WARREN, NJ - The Watchung Hills Pop Warner Junior Pee Wee team became only the 9th team in the 44 year history of the program to reach double digit wins in a season. The squad dominated Staten Island in the opening round of the Division 2 Eastern Region playoffs with a 26-6 victory, improving to 10-0 on the season. Game captains were Justin Ferreira, Jack Valenti, Justin Drews and Josh Claxton.
The Wolverines received the opening kick off, but a few bad bounces sent the team deep onto their side of the field to start the game. Watchung Hills got the offense rolling pretty quickly behind the solid blocking of the starting offensive line: left tackle, Elhana Wilson; left guard, Thomas Johnson; center, Anthony Bateh; right guard, Josh Claxton; right tackle, Kaden Everly; and tight end, Mac McAteer. The team put together an impressive drive of 82 yards to start the game. Luke Marion scored on a 4 yard touchdown run and the Wolverines took a 6-0 lead.
The rest of the first half featured the two conference champions battling back for field position. Watchung Hills moved the ball again but a couple fumbles spoiled what might have been productive drives. The Wolverine team came up big on defense. Tyler Marion, filling in at safety, had a touchdown saving tackle. On another Staten Island possession, it looked like they were poised to tie the game but a big 4th down stop gave the ball back to Watchung Hills. The game went to the half with the Wolverines holding a 6-0 advantage.
The Staten Island team had good drive to begin the second half, but another key 4th down stop gave the ball back to the Wolervines. Swarming team defense was the story of the day as Watchung Hills would bend but not break. McAteer led the team in tackles with six while three other Wolverines, Luke Marion, Billy Black, and Josh Claxton recorded five tackles apiece.
Mid way through the third quarter Watchung Hills scored another touchdown to take a 12-0 lead. Marion carried for his second touchdown and Jack Valenti had a great 35 yard run on the drive. As the game moved to the 4th quarter, the Wolverine defense clamped down again. Wilson and Claxton had back-to-back sacks of the quarterback with the second allowing Watchung Hills to take over on downs.
One play later, Justin Ferreira broke free for a 65 yard touchdown run. Luke Marion had the key block to free up Ferreira's play. The successful two-point conversion gave the Wolverines a commanding 20-0 lead. Staten Island was forced to punt from poor field position and one offensive play later Marion was in the end zone with his third TD carry on the day, and the Wolverines expanded their lead to 26-0.
Staten Island eventually found the end zone with time running out in the game and the final score was 26-6. The win moves the Watchung Hills team to the Division 2 Eastern Regional second round and a match up with Montclair next Saturday, November 15 at 9 a.m. The game is to be played at Sabella Park in North Brunswick. To view the complete brackets for all levels of Pop Warner football go to: http://www.popwarner.com/Page4392.aspx
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