The Verona Eagles’ A and C teams made it to the Super Bowl on Sunday and both came away victorious, with the A team beating the Hanover Park Hornets and the C team topping the Nutley Raiders. Here’s a recap of the action.
Eagles A Team 24-Hanover Park 6
Since August 13, Coach Steve Lupo’s A Team has had one goal, winning the Super Bowl. Just over three months later that goal became a reality as the Eagles dismantled the Hanover Park Hornets 24-6 at Centennial Field. Lupo’s team would conclude their season with a perfect 10-0 record while outscoring their opponents by a combined 235-46.
The Hornets received the opening kick and went three and out as Chris Aldiero, Matt Gautieri, and Michael Mughetto stopped the Hornet ball-carrier on 3rd down.
Following the Hornet punt, CJ Lavery ripped off a 23-yard run out to the Eagle 38. Then Zach Zaccone passed 26 yards to Colin Kiernan. However the drive stalled out and again the Eagles punted with just under two minutes remaining in the opening quarter.
Coach Chris Venezia’s defense continued to dominate. Kiernan sacked the Hornet quarterback for a six-yard loss to set up a 3rd and long situation. The Hornets completed a short pass, but Devin Jacobsen came up and made a tackle well short of the first down. As the Hanover punter squatted to receive the low snap, his knee touched the ground, giving the Eagles the ball at the Hornet 45.
Lavery exploded around the right side for a 12-yard gain and a first down. Then Zach Zaccone dropped back and found #85, Michael Stanisci, in the end zone for a 30-yard TD pass. Kiernan booted the extra points and the Eagles led 8-0 with just under two minutes to play in the half.
Stanisci then harassed the Hornet quarterback, who rushed his pass and Joe Zecchino was there to pick it off. Zecchino rumbled towards the end zone cradling the ball like a hot loaf of Nicolo’s bread. Zecchino was tackled at the one yard line setting the Eagles up with a golden opportunity with 1:40 to play in the half. On 3rd down, Zaccone and Stanisci would hook up again, this time on a five-yard touchdown pass. Kiernan was again perfect booting the extra points up onto the hilltop and gave the Eagles a commanding 16-0 lead at the half.
The 3rd quarter was dominated by the defenses. Chuck Cerle, Steven Priscoe, and Matt Zaccone were all over the field making plays. But on the first play of the 4th quarter, Hanover struck for a long scoring pass. Suddenly the Hornets were an extra point away from making it a one score game. Those hope sailed wide right and the Eagles lead was 16-6.
The touchdown seemed to awaken the Eagles, as Zaccone passed 30 yards to Kiernan on the Eagles first play from scrimmage. Zaccone would run for the Eagles final score as he saw a huge lane on the right side. The offensive line did a great job of blocking all game led by Chris Lonergan, Austin Camp, Andrew Luehs, Chris Aldiero, and Matt Gautieri. Kiernan’s leg lifted the Eagles lead to 24-6 as the sounds of DJ Skriv and “Fly Eagles Fly” was ringing in the Hornets fans ears.
Mike Stanisci capped a great game by “rocking” the Hornet quarterback and sacking him with five minutes to play.
A great run comes to an end for this group of 8th graders. In their three varsity seasons they are a combined 29-1-1 with three Super Bowl appearances and two championships. Good luck next year in high school. Congratulations to Coach Lupo, his staff, and all the players for as close to a perfect season as any Eagles team has ever had. It has been a pleasure to watch.
C Team 18-Nutley 7
Coach Bob DiTrani is no stranger to the Super Bowl. In fact, Sunday’s contest vs Nutley would be his eighth consecutive appearance in the title game. When the final gun sounded, DiTrani’s C Team was on the long end of an 18-7 score, giving the coach his third consecutive title.
After receiving the opening kickoff, the Nutley Raiders found themselves in a manageable 3rd and 1 situation, but Jake Milmoe crashed through the line to tackle the ball-carrier for a two-yard loss. Nutley went for it on 4th down, and again they were stopped, turning the ball over on downs.
From the Nutley 46 yard line, on first down, Frank Riggio bolted for 12 yards. On 3rd and 8, Riggio again found a hole and pounded for 9 yards down to the 25 yard line of Nutley. Pierce Coppola then dropped back and passed to Zach Boucher who caught the ball in between two defenders and raced into the end zone. The extra point was stopped, so with 4:54 remaining in the first quarter, the Eagles led 6-0.
Jack Lonsinger kicked a perfectly placed ball just beyond the Nutley players, and Coppola recovered the ball at the 33 of Nutley. However, a fumble would give the ball back to Nutley at their own 38 yard line. Nutley would drive inside the Verona 30 yard line, but Milmoe and Ryan Hajtovik stopped the ball carrier cold to get the ball back for the Eagles as the first quarter came to a close.
Quinn Zebrowski ran for a 1st down out to the 35 yard line. Coppola raced around the right end for 16 yards and another first down in Raider territory. Coppola then dropped back and hit Steven Petro with a gorgeous 43-yard scoring pass to boost the Eagles lead to 12-0 with 5 minutes to play in the half.
Michael Matarazzo then stripped the Raider quarterback and recovered the fumble, setting the Eagles up again at the 46 yard line with 2:30 to play in the half. Riggio perfectly ran the old “fumble-rooskie” play for 40 yards down to the 5 of Nutley with 1.2 seconds left. Unfortunately, the Eagles were unable to score before the half.
After a Verona fumble on the opening series of the second half, Nutley was able to score with nine minutes left in the 3rd quarter. When the extra point was made, the Eagles lead was trimmed to 12-7.
The Eagles needed to chew up some clock, and they were able to do it by running the ball behind the front line of Tommy Maganello, Jake Milmoe, Jackson Seawright, Jason Zerin, and Miles Nippes. The Eagles eventually turned the ball over on downs at the Nutley 20 with just 27 seconds remaining. Forced to pass, Riggio picked off the final hope of Nutley and returned it for a game clinching touchdown!
Congratulations to Coach DiTrani and his Eagles players on their perfect 10-0 season. Coach once again proved to his team that with a good attitude and a good effort, you can’t lose!
A team photos copyright Deb Aldiero. Used by permission.