NORTH CALDWELL, NJ - The West Essex football team is 2-0 on the season after a dominant 34-0 victory over Newark Central on Friday night.
“Every time you win a high school football game there’s an element of satisfaction in it, but at the same time we’ve got to get better,” said West Essex head coach Chris Benacquista.
The Knights were aggressive from the beginning of the contest utilizing a power running attack to wear down the Blue Devil defense. William Perez bulldozed through the Central defenders for the game’s first touchdown with 8:02 left in the first quarter from eight yards out. The eventual decisive blow capped off a six play, 50-yard scoring drive.
“They were aggressive upfront sending linebackers and we said that all week and knew they would and [Perez] is a gamebreaker obviously,” said Benacquista.
The Knights continued to show their defensive prowess recovering a fumble on the next drive to set up the offense with a shortened field. Controlling the line of scrimmage the West Essex team would quickly take a 14-0 lead as Perez added his second touchdown run, this time from 22 yards out a mere minute and 33 seconds later.
Central finally began to move the football on its third drive after a 30-plus yard passing play. Having an opportunity to get back in the game the Knight’s defense quickly slammed the door shut as Will Lutz intercepted a pass and took it 8 yards to the end zone for a 20-0 West Essex lead early in the second quarter. The turnover was the second of three forced by the unit for the evening.
“I was happy with the defense, what they do well is a strength of ours so stopping the run is something I think we do pretty well so we knew coming in we’d give them a hard time running it and we were pretty stout and they had a hard time moving it at all,” said Benacquista.
Not to be outdone by his senior counterpart in Perez, Phil Lutz would find the end zone one more time. This time as a receiver, Lutz caught a 28-yard touchdown pass to bury the Blue Devils at 27-0 with 5:32 to go in the half. Lutz finished the contest with a pair of catches for 62 yards and a touchdown to go along with his interception return for touchdown.
“Anytime [Lutz] touches the ball he is a threat to go, whether it’s kickoff, interception, punt return or receiver, he’s tremendous,” said Benacquista.
The Knights will look to continue their winning streak that’s now reached 12 in a row dating to last year as they take on Snyder on Sept. 22.