With the program’s first winning season in a decade on the line, Governor Livingston needed to play the final 24 minutes of Thursday (Nov. 22) morning’s Thanksgiving Day game vs. host New Providence with an entirely different attitude.
The Highlanders were down, although just by three, at intermission.
Sixth-year head coach Dan Guyton felt it could have been much worse.
“We held New Providence to a field goal on one drive and our punter, sophomore Jake Quandt, made two nice scoops of low snaps,” Guyton said. “We avoided some catastrophes there.”
Sparked by a running game led by sophomore standout Jayson Schmidt, who scored his team’s lone first half touchdown, GL was much more aggressive in quarters three and four.
“When the second half began it was gut check time,” Guyton said. “Credit Coach (Chet) Parlavecchio (Jr.) and New Providence. We knew they were a good team going in.”
Schmidt went on to score two more touchdowns in the second half to finish with three and then GL senior Chris Bruno scored the game’s final TD after the Highlanders prevented the Pioneers from taking the lead once more.
GL came back in the second half to top New Providence 28-17 to close with a three-game winning streak and finish 6-5. It was the first time the Highlanders finished over .500 since the 2008 team – which reached the North 2, Group 2 final at the old Giants Stadium – concluded at 7-5.
GL won at Carteret 28-25 and then downed Spotswood at home 45-27 in consolation games to be put in a position to finish with a winning record.
New Providence finished 8-2. The Pioneers, who captured the Mid-State Conference’s Union Division championship perfect at 6-0, did not opt to play a consolation game after falling at eventual North 2, Group 1 state champion Hasbrouck Heights 42-0 in first-round play.
New Providence, which entered the playoffs for the first time in three years and did so with an unblemished record of 8-0, went nearly three weeks in between playing Hasbrouck Heights and GL.
The Pioneers led 10-7 after two quarters in their quest of snapping GL’s four-game series winning streak.
The teams began playing each other on Thanksgiving in 2002. The year before, New Providence defeated Summit on the holiday.
From 2002 to 2013, New Providence won every holiday series game but one, capturing 11 of 12.
Now GL has won the last five.
“When I took over as head coach at GL one measure of success was how we fared against New Providence on Thanksgiving,” Guyton said.
The difference in the second half for GL, Guyton explained, was “more energy and better intensity.”
“Our offensive line dominated and our senior linebackers made some amazing plays,” Guyton said.
The linebackers he spoke of included Bruno, Jay Pencek and Drew Rittman.
“I’m proud of our seniors, 20 of them, and happy they were able to go out with a winning season,” Guyton said. “They fought through injuries and had a winning attitude the entire season.”
Guyton felt something was missing the first two quarters vs. New Providence.
“I told the team that that wasn’t us in the first half,” Guyton said.
New Providence, down 21-17 in the fourth quarter, was faced with fourth-and-four deep in GL territory. The Highlanders held, forcing a turnover.
Schmidt followed with a 78-yard run inside the New Providence 10. Bruno scored the insurance TD.
Schmidt rushed for more than 200 yards for the game and more than 1,000 for the season.
“We feel we have a really good running back moving forward with Jayson,” Guyton said.
Senior Andrew Cahill kicked all four extra points.
The Mayor’s Trophy stays with GL for another 12 months.
Will this be the final Thanksgiving Day game between the neighboring Union County rivals?
“I hope not,” Guyton said. “This is what high school football is all about, community, the kids on the field playing in front of their towns, tradition – I wouldn’t get rid of it.”
GL came back on the first day of the season – one as hot as Thursday’s game was cold – to beat Johnson. Two of the five losses were by just a touchdown at Voorhees and at Delaware Valley, teams that made the playoffs in their respective sections.
“Against Voorhees we didn’t commit one penalty which was a first time for me as a coach,” Guyton said. “We were right there in both of those losses.”
GL and Cranford were the only two Union County schools that did not have a crossover game scheduled against a Middlesex County school.
GL ended up playing two Middlesex County schools in consolation games.
“We opted for a second one, if we didn’t make the playoffs, so we wouldn’t have a long period off before playing on Thanksgiving,” Guyton said. “Considering how tough our Mountain Division schedule is we wanted our seniors to play a competitive game.
“It was not an easy decision. You don’t know how healthy you’re going to be.
“The Carteret game was very physical and extremely competitive. Our defense was able to get us that win.
“Spotswood had some really good players. That was a fun game to coach in. We had some of our younger players get some varsity experience.
“Both consolation games ended up being great for our program.”
UNION COUNTY ROAD TEAMS RULED THURSDAY MORNING
GL won at New Providence’s Lieder Field 28-17.
Rahway was victorious at Johnson’s Nolan Field in Clark 34-13.
Both the visiting Highlanders and Indians came back from halftime deficits.
Then Westfield was triumphant at Plainfield’s Hub Stine Field, leading from start to finish before producing a 27-0 victory.
The Thanksgiving Day football menu in Union County was reduced from five games to three this year. Will it be reduced by more next year?
Most likely this is it for Johnson and Rahway playing each other on the holiday.
