Cheers. Chants. Screams. All these and more were present at the football team’s season opener last night at home. Verona edged out the Morris Hill Knights 14-6 last night in one of the most brilliant defensive games played in a while. For reference, the 2021 Verona squad gave up an average of 30.5 points per game. The last time the team gave up six or fewer points in a game was the victorious 2019 season, where Verona won a state title and was undefeated.
The game started with an electrifying Morris Hills drive, getting just 6 yards from the end zone . However, on 4th down, the Verona defense stood firm, and the offense took the field. #4 Luke Cerle (running back, linebacker) immediately ran for large swaths of territory, catching the Knights off guard. After a long drive of hammering the defense, #10 Connor Demasi’s pass to #20 AJ Nigro (running back) put 6 points on the board for Verona. A rush from #23 Zach Garmont (wide receiver, safety) completed the two-point conversion, making the score 8-0.
In the second quarter, #5 Logan Colon (linebacker, running back) successfully rushed from the edge and sacked the Morris Hills quarterback. #52 Shane Costigan (guard, defensive tackle) had multiple tackles for loss. “However, as the first half closed, the Verona offense could not turn the situation into points.
The third quarter saw both teams reinvigorated. Morris Hills started to look like it had on the opening drive until Garmont blew up an outside rush. Morris Hills was forced to punt, but a botched snap led to Verona starting deep in enemy territory. At one point, Demasi was stripped of the ball but quickly picked it up and completed a pass to Captain #1 Alex Rodriguez (wide receiver, safety). Although the offense was unable to score, Rodriguez wasn’t quite finished and picked off the ball the very next pass. When asked for comment, Rodriguez stated, “I was just glad I could help the team out. The offense was struggling and I was glad I could give them the energy boost.” After this, both respective defenses started to intensify and a few drives went by with neither team scoring points.
At this moment, the fan sections of both crowds began to chant to raise the morale of their respective players. When Morris Hills was forced to punt the ball, and Garmont returned it for a touchdown, the Verona section began to chant, “I believe that we will win!,” which had the desired positive impact on the weary football team.
Most of the fourth quarter was a stalemate, with neither side able to break the iron defense of the other. This continued until the very last drive, when Morris Hills was able to score a touchdown on the last play of the game. Despite the anticlimactic finish, Verona did secure its first win of the season and celebrated accordingly.
The team is now looking forward to its second game on Thursday against Madison at Sellitto Field. The VHS marching band, unable to attend the first early game, will make its debut.
(Photo courtesy Verona High School Athletics Department)