Red Devils Roll Into Playoffs

Christopher Molinari ‘23

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July, 2019

While most people were lounging on the beach, or at home on the TV, the Ridge Red Devils football team was hard at work, slaving under the hot summer sun. The work continued into August and with it came full pads and full contact. The dog days of summer had arrived, but with the season drawing close, the team began to lock in. Finally, all the hard work paid off as the first game came around, Ridge v. Hunterdon Central. Ridge came in and smacked the home team, who had come off an impressive season opener, right in the mouth. Brendan Bell led the team with an outstanding inaugural game at quarterback. He rushed for 43 yards on 11 carries and a touchdown, as well as went 8 of 13 with two passing touchdowns through the air. Ridge 29, Hunterdon Central 13.

 

Ridge only got stronger as the season progressed, pummeling Bridgewater in the home opener, fueled by Cam Lloyd’s three touchdowns. The lightning quick end caught two and ran for one. Ridge then moved on to Phillipsberg, for whom they had a score to settle, as Phillipsburg bested Ridge last year in the state semifinal. The coaches had even posted an article on the whiteboard in the locker room stating that Phillipsburg had, “came, saw, and conquered.” After a tough week of practice, the Red Devils came out and met Phillipsburg head on in one of the most exciting games of the year. Phillipsburg came out on top; however, winning in a thrilling double overtime. From here, Ridge had a chip on their shoulder and managed to win every single one of the following games. First, they handed Hillsborough their first loss of the season, led by Jack Perry’s two touchdowns (one coming on a fumble recovery taken out of the Hillsborough players hands) and interception in the HB endzone. Franklin was next, in the first home game for Ridge since week two. On the very first play of the game Luke Roberts electrified the crowd with a huge kick return. This blow would not come back from, and Ridge moved to Elizibeth, who they pummeled as well. In the final home game of the season, Watchung Hills came and nearly beat Ridge, but Chris Serluco sealed the game with a late interception when Watchung was threatening on the 5 yard line. Finally, with a 14-7 defeat of Linden, the Red Devils finished their season at 7 and 1. 

 

So, here’s the real question. Is Ridge good enough to go all the way? The answer is yes. They have the talent and the coaching to go all the way. The main goal will be to avoid mental mistakes. No jumping offsides, no interceptions, no fumbles, and no mistakes on the offensive line or in the secondary. If you break down this Ridge team, it’s phenomenal on all sides. With a solid offensive line and a very talented backfield, the offense is definitely dangerous; however the one problem facing this Ridge team is size. Nonetheless, this is not as bad as it seems as Ridge has done a good job all year using their leverage up front on the offensive line. They just have to continue to do this in the playoffs. Moving over to the defense, they are very good to say the least. The solid defensive line is backed up by Christian Sweeney and Colin Scherzer at linebacker, possibly the strongest duo on this team. They are in close competition in that regard however, with Brendan Bell and Jack Perry at safety, as well as Luke Roberts and Chris Serluco at corner. With the offense and the defense playing so well with so much talent, it’s hard to imagine Ridge losing. Their biggest weakness has to be the kicking game. Jake Beckmen was phenomenal all year, but definitely had a hiccup against Watchung. Whether the kicks were tipped or not, two were missed. The one other thing Ridge really has to work on is ball control. With three fumbles in the win against Linden and a huge fumble backed up against their own goal line against Watchung, Ridge has proven to jeopardize games with turnovers. This won’t fly once the playoffs role around and Ridge starts playing against the best teams in the state. Continuing on the defensive side, interceptions haven’t really been a problem, as Brendan Bell has been mostly clean throughout the year, but he has had a few, including one against Linden. So the question remains, which Ridge will we get coming into the playoffs? Will we get the Ridge we saw against Hillsborough and Franklin, the Ridge who pummeled their opponents and made almost no mistakes? Or will we get a sloppier Ridge, whose main problem is their own mistakes? We’ll have to wait and see, but be ready to see a show when Ridge plays their first playoff game at home, as they were able to clinch the two seed.

 

[1] https://www.nj.com/highschoolsports/2019/09/football-ridges-new-qb-shows-his-tough-side-in-win-over-hunterdon-central.html

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