ROSELLE, NJ - That'll work, for starters.
Senior captain Joe Lusardi ran for two touchdowns, while classmate and quarterback Sam Roberts ran for one score and threw for two others as the Summit High School Varsity Football Team opened their 2019 season by winning convincingly at Roselle, 45-14. Tied after one quarter, the Hilltoppers struck for several big plays en route to scoring 37 unanswered points.
On a cloudy, almost breezeless day, the Maroon and White took care of business in the first half and played about as solid of a first game as anyone in Hilltopper Nation could reasonably hope for, with the only real constructive criticism being the volume of the penalties they committed, a couple of which nullified huge plays including two would've-been Summit touchdowns.
The Hilltoppers took the opening kick-off and methodically marched down the field, overcoming some yellow laundry in the process. Roberts crashed over from a yard out and, after a Lusardi to Ollie Paasonen pass good for a two-point conversion, led 8-0 at the 8:17 mark.
Summit was driving again later in the quarter but turned the ball over in the Red Zone, and the change in possession seemed to energize the Rams. Throwing the pigskin up in the air and letting their rangy wide receivers go up and get it, the home team moved down the field and eventually scored on a 15-yard run with 1:40 left in the opening quarter. The two-point conversion clicked, and the game was tied 8-8.
The ensuing kick-off was of the squib variety and ended up giving the Hilltoppers excellent field position. Two plays into the second quarter, senior Matty Goldblatt darted int the end zone from five-yards out. The two-point conversion failed and Summit led 14-8.
After a defensive stop, The 'Top got the ball back again, and Roberts rolled to his right and found senior wideout John Fischetti behind the Rams' secondary with nothing but lush emerald artificial turf in front of him. The 55-yard pass play and Lusardi two-point conversion made it 22-8 with 6:40 left before the half.
The visitors' points onslaught continued as Lusardi and junior Austin Groce both scored, Lusardi on a 22-yard jaunt and Groce on a pass from Roberts that he turned into a 41-yard trek to paydirt, which upped the Summit lead to 36-8. It could have been more inside the half's final half-minute as Groce jumped a Roselle pass route in the flat and scored what would have been a 95-yard pick six, but a flag on the return brought the play back.
The second half brought a highlight run touchdown from Lusardi in which he dipped, dodged and dashed 54-yards to the house, as well as 20-yard field goal from junior Brock Froschauer. More importantly from a Hilltopper perspective, it brought a running clock and the opportunity for game experience for a host of the non-starters.
While some sprinkles fell from the gray sky, the fact that Roselle scored a late TD could not dampen Summit spirits at opening their campaign with a 'W'.
"Obviously its great to get the win, and it is good to get the game experience and have to react to some obstacles we faced today," said Summit Head Coach Kevin Kostibos. "There were a few too many penalties and some that took points off the scoreboard. We have to play within ourselves and play with discipline."
Next up for Summit (1-0) is a trip to North Plainfield September 20. Kick-off is set for 7 p.m.