Over the years the Verona Eagles and Fairfield Falcons have developed quite a rivalry. Four years ago the Falcons dealt the Eagles their only regular season loss. The Eagles would avenge that loss in the Super Bowl. Two years ago the Falcons again defeated the Eagles in the regular season and went on to win the Super Bowl. On a chilly Sunday in Fairfield, the Eagles sent a message that the rivalry may be over as the soundly defeated the Falcons 32-8.
Coach Tom Sharkey had barely gotten back to the sideline from retrieving the kicking tee and the Eagles were down 8-0 as Fairfield scored on the first play from scrimmage. It would be their only score of the game.
The Eagles moved the ball on their opening possession, as Nick Riggio had a 16-yard run and Tommy “Great White” Sharkey hit Anthony Zamloot with a 30-yard swing pass deep into Falcon territory. Ultimately a turnover would stall the drive.
Down 8-0, the Eagles D needed to step up and they did. Zach “Look Out” Balogh came up with two huge tackles as Fairfield turned the ball over on downs.
Sharkey hit Matthew Frungillo with a perfectly thrown touchdown pass as the Eagles had their first points of the day. Unfortunately the extra point hit the crossbar leaving the Eagles on the short end of a 8-6 score as the first quarter ended.
The Eagle D was huge on the Falcons next possession. Zamloot and Matt “Aldo” Aldiero blasted the ball carrier in the backfield. Then it was PJ Jordan and Brendan Erwin who teamed up to stop the Falcons well short of a first down.
Once they got the ball back, it took the Eagles all of two plays to score. First it was Matt Frung who ran a jet sweep around the right side for 12 yards. Then it would be Sharkey passing to Peter “The Jet” Farley who caught a pass, made one tackler miss, and then sprinted into the end zone for a 40-yard score. The Eagles lead was 12-8.
The Falcons drove to the Eagles 9 just before the half. Again, Zack Balogh came up with a huge tackle for a loss. On the final play of the half, several Eagles stopped the Falcons short of the goal-line.
The Eagles received the kick in the 2nd half and immediately went to work. Sharkey hit Matthew Frung with a 60-yard pass play and followed it up by throwing the extra point to him as well to put the Eagles up 19-8.
Tommy “TK” Kellner who wears number 22, twice tackled the ball-carrier who wears number 22 from Fairfield on the next possession. On 4th down the Falcons went for it, and that’s when Nick Riggio came up and stopped them cold.
The Eagles next touchdown was set up by a Farley sweep for 20 yards followed by a Riggio touchdown run. Sharkey passed to Pat “Crazy Legs” Haughney for the extra point and the rout was on, 26-8.
The unsung heroes are typically the offensive line. Pat McMurtrie, Matt Aldiero, Jack Gautieri, Brandon Cariani, and Matt Monroe did an awesome job of opening holes and protecting Sharkey. On this day, one of the unsung heroes had his chance to shine. Late in the game an Eagle ball-carrier fumbled, and that’s when Brandon “The Galloping Ghost” Cariani scooped up the ball and rumbled and stumbled 30 yards for the game’s final score! Cariani’s touchdown made the final score 32-8.
One game remains on the Eagles regular season schedule, and it should be a good one. The Eagles will meet the Caldwell Chiefs in a battle of 6-1 teams next Sunday at Centennial Field in Verona. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30. Come out and support the boys as they continue to strive for a championship.
Photos copyright Deb Aldiero. Used by permission.