River Dell tops Parsippany Hills for 400th win in program history
Heading into the 2021 regular-season opener last Friday at Parsippany Hills, the River Dell Golden Hawks varsity football team was looking to build off last season's success. Despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Golden Hawks finished with a 6-1 that marked the 15th consecutive winning season while winning their first division title(Super Football Conference Patriot Red Division) since 2017.
Facing the tall order of replacing an entire offense line coupled with several key senior players graduating, the Golden Hawks returned many experienced players.
However, the team did not anticipate a long bus trip to Parsippany Hills High School. Usually, a 30-to-40-minute ride to Parsippany ended up an hour and a half on the bus, forcing a delay in the start of the game.
Senior Aidan Cochran on the adventurous bus trip, "Our bus ride was quite long, close to an hour and half and it's all about the traffic." "Once we got there everything was electric, everyone was ready and locked in."
Senior Will Fletcher on the bus ride, "We're 30 minutes into the bus ride and I'm checking my phone and I see that we're still 45 minutes away and I could have sworn this place was only 40 minutes away." "The second bus with our younger players got there 20 minutes before us and everyone is saying what is going on."
"They pushed the game back so we got our warm-up, we're all locked in and Coach(DJ Nimphius) told us when were going to the field, told us we're going to be late and be ready with our heads on straight when we got there."
Taking over the starting quarterback duties this season, junior Jake Sconza felt prepared for the task at hand. "Last year I was a sophomore, Christina(Hay) was a senior and great role model and Jesse Henderson." "I wanted to stay close and watch the drills because I knew that was going to be next year and take over and play quarterback."
Displaying absolutely no jitters at all, Sconza directed a 95-yard drive in the first quarter that resulted in throwing a 21-yard touchdown pass to Will Fletcher. In the second quarter, Sconza lit up the scoreboard tossing two touchdowns, 34 yards to Kyle Case and 17 yards to Colin Quinn.
Will Fletcher on the touchdown catch, "I ran out of the backfield, I saw him, under a bunch of pressure and he made a really good play to get out of there and I was calling his name and he found me and we made a play and I felt really good for him." "I think that really boosted his confidence and got the game started and after that we were just playing football."
"Jake and I are pretty close friends, he's been practicing working and training to play QB for years," Will Fletcher explained. "Honestly everyone expected Jake to come out here and him and (DJ)Nimphius have been working this year and past three years so we all knew Jake could throw the ball around and he really showed everyone that."
Jake Sconza on his first start at quarterback and two touchdown passes in the second quarter, I was nervous, my first varsity start, and I didn't know that to expect." "After that first 95-yard drive, I was okay." Hours before that, I was on the bus ride there thinking I had to complete that first pass, which was the priority, and Coach (DJ)Nimphius let me know.
"Kyle(Case was line up on the left and then I saw him all the way down the field and then with Colin(Quinn) there was no one in the middle of the field and I just dumped the ball off to him and we went to work and scored."
Up 20-0 in the second quarter, Will Fletcher provided a highlight-reel moment breaking off a 61-yard touchdown run. Despite the failed extra-point attempt, River Dell held a commanding lead.
"A lot of credit goes to the offensive line, a perfect edge on the block on the cornerback, Will Fletcher described. "It was an outside zone play, and I saw the edge, and I knew that I could take it."
Just when it appeared River Dell was on its way to a dominating win, Parsippany Hills answered back with quarterback Dominick Verducci scampering 43 yards into the end zone. In the fourth quarter, Verducci putting the Vikings team on his back with two additional touchdown runs. Verducci tallied impressive stats with 184 passing yards and 132 rushing yards.
When push came to shove, the Golden Hawks defense slammed the doors shut on Parsippany Hills victory hopes. River Dell not only winning their first game of the 2021 regular season but 400th in program history.
Aidan Cochran on the historic victory, "We felt confident for the most part, we knew they were playing good football and driving down the field but we felt we had good personnel out there and if we needed one stop we can get it and did at the end of the game." "We had a sack and few pass deflections so we got it done when it mattered and that's what helped us win the game."
"It was amazing, our 400th win as a school, it was a good start to the season and gave everyone confidence especially with a less experienced group of guys and we feel pretty confident going into next week."
Jake Sconza on the milestone win, "The first thought I thought I had was I can't believe we just won that game." "I knew that our defense would hold strong and just so excited like one of those brothers' to be moving on and win is a win." I wanted to see my stats because I wanted to see how I played, and when I got off the bus, Coach Nimphius told me I had thrown for 273 yards, and wow, what a way to start.
River Dell returns to action on Friday, September 10th at West Essex(0-1).
Aidan Cochran on the match-up, "They're a good football team, they have a lot of good players so we just have to prepare for them well like we did Parsippany Hills." "Most important for us is to start out strong and set the tone for the season and so far we're 1-0 on the day so that's good."