UNION COUNTY, NJ — There are just four more games left in the 2023 Union County football season.
Two of them are consolation games and the final two are the rivalries still played on Thanksgiving.
We are still two weeks away from Thanksgiving and that’s it.
That’s it because, for the first year since 2007, no Union County team reached a sectional state championship game. Union and Westfield high schools lost semifinal games on the road on Friday night, Nov. 3, and Summit High School lost at home on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 4.
This is also the second straight season that Union County football will not have a sectional state champion. That last happened in 2007 and 2008. Hillside and David Brearley high schools reached sectional state championship games last year, but both lost.
The final Union County football games for 2023 include:
• Consolation: Frank J. Cicarell Academy, Elizabeth at Hackensack High School, Thursday, Nov. 9;
• Consolation: Plainfield High School at Middletown High School South, Thursday, Nov. 9;
• Thanksgiving: Abraham Clark High School at Roselle Park High School, Thursday, Nov. 23; and
• Thanksgiving: Westfield High School at Plainfield High School, Thursday, Nov. 23.
Elizabeth won at Eastside High School, Paterson, 27-6, last weekend for its second win. Plainfield reached the playoffs in North 2, Group 5, but was defeated at home in the first round by defending champion West Orange High School, 25-21.
Abraham Clark played one consolation game and lost at home to Lower Cape May Regional School, 43-7, which snapped a four-game Rams winning streak.
Roselle Park and fellow Union County rival Jonathan Dayton High School both won two consolation games.
Roselle Park edged Secaucus High School, 28-27, at home and then won at North Warren Regional High School, 41-21, last weekend to even its record at 5-5. The Panthers went 3-5 in their first eight scheduled regular season games.
Jonathan Dayton, its season now complete, followed up a 1-7 showing for its first eight regular season games by beating Wallington JR/SR High School, 26-19, and then J. P. Stevens High School, 23-20, both at home, to conclude at 3-7.
In its victory at North Warren, Roselle Park quarterback Tyler Signorello only threw two passes, but completed both of them for 20 yards and one touchdown.
Rushing for more than 100 yards for the Panthers were Nick Salas, 19 carries for 212 yards, and Adrian Palacios, 21 attempts for 181.
Palacios scored four of the team’s six touchdowns, with Salas and Anthony Damiano scoring the others. Damiano caught a 14-yard touchdown pass from Signorello.
On defense, Xavier Padilla led the Panthers in tackles with nine. Palacios and Matthew Drada and Nasir Cheston chipped in with five each.
Roselle Park (5-5) will host Abraham Clark (4-5) on Thanksgiving. Kickoff at Roselle Park’s Herm Shaw Field will be 10 a.m.
Jonathan Dayton scored its most points of the year against Bergen County foe Wallington. Alex Altemus rushed for 102 yards on 16 carries, while John John DeSarno gained 58 on six attempts and reached the end zone once.
Evan Cornelison caught one touchdown pass for 48 yards.
DeSarno completed eight-of-15 passes for 107 yards and one touchdown.
Altemus led Jonathan Dayton with 14 tackles, nine solo and five assisted, while Declan Vesey had eight, six solo and two assists. Altemus also had one forced fumble.
Westfield (5-5) will play at Plainfield, which is now 6-3, on Thanksgiving, with kickoff time at Hub Stine Field set for 11 a.m.
Plainfield, having its best season in some time, has not defeated Westfield since 2011– a 22-21 win at Westfield’s Gary Kehler Stadium.
Plainfield has won its most games since 2005, made the playoffs for the first time since 2010 and hosted a playoff game for the first time since 2001.
Westfield vs. Plainfield is the oldest Thanksgiving rivalry in Union County. Roselle Park vs. Abraham Clark is second. Roselle Park vs. Abraham Clark played its 100th game in 2017.
Governor Livingston High School also improved a great deal this season, finishing 6-3. The Highlanders went 6-3 in their nine-game regular season and then made the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
Governor Livingston produced three straight shutout victories in a row, including a rare 2-0 win, and allowed just six points in a four-game stretch, all wins. After opening with a 14-7 setback at neighborhood rival New Providence High School, the Highlanders reeled off a five-game winning streak, yielding only 27 points.
Junior linebacker Jack Dally led in tackles with 82, Noah Brown in quarterback sacks with four and Michael Geertsma in interceptions with four.