Westfield played Plainfield for the 115th time. How many more times will there be a game between the Blue Devils and the Cardinals on Thanksgiving morning?
Will the oldest holiday series in Union County and the second oldest in the state behind Vineland and Millville continue in 2019?
We’ll just have to wait and see.
Johnson head coach Anthony DelConte said before the game that, “this will be something our players will always remember.”
Johnson led Rahway 13-7 at the half before the Indians dominated the second half to finish 10-2 for the first time since 2008. The 10 wins also tied the program record for most in a season.
Johnson finished 5-6. The Crusaders won consolation games at home against Spotswood 40-6 and then at Chatham 27-24 to be put in a position to close with a winning season.
Westfield won a consolation game at West Morris 20-13 after falling in the first round of the North 2, Group 5 playoffs. The win over Plainfield saw the Blue Devils – who are sure to be back next season – finish 4-7.
It was Westfield’s first shutout over Plainfield since a 6-0 triumph at Hub Stine Field four years ago.
Plainfield, which last beat Westfield in 2011 and at home in 2004, concluded at 2-9. The Cardinals split consolation games, first falling at Roxbury 17-13 and then winning at Paterson Eastside 18-0 for the program’s first shutout since 2010.
A HUGE THANKS TO RAHWAY ASSISTANT COACH DONOVAN STEELE
Much appreciation to Rahway assistant coach Donovan Steele for providing stats this season on a weekly basis.
Against Johnson, Dashon Moore carried 16 times for 122 yards and Zion Pendleton seven times for 57.
Jakir Robinson completed six of 10 passes for 85 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Moore had three receptions for 81 yards and Brayden Pierre-Louis two for 10.
Scoring touchdowns for Rahway were Moore, Pendleton, Robinson, Pierre-Louis and Joshua Darisme.
Shimei Page, as he had done all season long, was Rahway’s leading tackler, with six solo and 11 assists. Darisme and seven solo and four assists; Jalen Bateman three solo and eight assists and Pierre-Louis three solo and six assists.
THURSDAY MORNING THANKSGIVING DAY FOOTBALL
IN UNION COUNTY FOR 2018:
Rahway 34, Johnson 13 – at Johnson
Gov. Livingston 28, New Providence 17 – at New Providence
Westfield 27, Plainfield 0 – at Plainfield
RAHWAY VS. JOHNSON SCORES
SINCE THEY PLAYED ON
THANKSGIVING BEGINNING IN 2004:
2018: Rahway 34, Johnson 13 – at Johnson
2017: Rahway 21, Johnson 13 – at Rahway
2016: Rahway 34, Johnson 33 – at Johnson
2015: Johnson 21, Rahway 17 – at Rahway
2014: Johnson 35, Rahway 16 – at Johnson
2013: Johnson 27, Rahway 14 – at Rahway
2012: Johnson 33, Rahway 20 – at Johnson
2011: Rahway 9, Johnson 3 – at Rahway
2010: Johnson 42, Rahway 34 – at Johnson
2009: Rahway 19, Johnson 13 – at Rahway
2008: Rahway 14, Johnson 13 (OT) – at Johnson
2007: Rahway 27, Johnson 6 – at Rahway
2006: Johnson 21, Rahway 0 – at Johnson
2005: Johnson 20, Rahway 19 – at Rahway
2004: Rahway 14, Johnson 6 – at Johnson
Johnson leads overall series 25-23.
Rahway leads games played on Thanksgiving
since 2004 by 8-7 margin.
GL VS. NEW PROVIDENCE SCORES SINCE
THEY BEGAN PLAYING ON THANKSGIVING IN 2002:
2018: Gov. Livingston 28, New Providence 17 – at NP
2017: Gov. Livingston 28, New Providence 13 – at GL
2016: Gov. Livingston 40, New Providence 25 – at NP
2015: Gov. Livingston 10, New Providence 0 – at GL
2014: Gov. Livingston 35, New Providence 14 – at NP
2013: New Providence 22, Gov. Livingston 18 – at GL
2012: New Providence 30, Gov. Livingston 20 – at NP
2011: New Providence 40, Gov. Livingston 26 – at GL
2010: New Providence 35, Gov. Livingston 13 – at NP
2009: New Providence 26, Gov. Livingston 20 (2OT) – at GL
2008: New Providence 35, Gov. Livingston 28 – at NP
2007: New Providence 17, Gov. Livingston 7 – at GL
2006: New Providence 17, Gov. Livingston 14 – at NP
2005: Gov. Livingston 10, New Providence 0 – at GL
2004: New Providence 19, Gov. Livingston 7 – at NP
2003: New Providence 10, Gov. Livingston 0 – at GL
2002: New Providence 20, Gov. Livingston 7 – at NP
New Providence leads the overall series 25-8-2.
New Providence leads games played on Thanksgiving 11-6.
GL wins before Thanksgiving came in 1984 and 1997.
