Bergen Catholic hangs on for 14-13 win against Don Bosco
The 70thmeeting between Bergen Catholic(3-1) and Don(2-2) Bosco Prep certainly did not disappoint at Bergen Catholic High School on Saturday afternoon. A cool and crisp fall day that features an overflow crowd, smoke bombs, student sections fiercely rooting on their respective team and 1998 undefeated and state champion Crusaders honored in a halftime ceremony.
“An amazing environment to be part of and you can take the records and throw it out the window, said Bergen Catholic Head Coach Vito Campanile. Is that now what high school football is about and to be part of? There is such a competitive environment, such similarities between the schools and competitive fire”
However, Campanile did not anticipate losing another top player to an injury on Bergen Catholic’s first drive of the game in senior Aeneas DiCosmo. “We lost the best defensive player in the state and on the first drive of the game and didn’t play one snap on defense today, Campanile said”
With no other choice but to refocus on the game, junior quarterback Andrew Boel(13 of 22, 147 yards) orchestrated a 15 play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 6:41 of the clock. Taking a huge gamble early on 4thand 1 at the 45, senior running back Rahmir Johnson blasted through the line for a two-yard gain. Helped out by a critical pass interference call on a 3rd& 15 and personal foul assessed on the Ironmen defense, the Crusaders moved deep into Don Bosco territory. Facing another 4thdown situation at the one-yard line, Boel capped off the drive plowing ahead for the score.
After both teams exchanged several punts, Don Bosco finally strung together a healthy drive in the second quarter resulting in a 47-yard field goal from Guy Fava. The Ironmen defense forced Bergen Catholic into a quick three and out. Starting with good field position at their own 45, Don Bosco quickly advanced the ball into Crusaders territory utilizing the running game. On a 2nd& 8 at the 22, junior quarterback Jahquil Batts connected on touchdown pass to junior running back Kyle Monangai in stride down the right sideline with less than five minutes left in the first half.
However, Bergen Catholic responded immediately starting with a solid kickoff return by junior Rene Nunez to the 36-yard line. Boel went to work slinging a 24-yard pass to senior tight end Tyler Devera( 6 catches for 78 yards) and 13-yarder to senior wide receiver Cody Garrett. With just about two minutes to go faced with another fourth down play at Don Bosco 19, Camapanile did not hesitate going for it as Johnson took the direct snap and bulldozed ahead for even yard.
On third and six at the eight-yard line, Bergen Catholic employed some trickery as Boel took the snap, flipped the ball to Nunez who in turn tossed a pass to wide open Devera near the right sideline with 39 seconds remaining.
“The Philly Special, Nick Camapnile the offensive coordinator at DePaul(Catholic) designed that play in Westwood eight years ago and been good for us since then, said Camapnile. Our identity is an all-state tight end, we have tremendous backs and QB that is good as a winner you are going to find anywhere. DeVera is the best tight end in New Jersey, he brings energy, effort and attitude. He plays just as good without the ball as he does with it and makes quality plays in the game”
In the second half, the Crusaders turned the ball over on consecutive series. Don Bosco took advantage of the opportunity presented as Fava drilled home a 47-yard field goal early into the fourth quarter. Johnson(24 carries for 100 yards) and senior Anthony Corbin started to pick up chunks of yardage of ground as Bergen Catholic took almost four minutes off the clock but the drive ultimately stalled out.
After forcing Don Bosco into a fast three and out, there was an opportunity to extend the lead but senior placekicker Michael Kearney missed on a 24-yarder. One last gasp attempt for the Ironmen, junior Pierson Tobia cemented the victory picking off a pass from Jake Tarentino.
“To win without him(Aeneas DiCosmo) I would be breathing into a brown paper bag and hyperventilating, Campanile said. A collective effort, Griffin McGovern, Jed Denobile, Nick Bellini all playing new spots. Ryan Butler going in the game as a fullback. Tyler Booker is a freshman, played 40 snaps on defense and 30 snaps on offense.
“Jaeden Gould is a freshman, Tywone Malone is a sophomore and Sebastian Sager a sophomore and guys like that fit the billing. Tobia is a football player and you trust him and makes a circus catch to win us a game and special player”
“Rahmir grinder it out in the second half, he is learning how to run behind his pads and I thought he was a finisher in Georgia and today. Anthony is just a powerful kid and could be a 1,000 yarder on a lot of teams in the state”
“We had the 1998 team in the locker room before the game and last thing I said we want to take this thing back and get the rivalry back in our favor. What a classic and unbelievable football game today”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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