football season in a tough predicament.
They lost their first four games of the year, putting coach John Fiore’s team in a do-or-die situation every single week from October on.
If the Mounties wanted to qualify for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group V playoffs, they had to win every game. One loss would have ended it all.
They responded with four straight wins to qualify, then avenged an early season loss to Union City in the first round of the playoffs before falling to Ridgewood in the second round in overtime.
It was a tough road for the Mounties to take.
However, this year, the Mounties don’t have to worry about dealing with such intense pressure. They took care of business in a big way in their season opener Friday night, allowing the play of their experienced veterans to carry them to victory.
Junior quarterback Tarrin Earle threw three touchdown passes and ran for one score and junior running back Daniel Webb had 238 yards on 26 carries on the ground and added 120 yards in punt and kick returns _ all in the first half _ as the Mounties rolled to a 42-15 victory over neighboring rival Passaic County Tech in Wayne Friday night.
Just like that, instead of owning an 0-4 record and being absolutely desperate for a victory, the Mounties own a perfect record at 1-0 and will sit atop the Group V power point standings when they are released in a few weeks.
After Passaic Tech struck first, the Mounties came storming back when Earle connected with fleet footed Ivan McDaniel for a 32-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter, tying the game.
The Mounties then took a 14-7 lead right before the end of the first quarter, when Earle hit Josh Crawford with a 17-yard score.
The Bulldogs then scored again, right before the end of the first quarter, taking a 15-14 lead on a 69-yard bomb from Derrick Cuaverz to Amado Rodriguez. But that was the last time PCT had the lead for the remainder of the game, as the Mounties reached the end zone four straight times.
D.J. Williams caught the third of Earle’s touchdown passes, a 32-yard scoring play, that gave the Mounties the lead for good and Earle added his touchdown run, a 12-yard jaunt, that pushed the Mounties’ lead to 29-15.
Webb, considered to be a major college prospect with a scholarship to Illinois already in his pocket, got involved in the festivities, as he scored on a 31-yard run, pushing the lead to 42-15. He also has been getting interest from Purdue as well.
Despite being only 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, Fiore truly believes that Webb is the real deal and has been openly encouraging the Rutgers coaching staff to recruit him. Webb rushed for 1,419 yards and 16 touchdowns last season for the Mounties. He is pure excitement to watch, an electrifying runner and talent.
From that point on, the Mounties’ defense took over, totally dominating the rest of the game. They kept PCT off the scoreboard, devastating the team that won the North 1, Group V state title last year, posting a 10-2 record and defeating Ridgewood, 27-0, in the sectional title game at MetLife Stadium last December.
The Bulldogs couldn’t come close to scoring after the first two touchdowns, a credit to Fiore and his coaching staff for having the team perfectly prepared for the season opener.
Now, the Mounties prepare to face Livingston in their home opener Saturday afternoon and have a bye week before squaring off against perennial state playoff foe Union City on Sept. 30.