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Sunil Sunder Raj

High School Sports

Don Bosco Prep knocks off No. 1 St. Joseph (Montvale) 35-14

In a game that was a must-win to stay in the league hunt, Don Bosco Prep knocked off top-ranked St. Joseph.

Don Bosco Prep Head Coach Dan Sabella admitted afterward that the program had been tested and frustrated. There were some tough Monday and Saturday mornings, especially after excruciating losses to Bergen Catholic and St. Peter’s Prep. However, he said his team stayed the course and kept believing. The idea was to approach the game against St. Joseph (Montvale) (5-2) as any other game.

On a crisp and sunny fall day at Robert Joseph Dinallo Stadium (S. Joseph Regional High School), Ironmen junior quarterback Jake Robbins (117 passing yards) shook off a pair of interceptions. With no score in the second quarter, Robbins tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Alexander Geraci near the back of the end zone with less than eight minutes remaining. Three minutes later, a 55-yard run from senior running back Kyle Monangai pushed the ball down to the Green Knights 19-yard line. Robbins then hit senior running back on a 14-yard touchdown.

At the end of the quarter St. Joe’s had an opportunity to put points on the scoreboard with a field goal, but Don Bosco Prep crashed through the line and blocked the field goal.

“Jake really didn’t practice this week after he hurt his ankle last week in the second quarter. He didn’t really practice until Thursday. We didn’t know how much he would do and had a lot of stuff ready for Jahquil (Batts) and see how the game flowed a little bit,” said Dan Sabella. “I thought we did a pretty good job protecting him and able to manage the game pretty well.”

With the combination of Monangai and Berger gaining over 100 yards on the ground in the first half, the Ironmen offense went back to that same formula to open up the second half. On their first offensive possession, they ran the ball six out of seven plays. But it was a 42-yard pass from Robbins to Berger that advanced the ball down to the Green Knights six-yard line. Berger capped off a successful nine-play, 66-yard drive that chewed up almost five minutes of the clock, taking the handoff and rumbling into the end zone.

Green Knights senior running back Te’ Rai Powell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Don Bosco 36-yard line. It would only take one play to get into the end zone after a touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Najih Rahman. St. Joe’s seemed primed to cut the deficit even further, but the Ironmen defense hunkered down, forcing an incomplete pass on fourth and three from their 49-yard line. The Don Bosco Prep defense held St. Joe’s senior running back Audric Estime to 32 yards rushing while limiting Alaimo to 116 yards passing.

Taking advantage of excellent starting field position, Robbins completed another big pass to Berger that ended up good for 25 yards. On the very next play, Berger barreled ahead into the end zone for his third touchdown on the day, a 17-yard score with two minutes left. Berger ended up with 78 yards rushing, 70 of them coming in the second half, and caught three passes for 81 yards. With time winding down in the third quarter, Monangai made his presence known on the ground scampering for 35 yards. Early in the fourth quarter, Monangai finished off a spectacular day (23 carries, 187 yards) with a 30-yard touchdown run.

“We came out to make a big statement. Our offensive coach put a lot of faith in Jalen and myself to make the plays. We came out strong in the first half and shut them out. In the second half, it was about finishing the runs.”

“After the St. Peter’s loss last week left a bad taste in our mouths, all week it was business in practice. The defense worked hard and showed today. Now we’re 3-4, want to finish the season up strong and go into the playoffs with some confidence and momentum.”

Dan Sabella on the 35-14 victory: “We didn’t do anything different, it was great execution, great focus and guys making plays. We did the little things needed that you have to do in this league. Kyle and Jalen are two generational players. You don’t get guys like that, and it’s great to have both of them.”

“You have to have a great team to win in this league. When our defense holds teams down like that and we’re able to spread the ball around and get guys their touches, that’s the formula. We tackled well and were good with our run fits and not giving up the big play. Our backs were against the wall and we said we’re going to be aggressive. It gets our confidence back and hopefully the start of something.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Sunil is the Rockland Boulders Beat Writer for DoubleGSports.com and also covers North Jersey High School Sports
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