VERONA, NJ — The Verona High School football team, coming off a state championship in 2019, will finally get its 2020 season underway Friday night with a game at Caldwell.

Although parents and fans will be permitted to attend, capacity limits will be enforced, as well as rules about masking and social distancing.

What normally would be a nine-game regular season slate beginning in early or mid-September has been reworked into a six-game slate kicking off Oct. 2 in order to adapt to a new landscape altered by COVID-19 regulations and guidelines.

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The Hillbillies ran the table during a 12-0 title quest last fall in coach Kevin Batty's second season. Seasons like that are awfully difficult to duplicate, but a strong returning core led by senior running back/linebacker Frank Riggio makes such aspirations plausible. Riggio rushed for 2,070 yards and a state-best 37 touchdowns last season, averaging 7.6 yards per carry. He rushed for five TDs and more than 200 yards in Verona's 43-2 victory over Lenape Valley in the Section 2, Group 2 championship game last fall.

Junior quarterback Cael Zebrowski turned in a stellar sophomore season with 1,628 passing yards and 19 TD passes. Senior Steven Petro is the top returning receiver. He caught 17 passes for an average of 14 yards per catch a year ago.

On defense, Verona will be counting on productive linebackers Zach Bucher and Jake Milmoe. Junior defensive lineman Ben Mackey had 5.5 sacks last season.

VERONA 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Oct. 2: at Caldwell, 7
Oct. 9: Cedar Grove, 7
Oct. 16: Newark Collegiate, 7
Oct. 23: at Weequahic, 7
Oct. 30: Lincoln, 7
Nov. 6: at Ramsey, 7