Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Catholic Rules in All Facets of Game

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Bergen Catholic Rules in All Facets of Game

Article excerpt

ORADELL - The fact that Mark Reardon had been here before didn't make it any easier.

His undefeated, yet seventh-seeded St. Augustine Prep football team hit the road for a trip to Oradell to take on second-seeded Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public Group 4 state playoffs, seeking an upset of epic proportions.

But the strength of North Jersey football prevailed once again, with the Crusaders dismantling the Hermits, 57-33, in a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score indicated. Bergen Catholic led, 50-13, at halftime before St. Augustine tacked on a pair of late touchdowns in the fourth against Crusaders backups.

The 57 points were the most scored by Bergen Catholic since the first round of the 2012 state playoffs, when the Crusaders defeated Notre Dame, 63-0. Many of the Crusaders starters did not play in the fourth.

Saturday's dominance featured eight Bergen Catholic offensive touchdowns (QB Johnny Langan threw for four and ran for one; Josh McKenzie ran for three), one defensive safety (errant punt snap), four sacks (from Erik Massey, Jevontae Jean-Baptiste, Shqipron Idrizi and Antonio Alfano), two interceptions (Nick Palmer and Pat Palmer), a recovered onside/pooch kick (by Pat Palmer), one blocked punt and blocked extra point (both by Nick Palmer) and one unsuccessful fake punt from St. Augustine on a fourth-and-25 from its own 23.

"The main difference is just the size and the speed of these guys," said Reardon, whose season had ended in lopsided losses in the state playoffs in the previous four years against St. Joseph, Don Bosco (twice) and St. Peter's Prep. "And there are more of them. We're not rotating guys. And we didn't help ourselves either. When you play a team like this, you have to be perfect. We can't afford the mistakes that we made.

"We don't come close to seeing this down [in South Jersey]. People down there don't get that. They're fast. They're big. They're physical. And they're really well-coached."

There was belief that this St. Augustine Prep team could stay competitive with a North Jersey power this year. The Hermits entered averaging 42.4 points per game, steamrolling their competition en route to a 9-0 record. But the Crusaders' dominance in the trenches on both sides of the ball was evident from the start and the sizable difference in strength of schedule prior to Saturday proved that North Jersey remains king when it comes to non-public high school football.

Just look at the last four still standing in the Non-Public Group 4 playoffs: Paramus Catholic, Bergen Catholic, St. Peter's Prep and Don Bosco -- all teams that reside in the NJSFC United Red.

"The one thing I'll say is, the size and speed of our team isn't much different than what they have," said Bergen Catholic coach Nunzio Campanile, whose team surrendered two long touchdown passes of 67 and 38 yards in the first half - the first coming on a deflected ball at the line.

"They might even have some bigger guys and faster guys. …

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