River Dell High School JV Football Team battles to 12-12 tie against Summit

After dropping the first two games of the 2021 season, the River Dell Golden Hawks JV football team rebounded to win three in a row. They were looking to win their fourth straight game, hosting the Summit Hilltoppers on Monday afternoon at River Dell High School.

A warm day with a mixture of clouds and sun at kickoff, Summit received the ball first. The Hilltoppers offense quickly advanced the ball down the field into River Dell territory. However, the Golden Hawks defense dug a line in the sand, forcing a long field goal attempt that went straight through the uprights.

The week before, against Bergenfield, it was the River Dell offense that put on a display. This week it was the Golden Hawks defense that provided a boost of energy. A high snap over Hilltoppers quarterback at the 19-yard line led the ball knocked into the end zone, where Elias Bekdas recovered the ball for a touchdown. Placekicker Nick Kelly booted the extra point home to make it 7-3.

River Dell Head Coach Sammy Halabi on Elias Bekdas, "Elias is a kid that doesn't get talked about enough what he does for our program. "He is a kid that keeps his mouth shut, works hard, and has been an absolute leader for a lot of the older and younger kids."

The Golden Hawk's defense continued to excel in the game. Intercepting a pass in the Golden Hawks varsity football game against Teaneck last Friday, Phillip Doornheim intercepted a deep pass thrown by the Summit quarterback near midfield. "Phil has definitely grown as a player from last year to this year and you definitely see the growth," Head Coach Sammy Halabi explained.

"I have Phil in class and he's definitely a leader in the classroom as well and just getter better by the snap."

A deep punt from Nick Kelly pinned the Hilltoppers offense at their one-yard line; a running play turned into a disaster as the River Dell defense plowed through, tackling the running back in the end zone for a safety to increase the advantage to 9-3.

Making an impact in the kicking game not only for the freshman and JV teams, but Nick Kelly also came through in the clutch for the varsity team with an extra point attempt against Teaneck. Displaying ice water in his veins, Kelly booted home a 20-yard field goal to extend the Golden Hawks lead to 12-3.

"Nick has been like a Swiss Army Knife for us, he can catch, kick and punt," Head Coach Sammy Halabi described.

The scoring came to a halt in the third quarter. The River Dell defense forced another Summit turnover in Golden Hawks territory in the fourth quarter, with Tomas Kellerman recovering a fumble. "Tomas took last year off, his first year back and he is really trying to pick up as much as possible," Head Coach Sammy Halabi noted. "He has taken some tremendous strides as a lineman this year."

The Golden Hawk's offense attempted a running play from the two-yard line that backfired as running back Cole Haviland ran into a brick wall of defensive lineman and ended up tackled in the end zone resulting in a safety.

With momentum on their side, Summit tied the game up late in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass. On the next River Dell offensive series, the Hilltoppers defense crashed through line to sack quarterback Vin Doornheim.

Trying to shake up the offense, the Golden Hawks attempted a trick play. Vin Doorheim tossed the ball to the running back, who attempted a pass down the field. A Summit defensive player applied tremendous pressure with the ball traveling a short distance into the hands of a Hilltoppers defensive lineman for the interception.

Summit had a golden opportunity to win the game as time winded down. The River Dell defense rose to the occasion knocking back the Hilltoppers offense to the 36-yard line and eventually forcing a long field goal attempt that fell short as the final whistle blew, signaling a 12-12 tie.

Head Coach Sammy Halabi on the 12-12 tie against Summit, "Coach(DJ) Nimphius says to us all the time, it's all about your demeanor." "You look around at some of our kids we're not physically the most intimidating but once the whistle blows it's a whole different ballgame."

"Whenever we have a kid that's got their hands on his hips or gets tackled or knocked down, we're echoing you are just fine and got to be mentally tough." "It's about getting back up, playing another snap, and having short-term memory with that stuff." "Go on the attack and try to make a play on the next snap of the ball.

The Golden Hawks(3-2-1) wrap up the 2021 season Monday, November 1st squaring off against Paramus at River Dell High School with kickoff set for 4:15 p.m.

"We just want to finish it the right way and strong," Head Coach Sammy Halabi stated. "Limit the mental mistakes we make and make it something that everybody remembers."

"It's really been neat because there are so many freshmen playing on this JV team." "I always have the kids look around because likely next year this is going to be your varsity team." These kids have grown close together, and it starts with those bus rides. It's rough, a four o'clock game after a school day on Monday; they hung tough and stuck together big time.

"We have never had a shortage of parental support in this community, which I think most people would love to have and the really nice thing is we have some parents' that teach in the district so they're always around all different sports and seasons."

"Everyone tries to support the best they can, the parents' trusting us as coaches goes such a long way." "Dropping their kids off at six o'clock in the morning for practice, knowing that your kid is going to be safe and they're in the best hands with a practice and workout." You can never have enough support like that.

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