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Special to NorthJersey.comWAYNE − In the game of football, there is a playbook. But in the game of life, there is no playbook.The Ridgewood football team experienced the game of life this past week.On Tuesday, a former player from last year’s team, linebacker Preston Stott, died unexpectedly.On Wednesday, one this year’s players, injured fullback Tommy Eickmeyer, lost his mother, Brenda, to an illness she had been battlingOn Friday, the Maroons stepped onto the field at Wayne Hills (1-6) a...
Special to NorthJersey.com
WAYNE − In the game of football, there is a playbook. But in the game of life, there is no playbook.
The Ridgewood football team experienced the game of life this past week.
On Tuesday, a former player from last year’s team, linebacker Preston Stott, died unexpectedly.
On Wednesday, one this year’s players, injured fullback Tommy Eickmeyer, lost his mother, Brenda, to an illness she had been battling
On Friday, the Maroons stepped onto the field at Wayne Hills (1-6) amid a swirl of emotions, just hours after attending the wake for Preston Stott. Buoyed by more than two dozen of Stott’s former teammates from the past two years in attendance on the sideline, Ridgewood struggled to find its game in a scoreless first half.
At halftime, the camaraderie of the locker room helped bring a sense of normality to the most abnormal of days.
The Maroons (3-3) came flying out in the second half with four straight touchdown drives to secure a 27-0 win. Once it was over, there was a sense that, as a team and a family, they had found a way to honor Stott’s memory.
“He was here (two weeks ago) on the sideline at the Passaic Tech game. The spot he was in and how he was feeling, he still came there to support us,” senior Max Messineo said. “We said it at halftime, if he could be there to support us, then we needed to go out there and honor him on every play and every single down. We can do it for him. It was all for Preston.”
Colin Burns (20 carries, 128 yards, three touchdowns) and Colin Lake (11 carries, career-high 116 yards, one touchdown) benefitted from a spirited effort by the offensive line in the second half.
“We weren’t hitting our blocks and we weren’t sticking on our blocks (in the first half),” senior guard Joe Ross said. “Coach Watson pulled the five linemen to the side and told us that this game was on us. 'Stop thinking and start playing,' and that’s what we did,”
The defense added four interceptions (two by Zach Kranz, and one each by Leo Grace and Charlie Merrick), one week after picking off five passes against Eastside. The Maroons have shut out their opponents in back-to-back weeks and have only allowed a team to score more than 10 points once this season.
“This has been so hard,” a teary-eyed coach Torre Watson said. “It was a devastating week. These kids are teenagers; we went to a wake today. It was so difficult for them to do what they did and yet somehow, they were able to whip their way past that.
"I’m just so proud of them, proud of this community, proud of everybody. Preston, then Brenda, everything just compounded. You saw that in the first half, but we got ourselves together at halftime. We put our heart and soul out here and that is how you respect the people we lost.”
RIDGEWOOD − Clifton coach Ralph Cinque wore his “Rocky III” T-shirt for Friday night’s Super Football Conference game at Ridgewood.“It’s symbolic,” Cinque said. “Ridgewood is always on top. And through the years, we’ve played some stinkers against them, and we’ve played some real good ones. Tonight was a good one.”That was the consensus on the Clifton sideline after a 28-21 victory that featured a big play to punctuate each half.Mustangs qua...
RIDGEWOOD − Clifton coach Ralph Cinque wore his “Rocky III” T-shirt for Friday night’s Super Football Conference game at Ridgewood.
“It’s symbolic,” Cinque said. “Ridgewood is always on top. And through the years, we’ve played some stinkers against them, and we’ve played some real good ones. Tonight was a good one.”
That was the consensus on the Clifton sideline after a 28-21 victory that featured a big play to punctuate each half.
Mustangs quarterback Romelo Tables snapped a 14-all tie with a 37-yard, tackle-breaking touchdown as the second quarter expired. Senior cornerback Alexander Franco then intercepted the Maroons’ deep pass with 43.7 seconds remaining in the fourth.
“It came down to intestinal fortitude,” Cinque said. “That was the word of the day before the game – fortitude… we were in adverse situations, and we just kept swinging. We were never down, we were never out.”
Check out the photo gallery, then continue reading.
Each team has won a Group 5 sectional title within the past five seasons, and this win gives Clifton (2-1) a big boost going forward, both mentally and in power points. The Mustangs have won two straight since an opening loss to Montclair and host Eastside next Friday.
Ridgewood (1-1), meanwhile, has a short week to prepare for a Thursday game against 2022 Group 4 finalist Northern Highlands.
“We don’t have time to feel sorry for ourselves,” Maroons coach Torre Watson said. “We’ve got no time to do anything but improve.”
