CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Cedar Grove football team came out on top in the big rivalry game against Verona Friday night, and although it was a team effort, it was quarterback Sammy Ventola who really stood out. That is why Ventola is this week’s Cedar Grove Athlete of the Week, sponsored by Shelby Mobley Allstate Insurance.

“I feel honored,” Ventola said of the title. “But I have to thank the rest of my team and coaching staff for going out there and battling with me.”

The Panthers put in a great effort Friday night to pull off their 28-7 win over Verona, and that win was understandably the highlight of Ventola’s season so far, he said.

Sign Up for E-News

“The highlight of the season so far for me is definitely defeating our rival Verona,” Ventola said. “It was the first game ever played on our new field so it was truly special.”

The high school senior was especially excited to pull off a win after the Panthers lost their first two games in the fourth quarter. Knowing that, Ventola said that game was a must-win.

With a difficult season ahead and a record of one win and two losses, Ventola added that the Panthers are determined to improve on their record in preparation for playoffs.

“My team and I all have one goal,” he said. “And that’s to win a state title.”

With statistics like Ventola’s, that might just be possible. So far, Ventola is 43-61 passing for 542 yards and five touchdowns. He has also run for 91 yards with another touchdown, he said.

According to Coach Robert Gogerty, it is Ventola’s leadership that makes him a great player.

"Sammy Ventola is like having another coach that is out on the field and in the huddle with the team,” Gogerty said. “He understands the offense and the game at a high level, which helps him succeed under fire.”

Ventola’s game Friday night is further proof that he deserves to be on the field and deserves the recognition that he is getting, Gogerty added.

 “On Friday night he was making all the right reads and throws which allowed him to go 21-24 passing for over 200 yards and three touchdowns,” he said. “He was a huge part in helping our team have a great win over Verona on Friday night."

Of course, loving the game also helps Ventola succeed, and having the support of his town.

“The atmosphere at a high school football game is amazing,” Ventola said. “Having so many fans there cheering you and your team on is a phenomenal feeling.”