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Sunil Sunder Raj

High School Sports

Ramapo extends undefeated streak to 20 games in OT thriller against Wayne Hills

Carrying a 19-game undefeated winning streak into Friday’s showdown against arch rival Wayne Hills (4-3), the Ramapo Raiders (7-0) could not have an envisioned a better start on a cold and blustery night. After a short punt by the Patriots punter, the Raiders took advantage of the short field starting at the Wayne Hills 28 needing just three plays before junior running back Rich Sica plowed ahead for on a nine-yard touchdown.

“Richie (Sica) did a great job, he has not got the bulk of carries but we had planned to be a two tailback team and tough with JT (Jake Tirone) out and he had to carry the load and stepped up with tough, physical and good player on both sides of the ball,” said Head Coach Drew Gibbs. 

Forcing the Wayne Hills to punt a couple of minutes later in the first quarter, all of one play was required for Ramapo to widen the advantage to 14-0 with junior quarterback Charles DePrima connecting on a 71-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Max Kucharski in stride at the seven-minute mark. 

Ravaged by penalties in the first quarter, the Wayne Hills offense managed to get in sync in the second quarter bolstered by a 56-yard run from junior running back Christopher Brutofsky that advanced the ball to the Raiders 25-yard line. A 12-yard pass from senior quarterback Mike Casasanta to junior wide receiver Dean Imparato moved the ball down to the five-yard line. Brutofsky did the rest from the there barreling ahead for the five-yard scoring run but the extra point was wide left leaving the margin at 14-6 with three and half minutes remaining.

Just when it seemed the game was turning DePrima reminded everyone of his speed as well on the ensuing series breaking through the host of defenders and scampering 80 yards to the house for the touchdown. Ready to head into the locker room at halftime with a commanding lead the entire complexion of the game late in the first half. First, a fumble by the Ramapo offense that Daniel Daly recovered at the Raiders 32-yard line. Casasanta sent a loud and clear message to the Ramapo defense with his running capabilities blasting through the hole on a run and sprinting 32-yards for the score with 1:37 on the clock. It would get much worse for Ramapo as DePrima exited the game for good with injury his knee in a pile up. Even in two quarter of play DePrima put up impressive stats completing 3 of 4 passes for 109 yards and carrying the ball 13 times for 126 yards.

With a renewed purpose and confidence, the Wayne Hills offense exhibited those qualities in the third quarter as Casasanta raced 67 yards to the end zone. Going for the two-point conversion, the Patriots implemented some trickery before Casasanta found a wide-open Daly on pass tying the game at 21-21 with less than 10 minutes left. 

Shaking off some early rust, senior quarterback Chis Valvano found his stride late in the quarter and early into the fourth orchestrating a 10-play 95 drive. Helped out by Rica gaining 58 of his 129 yards on the series, Valvano finished it off barreling ahead for the touchdown on a one-yard quarterback keeper.

“At first I was a little bit nervous, my coaches made my job a lot easier so once the first snap happened I was fine,” said Chris Valvano. “We kept running the ball on the 95-yard drive, Richie Sica and offensive line did a great job. The offensive line is so important to this team and always so physical and makes the job for Richie and me to run through the holes. They are working their butts off every practice and lift and deserve all the credit.”

Taking possession of the ball with less than 10 minutes left of the clock, the Raiders were primed to cushion their lead with Valvano completing a key 16-yard pass to wide receiver John Skead on third down. Deep inside Wayne Hills territory and chewing up over four minutes clock the drive ended up with turnover on downs as the Patriots defense stuffed the run and forced an incomplete pass on fourth down with five and half minutes left.

That gave Casasanta plenty of time and opportunity to march down the field. Completing a 13-yard pass to wide receiver that moved the ball to midfield, Casasanta utilized his running skills gaining an important an important three yards on fourth and two at the Ramapo 42. Not done on the ground Casasanta gave the Raiders defense all fits tallying 32 more yards that moved the ball down to the five-yard line. Mixing it up Casasanta rolled out of the pocket and tossed pass to Imparato who stretched the ball across the goal line for the score with 31 seconds remaining. Casanata racked up astronomical numbers on the ground rushing the ball 22 times for 225 yards with 156 coming in the second half while completing 8 of 17 passes for 97 yards.

With the game going to overtime, Wayne Hills elected to go on defense first, Valvano did not waste any time rolling outside of the pocket and heaving a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Sean Clapp in the back of the end zone. However, the Patriots had an opportunity to tie up the game but the Raiders defense rose to the occasion forcing Casasanta into three consecutive incomplete passes as Ramapo remained unbeaten in 20 games with the 35-28 win and setting off an emotional celebration on the field. Valvano completed 9 of 11 passes for 158 yards.

“We have been practicing that play every week and I stepped up in the pocket and ran to the left and saw him wide open and just threw it and knew he was going to come down with it and he has been doing it all season,” Valvano said.

Drew Gibbs on the victory, “Guys stepped up today and made plays when they had to and really proud of the way the kids hung together. Chris (Valvano) is an outstanding quarterback and we trusted him to do what it took and made a great play for us and at the end how much confidence we have in him and I believe in him. He is a team captain and leader and accepted the back-up QB role. He put the team first, when he got his opportunity he stands in there as the starting QB in a win over Wayne Hills that is pretty special here at Ramapo.”

“Wayne Hills is a great program, never give up and have tough kids. They turned the tide in the second quarter and from that point a back and forth battle. Their QB had an outstanding job running the football. There were a lot of unbalanced sets and stuff they had never shown before and caught us by surprise and tough adjustments. In the past they came back on a us a couple of times but really proud of our offensive line, a bunch of seniors here and did a great job for us and proud of the way we stepped up in that OT with our physicality and determination to get it done.”

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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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