RUTHERFORD – Rutherford not only celebrated winning its semifinal game over Hanover Park two weeks ago, but also that it will be playing just a few minutes away in East Rutherford.
The Bulldogs will be looking to end a long state football title drought that goes back to 1965.
Since the introduction of the new playoff format in 1974, Rutherford has been in the state title game twice, only to fall in 1975 (losing to Hawthorne, 14-12, Group 2 North 1) and 2003 (losing to West Essex, 30-21, Group 2 North 2).
The Bulldogs are hoping the third time is the charm, but they are facing a Madison team (Thursday at 5 p.m.) that has had more recent success in the state playoffs with eight sectional titles including winning three Group 2 North 2 state titles in a row, 2010, 2011 and 2012.
“The kids are psyched to play at MetLife Stadium,” said Rutherford head coach Andrew Howell.
For the North 2 state sectional finals it has been a mixed bag for the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA), having sent games to MetLife Stadium or the old Giants Stadium or Kean University in Union.
But for the Rutherford players and coaching staff, there is no doubt where they wanted to play on Thursday where the likes of Giants and Jets football players have toiled the last few years. “Our goal from the start has been to play at MetLife Stadium,” said Howell.
And with the game a town over, there is no doubt that there will be a huge contingent of Rutherford fans, students, family and friends at the game. “We have a great group of fans especially the Dawg Pound (students),” said Howell after the win over Hanover Park at home two weeks ago in the state sectional semifinal game.