SUMMIT, NJ - There couldn't have been a much better way to end the regular season for the Summit Hilltopper football team on Saturday afternoon at Investor's Bank Field. The boys blanked the Hillside Comets, 50-0, for their highest point output of the season, and fewest points allowed. It was Summit's 36th consecutive regular season victory, coming on Senior Day, and improved them to a perfect 9-0, heading into the postseason.
"To the seniors' credit, they said they wanted to be 9-0 after today, and they did and I think they put the exclamation point on the end of the regular season," said head coach John Liberato.
Mike Badgley scored three touchdowns in the game to lead the way, racking up two on the ground and another on a 64-yard punt return touchdown. Charlie Terry tossed two touchdown passes and ran one in as well, while Kyre Negron, Iony Bueno and Chris Zanelli each reached pay-dirt.
"We just came out, we knew we had to play football today, and it was good tune up for the playoffs, and we just have to keep rolling," Badgley said. "I just wanted to do the best I could for my team and we came out with a victory, and that's all that really matters."
Badgley got things started with a one-yard touchdown run early in the opening quarter, capping a seven play, 55-yard drive in Summit's opening possession. Hillside was able to get something going on its first possession of the game (mainly because of a roughing the kicker penalty on Summit, bringing back a punt), getting into the red zone. But an interception and subsequent 63-yard return by Colm Dougherty, ended the threat. Five plays later, Negron powered the ball in from seven yards out.
"We just got into our own rhythm and they have some talented kids, they really do," Liberato said of the early play. "I think their quarterback is extremely talented and they made some great plays. SO I have to give them credit."
The Hilltoppers scored again on their next possession, getting a five yard scamper up the middle from Badgley, and then got two more points from a safety by Andrew Oristanio. Summit did not waste the extra possession or any time, getting a 44-yard touchdown pass from Terry to Bueno on the first play of the ensuing possession. The barrage of scores put Summit up 30-0, and the only question at that point was whether or not Hillside would score.
Terry threw his second touchdown pass of the game with 23 seconds left in the opening half, finding Zanelli on a 14-yard strike. Badgley's punt return touchdown early on in the third quarter, banished Summit's starters from the game. The Hilltopper reserves played well, preserving the shutout, and adding on an extra touchdown for good measure.
Being that Summit entered the game 8-0, and Hillside was 0-8, the result is not the most surprising thing in the world. What was surprising was Summit's efficiency. The Hilltoppers ran 26 offensive plays and scored 36 offensive points (two on defense, 12 on special teams). That averages to nearly 1.4 points per play, and a touchdown every 4.3 plays, which is insanely efficient. To put it in perspective, Hillside ran 47 plays, scored nothing and gained almost 100 fewer yards.
"We always work every week on a fast paced moving offense and we just want to run teams into the ground," Badgley said.
"Our kids just executed really well. After the storm and everything like that, we were just real anxious to get back onto the field," Liberato said. "Half of the kids on our team still don't have power, and this was a great way to bring everybody together."
The Hilltoppers, having won the Mid-state 38 Raritan Division, now set their sights on going for a state championship, which would be their first since 2009, when the team's seniors were freshmen. As the top seed, the locals should stay at home for the postseason, until the championship game, which is played on a neutral field. Unofficially, it appears that Newark Westside will be the opening round match for Summit next Saturday.