DUNELLEN, NJ — A new look, a new coach and a new attitude helped Dayton football open its season on a high note last Friday.
Senior quarterback Anthony Apicella totaled three touchdown runs, including two in the second half, to lead Dayton to a 35-14 road victory over Dunellen at Columbia Park.
It was the Bulldogs (1-0) first “real” season-opening victory since a 34-6 win at Roselle Park in 2009. In 2018 and 2015, Dayton opened their seasons with forfeit wins over Belvidere and Hillside respectively.
“It is always nice to win the first game. The kids faced some adversity in the game and hung in there and that is what I am most proud of about this first step,” said new Dayton head Michael Abbate on his coaching debut and who is also the school’s baseball coach. “I’m proud that they continued to fight throughout the game, however, we do have a lot to continue to get better at which is encouraging and why we look forward to practice this week. I have coached in some big games in other sports here, but I do think I was most nervous coaching this one.”
Apicella had a five-yard TD run in the second quarter to give Dayton a 15-8 halftime lead, a lead that would never relinquish. He added a 3-yarder in the third quarter and a 4-yarder in the fourth capping off a 143-yard night on the ground on 13 carries. Apicella went 3-for-8 through the air for 59 yards.
Senior Mike Kanarek hauled in a 25-yard pass from Apicella in the first quarter to open up the game’s scoring, giving the Bulldogs an 8-0 lead.
Senior AC Corigliano capped off the Dayton scoring in the fourth quarter with a 2-yard TD run. Seniors James Devine and Adem Sangiray each had a TD run for Dunellen (0-1).
Next up: at Brearley (Friday, Oct. 9 - 6:00 p.m.)
The Bulldogs visit old nemesis and rival Brearley (0-1) in Kenilworth Friday with kickoff scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Dayton has dropped seven straight to the Bears and has not won since a 19-16 win at Union High School in 2012.
During the seven-game losing streak, Brearley has outscored Dayton, 233-118. Brearley dropped its season opener at West Essex, 33-8, last Friday.