VERONA, NJ - The Verona football team remains undefeated after a 38-26 victory over rival Cedar Grove on Friday night.
“It was nice. We didn’t play great, but offensively I thought our offensive line did an incredible job. I thought Frank [Riggio] ran the ball great and I thought we threw the ball well, I’m happy with our effort,” said Verona Head Coach Kevin Batty.
The Hillbillies set a tone from their second drive onward in the game. Using gimmick plays a wideout option pass from Shane Lawless to Jake McConnachie for 44 yards got the scoring started for Verona.
“We’ve been working on it for a while it was the right time to break it out,” said Jake McConnachie.
Not usually part of the Hillbillies playbook the option pass proved the point that no stone would go unturned on the way to victory.
“We looked at it pregame to see how it looks, we loved it so we tried it,” said Batty.
On Verona’s next drive they utilized the power run game of tailback Frank Riggio. Riggio scampered 19 yards for one of his four touchdowns on the game. Riggio answered a challenge to gain 100 yards by putting up more than double that along with a quartet of scores.
“[Riggio] kind of took it personally. There was some talk during the week he wasn’t going to get 100 yards so he took it personal,” said Batty.
Shortly into the second quarter Verona had a three score lead that they would seemingly sit on for the remainder of the contest.
“We had to keep up the adrenaline, we had to keep up the momentum we couldn’t let them get it back because they are a good team,” said Riggio.
Cedar Grove clawed their way back into the game with a touchdown reception from George Slattery. The high-powered Panther pass attack would need to come alive if they were to have any chance of an upset.
“[Cedar Grove] is a good football team, they do a great job offensively,” said Batty.
The Hillbillies refused to let up using their balanced offensive attack to ultimately take a 24-7 halftime lead. McConnachie kept the Panther defense from swarming the box with six first half catches for 82 yards and a score. He proved to be a matchup nightmare throughout the game for the Panther’s secondary.
“We were working all week on slants and screens, short routes, hitches, my other receivers were blocking for me and it was awesome,” said McConnachie.
The two squads would exchange a pair of touchdowns in the second half to produce the end result of 38-26. Ultimately the balanced offense of Verona proved to be too much for a worn down Panther defense.
“It was amazing, we all played tough, we passed the ball and ran the ball,” said Riggio.
The loss for Cedar Grove drops the Panthers to 6-2 on the season. The Panthers' loss breaks their two-game win streak. They will look to regain some momentum before the State Playoffs with their final regular season game against Weequahic on November 1.
For Verona the victory continues their undefeated season as the group is now 7-0. The squad will look to cap off a perfect regular season when they head to Glen Ridge on November 2.
“It’s going to take an effort, it’s going to take hard work and I love our guys because I was going to give them off tomorrow, and they said ‘coach we want to practice’….they want it,” said Batty.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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