UNION, NJ – One play stood between the Summit football team and its second straight state championship on Friday night at Kean University against Parsippany Hills.
One play in a game that Summit led from the opening drive and once held a 16-0 lead.
As is typical with Summit High School athletics, one of the state’s most historic schools no matter the sport, the Hilltoppers showed up when it most counted.
With just over a minute to play and their defense backed up near the goal line, senior cornerback Andrew Masterfano made the play off his career, a game-ending interception to send the Hilltoppers to a 16-13 victory over the Vikings.
“This is a great feeling,” Summit’s first-year head coach Kevin Kostibos said. “I’m really at a loss for words. I don’t even know what else to say at this point.”
Despite being shutout offensively in the second half, the Hilltoppers’ defense prevailed when the team most needed them.
After allowing a 75-yard touchdown in the opening moments of the second half, Masterfano and the Summit defense forced two punts, a turnover on downs and an interception in the final four drives to hold off Parsippany Hills.
“The old saying ‘Defense wins championships’ is absolutely correct,” Kostibos said. “The defense tonight came out and played well. We executed our game plan. They shutdown a very good Par Hills offense.”
As for the Hilltoppers offense, it seemed like they couldn’t be stopped in the first half. Led by senior quarterback Charlie Terry, Summit drove down the field on each of their first two possessions to quickly go up 13-0.
Terry hit senior running back Colm Dougherty with a 23-yard screen pass. On the next sequence, he connected with junior wide-out Chris Zanelli for a 28-yard score.
Masterfano answered Zanelli’s touchdown with an interception on Par Hills’ next play, leading to a field goal from Summit’s freshman kicker Jack Johnson.
“We started out strong, that’s exactly what Coach Kostibos wanted us to do,” Terry said. “We sent a message from the first play of the game.”
The victory extends the Hilltoppers winning streak to 24 games and brings the championship to Kent Place Blvd. for the third team since 2009.
“I’m speechless,” Terry said. “Ever since the 18 starters graduated, they carried our team last year. Everyone doubted us, we just thrived off of that.”