Sports

HS Football: Hasbrouck Heights at Cedar Grove

f0039ac398d57a313514_Heights_vs_Cedar_Grove.JPG
f0039ac398d57a313514_Heights_vs_Cedar_Grove.JPG

WHAT: NJSIAA FIRST ROUND PLAYOFFS

WHO:  HASBROUCK HEIGHTS (5) vs CEDAR GROVE (4)

WHEN:  FRIDAY NIGHT, 7 PM

Sign Up for E-News

WHERE: Cedar Grove High School

 

WHAT TO WATCH WHEN CEDAR GROVE IS ON OFFENSE:

The Panthers like to throw the ball.  Senior quarterback Sammy Ventola has averaged 20 passes per game this season, by far the most of any team Heights has played all season.  With 18 touchdowns and 9 interceptions, Ventola has been effective, but stoppable.  John Guiamano is Ventola’s favorite target with 34 catches, and Max Devito has 26. Michael Lever has 28, and he is also their leading rusher, averaging 5.6 yards per carry as part of a three back platoon.  With four players evenly splitting the carries, Ventola, Lever, Jake Ferrara and Ryan Turi the Aviators won’t be able to aim the focus on one player.  

WHAT TO WATCH WHEN CEDAR GROVE IS ON DEFENSE

Inside linebacker Joe McCarthy is tackle machine, leading the Panthers with 97 tackles, with 4 sacks. Dillon Jennings, 62 tackles and nine sacks is the other player to watch on defense.  Ferrara (74) and Michael Guarino (73) are also active on a defense that has given up points this year, including 49 to Shabazz a week ago. 

INTANGIBLES

There is no question the Panthers had some big wins over impressive Group 2 and Group 1 schools, and played no cupcakes on their season.  As the only non-NJIC team in the bracket, comparables are hard, as there are no common opponents between the two schools.  Will Cedar Grove’s strength of schedule, which gave them the home field advantage, prove to be the edge?  Or will losing to Shabazz (8-0, North 2, Group 1 top seed) 49-18 in its last game have a carry-over.

For more on Cedar Grove, read their season preview from TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove , or on Ventola  .

WHAT TO WATCH WHEN HASBROUCK HEIGHTS IS ON OFFENSE

The Aviators will need a huge effort from their offensive line tomorrow night.  Cedar Grove has decent size, but the Aviators have played bigger teams  Last week Rutherford shut down the running game early, and the Aviators had to make big plays through the air late.  Expect to see Nico Facchini and Jasiah Purdie carry the ball a lot early, hoping to establish a running game.  Quarterback James Klenk will need to be the double threat he was all season long.

Watch for a big play from either JC Pagan, Will Vera or Jordan Wexler at some point in the game, as the Panthers’ defense focuses on Purdie.  

WHAT TO WATCH WHEN HASBROUCK HEIGHTS IS ON DEFENSE

Wexler is the top pass rusher, and will need to put pressure on Ventola when he drops back to throw.  Travis Culkin and James Varga are the run stoppers on a group that is very good stopping the run, but has had a few troubles on stopping the pass.  Culkin did have four sacks, and has been the guy with the big play this year.

The pressure will fall on corners Ian Rinke and Zai’heer Jenkins, and safety James Klenk.  The wildcat in the pass coverage might be Purdie, who has moved up to linebacker this year after being a first-team all-league defensive back a year ago as a sophomore. If Cedar Grove comes out throwing, he could move back to his role of a year ago. The defensive line rotation of Shakar Assaf, Michael Lohrmann, and Nate Kim, has been fortified with the return of senior Marcus Ochoa.  

While the Aviators offense is pretty much a set unit, except for a receiver or two, the defense uses plenty of players to keep people fresh.  

INTANGIBLES
Hasbrouck Heights is a team that right now has a bit of chip on its shoulder.  The lost a heart-breaker on Friday night to Rutherford when the wind pushed Matt Gwzicsc’s game-winning field goal attempt wide, forcing overtime.  The fact that the game was in Rutherford was bad luck, as somehow the Aviators played both weeks in the playoffs on the road.  The only reason the Aviators are the five seed is that the Meadowlands Division was terrible in the NJIC Bowl series, letting the Patriot Division teams pick up quality points by the barrel full.

