With five seconds remaining before halftime Friday night, Roselle Park fourth-year head coach Terry Hanratty said, “why not?”
So he sent out sophomore Valentino Ambrosio to attempt a 46-yard field goal at Herm Shaw Field.
The 5-7, 140-pounder – who was Roselle Park’s varsity kicker last year as a freshman – sought to extend a two-touchdown Panther lead with what would be his first field goal as a sophomore.
Ambrosio, whose first field goal as a freshman came in a setback at Brearley, put everything he had into the kick and made it with little margin to spare.
Roselle Park’s eventual 38-0 victory over visiting Pingry saw the Panthers have a 17-0 lead at intermission because of it.
“He’s now elevated his game a bit,” Hanratty said. “He’s also kicking off and had two touchbacks. He’s even more of a weapon for us.”
Ambrosio was a perfect 1-for-1 on field goal attempts and 5-for-5 on extra point kicks.
“He’s been working with coach (state’s kicking guru) Pat Sempier,” Hanratty said. “Pat said to him that he has the potential to be one of the best.”
Scoring touchdowns for Roselle Park were senior running back Carry Mimy (2), sophomore Enzo Brutus, senior Khaleel Roach and junior Steven Karas.
Roselle Park, which now owns the longest winning steak of any team in Union County at four, opened its fourth straight season with a win over Pingry and the last three have been by shutout.
“This is the hardest-working group of kids I’ve ever coached,” Hanratty said. “The kids took it upon themselves to do conditioning drills without being asked.”
Roselle Park is off this weekend before returning Sept. 25 at Bound Brook. The Panthers lost 23-21 at home to Bound Brook last year.
This weekend, Bound Brook (1-0) hosts Dayton (0-1) Friday night at 7 in Mid-State 38 Conference-Valley Division play.
“This is the best team I’ve coached, not from a talent standpoint, but from being as solid a team as anyone would want to coach,” Hanratty said.
Roselle Park’s 4-4 defense was sparked by the play of senior end Joe Picarelli, who finished with eight tackles vs. Pingry.
“Joe has really improved and become a solid, high school football player,” Hanratty said. “He really showed how to play defensive end. He made plays on the sideline and right at him. He really stepped up his game.
“It was a great surprise to see the way he played.”
Roselle Park had two shutout wins last year and hopes to add more this season.
“Everything else is a team effort with us,” Hanratty said. “We don’t know who’s going to run the ball well or who is going to step up from game to game.”
Hanratty also reported that his players put valuable time in during the off-season with assistant coach Justin Polce.
“I can’t say enough about the job Justin has done with the kids,” Hanratty said. “He was there every day with them, in the weight room. I give him a lot of credit.”
Hanratty guided the Panthers to the North 2, Group 1 playoffs his first two years at the helm, while last year’s non-playoff team closed with a three-game winning streak to finish 5-5.
“I don’t know how good we could be, a lot of that depends on injuries and how we match up on a game-to-game basis,” Hanratty said. “Three years ago we beat Pingry in overtime (on Opening Night) and then we ended up playing for a state championship.
“We just have to get better every week, that’s our goal. We need to be a little better on executing and understanding the game.
“You can’t make Division 1 players, but you can make players better.”