WESTFIELD, NJ — With a scoreless game at the end of the first quarter, it appeared the Union Farmers had what it took run with the Westfield Blue Devils and snap their state-high win streak. However, explosive offensive plays and lockdown defense allowed Westfield to extend their win streak to 18 with a 28-13 win.
“We knew they were going to be a tough team,” Westfield senior defensive end Owen Kessler said. They were psyched to play us. We blew them out last year and they were pretty [angry] about that. They were also the other undefeated team so we knew it was going to be a good game, and that led up to all the hype about the game and we really performed.”
One of the biggest turning points of the game came early in the second quarter. Westfield junior cornerback Steve Barden deflected a pass into the arms of senior safety Ben Kelly for an interception to give Westfield a much needed momentum swing.
“It’s big,” Westfield head coach Jim DeSarno said. “Against a good football team you want to try and take the wind out of their sails a little bit.”
On the next play, senior quarterback Phil Martini launched a pass to senior wide receiver Jack Shirk for a 55-yard score to put the first points on the scoreboard. The play was designed so that Shirk would line up in the backfield and sneak out to the left while the play would appear to be developing to the right, according to DeSarno.
“We’ve been practicing it all week; we ran it multiple times in practice,” Shirk said. “They put me in the backfield and we just ran it. I got past the safety, the line blocked and Phil threw a great ball.”
However, Union struck back with quarterback Justin Beckett scampering out for a 50 yard touchdown run to tie it at 7-7 and the continuation of the Blue Devil’s streak remained in doubt.
But from then on it was all Westfield. Senior running back Ishmael Glasco tallied 90 yards on the day and ran for a 33-yard touchdown with 3:12 left in the second quarter. With other senior running back Matt Varano injured, Glasco has been the featured back despite also playing cornerback on defense.
“He’s ready for it, he wants it and he’s showing it,” DeSarno said. “He worked for this and he wants to be out there. He doesn’t want to come off the field.”
Westfield took a 21-7 lead into the half after a fast-paced two-minute drill. Martini punched it in himself from the one-yard line after a 28-yard pass from him to Shirk to set it up. Senior wide receiver Michael Moriarty caught a 10-yard pass to make it 28-7 with 5:52 left in the third.
Union only scored again with 16 seconds left in the game on an 8-yard touchdown reception from senior wide receiver Hansley Cenescar.
DeSarno was more than proud of his team’s performance.
“It feels really good,” he said. “We knew it was a big game with two undefeated teams. We challenged our team to come out, be aggressive, kind of take the game to them, and we did. I really loved our effort on both sides of the ball and special teams. I’m just happy. I’m really pleased with our effort.”
The Blue Devils’ experienced defensive line stood out as Westfield took control of the game.
“We pride ourselves on defense here and they were stout again today,” DeSarno said. “We put good pressure. That quarterback’s really good. He’s fast, he throws a really good ball and he’s a lot better than he was last year, so I really thought just the way we played up front was really the factor, really on both sides of the ball.”
The Blue Devils aren’t dwelling on their win streak, DeSarno said.
“We have a five-game winning streak,” he said of the current season’s team. “It’s all about this team. That’s all we care about.”
However, it’s hard for the players to forget about it completely.
“You can’t just ignore something like that,” Kessler said. “We all take pride in it, but at the same time we take every game one at a time and we just focus on the next team at hand, which now is Elizabeth. We’ll celebrate a little today but then tomorrow it’s all about Elizabeth.”
The Westfield (5-0) vs. Elizabeth (3-2) game will take place in Elizabeth under the lights at 7 p.m. on Friday. At the same time, Union (3-1) will take on Franklin (0-4) at Union.
Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.