Eagles Celebrate A ‘Super’ Year

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Mark Bennett, earlier this season

The Verona Eagles are going to be holding their season-ending dinners this week, and they’ve got a lot of reasons to celebrate–including some Super Bowl titles. Here’s a recap of those big games on November 21 and some photos from throughout the season.

A Team – 34 Livingston – 16

What a way to celebrate a birthday! Mark Bennett rushed for almost 200 yards and scored 3 touchdowns on his 14th birthday to lead the Eagles A-Team to a 34-16 Super Bowl win over Livingston. It was Coach Steve Lupo’s first Super Bowl victory in seven years. The Eagles led 7-0 at half on a Bennett 75-yard gallop and Frank Ferrari point after. They increased the lead early in the second half on a 65-yard scamper by Bennett. The lead was cut to 13-8 by the Lancers but Bennett answered again. Mike Cifaretto, Nick DePaul, Matt Riccatelli, Sam Cummings, and David Gautieri opened gaping holes all afternoon, and did so again to spring Bennett on a 50-yard TD. Once again the Lancers wouldn’t quit. They scored and kicked the extra point to pull within 20-16 with over a quarter left in the game.

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That’s when the defense stepped up. Matt Zebrowski, Bill Ferrari, Luke Connell, Nick DePaul, Mike DeSomma, and Sam Cummings pressured and sacked the Lancer QB repeatedly. Linebackers Bennett, Jimmie Crawford, Brian Valentine, and Brian Wagner punished the Lancer ball-carriers. Deep backs Stephen Kellner, Ryan Cariani, and Frank Ferrari shut down the Livingston receiving corps the rest of the game. After stopping Livingston on 4th down, the Eagles increased their lead as Ferrari scampered around right end for a 9-yard TD run. Brian Liggio booted the extra points and it was 28-16. Frank Ferrari sealed the win with a pick-six to close out the scoring.

Congratulations to all players and coaches for their excellent season, avenging their only two losses in the post season.

Jake Houthuysen

B Team – 0 West Essex – 28

After battling to a 6-6 regular season tie, there was great anticipation leading up to the Super Bowl rematch between the Eagles and the West Essex Cowboys. Unfortunately, this game wasn’t close, as the Cowboys won 28-0, ending Coach Gerald DeLuisi’s hopes for back-to-back titles. The opening drive started out promising enough with Mike Mughetto & Jake “Hoot” Houthuysen both running the ball effectively. The drive eventually would stall deep inside Cowboys territory. A few plays later, West Essex would break a long touchdown run and held the lead 8-0. With just over 2 minutes left in the half, the Cowboys broke another long run increasing their lead to 16-0.

Hoot ripped off another long run before half and the Eagles were again threatening to make a game of it, but a fumble and score with just seconds left in the half essentially dashed the Eagles’ hopes. Austin Camp was in on numerous tackles, and Sean Ryan had some tough hard-nosed runs both from scrimmage and on kick-off returns.

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Congratulations to all players and coaches for a great season. The B-Team concludes their season as regular season League Co-Champions with an 8-1-1 record.

Nick Riggio

C Team – 14 Fairfield – 6

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Coach Bob DiTrani’s team came into the Super Bowl with fire in their eyes. Their opponent, the Fairfield Falcons, had dealt his team their only loss of the regular season. Super Bowl Sunday would see the Eagles’ gain their revenge, with a 14-6 victory. The Eagles D stopped the Falcons on 4th and short as Jack Gautieri, Matt Frungillo, and Matt Monroe swarmed all over the ball-carrier. Faced with a 4th down of their own, DiTrani elected to go for it, and was rewarded as Nick Riggio followed a Matt Aldiero block and scampered 60 yards to give the Eagles the early lead.

After the Falcons tied the score at 6-6, Matt Dollaway came up with a huge play tackling the Falcon back for a loss on the extra point attempt. The Eagles responded right away, running #88 Anthony Zamloot multiple times off left tackle. Zamloot would eventually pound his way into the end-zone to regain the lead. Third grader Zander Zebrowski made a tough catch of a Tommy Sharkey pass and the lead was 14-6.

From there it was the D who stepped up. Brandon Cariani, Pat Haughney, Zamloot, Frungillo, Sharkey, and Riggio made tackles all over the field. Brian Hipp, playing his first game since returning from injury, made huge plays from his DE position. And Jack Gautieri sealed the game with an interception with 4 minutes to play.

Congratulations to all players and coaches for your commitment, showing that with “Good Attitude and Good Effort, you Can’t Lose!”

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