KENILWORTH – Visiting North Arlington, in the playoffs for the first time since 1996, came ready to play immediately.
After receiving the opening kickoff the Vikings drove from their own 37 to the Brearley one-yard line, thanks in part to a 30-yard pass completion to the Bears’ 30 and then two plays later a 25-yard run to the one.
Sparked by talented senior quarterback Michael Manzo-Lewis, North Arlington was anxious to prove that it was not going to be an easy out as an eighth seed.
Unfortunately for the Vikings, they were a little too anxious at the onset. On first-and-goal from the Brearley one-yard line, senior running back Joe Morales – who ran for the 25-yard gain – jumped up with the ball and was then hit hard by two Brearley defenders.
The ball was jarred loose, with Brearley senior lineman Tyler DaCosta recovering the fumble.
Brearley then marched 98 yards in 10 plays some five minutes later to reach the end zone for the first time.
It was a crucial 14-point swing in a game that remained close on the scoreboard until Brearley took a two-touchdown lead for the second time with just seconds remaining before intermission.
Brearley, behind the running of senior quarterback Sebastian Montesdeoca and senior running back Anthony Primavera, proved too difficult a task for North Arlington to keep up with.
Montesdeoca rushed for three touchdowns and Primavera for two to help lead the top-seeded Bears to a more-than-convincing 35-6 triumph over eighth-seeded North Arlington in Friday night’s North 2, Group 1 quarterfinal played at Ward Field.
Brearley will host fourth-seeded Belvidere in a semifinal next Friday night at 7 at Ward Field. Belvidere defeated fifth-seeded Roselle Park 26-21 Friday night.
It will be the second straight season that Brearley is playing Belvidere twice. Last year Brearley opened with a 27-22 home win over Belvidere and then saw its season end at Belvidere by the score of 19-8 in a North 2, Group 1 quarterfinal.
Brearley opened this season with a 28-14 win at Belvidere.
Brearley improved to 10-0 for the first time since 2006, which was the last season the Bears captured North 2, Group 1.
Brearley also won its first playoff game since 2009 and first at home since 2008.
North Arlington, which qualified for the playoffs for only the fourth time in program history, finished its season at 4-6.
Brearley head coach Scott Miller, in his 14th season at the helm of the Bears, won his 100th game. Assisted by longtime coaches Dennis Lonergan and Justin Petino, Miller’s record is now 100-45-1 (.690). His other assistant coaches this year – as listed on the Brearley roster – include Mike Kiley, Matt Pittaresi and Dom Mastrioni.
Montesdeoca and Primavera both rushed for 169 yards, Montesdeoca on 20 carries and Primavera on 28 attempts.
“The holes were everywhere,” Primavera said. “It seemed like we were getting at least six yards on each play.”
Brearley linemen responsible for opening those holes included senior Nick Nazario, junior Robert Moscicki, senior Erik Loneker, junior Jeff Yosurack and senior Tyler DaCosta.
Senior Manny Salado at fullback and junior Nick Arcieri at tight end also played their roles well on offense.
“Our linemen were great,” Primavera said. “Our execution has been so much better.”
Brearley starters scored touchdowns on all five possessions, three in the first half and two in the second. Montesdeoca and Primavera were the only Brearley players to touch the ball on the first two and last two of those drives.
“Our guys up front were key,” Miller said. “We wanted to run the ball and keep them off the field. They have a great quarterback, one of best we’ve faced this year.”
The only time Brearley threw the ball was on its third drive when the Bears were seeking to take a two-touchdown lead before the half. Montesdeoca completed two passes to senior end Evan Collier totaling 16 yards and one to senior wide receiver Brian Resende good for 11.
Not counting a spike to stop the clock, Montesdeoca – who also had an interception – completed three-of-three passes for 27 yards.
Brearley capitalized on two North Arlington turnovers to score its first two touchdowns.
Here’s the breakdown of all five Brearley scoring drives:
First possession: Primavera seven carries for 54 yards, Montesdeoca three for 44 and one touchdown.
Second possession: Primavera seven carries for 38 yards and one touchdown, Montesdeoca five carries for 24.
Third possession: Montesdeoca five carries for 44 yards and one touchdown, Primavera three carries for 13. Montesdeoca also completed three passes for 27 yards.
Fourth possession: Primavera five carries for 40 yards, Montesdeoca three for 20 and one touchdown.
Fifth possession: Primavera six carries for 24 yards and one touchdown and Montesdeoca three carries for 36.
Brearley, in search of capturing North 2, Group 1 for the sixth time, will host a sectional semifinal for the first time since 2008.
“This group of seniors has been working toward this for four years,” Miller said. “To get to this point is a credit to our kids.
“We’re happy to be home again and not have to get on a bus.”
If Brearley wins one more home game, the Bears will be glad to get on a bus, the one that will be headed to the North 2, Group 1 championship site.”
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 QUARTERFINAL AT WARD FIELD
8-North Arlington (4-6) 0 6 0 0 – 6
1-Brearley (10-0) 7 14 14 0 – 35
Brearley – Sebastian Montesdeoca 34 run, Nick Arcieri kick (B 7-0)
10 plays, 98 yards, 4:57 used
Brearley capitalized on a turnover – a fumble recovery by Tyler DaCosta.
Brearley – Anthony Primavera 5 run, Nick Arcieri kick (B 14-0)
12 plays, 62 yards, 6:11 used
Brearley capitalized on a turnover – an interception by Sebastian Montesdeoca.
North Arlington – Michael Manzo-Lewis 11 run, pass failed (B 14-6)
7 plays, 59 yards, 3:29 used
Brearley – Sebastian Montesdeoca 1 run, Nick Arcieri kick (B 21-6)
12 plays, 87 yards, 2:14 used
Brearley – Sebastian Montesdeoca 9 run, Nick Arcieri kick (B 28-6)
8 plays, 60 yards, 3:18 used
Brearley – Anthony Primavera 2 run, Nick Arcieri kick (B 35-6)
9 plays, 53 yards, 5:45 used
UNION COUNTY PLAYOFF SCOREBOARD:
Friday, Nov. 13
North 2, Group 5
Ridge 42, Elizabeth 28 – at Elizabeth
North 2, Group 4
Colonia 20, Summit 16 – At Colonia
North 2, Group 3
Cranford 56, Voorhees 7 – at Cranford
North 2, Group 1
Brearley 35, North Arlington 6 – at Brearley
Belvidere 26, Roselle Park 21 – at Belvidere
Central Jersey, Group 3
Rumson-Fair Haven 43, Rahway 6 – at Rumson-Fair Haven
Central Jersey, Group 2
Johnson 40, New Providence 6 – at New Providence