Summit, Abraham Clark win invites to regional tourneys

UNION COUNTY, NJ — Summit, Abraham Clark and Plainfield high schools all took advantage of a new system implemented by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.

It provided football teams that didn’t make the playoffs the opportunity to play for something tangible, with a trophy attached to it.

Welcome to the first year of the regional invitational tournaments.
Linden High School took to it as well, two weeks ago traveling to Bergen County and coming away with a last-minute 29-22 triumph at Bergenfield for the North, Group 4 RIT crown.

Because there were only four teams in the section, Linden needed to win just two games for its crown, the same as Plainfield. As a result, the Tigers finished 5-5 and have something to build on for next year, when this year’s sophomores and juniors become juniors and seniors.

“We all took it seriously and the kids were rewarded with a trophy from the NJSIAA,” Linden head coach Al Chiola said.

Last weekend’s game for Plainfield was moved to Thursday, Nov. 10, ahead of the rain that came from Florida and to Bloomfield High School, since Bloomfield has lights. The visiting Cardinals came away with a more-than-convincing 48-8 triumph to win North, Group 5.

It was Plainfield’s fourth straight win, with the Cardinals scoring at least 40 points in all of the triumphs.

With a record of 5-5 after an 0-4 start, Plainfield will attempt to finish better than .500 for the first time since 2005, when it plays at playoff team and longtime holiday rival Westfield High School (7-3) on Thanksgiving, Thursday, Nov. 24, at 11 a.m., at Gary Kehler Stadium.

Plainfield started 0-3 last year and then finished 5-5 after falling at home at Hub Stine Sports Complex to Westfield, 14-0, on Thanksgiving.

Westfield made the North 1, Group 5 playoffs this year and was defeated in the semifinals at Union City High School, 20-14.
Summit and Roselle won wild, high-scoring games on Saturday, Nov. 12, to capture their RITs. At Upper Tatlock Field in Summit, it was the host Hilltoppers holding on for a 32-30 triumph against Bergen County’s Pascack Valley High School for the North, Group 3 title. In South Jersey, it was Abraham Clark edging Haddon Heights High School, 40-39, for the South, Group 2 crown.

Summit, which closed with a three-game winning streak to finish 6-5 and better than .500 for the first time since 2019, was ignited by a four-touchdown performance from senior running back Jake Lowry, who rushed for 187 yards on 21 carries.

The Hilltoppers came back from a 14-12 deficit at the break to outscore Pascack Hills 20-16 in the second half.

Lowry scored twice in the second quarter for all of Summit’s first-half points, reaching the end zone on runs of 10 and 37 yards.
Lowry’s final two touchdown runs were produced in the third quarter, the first on an 8-yard jaunt and the second on a 52-yard sprint that gave the Hilltoppers the lead for good at 25-21.

Also rushing for more than 100 yards for Summit was junior Ryan Schnall with 104 on 17 attempts. Carter Shallcross, also a junior, rushed for 80 yards on just four carries. He scored Summit’s final touchdown of 2022 on a 32-yard run in the fourth quarter.

Senior running back Emmanuel Lyles scored three touchdowns in Abraham Clark’s win against Haddon Heights. The Rams previously shut out Jonathan Dayton High School at home and then won at Bordentown Regional High School by 2.

Against Haddon Heights, Lyles, who has 1,159 yards rushing on 125 carries and 15 touchdowns so far with one game to go, carried the ball 32 times for 210 yards to lead all rushers.

Other Abraham Clark scores included Mirabeau Romeus catching a touchdown pass thrown by Nafee Finney and William Peay rushing for a touchdown. Peay rushed for 53 yards on 10 carries.

Abraham Clark won its seventh straight to improve to 7-4. The Rams will close their successful 2022 season the night before Thanksgiving, when they host longtime holiday rival Roselle Park High School (5-5) on Wednesday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m.

Roselle Park split its two North, Group 1 RIT games, first beating Secaucus High School, 29-21, at home on Thursday, Oct. 27, and then falling at Glen Ridge High School, 35-20, on Saturday, Nov. 5.
Abraham Clark will seek to win eight games for the first time since the 2016 team went 10-1.

The last time Roselle Park beat Abraham Clark was in 2017, a 7-6 Panther win at Roselle Park’s Herm Shaw Athletic Field. That was also the 100th game between the neighborhood rivals.

Since then, there was no game in 2018 because Roselle Park did not field a varsity team that year, Abraham Clark won in 2019, there was no game in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic and Abraham Clark won again in 2021.

This year will be the 103rd meeting.

Regional invitational tournament
champions from Union County

Plainfield: North, Group 5

• Nov. 5 (H) semifinal: Plainfield High School 41, Livingston High School 0.

• Nov. 10 (A) final: Plainfield High School 48, Bloomfield High School 8.

Linden: North, Group 4

• Oct. 27 (H) semifinal: Linden High School 41, Barringer High School 0.

• Nov. 5 (A) final: Linden High School 29, Bergenfield High School 22.

Summit: North, Group 3

• Oct. 29 (H) first round: Summit High School 57, Governor Livingston High School 8.

• Nov. 3 (A) semifinal: Summit High School 41, Henry Snyder High School 34 (OT).

• Nov. 12 (H) final: Summit High School 32, Pascack Valley High School 30.

Abraham Clark: South, Group 2

• Oct. 27 (H) first round: Abraham Clark High School 35, Jonathan Dayton High School 0.

• Nov. 5 (A) semifinal: Abraham Clark High School 29, Bordentown Regional High School 27.

• Nov. 12 (A) final: Abraham Clark High School 40, Haddon Heights High School 39.