The Mustangs had an answer for every Ridgewood touchdown. Trailing 7-0 after the opening drive, they got a 43-yard TD run from Devon Stroble late in the first quarter.
After Ridgewood scored with 48.2 seconds to go in the half, Nate Ceneri returned the ensuing kickoff 68 yards to help set up Tables’ tiebreaking run.
“I looked downfield and saw green grass, so I just took off,” the junior QB said. “My teammates pushed me in. If it weren’t for the team, I would’ve been stopped at the 5-yard line.”
Tables also threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Ceneri with 14.4 seconds left in the third quarter to provide the final margin.
► Stroble carried 20 times for 128 yards and a pair of scores, while Tables ran 11 times for 77 yards and completed 6-of-8 passes for 64 yards.
► Franco finished with five tackles and the sealing INT, while David Chavez led the Clifton defense with 10 tackles.
► Ridgewood’s Colin Lake was Mr. Versatile: 7 carries for 46 yards and a TD, 2 kick returns for 41 yards, plus a blocked punt that he recovered to set up the first of two TD runs by Bobby Kuenzler (12 carries, 80 yards).
“I saw the receiver run full speed [and] try to come over the top. I read him good, I read the ball, and it just came and fell in my hands – got the game-winning pick.” − Franco
FLORHAM PARK — Audrey Schildkraut and Katie Bisgrove said they needed to find out their ring sizes. Clearly, they already know football.Bisgrove threw five touchdown passes, and Schildkraut had a game-changing pick-six as Ridgewood won the New Jersey girls flag football state championship Saturday afternoon, 47-6, over Hillside. The game was played at the Jets training center. The Jets have sponsored flag football as a club sport in North Jersey for the last thre...
FLORHAM PARK — Audrey Schildkraut and Katie Bisgrove said they needed to find out their ring sizes. Clearly, they already know football.
Bisgrove threw five touchdown passes, and Schildkraut had a game-changing pick-six as Ridgewood won the New Jersey girls flag football state championship Saturday afternoon, 47-6, over Hillside. The game was played at the Jets training center. The Jets have sponsored flag football as a club sport in North Jersey for the last three years.
This was the most dominant performance for any team in the three previous finals. Ridgewood scored on its first five possessions and was nearly perfect. The program is now 20-1 all-time in two years of existence.
“Ridgewood flag football is here to stay,” Maroons coach Michael McDermott said. “We’re proud of what we did. This isn’t just big for our girls. Its big for our community and our town. We are developing a girls flag football league for our town – females only. We want to promote it.”
Ridgewood finished the season 11-0. The Maroons avenged their only loss ever with a win over Irvington in the Super Football Conference title game last week.
The Jets had the players measured for rings after the celebration, and the girls will receive them prior to the Jets' Aug. 19 preseason game at MetLife Stadium.
Bisgrove grew up playing flag football in the village with boys. She’s been the Maroons' starting QB the last two years. Ridgewood’s offense was dynamic, using option and RPO concepts and also threw the ball well.
“Coach was telling me all week to watch the blitzing, read the formations, and that’s what I did,” said Bisgrove. “My receivers were great. They got open and ran strong routes and we got in the end zone.”
McDermott said before the game that the Maroons weren’t able to practice much live, given this week's air quality alerts and other teams needing the Ridgewood gym. So, he focused on film study.
That paid off in a big way when Schildkraut intercepted a Comets pass early in the first half and ran it back for a score to make it 13-0.
“To be honest, I just read what she was going to do, I could kind of see it, it came at me and I blacked out from there, I caught it and started running,” Schildkraut said.
“It was huge,” Bisgrove said. “It was a great read. Awesome defense from her. She was all over the field and that really started the momentum for us the entire game.”
The momentum carried over. Ridgewood built a 41-0 lead and substituted liberally in the second half.
“That is what we preach, momentum swings, either defensively or offensively change games,” said McDermott. They were in a great position. They made a play and Audrey took it back.”
“I don’t know, maybe like a 7? I don’t know, whatever the size the ring is,” Bisgrove said.
Which restaurants in the area are open for Thanksgiving Day 2023? Some have special offerings, including "Thanksgiving Sangria."BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — For people who don’t want to spend hours or even days cooking and cleaning up from a big turkey dinner, several restaurants in the area are open Thanksgiving Day.Restaurants open for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 23, offer a range of dining experiences, from fine dining to fast casual to fast food. In some cases, you’ll need to make a reservation, so p...
BERGEN COUNTY, NJ — For people who don’t want to spend hours or even days cooking and cleaning up from a big turkey dinner, several restaurants in the area are open Thanksgiving Day.
