Football Gets A Win Over Morris Catholic

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Last year, Morris Catholic traveled to Verona for an extraordinarily competitive game. In the 4th quarter, tied up 14-14 Morris Catholic rushed 35 yards for a touchdown, and ended up winning the game 21-14. However this year, the game ended up a little bit differently for the Crusaders: a 41-7 loss at home.

The contest kicked off with Verona receiving the ball near their 40-yard line, thanks to a botched onside kick. Throws and passes to #23 Zach Garmont (receiver, safety) as well as a rush by #44 Bodie Maisano (running back, linebacker) got Verona to Morris Catholic’s 35-yard line, but a penalty brought Verona back to their 40. Passes to #9 Michael Demasi (receiver, cornerback) and #22 Dean Algieri (receiver), as well as a rush by Maisano soon got Verona that distance back. Further passes to #5 Gianluca Checchetto (receiver, cornerback) and Garmont got Verona within six yards of the endzone. However, holding penalties forced Verona to attempt a field goal, and a kick by #2 Kieran Patel got the score to 3-0.

With Morris Catholic on offense, tackles by #11 Jesse Wagner (receiver, cornerback) and #12 Ethan Fersch (tight end, defensive end) forced a three-and-out for the home team. Verona took over at the Morris Catholic 30, but a strip sack by Morris Catholic gave the team the ball back. A quick sack by Maisano then closed out the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Verona tackles forced a Morris Catholic punt, which was kicked out of bounds, allowing Verona to take over at their own 40-yard line. A 23-yard pass to Checchetto got Verona to the far 37-yard line. A rush by Maisano bulldozed four Morris Catholic defenders, getting Verona to the 15-yard line. After a few unsuccessful passes, Patel kicked another field goal, bringing the score to 6-0.

A touchback by Patel made the Crusaders start at the 25-yard line. Verona quickly shut down Morris Catholic’s offense with gang tackles and forced a punt. Verona took over at Morris Catholic’s 40-yard line, and immediately #20 Jayden Nigro (receiver, cornerback) broke three tackles for the first Verona touchdown of the night. An extra point by Patel brought the score to 13-0.

Penalties on Morris Catholic and strong defense by Verona then gave Verona the ball back 45 yards from the endzone. Whilst on the run, #10 Connor Demasi (quarterback) completed a 40-yard pass to Garmont, bringing Verona to the 5-yard line. A quarterback carry resulted in another Verona touchdown, bringing the score to 20-0.

Morris Catholic was once more locked down by Verona’s defense with good pass coverage by Wagner as well as another tackle by Fersch. Morris Catholic turned over the ball at their 40 but Verona was unable to capitalize, giving them the ball back. However, a strip sack by #42 Marc Nigro (fullback, defensive end) turned the ball over, giving Verona another chance to score. A 20-yard rush by Maisano broke a tackle and spin-moved, out-maneuvering two more defenders. Finally, he was dragged down in the endzone, giving Verona a 27-0 lead with just over a minute left in the half. Verona’s defense denied Morris Catholic a chance to score going into halftime.

Morris Catholic received the ball at their 15-yard line to start the second half. On third and long, Morris Catholic #6 Erik Edelman (receiver) bobbled a catch in the air and came down with the ball, prolonging the drive. Tackles by Jayden Nigro, Checchetto, and #81 John Paul Alfano (receiver, linebacker) held off the drive, but a persistent Morris Catholic run ended up scoring, making the score 27-7.

The next Verona drive appeared to be making progress, with passes to Maisano and Garmont making good headway, but another strip sack gave Morris Catholic the ball back. Morris Catholic got all the way to the 10-yard line before penalties and additional strong defense left them with one shot at the end zone on third down. That pass was intercepted by Checchetto, giving Verona back possession of the ball and stopping the Crusader’s momentum in its tracks.

Unfortunately for Verona, its next drive looked like it was unsuccessful, with Patel already out to punt. However, an offsides penalty followed by another offsides penalty gave Verona’s drive hope anew. A pass to Maisano got Verona to the 50, topping off the third quarter.

Rushes by Maisano followed by passes to Garmont and Maisano got Verona to the 30-yard line, but Verona was forced to execute a quarterback punt on fourth down, landing at the Morris Catholic seven. A tackle by Checchetto, followed by yet another strip sack by Marc Nigro gave Verona possession at the five-yard line. Another rush by Maisano was pushed into the endzone by nearly the entire Verona offensive line, bringing the score to 34-7.

Morris Catholic’s return was brought down at the 20, and the offense was placed in a standstill by multiple quick tackles. Finally, an interception by Salvatore Santos-DiTrani put Verona’s offense back on the field again. This time, however, Verona was unable to score, and Demasi punted the ball to the one-yard line. Four well-executed defensive plays gave Verona back the ball at the five-yard line, and Jayden Nigro ran it in for a touchdown: 41-7. For the remainder of the game, Verona’s junior varsity squad kept Morris Catholic at bay until time expired.

“Overall great win,” said Jayden Nigro. “Little mistakes were made here and there, but there was always room for our team to recover. Going into halftime 27-0 we knew the game wasn’t over and held a positive mindset. The second half came and our team still gave what we could to secure that win.”

With this win, Verona’s record improves to 2-3, with an important match against Mountain Lakes next Friday, September 29, at home on Sellitto Field. Several things are going for Verona, including the continued improvements of its squadron. The greatest accomplishment may be that receiver Zach Garmont is now back in first place in receiving yards across the entire state. Although the challenge will be tough, with Mountain Lakes’ 3-1 record, Verona is in good spirits and promises to work hard to follow up on this victory.

Photos copyright Mike Perry. Used by permission.

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Daniel Frenklakh
Daniel Frenklakh
High school writer following football, marching band, swimming and various high school events.

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