SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- A football season that presented challenges more than on the field itself could not tackle the mission that was set by two Scotch Plains Fanwood PAL teams this fall.
A return to the Super Bowl in the New Jersey Suburban Youth Football League was the goal set by both the Raider seventh grade B team and the Raider sixth grade C team when the season began.
A year ago, the current SPF B team fell to Chatham in the National Conference’s Super Bowl on the sixth grade level. On that same cold November day in 2019, the present SPF C team had earlier captured the National Conference Super Bowl with a victory over New Providence in the championship game for the fifth grade.
Each Raider team accomplished the goal: a return to the Super Bowl. On Saturday, Nov. 21, each SPF team competed in the American Conference’s Super Bowl---but each fell short of the ultimate prize of winning a league championship.
At Lombardi Field in Old Bridge this past Saturday, the Raider B team fell to Old Bridge-Sayre Woods, 14-0, a result that followed the SPF C team’s 32-0 setback to Bridgewater in the title game.
“We are only 18 strong and limited in size to our opponents, but we overcame our challenges on the field with grit, speed and passion to succeed. I’m truly proud of these young men and I try to teach them the importance of preparation and nothing in life is handed to you, you have to earn it,” the SPF B team coach, Anthony Martucci, proclaimed.
Martucci singled out numerous players and explained how they excelled through a season that ended with a 4-2-2 record.
“These players have also shown me what that learned, starting with our lineman front and center every game,” said Martucci, who praised such linemen Thomas Dowling, Paul Boyle, Travis Moore, Thomas Riley, and Matt Krantz.
“The men in the backfield are special to me, starting with Joe LaRosa, who tells us at every practice, “coach I’ll play whatever you need me.” And Jayvon Young and Patrick Maignan, who both always want the ball,” Martucci reported.
The coach shared more about his players.
“Callum Fynes plays tight end and running back and who is a true talent and play maker on the field. Aiden Lickman, this kid never gives up on offense and defense and he causes havoc on the field and wants to get into the end zone. The wide receivers, Michael Martucci and Lorenzo Tittanegro, they are always trying their best running their routes and anticipating the long bomb. And finally our QB, Jake Martucci, what he may lack in size, does not compare to the heart, passion and knowledge of the game,” Martucci said.
“We had a great season, and a top-notch coaching staff, and next year the championship trophy will be ours Go Raiders,” Martucci said.
Mike Marranca, the head skipper of the SPF C team, shared Martucci’s feelings and spoke highly of his sixth grade Raiders.
“The kids played amazing defense all season, except for Bridgewater, these kids were dominant all season. Our defensive line of Jay Sachkowsky, Omar McFarlane, Max Markho and Nick Marranca set the tone up front with a fierce rush. Jackson Vaughn was a force to deal with as a blitzing linebacker. Cooper Dupuis and Micah Smith consistently set the edge on the outsides,” Marranca explained.
The coach went on to praise his troops who finished the season with s 6-2 record. Both losses by the Raider C team came to the hands of Bridgewater.
“On the offensive side, the running attack of Micah Smith, Chris Horn, Ryan Scarpa, and Sebastian Assuncao set the tone all season for the offense. The kicking game was handled by Jack Wilber, who did both punting and kicking.”
Marranca is also zooming in on the future.
“The coaches are very proud of this group, going 15-3 and making two Super Bowls over that last two seasons. I can’t wait to see how these kids improve with another year of experience.”