WESTFIELD VS. PLAINFIELD THANKSGIVING DAY
SCORES SINCE 2001:
2018: Westfield 27, Plainfield 0 – at Plainfield
2017: Westfield 37, Plainfield 7 – at Westfield
2016: Westfield 30, Plainfield 14 – at Plainfield
2015: Westfield 32, Plainfield 6 – at Westfield
2014: Westfield 6, Plainfield 0 – at Plainfield
2013: Westfield 34, Plainfield 0 – at Westfield
2012: Westfield 30, Plainfield 16 – at Plainfield
2011: Plainfield 22, Westfield 21 – at Westfield
2010: Westfield 35, Plainfield 6 – at Plainfield
2009: Westfield 26, Plainfield 6 – at Westfield
2008: Westfield 21, Plainfield 19 – at Plainfield
2007: Westfield 28, Plainfield 27 – at Westfield
2006: Westfield 17, Plainfield 7 – at Plainfield
2005: Plainfield 9, Westfield 0 – at Westfield
2004: Plainfield 40, Westfield 0 – at Plainfield
2003: Plainfield 9, Westfield 7 – at Westfield
2002: Westfield 14, Plainfield 6 – at Plainfield
2001: Westfield 24, Plainfield 21 – at Westfield
Westfield leads Union County’s oldest holiday series
62-45-7, with Westfield winning the last seven.
Plainfield last won in 2011 and at home in 2004.
NOW IT’S TIME FOR SUMMIT TO TAKE ON RAMAPO
The Union County football season is now down to two Bowl games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford: Summit (10-1) vs. Ramapo (12-0) in this Saturday’s (Nov. 24) 10 a.m. North, Group 3 Bowl Game and then Hillside (11-0) vs. Haddonfield (12-0) in next Saturday’s (Dec. 1) 4 p.m. South, Group 2 Bowl Game.
NORTH 2, GROUP 3
SUMMIT HILLTOPPERS (10-1)
(A) Summit 42, Montgomery 0
(H) Summit 45, Warren Hills 8
(H) Summit 22, North Hunterdon 9
(A) Summit 64, Scotch Plains 25
(H) Summit 36, Colonia 6
(A) Cranford 25, Summit 12
(H) Summit 46, St. Joseph’s, Metuchen 20
(A) Summit 44, Immaculata 0
(H) Summit 57, Voorhees 39
(H) Summit 51, Montville 14
(H) Summit 36, Rahway 14
Nov. 24 Ramapo, 10 a.m., MetLife
Head coach: Kevin Kostibos,
Section: North, Group 3
Division: Raritan, 5-0, champs
Points for: 455
Points against: 150
NORTH 1, GROUP 3
RAMAPO INDIANS (12-0)
(A) Ramapo 21, Sparta 18
(H) Ramapo 49, Bergenfield 0
(H) Ramapo 28, Northern Highlands 9
(A) Ramapo 35, Old Tappan 7
(H) Ramapo 42, River Dell 35 (OT)
(H) Ramapo 35, Teaneck 6
(A) Ramapo 38, Wayne Hills 22
(A) Ramapo 35, Pascack Valley 20
(H) Ramapo 42, Randolph 0
(H) Ramapo 31, Demarest 7
(H) Ramapo 42, Sparta 33
(H) Ramapo 31, River Dell 7
Nov. 24 Summit, 10 a.m., MetLife
Head coach: Drew Gibbs,
Section: North, Group 3
Conference: North Jersey Super Football
Division: Patriot Red, 4-0, champs
Points for: 429
Points against: 164
Summit is led on offense by senior running back Max Jackson who has carried the ball 210 times for 1,632 yards (7.8 average). By rushing for 166 yards in Summit’s 36-14 home win over Rahway for the North 2, Group 3 state championship last Sunday, he became Summit’s all-time leading rusher for a single season.
The previous record of 1,579 yards in 2014 was held by Chris Zanelli. If you’re wondering where 1974 graduate Willie Wilson is on the list, he’s now eighth with a total of 1,118 yards his senior season of 1973. That was, obviously, in less games than Zanelli and Jackson.
Senior linebacker Jack Kelly had a game-to-remember against Rahway, producing two interceptions, causing a fumble and scoring Summit’s final TD on a pass reception from his tight end position.
Ramapo is led offensively by senior quarterback A.J. Wingfield, who has thrown for 2,274 yards on 154-for-233 passing. He has completed 28 touchdown passes and been intercepted eight times. Wingfield has also rushed 459 yards on 61 attempts, including nine touchdowns.
Ramapo’s leading receiver is senior Max Baker, who has 66 receptions for 1,068 yards and 10 touchdowns. The lead running back is senior Luke Ragone, who has 866 yards in 150 attempts, 11 of them going for touchdowns.
Among the team’s leading tacklers is senior Anthony Sargenti, with 62. Baker also has three interceptions.
Kelly with 107, sophomore Austin Groce with 102, senior Jackson Tyler with 54 and junior John Fischetti with 51 are Summit’s leading tacklers.
Junior running back Joe Lusadi, filling in for Tyler at running back, has scored eight touchdowns in Summit’s last two playoff victories.
Summit captured North 2, Group 3 for the fifth time and first time since 2013. Ramapo defeated River Dell in the North 1, Group 3 final after losing to River Dell in last year’s final at MetLife.