Restaurants open for Thanksgiving on Thursday, Nov. 23, offer a range of dining experiences, from fine dining to fast casual to fast food. In some cases, you’ll need to make a reservation, so plan as much as possible.
As always, Patch encourages you to call any restaurant on this list in advance to double-check hours on Thanksgiving Day, as many vary by location.
These are just a few restaurants in the area that plan to be open:
Applebee’sBob EvansBoston MarketBrio Italian GrilleBuca di BeppoBuffalo Wild WingsBurger KingChart HouseCracker BarrelDel Frisco’s GrilleDenny’sDomino’s Eddie V’sFleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine BarFogo de Chão Golden CorralHardee’sIHOPKona Grill Maggiano’s Little ItalyMcCormick and Schmick’sMcDonald’s Metro DinerPopeye’sRed LobsterRomano’s Macaroni GrillRuby TuesdayRuth’s Chris Steak HouseSizzlerSonicSTK SteakhouseSteak ’n ShakeSubwaySullivan’s SteakhouseT.G.I. FridaysWaffle HouseWendy’sWhite Castle
Hours and services may vary by location, so be sure to call ahead and double check.
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Generations of high school athletes have aspired to become a team captain.It's a role that requires leadership, poise and talent.But one Bergen County school is more concerned with the first part. The Ridgewood High School athletic department is giving its coaches more flexibility when it comes to naming team captains, allowing them to appoint “senior leaders” instead.Ridgewood athletic director Keith Cook explained that the school district wants to provide leadership opportunities and training...
Generations of high school athletes have aspired to become a team captain.
It's a role that requires leadership, poise and talent.
But one Bergen County school is more concerned with the first part. The Ridgewood High School athletic department is giving its coaches more flexibility when it comes to naming team captains, allowing them to appoint “senior leaders” instead.
Ridgewood athletic director Keith Cook explained that the school district wants to provide leadership opportunities and training for any student who wants to accept the role. Simply assigning a player the role of captain may prevent other student-athletes from demonstrating leadership capabilities. And when the captain decision is based on a player vote, it can also be problematic.
Cook said the Ridgewood coaches and community have understood the purpose of the new policy, but that most of the school's fall programs have maintained traditional captains. The football team, though, is going with the "senior leaders" concept.
First-year football coach Torre Watson said that the leadership role and captains role are largely similar.
“The only difference I see for a leadership role is, one, someone can appoint themselves for, and in my opinion, I think it’s a good situation,” Watson said. “I know in my tenure, I have seen the captaincy role become a little bit of a popularity contest instead of validating who our true leaders are. The second thing is some of the guys get the role because they have it awarded to them, but I wonder how many actually wanted the role.”
Cook believes the concept of leadership for athletes in 2023 has evolved. Players organically know who the leaders are, and they don’t always need a "C" on their jersey to prove it.
“We kind of looked at it and we saw that [having captains] didn’t always fit the culture of each program,” Cook said. “The dynamics and personalities of teams are always changing, and we wanted to be give coaches the ability to adapt to what their programs have morphed into.”
Personally, when I first heard about the concept, my first thought was: What parent complained about their kid not being named captain?
I did just hear a story from another athletic director this week who said he had to deal with a parental complaint about who was named captain of a girls team. Yes, people complain about everything.
The truth is, there’s no one standard way to pick a team captain. Some coaches prefer to make the picks, usually choosing seniors, although that’s become less common in recent years. Some coaches let the players vote, and others take a hybrid approach, giving the players a vote but getting the final say.
Cook and Watson said there were meetings with school administrators to explain the idea, and it has been received well. The school has partnered with a training agency to provide leadership courses open to anyone who wants it.
“What I like about the leadership role is, it gives kids the chance to nominate themselves and put the onus on themselves to take that role,” Watson said. “We take it serious. It gives players the opportunity to say that they want to be held to a different standard.”
For the traditional coin toss before games, Watson rotates between his senior leaders.
Cook stressed that it’s optional for each Maroons team to officially anoint captains or seek voluntary senior leaders. He knows some teams prefer the old-school approach, but points out one popular − and successful − professional team has always had a loose relationship with captains.
“Our vice principal asked how many World Series the Yankees have won and how many captains have they've had,” Cook said. (The answer is 27 and 16.) “They know when the title needs to be applied and when the leadership of the group is enough. This just solidifies that we have flexibility in our leadership style.”
Ridgewood's teams aren't too shabby, either. This past spring, the Maroons won state titles in boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, baseball and girls flag football, and added sectional titles in boys and girls track and field.
“I had an extended conversation with one parent who could have sworn we had captains on a team, but the leadership was so strong, they were using senior leaders and she believed they were captains,” Cook said. “Even though we had the policy, they didn’t realize it.”