CRANFORD – What was Cranford’s objective against a Hillside team that came in off a victory in which it scored 49 points on the road?
For the host Cougars it was to take care of business and keep on showing signs of improvement.
Hillside, on the other hand, knew it was going up against quite a formidable foe. The Comets showed for awhile that they could be competitive against a more established opponent.
What Hillside also learned, like many of Cranford’s previous foes, is that it can be quite difficult to bring down Cougar senior quarterback Jack Schetelich in the open field.
Schetelich, who has given a verbal commitment to continue playing in college at Villanova, rushed for three touchdowns that totaled 130 yards to help Cranford roll to a decisive 51-17 triumph over Hillside in Friday night’s Mid-State 38 Conference-crossover game at Memorial Field.
Cranford improved to 6-0 overall, won its 17th straight regular season game and is now 41-9 in its last 50 contests.
“We didn’t have a rough first five games, but coach (Erik Rosenmeier) said that we have eight cylinders and that we were only running on four,” Schetelich said. “Our game plan tonight was to run a lot and we clearly did. I think I threw only three passes.”
Cranford also received rushing touchdowns from junior Sean Bryson (2), junior Ryan Bakie and junior Brian Oblachinski. Bryson – in the second half – Bakie, Oblachinski and fellow junior Brian McGovern all proved effective running the ball.”
For the second straight season Cranford is averaging over 40 points and for the last two weeks the Cougars are averaging an even 50. Cranford scored 50 points for the first time since a 52-20 home win over North Plainfield last season.
“Our balance is more than the run and pass, it’s the number of guys we have that we can go to,” Cranford head coach Erik Rosenmeier said. “This year we’re taking what the defense gives us.”
The Cougars will next play at Delaware Valley next Friday night in a battle of 6-0 squads. Delaware Valley beat visiting North Plainfield 21-7 Friday night.
Defending champion Cranford leads the Raritan Division at 4-0, while Delaware Valley is in first place in the Mountain Division at 3-0.
Cranford has defeated Delaware Valley the past four seasons after the Terriers won an overtime decision in 2010.
“Delaware Valley has a bunch of good athletes,” Schetelich said. “Both teams being 6-0 is always great.”
“Delaware Valley has a system that works offensively and they are tough, hard-nosed kids,” Rosenmeier said.
Hillside had a two-game winning streak snapped and fell to 3-3. Next weekend the Comets host Johnson in a game that has plenty of Central Jersey, Group 2 playoff ramifications for both teams.
After a week off, Johnson seeks a second straight victory this Saturday when the 1-3 Crusaders host 2-3 Roselle.
“Next week is make or break for us,” first-year Hillside head coach Halim McNeil said. “It’s a must win.”
There were some positives for the Comets against the Cougars. Junior placekicker Joseph Jaramillo kicked a 25-yard field goal to give Hillside a 3-0 first-quarter lead and later was 2-for-2 on extra point kicks.
Junior quarterback Kevin Miller and junior running back Siraj Abdul-Malik had their moments passing and running the ball in the first half.
Miller came out of the game with a foot injury. His backup, Jihad Byrd, played well and connected on a 23-yard touchdown pass to a wide open John Mays.
Junior Joshua Graham scooped up a botched Cranford onsides kick attempt in the second quarter and ran it back 53 yards for a touchdown.
“We need to forget about Cranford and concentrate on executing better as a team,” McNeil said.
“We knew that we had to play hard against a Hillside team that is physical, big and fast,” Rosenmeier said. “We had to be as physical and as fast as we could to match up.”
This was the kind of victory Cranford was hoping to get to continue building momentum heading into a game next week, although it is not a league contest, that has the makings for quite a challenge.
“I’m happy that we’re continuing to improve,” Rosenmeier said. “We’re showing that up front and on defense.”
Defensive standouts for Cranford included senior tackle Ethan Tom, Bakie at cornerback and junior end Thomas Armstrong.
In addition to being a perfect 5-for-5 on extra point kicks, Cranford senior Joe Norton also came up with an interception.
MID-STATE 38 CONFERENCE-CROSSOVER GAME
HILLSIDE (3-3) 3 7 7 0 – 17
CRANFORD (6-0) 16 14 14 7 – 51
Hillside – FG Joseph Jaramillo 25 (H 3-0)
9 plays, from own 32 to Cranford 7, 4:28 used
Cranford – Brian Oblachinski 1 run, 31 run (C 8-3)
4 plays, 72 yards, 1:15 used
Cranford – Jack Schetelich 59 run,
Brian Oblachinski pass from Jack Schetelich (C 16-3)
3 plays, 58 yards, :43 used
Cranford – Ryan Bakie 1 run, Joe Norton kick (C 23-3)
8 plays, 62 yards, 3:30 used
Hillside – Joshua Graham 53 kickoff return,
Joseph Jaramillo kick (C 23-10)
Cranford – Jack Schetelich 14 run, Joe Norton kick (C 30-10)
7 plays, 75 yards, 2:13 used
Hillside – John Mays 23 pass from Jihad Byrd,
Joseph Jaramillo kick (C 30-17)
11 plays, 70 yards, 4:58 used
Cranford – Jack Schetelich 57 run, Joe Norton kick (C 37-17)
3 plays, 70 yards, :57 used
Cranford – Sean Bryson 2 run, Joe Norton kick (C 44-17)
5 plays, 39 yards, 2:01 used
Cranford – Sean Bryson 25 run, Joe Norton kick (C 51-17)
8 plays, 81 yards, 4:08 used