Roselle Park is in.
The Panthers produced the biggest road football win in Union County Friday night, Nov. 4 by downing 6-2 Manville 32-22 behind over 200 rushing yards and three touchdowns from senior running back David Forstenhausler.
Roselle Park improved to 3-5 and snapped a five-game losing streak.
As a result, the Panthers have qualified for the North 2, Group 1 playoffs for the second straight season and will be the eighth seed and playing at top-seeded and undefeated Weequahic (7-0) in next weekend’s first round.
Weequahic plays its eighth and final playoff qualifying game at Newark Collegiate (4-4) today – Saturday, Nov. 5.
“We’re excited,” said Roselle Park head coach Terry Hanratty, who has now guided the Panthers into the N2, G1 playoffs four of his five seasons at the helm. “We run the Wing-T and not too many teams do.”
In last year’s N2, G1 first round, Roselle Park – after previously losing at Belvidere 33-14 in the regular season – was winning in the fourth quarter of its playoff game at Belvidere before falling 26-21.
“Anything can happen,” Hanratty said.
The playoff sections will be finalized later on today – Saturday, Nov. 5.
Sophomore Pat Gergich made his first start at quarterback for the Panthers.
“He played some at quarterback in our previous game against New Providence,” Hanratty said. “He’s been getting better all year, so we decided to put him at quarterback and move senior Steven Karas to tailback because of his ability as an athlete.”
Karas rushed for 130 yards, including two touchdowns.
“Steven is a good runner and blocker and we want to utilize him that way,” Hanratty said.
Roselle Park led 12-7 at the half and then scored three more touchdowns in the second half, including its final two in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, it was reported that senior linebacker Abel Crespo had eight tackles, senior linebacker Darius Zayas seven and senior tackle Justin Arnold six.
“We had to run away from their No. 70 (junior lineman Michael Tyle), who I believe is a Division 1 (prospect) tackle,” Hanratty said. “We were able to mix up our Wing-T attack, getting out to the edges.”
In addition to winning for the first time in six games after opening with consecutive road shutout victories, the Panthers improved to 3-2 on the road.
Despite being under .500, Roselle Park has outscored its first eight foes by a 158-128 margin.
Four of Roselle Park’s losses came by one, four, seven and 11 points.
“In those games we were, essentially, one big play away from winning,” Hanratty said. “The only game that we weren’t was against Brearley.”
Brearley (5-4), which defeated Roselle Park 29-7 at home, qualified in North 2, Group 1 for the fourth straight season. The Bears will also be playing on the road in their first round game next weekend. Brearley lost to Hoboken in last year’s final at Kean.
“We have seven juniors starting and now a sophomore at quarterback, so that will be eight kids right there coming back next season,” Hanratty said. “It will be good for them to have the experience of playing in the playoffs.”
ROSELLE PARK PANTHERS (3-5)
(A) Roselle Park 33, South Hunterdon 0
(A) Roselle Park 32, Dayton 0
(H) Belvidere 24, Roselle Park 20
(A) Brearley 29, Roselle Park 7
(H) Bound Brook 15, Roselle Park 8
(A) Pingry 27, Roselle Park 26
(H) New Providence 11, Roselle Park 0
(A) Roselle Park 32, Manville 22
Nov. 24 Roselle, 10:30 a.m.
Head coach: Terry Hanratty,
fifth season: 30-21 (.588)
Section: North 2, Group 1
Conference: Mid-State 38
Division: Union 3-4
Points for: 158
Points against: 128