For many on the Hasbrouck Heights High School football team, it stung deeply the last two years in their battles against Saddle Brook including a 37-7 defeat in last season’s opener.
The Aviators (6-0) took that to heart and won the battle of the unbeatens on Friday night, 31-17, over Saddle Brook (5-1) in Hasbrouck Heights.
In what was most likely the deciding game for the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) Meadowlands title, Hasbrouck Heights senior running back Anthony Seidel ran for 184 yards on the ground and four touchdowns including two in the fourth quarter that finished off Saddle Brook.
“Absolutely it fueled us,” said Seidel about the two losses to Saddle Brook that opened the season for Heights in both seasons. “They smacked us around those two years.”
Coming into the game the Aviators had even more to get them going as many thought that Saddle Brook would make it three years in a row in beating Heights.
“I love it, it was just motivation for us,” said Seidel about being considered the underdog against the Falcons.
The difference might have been the turnovers and turning it into points. The Aviators won the turnover battle including a fumble recovery on a punt in the second quarter that turned into a touchdown.
“The offense turned the ball over too many times,” said Saddle Brook head coach Leo Ciappina. “It was not the only thing. They just did a better job up front.”
The Falcons top offensive producer got a 53-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. The point after gave Saddle Brook a 7-6 lead, but overall the Heights defense stymied Jacobson from getting a big run.
“I thought we did a good job containing him,” said Hasbrouck Heights head coach Nick Delcalzo who won his 202nd game in his career at Heights.
Another key drive for Heights came in the third quarter when the defense stiffened deep in their own territory and limited Saddle Brook to a 22-yard field goal off the foot of Kevin Bottine to cut the Aviators lead to eight, 18-10.
On the ensuing drive Heights would eat up plenty of time off the clock that resulted in a Seidel 7-yard touchdown run to give the Aviators a nice 24-10 lead.
This might not be the last time these two teams see each other this season. Both are expected to make the Group 1 North 1 state sectional playoffs and could see each other down the line.
In a battle of Community News area teams, Wood-Ridge (1-5) won not only its first game of the year, but also the first for new coach Eric Magrini in the 49-25 victory over Wallington (1-5) at home on Saturday.