River Dell High School JV Football Team fends off Bergenfield for a third straight win

Dropping their first two games of the 2021 season, the River Dell Golden Hawks JV football team rebounded to win the next two games. The Golden Hawks were going for their third straight win as they squared off against the Bergenfield Bears at River Dell High School.

"This season started off a little shaky but the kids have battled tough big time and worked their tails off in practice," Head Coach Sammy Halabi noted.

On a cold and windy day with the sun poking in and out of the clouds, both teams could not find the end zone in the first quarter.

Once the second quarter got underway, the River Dell defense came up with a clutch turnover. The Bears had the ball at their 25-yard line. On first down, Jake Hughes knocked the ball out of the running back, leading to Cole Haviland scooping up the ball and returning it to the Bergenfield 19 yard-line.

"This is Cole's first year playing football, so he's the guy that's learning every week and trying to absorb as much information as possible," Head Coach Sammy Halabi described. "

Advancing the ball down to the five-yard line, quarterback Vin Doornheim took the handoff and rolled to his right. Sprinting towards the right side of the field, Doornheim barreled into the end zone for the score. Nicholas Kelly drilled the extra point home to make it 7-0 Golden Hawks.

Taking over the quarterback duties, Phil Doornheim ripped off a 30-yard run that moved the ball down to the Bears' 25-yard line. Back under center on the next play, Vin Doornheim lined up in shotgun formation, took the snap, rolled to his left, then launched a pass down the middle of the seam to a wide-open Nicholas Kelly in the back of the end zone.

"The Doornheim brothers' have been huge for us all year," Head Coach Sammy Halabi explained. "It actually started last year, we had such a small freshman class that Phil and Vin were playing on JV as well so it's been two years with these guys and they have been great." Having them, it's like having another coach on the field and helps everybody out.

"The second score John Budka our offensive coordinator who calls all the offensive plays drew that one up on the dirt, five minutes before we ran it." "Vin is such a knowledgeable kid that he knew exactly what to do and executed it."

When it appeared River Dell might have the firm grasp on the lead, Bergenfield answered back on their ensuing drive, dialing up a trick play on a double reverse run resulting in a 50 plus yard touchdown run. The Bears attempted the successful two-point conversion run as the Golden Hawks lead was trimmed to 13-8.

In the third quarter, Phil Doornheim displayed his ability again to break off a long run. With the ball at the Golden Hawks 35-yard line, Doornheim took the snap then faked the handoff before cutting up the middle of the field and rumbling down the right side for a 60-yard gain.

Lined up in shotgun formation at the two-yard line, Vin Doorheim took the snap and plowed straight ahead, absorbing a crunching hit but still able to cross the goal line for the score. A two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving the score at 19-8 River Dell.

The back-and-forth action continued with Bergenfield responding on a 20-yard touchdown pass. Aiming to trim the deficit further, the Bears went for the two-point conversion, but the Golden Hawks defense rose to the occasion swarming all over the ball on a running play. Bergenfield attempted an onside kick with the ball not even traveling ten yards instead of rolling back further into Bergenfield territory on the ensuing kickoff.

Mason Nagle found an open lane in a sea of players after taking the handoff from quarterback Vin Doornheim at the 30-yard line. Nagle burst into the clear and eventually sprinted into the end zone as the River Dell players converged in celebrating the score. Nicholas Kelly split the uprights for his second extra point, extending the Golden Hawks advantage to 26-14 in the fourth quarter.

Bergenfield refused to throw in the white towel with another long touchdown pass that narrowed the gap to 26-20 late in the quarter. The River Dell defense crashed through the line on the two-point conversion run attempt and stopped the running back short of the goal line.

With the time winding down, the Bears attempted the onside kick with the ball traveling high in the air on the bounce, but RJ Weiss made sure to corral the ball and fall to the ground. Kneeling on the ball signaled the end of the game as River Dell emerged victorious 26-20 and a third straight victory.

Head Coach Sammy Halabi on the win, "One of the best things about playing these games it's such a great learning experience not just for the players but coaches." "It could have easily gone the other way but teaches the kids to do the little things and not being sloppy that could cost us the game."

"In our program we definitely challenge the kids whether it's on or off the field and in the classroom." "When it comes to JV these guys spend the whole week practicing somebody else's offense and defense so it's not separate practice time a couple of days after a varsity game then you have to go play another game and these guys work hard just to get better at their craft."

The Golden Hawks remain at home for the next two weeks, facing off against Summit on Monday, October 25th at 4:15 p.m., followed by the final regular-season game on November 1st vs. Paramus, with kickoff also set for 4:15 p.m.

"We're just happy for an opportunity to compete and have a couple more meaningful games before the regular-season comes to an end and we just want to end on a positive note," Head Coach Sammy Halabi said.

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