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Wayne Hills Complete Comeback, Win OT Thriller over Wayne Valley to Claim North Jersey 1, Group 4 Title

Wayne Hills 31, Wayne Valley 24

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)

 

After being down by 14 points on a cold December 4 night at MetLife Stadium, the Wayne Hills Patriots were able to make a miraculous comeback, which culminated in a 31-24 overtime victory over the Wayne Valley Indians to claim the NJSIAA North 1, Group 4 Championship.

In overtime rules, teams can start on the opposing 25 yard line and attempt to put points on the board and hold off the opposing team. The Patriots were facing a fourth down and six, as quarterback Brendan DeVera handed off the ball to senior receiver Hunter Hayek on an end-around. What would then proceed was Hayek throw it back to DeVera, who would follow a block from senior receiver Tyler Hayek for an eight yard gain, giving the Patriots a first down. Patriots senior running back Luca Grave would rush four yards to the end zone to give the Patriots a 31-24 lead.

The Indians knew that they had to score a touchdown to keep overtime going and their championship hopes alive. Indians’ senior quarterback Grant Ferrauilo would throw a pass to junior running back Greg Poloso, who would take it to the six yard line. However, the play did not go as planned, as Poloso would fumble the ball out of the endzone, thus sealing the thrilling victory for the Patriots.

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)

“We don’t flinch,” said Wayne Hills Head Coach Wayne Demikoff. “We’ve been down [at] halftime before against a lot of teams and our kids just keep battling. That’s why they’re Wayne Hills.”

“The game played out exactly the way we would have expected it to,” said Wayne Valley coach Roger Kotlarz. “Obviously we fell short and those guys made unbelievable play. It’s surreal.”

“I said with everyone, ‘guys, I don’t want my senior year to end like this. All of you seniors, this is our last time playing in high school, what do you want to do about it?’” said DeVera, regarding the difference in play from the first half to the second half. “We came back out a whole different team I’ve never been so proud of my team before.”

For the majority of the first quarter, both teams had each other’s number, no one willing to budge. That ended at the end of the first quarter, however, as the Indians worked their way down the field, with the help of Ferrauilo and senior running back Nick Gould. This drive ended in a 6 yard touchdown pass from Ferrauilo to senior wide receiver Jordan Montero, giving the Indians a 7-0 lead.

At the start of the second quarter, Wayne Hills went three plays and out, Wayne Valley moved the drive down the field. Ferrauilo completed a 26 yard pass to junior wide receiver A.J. Tedesco and a 15 yard pass to Montero. This lead to a 34 yard field goal by Montero, putting the Indians up 10-0.

Later in the second, the Indians had the ball on their own 19 yard line. At the hike of the ball, the snap did not go exactly as planned, causing a fumble recovery by the Patriots on the ten yard line. The Patriots would have their answer, as senior running back Luca Grave would rush the ball twice to get cut the lead down to three, with the score now being 10-7, with 1:23 left in the half.

The Indians would reply on the next drive, after a 49 yard pass from Ferrauilo to Tedesco and a 27 yard pass to senior wide receiver Joe Scancarella, the Indian found themselves in the red zone. Two plays later, Ferrauilo threw a four yard touchdown pass to Tedesco, giving the Indians a 17-7 lead to end the first half.

Now receiving the ball at the second half kickoff, the Patriots would work their way from their own 43 yard line to get themselves into field goal range, setting up a successful 27 yard field goal by junior kicker Dario Sirni, now cutting the lead down to 17-10.

On the ensuing drive on their own 26 yard line, Ferrauilo completed a 39 yard pass to senior receiver Elijah Beard and a 17 yard pass to Montero. After an encroachment call on Wayne Hills, Ferrauilo would complete a 9 yard touchdown pass to Beard to extend the Indians lead to 24-10 with 3:28 left in the third quarter.

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso - Double G Media)

(Photo by Catalina Fragoso – Double G Media)

Little did Wayne Valley know that the remainder of the game would be a successful comeback by the Patriots. On their own ten yard line, DeVera would complete a 27 yard pass to Tyler Hayek. About five plays later, DeVera would lauch a deep 46 yard pass to Tyler Hayek again for the touchdown. The Patriots were now within seven of tying the game with 8:17 left in the game.

The Patriots would force a three and out for the Indians, giving the Patriots the ball back to tie the game. The Patriots only needed one play, as DeVera would complete a 59 yard pass to Grave for the tying touchdown with 6:54 left in the fourth quarter. The game would go into overtime, which ended in historic fashion, as stated in the second and third paragraphs.

The Wayne Hills Indians were at the brunt of controversy after the State Championship Playoff brackets were released, as they were removed from the playoffs all together due to a transferring controversy. The Hayek brothers (Hunter, Tyler, and Jaaron) were initially deemed ineligible for the playoffs after transferring from St. Joseph to Wayne Hills. A few days later, Wayne Hills were reinstated into the playoffs after a hearing from the NJSIAA. After this emotional roller coaster before the playoffs even started, Wayne Hills are now State Champions.

“This thing has been a rollercoaster,” said Tyler Hayek. “We heard the news on that Monday, everyone was crying in the locker room. I came in said, ‘guys, it’s not over. We’re going to do this.’ [The hearing] got overruled and we have no choice but to win the state championship.”

“I’m not gonna lie, it felt terrible,” said Wayne Hills receiver Evidence Njoku, on Wayne Hills initially being removed from the playoffs. “To see all of the faces in the locker room, everyone’s heads were down. Just having that feeling in your gut that something got taken away from you, it’s terrible. But once we got the news that we were back in…it was straight business. There’s not going to be anything in our way and I’m just glad we really got to show the doubters, haters, everybody that yes, this is how our season’s going to end.”

“That’s why we ran over there and held the trophy up to all of those people who supported us through all of this,” said Demikoff. “We thank them, but who I really want to thank is the people who didn’t. Because they brought us together as a team and we’re not holding that trophy today without the people who didn’t support us. So we say, ‘thank you for your support as well.’”

Team Stats:

Wayne Hills:

1st Downs: 12

Total Yards: 260

Wayne Valley:

1st Downs: 16

Total Yards: 334

Player Stats:

Wayne Hills:

Brendan DeVera: 12/24 183 yards, 2 TD, 1 reception, 8 yards.

Luca Grave: 23 rushes, 83 yards, 2 TD. 4 receptions, 76 yards, 1 TD.

Hunter Hayek: 3 receptions, 30 yards.

Tyler Hayek: 4 receptions, 72 yards, 1 TD.

Evidence Njoku: 1 reception, 5 yards.

Wayne Valley:

Grant Ferrauilo: 21/36, 267 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT.

Nick Gould: 12 rushes, 52 yards. 2 receptions, 12 yards.

Greg Poloso: 10 rushes, 22 yards. 3 receptions, 50 yards.

Elijah Beard: 3 receptions, 50 yards, 1 TD.

Jordan Montero: 6 receptions, 47 yards, 1 TD.

Joe Scancarella: 3 receptions, 28 yards.

A.J. Tedesco: 4 receptions, 80 yards, 1 TD.

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