Roselle Park football wins first playoff game since 1993; Panthers sparked by RBs Johns, Carmona, Matthews

Will host New Providence in a semifinal 2 weeks from now

ROSELLE PARK – For the first time in nearly two decades Roselle Park’s season will not end when its annual Thanksgiving Day contest vs. Roselle is completed.

Behind the efficient, bruising and electric running of seniors Richie Johns and Juan Carmona and junior Brian Matthews, the second-seeded Panthers produced their first playoff win in 19 years by decisively downing seventh-seeded Secaucus 25-7 Friday night in a North 2, Group 1 quarterfinal at Herm Shaw Field.

As a result, Roselle Park will prepare for a game after Thanksgiving for the first time since 1993. Friday night’s playoff win was Roselle Park’s first since senior John Schinestuhl kicked a field goal to give the Panthers a 10-7 overtime win over New Providence in the 1993 North 2, Group 1 final at Herm Shaw Field.

Roselle Park will host New Providence – most likely Nov. 30 – in a North 2, Group 1 semifinal. Third-seeded New Providence – which blanked sixth-seeded Bound Brook 33-0 at home Friday night – won the section in 2010 for the first time since 1989, while Roselle Park will be seeking to get back to the final for the first time since 1993. The Panthers are in the semifinals for the first time since 1996. New Providence lost at home in the semifinals last year to eventual champion Cedar Grove.

When Roselle Park last won North 2, Group 1 – in 1993 – the Panthers defeated New Providence twice.

Friday night was Roselle Park’s first home playoff game since falling to New Providence 16-13 in a 1996 North 2, Group 1 semifinal.

The Panthers – now 7-2 and winners of three straight – will play two playoff games in the same season for the first time since 1993 and they have now reached seven victories for the first time since the 1996 squad finished 9-1.

Secaucus saw its season end at 4-6.

Averaging nearly 6.5 yards per carry as a team, Johns rushed for team-leading 90 yards on eight carries, Matthews 82 on 13 and Carmona 49 on 14. Including a 10-yard, first-half run by junior quarterback Jordan Andre, Roselle Park carried the ball 36 times for 231 yards – 124 in the first half on 20 attempts and 107 in the second on 16.

Roselle Park combated Secaucus’s efforts to key on Matthews by reversing handoffs to Johns, who took the ball from Matthews and found running room east and west.

Johns gained 82 of his yards in the first half, including big gains of 13, 18, 23 and 19 yards among his eight carries in the first 24 minutes.

“We had Brian going one way and they followed and then I took the ball and went the other way,” said Johns, who is one of 16 seniors listed on the team’s roster. “They gave me the hole.”

The first reverse – good for a Johns 13-yard run – gave Roselle Park a first and goal at the Secaucus four-yard line. That effort came just four plays after Andre returned an interception 26 yards to the Patriot 24.

“It’s a power reverse, an old Wing-T play,” Roselle Park first-year head coach Terry Hanratty explained. “Teams overplay the strong side and that leaves the weak side open. Richie stepped up for us in that role tonight and did a very good job.”

On the next play, Carmona gave Roselle Park the lead for good on a four-yard touchdown run. In the second quarter, Matthews scored Roselle Park’s second touchdown on a four-yard run and then later in the period he recovered a Carmona fumble in the end zone for the third Panther TD.

Roselle Park was in control at halftime, leading 19-0 and holding Secaucus to just 40 yards of total offense – all on the ground.

“We were all thinking about this game the whole week,” Johns said. “We don’t want to stop here. We want to get to the championship game.”

“We did a good job of coming out strong,” Hanratty said. “They tried to take away Brian and Richie came through. You need that kind of performance from all of your players.”

With a minute to go in the third quarter, Secaucus put pressure on Roselle Park when junior fullback Sean Roesing broke free for a 59-yard touchdown run. The Patriots entered the fourth quarter trailing only 19-7 and were right back in the game.

Roselle Park immediately answered, with Andre throwing to junior wide receiver Brandon Pugliese once more. After Secaucus sophomore defensive back John Jernstedt came down with two interceptions while covering Pugliese in the first half and after Pugliese had the ball knocked out of his hands by Secaucus junior linebacker Jan Luis Castellanos in an attempt to come down with a two-point pass reception following Roselle Park’s second touchdown, this time Pugliese would not be denied.

In the same right corner spot of the same end zone where he was thwarted  in his attempt to make a two-point catch, this time Pugliese had much better results after he and Jernstedt went up for the ball.

On second-and-12 from the Secaucus 27, Andre rolled right and threw a pass in the air that was first tipped by both players as they jumped up to catch the ball. Then while falling down to the ground on his back, Pugliese tipped the ball again before hauling it in for six points.

Pugliese’s fine effort boosted Roselle Park’s lead to 25-7 with 9:21 left.

To its credit, Secaucus continued to fight and put together a drive that started on its own 35 and reached the Roselle Park one-yard line. A combined tackle by senior lineman Greg Kurywczak and Hilburn for a four-yard loss pushed the ball back to the five. A tackle for another loss – this one for two yards – was produced on the next play by No. 72.

Then on fourth-and-goal from the Panther seven, Roesing threw a pass over the middle to Wolf in the end zone that Wolf dropped.

“We didn’t play our best,” Hanratty said. “It wasn’t our sharpest effort, but we’ll take it. We made some small mistakes. We have to be sharper.”