The Aviators know they were seeded lower than Wallington, who they beat Week 7, 42-21, and Emerson, who finished second to Wallington in the regular season and don’t like it.

Their 18-game win streak is a thing of the past. If the defending North 1, Group 1 champs want to defend their titles, they will have to do it on the road.  

 

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Verona/Cedar Grove

Essex County Sheriff Bomb Disposal Unit Conducts Sweep at Nutley High School

February 16, 2018

NUTLEY, NJ - The Essex County Sheriff's Office confirmed to TAPinto Nutley that the bomb disposal unit was parked in front of Nutley High School Friday afternoon. 

Members of the Essex County Sheriff's Office are working with the Nutley Police Department as the investigation following the Instagram incident continues. The bomb disposal unit conducted a sweep of the ...

Cedar Grove Police Blotter

February 13, 2018

February 5, 2018 – February 11, 2018

On February 6, 2018 officers investigated a report of a burglary to two motor vehicles at an Eileen Drive address. An unknown actor had entered the unlocked vehicles during the overnight hours. Residents are reminded to remove valuable items and lock all vehicles in their driveways.

On February 9, 2018 at 3:03 p.m., Ptl. Dominick Buscio stopped a ...

Verona Superintendent Responds to Safety Concerns After Florida School Shooting

February 16, 2018

It saddens me to write to you in the days following the senseless act that occurred in Parkland, Florida. A tragedy that takes innocent lives from their loving families in a place that is suppose to be a safe haven can have an emotional effect on so many people, and it is natural for children and their parents to be concerned for their own safety.

The Verona Public Schools are the foundation ...

Following Florida Massacre, East Brunswick Schools Add Armed Officers to Security

February 17, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - At a meeting Thursday night, the East Brunswick board of Education unanimously approved a resolution to engage the East Brunswick Police department to place armed police officers at each school building in the district throughout the entire school day.  In a report released by superintendent Victor Valeski yesterday, township officials asserted that the move would ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_8422fcd41e42d96d6d47_blood_drive

Wed, February 21, 3:00 PM

Cedar Grove Rescue Squad, Cedar Grove

Cedar Grove High School Community Blood Drive

Health & Wellness

Carousel_image_c73a532147f618dc6c08_chamber_meeting_flyer_2-18_jpg

Thu, February 22, 6:30 PM

Robert O'Toole Community Center, Cedar Grove

Cedar Grove Chamber of Commerce Meeting and ...

Business & Finance

Mon, February 26, 7:00 PM

Hospital Auditorium, Glen Ridge

Tour of the Birthing Center

Health & Wellness

Cedar Grove High School’s Sport Management Class Joins #TeamZoey in the Fight Against Progeria

February 16, 2018

CEDAR GROVE, NJ- Cedar Grove High School’s Syracuse University Project Advance has decided to donate all proceeds from this year’s Annual Orange Invitational Volleyball Tournament to the Progeria Research Foundation. The Progeria Research Foundation is an organization geared to search for a cure to put an end to the terminal disease of progeria.

Progeria is a very rare disease, yet ...

'What Stays' exposes family secrets and lies

‘What Stays’ exposes family secrets, resentment and lies

By Liz Keill

SUMMIT, NJ – In an original play by Laura Ekstrand and Jason Szamreta, the Dreamcatcher Repertory Theatre has provided an enlightening, funny and heart-felt view of family foibles.

Ekstrand has said that the germ of the play came from conversations with the ensemble members of the troupe, based on ...

'American Hero' explores with powerful performances

‘American Hero’ pulses with tension, clashing emotions at George Street

By Liz Keill

NEW BRUNWICK – The issue of social injustice makes its way into “American Hero,” the second play in a trilogy by Christopher Demo-Brown.

Armand Schultz as Rob is to receive a medal of honor for his heroic actions during the Iraq war. Although he lost the use of his legs, he ...