AJ Wingfield Powers Undefeated Ramapo Past River Dell in North 1, Group 3 Sectional Final
Toughness to finish is the motto Ramapo Raiders senior quarterback AJ Wingfield said was preached at halftime of the North 1, Group 3 sectional title game against River Dell at Ramapo High School on Sunday afternoon. Despite Ramapo up 10-0 at halftime, the Raiders could have been up more, but Wingfield threw two critical interceptions.
Meanwhile, the Ramapo defense held a Golden Hawks team that had amassed 70 points in two playoff games scoreless in the first half. Ramapo held running back Dave Fletcher to 37 yards rushing, intercepted two passes, and notched two sacks.
In the third quarter, Ramapo came out with purpose on their opening possession. Moving the ball swiftly thanks to running back Luke Ragone (16 carries for 66 yards, one touchdown) picking up chunks of yardage. On second-and-goal from the River Dell four yard line, Wingfield barreled straight ahead for the score with less than eight minutes remaining.
On River Dell’s ensuing possession, the Raiders defense’s intense pressure forced quarterback Mike Sirico into throwing a pick to Isaiah Savitt, who returned the ball to the Golden Hawks 33. With Ragone sidelined due to an injury, Anthony Sargenti shouldered the load, gaining 29-of-his-69 yards on the drive. Wingfield added his second rushing score of the day with one-yard keeper with 4:25 left.
The Raiders’ defensive line wreaked havoc on River Dell’s offensive line, led by Mike Connor, who registered three sacks. In total Ramapo tallied five sacks and two interceptions, while limiting Fletcher, who gained 157 yards against Paramus the week before, to 12 rushes for 55 yards. Wingfield cemented the victory with his third rushing touchdown, exploding through the defense early in the fourth quarter, down the right sidelines before stretching the ball across the goal line. The Golden Hawks managed to avoid the shutout scoring with 31 seconds remaining.
With the victory, Ramapo exacted some revenge after River Dell (8-3) won last year’s sectional final 28-7 at MetLife Stadium and winning back-to-back titles, by denying the Golden Hawks a three-peat. This was the Raiders first state title since 2015, 11th in program history, and second time the team went 12-0 in a season since 2001.
“The defense was tremendous today, tremendous effort by everyone out there particularly Mike Connor with a couple of sacks, Anthony Sargenti making a ton of tackles in the middle,” said head coach Drew Gibbs. “In the first game, they scored 35 and made big plays and today kept their big plays to a minimum and shut them down completely.
“We had good field position to start, the defense set it up and commitment to the run game and our offensive line was the story and controlled the game. We ran the ball against a stacked eight-man box and ran the ball very effectively. The offensive line allowing Luke, Anthony and AJ to run through the hole.
“AJ is a playmaker and when we need him to step up and make plays he does and he let the game come to him in the second half and took what was there. [He’s] a special kid and athlete.”
“I’m so proud of this team and never been with a better group of kids and we love each other so much and separates us from everyone else,” said Wingfield following the win. “Our defense is always picking us up and making huge plays. We had a good game plan and Antony Sargenti did a great job running today. Our offensive line did an amazing job. River Dell always comes out with something different and took away our pass and had to run the ball against them that we did.”
Next up for Ramapo is the inaugural North 1, Group 3 Bowl game at MetLife Stadium against the North 2, Group 3 champions Summit(10-1) on Saturday, Nov. 24 at 10:00 a.m.
“I’m so happy for our players, they have committed to this since June, been the goal and we have had a lot of great teams’ but the commitment of our players is something special and for me it doesn’t have to be over today,” Gibbs said. “I get to go coach with our coaching staff and out kids for another week and most exciting part.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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