All over the field producing tackle after tackle for the Panthers and showing great pursuit were Carmona, senior Frank Schneeberger, Matthews, Johns and Hilburn.

“Their confidence is increasing,” Hanratty said. “The kids understand now what we’re playing for.”

NOTES: This was the first meeting between Roselle Park and Hudson County school Secaucus.

Roselle Park will next prep for Roselle (1-7), which it will host on Thanksgiving. In a sectional consolation game, Roselle is scheduled to host Cardinal McCarrick Saturday at 1 p.m. at Arminio Field. Roselle made the playoffs the last two seasons.

Thursday’s 10:30 a.m. kickoff at Herm Shaw Field will be the 95th holiday meeting between the neighboring schools, with Roselle Park leading the series 47-39-8.

It’s one of the longest-running holiday rivalries in the state and the second-oldest one in Union County behind Westfield-Plainfield.

Roselle has not only won the last four games, but has won all of them by shutout. According to Roselle Park Athletic Director Pete Lubrecht, Roselle Park has a four-point advantage in total points from the first 94 games.

Former Roselle Park head coach John Wagner’s Point Pleasant Beach squad defeated South River 44-6 at home Friday night in a Central Jersey, Group 1 quarterfinal. The second-seeded Garnet Gulls (9-0) have scored at least 40 points in all nine games.

They will next host Shore on Thanksgiving and will then host either third-seeded Florence or sixth-seeded Keyport – most likely – Nov. 30 in a CJ, G1 semifinal. PPB won at Keyport 42-14 on Oct. 27.

The Garnet Gulls lost at eventual champion Asbury Park 54-6 in last year’s CJ, G1 semifinals.

PPB has never won a championship in the playoff era and has only reached one championship game.

Since Wagner took over last year, PPB is a combined 17-3 and the owners of a 10-game winning streak.

Wagner has now coached the Garnet Gulls to two of their three total playoff wins.

The head coach at Roselle Park from 1981-2005 after serving as an assistant from 1976-1980, the 1969 Roselle Park graduate is the winningest (150-92-2) football coach in Roselle Park history, surpassing Herm Shaw, who the football field is named after.



7-SECAUCUS (4-6)                                             0        0        7        0 –   7

2-ROSELLE PARK (7-2)                                   6      13        0        6 – 25



ROSELLE PARK – Juan Carmona 4 run, pass failed (RP 6-0)

5 plays, 24 yards, 2:20 used

Roselle Park capitalized on a Secaucus turnover – an interception by

Panther cornerback Jordan Andre.



ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews 4 run, pass failed (RP 12-0)

3 plays, 26 yards, 1:35 used

Came after Roselle Park junior defensive back Pete Hilburn downed

Secaucus punter Bob Wolf on the Patriot 26 after Wolf couldn’t handle

a bad, one-bounce snap.

ROSELLE PARK – Brian Matthews offensive fumble recovery in end zone,

Frank Schneeberger kick (RP 19-0)

8 plays, 45 yards, 4:13 used

Brian Matthews had a nine-yard touchdown run called back on this drive

because of a Roselle Park holding penalty.

Also in the first half: a Secaucus holding penalty negated a 24-yard touchdown run by Sean Roesing when Roselle Park was ahead 19-0 in the second quarter.



SECAUCUS – Sean Roesing 59 run, Zac Fearon kick (RP 19-7)

1 play, 59 yards, :07 used



ROSELLE PARK – Brandon Pugliese 27 pass from Jordan Andre, kick failed

(RP 25-7) 6 plays, 40 yards, 3:43 used



Friday, Nov. 16

Dunellen 66, Weehawken 31 – at Dunellen

Hoboken 54, Dayton 14 – at Hoboken

New Providence 33, Bound Brook 0 – at New Providence

Roselle Park 25, Secaucus 7 – at Roselle Park


(most likely) Friday, Nov. 30

4-Dunellen at 1-Hoboken, 7 p.m.

3-New Providence at 2-Roselle Park, 7 p.m.




Union County teams went 4-3, with the four home squads

winning and the three road teams losing.

North 2, Group 5

Elizabeth 41, Edison 18 – at Elizabeth

North 2, Group 3

Cranford 37, South Plainfield 12 – at Cranford

Palisades Park 21, Rahway 14 – at Palisades Park

North 2, Group 1

Hoboken 54, Dayton 14 – at Hoboken

New Providence 33, Bound Brook 0 – at New Providence

Roselle Park 25, Secaucus 7 – at Roselle Park

Central Jersey, Group 2

Carteret 24, Johnson 21 – at Carteret



Gov. Livingston 41, Raritan 13 – at Raritan

Brearley 52, Montclair Immaculate 14 – at Brearley

J.P. Stevens 33, Westfield 21 – at J.P. Stevens




North 2, Group 5

5-Union (5-2) at 4-Franklin (5-3), 1:30 p.m.

North 2, Group 4

6-Warren Hills (3-6) at 3-Scotch Plains (5-4), 1:30 p.m.

7-Linden (2-6) vs. 2-Barringer (4-4), 3 p.m.

at Schools Stadium, Newark

North 2, Group 3

8-Newark West Side (3-6) at 1-Summit (9-0), 2 p.m.



Plainfield at Mendham, 1 p.m.

Cardinal McCarrick at Roselle, 1

Hillside at Wood-Ridge, 1:30 p.m.