ROSELLE PARK, NJ – A strong defensive display from Roselle Park wasn’t enough, as the Panthers fell to Belvidere, 14-10, on Friday.
“We are a young team,” Roselle Park head coach Terrance Hanratty said. “We have a lot of younger first year players. I take it as a young team getting better every week, and trying to find their identity.”
Roselle Park opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 2-yard touchdown by junior quarterback Joe Woods.
However, on the Panthers’ second drive, Belvidere returned a fumble for a touchdown to tie the score.
Roselle Park managed retake the lead late in the second quarter when kicker Valentino Ambrosio nailed a field goal as time expired to go up 10-7.
“Our kids never quit,” Hanratty said. “That says a lot for the character of our kids.”
The score remained 10-7 through the third quarter, but early in the fourth, the County Seaters fought into the lead.
Trailing by three, Belvidere’s sophomore wide receiver Jake Thornton galloped 49-yards down the field to set up Robert Merle’s 3-yard touchdown run, giving the County Seaters a 14-10 lead.
Roselle Park could not retaliate, leading to their third loss of the year.
“I thought they were a pretty good team,” Hanratty said. “They don’t have a 3-1 record for no reason. We are battling with what we have, which is inexperience. We only have one player that played varsity last year on the field.”
Despite the loss, Woods admits that the Panthers defense has improved, who caused four fumbles during the game.
“It’s a ridiculous improvement,” Woods said. “We kept grinding hard, and we kept working, but now offensively we have to keep working harder.”
Hanratty sees the boys putting their heads down as motivation.
“Anytime you lose a game you are not going to be happy,” Hanratty said. “I told the guys that’s a good sign, that means that you care because they were upset and aggravated that they lost the game, but that shows character. Our kids get pissed off that they lost, that shows that you care, and you don’t get that too much in high school sports anymore.”
The Panthers host South Hunterdon on Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff.