River Dell blows by West Essex
West Essex fired the opening salvo with a Joe Scaglia 36-yard touchdown scamper but the River Dell defense would stiffen and the offense fired off 31 unanswered points to take the North 1 Group 2 title game rematch, 31-7 on Friday night.
Ryan Duran scored once on the ground and once through the air from quarterback Tim Barnes who also ran for another and it paced an offense that was without one of its best players in Kevin Barry, who was injured in practice a few days earlier. It was touted as a grudge match between last year’s championship game representatives but none of the players seemed to put that pressure on themselves.
“None of us looked at it that way,” Barnes explained, “their team is mostly new guys and we really felt like once that game was over, it was over, history. We were just happy to play well tonight and get the first one out of the way, no matter who it was against.”
There was some thought before the game that the injury to Barry might level the playing field a bit but River Dell proved why it is a team poised to make a run and West Essex may be headed for a rebuilding year. And just because he was on crutches didn’t mean Kevin Barry wasn’t a factor, the senior was part coach part cheerleader and was easily the most vocal member of the Golden Hawks’ sideline.
“It’s really tough, almost impossible,” said an emotional Barry. “There’s a coach assigned to make sure I don’t run out on the field and do something dumb, I can’t stand not being out there. But I’m doing the best I can, I’ve been watching a ton of film and I can still help this team and that’s what I’m going to do.”
The theme for the night could be heard echoing up and down the sideline, get this play, this tackle, this win for Barry.
Initially it didn’t look like such a sure thing. On its first drive the Barned and Duran marched the ball down the field until a fumble derailed the drive at the West Essex 40. The two teams would trade punts before Scaglia opened the scoring for the Knights when the senior took a beautiful counter handoff 36-yards to pay dirt.
“There was no panic, no worry on our sideline, everybody stuck to what they had to do because we knew it would work if we executed,” said Tim Barnes. “Our offense knew it would score points and once we knew what they were trying to do on defense we felt confident on that side of the ball as well.”
One of the smallest guys on the field who had one of the biggest games of the night got things started for DJ Nimphius’ group. Tim Barnes spotted all 5-foot-9 160 pounds of Christian Desanctis streaking down the left sideline and led him perfectly in stride for a 46-yard touchdown that got the Golden Hawks rolling.
“I’ve been small my whole life so I’m not afraid to mix it up with the big boys,” laughed Desanctis. “I’ve been running by almost everyone in practice so after I made a little stutter move on a stop and go and gunned it I knew I was wide open.”
It was the big play River Dell had been looking for and would only finish one drive the rest of the game without points.
“I think we just needed to get our feet wet,” said Barnes, “we were a little nervous before the game and a lot of guys had never played in a varsity game. Once we started clicking though everybody settled in and we were really able to move the ball at will. I’m really proud of these guys, this is a huge win for us.”
This should be the trend now for River Dell as players other than Barry -- especially Barnes and Duran -- need to step up if River Dell wants to get back to MetLife Stadium this season and after one week, so far, so good.
Contact John Quirk at firstname.lastname@example.org Contact him on Twitter @QuirkMedia