Wayne Hills, Wayne Valley to Clash Saturday Night in In-State Opener

By Aaron Hook, Staff Writer

When Wayne Hills walked off the field in Columbia, South Carolina the feeling of coming up short in a game away from Wayne, New Jersey, as well as starting the season in the loss column loomed for the 4th straight year. Ridgeview defeated Wayne Hills 12-0 on August 30th, and the story of the game was the Patriots struggles offensively the entire game, managing just 179 total yards of offense to Ridgeview’s 405. The Patriots’ defense, at least in some areas, however, was able to hold their own against Ridgeview’s high powered offensive repertoire. Noah Abida lead the team in both solo and total tackles, racking up 10 and 15 respectively. The Patriots had 101 total tackles as a team, and they did a decent job at stopping Ridge View’s ground game, as the Blazers rushed for 171 total yards in the contest, including 66 yards on 18 carries for Senior back David Mitchell. As for the Blazers’ aerial attack, they were able to exploit the Patriot’s coverages deep and made huge plays that really hurt the Patriots. Sophomore Quarterback Anthony Washington had 243 yards through the air on only 15 completions, giving his average completion a distance of 15.6 yards. Washington went 15-29 with a touchdown in the game and finished with a passer rating of 90.3.

As for the Patriots on offense, they mustered just 121 yards through the air and got picked off once. First-year Varsity Starting Quarterback Mike Cassasanta struggled in the season opener, going 14-32 for 121 yards and tossing an interception in his Varsity starting debut. Cassasanta did turn in a solid performance on the other side of the ball, however, as he totaled 5 tackles and defended a pass while at cornerback. On the ground, the Patriots never did get the ball moving, as the efforts of Abida, Cassasanta, and Michael Joyce were only able to get Hills 48 rushing yards. It didn’t help that Joyce wasn’t able to play in much of the game at all, as he was sidelined for most of the game with a knee injury that could cost him his season. Joyce was the focal point of the Patriots’ backfield heading into 2019-20, as last year, in a role that saw him split carries with Adam Abida, he was able to rush for 552 yards on 73 carries while scoring 8 times, outnumbering Abida in the touchdown department despite less carries and yards. While Joyce is seen as more of a power back because of his size, his athleticism and precision give him big-play ability in addition to his power and strength, making him a lethal combination of speed and power in the backfield. As stated before, Joyce suffered a knee injury during the game and is expected to miss most if not all of the remaining season. Joyce is also a big presence at defensive end for the Patriots and they will miss his presence there as well.

The story of the game was that Hills’ defense did a very nice job of holding Ridge View’s offense to just 12 points (although aided by penalties), but wasn’t able to get the ball moving against a good Ridge View defense. Trailing 6-0 after the first half, Hills came out of the gates with some momentum on offense but weren’t able to score on that drive, RV came down and scored again. While Hills had some nice goalline stops and overall didn’t play a bad game by any means, RV was just the better team at the end of the day.


On the other side of town, the Wayne Valley Indians are enjoying the hours leading up to the game as they were able to capture a win in their own out of state trip, defeating Andover (MA) 31-12.  Senior Quarterback also made his debut as a varsity starter, like Casasanta. Moran shined in his debut, throwing 10-16 for 123 yards, 2 touchdowns, and no interceptions, giving him a passer rating of 125.8. The Indians Quarterback had plenty of help under center, as the offensive line did an excellent job of giving him time to read his options and make quality throws. Jake DeLuccia, Mo Gega, Anthony DePalma, and John Testa all caught at least 2 passes each, and the quartet combined for 87 yards and a touchdown. Speaking of Testa, the star junior running back put on a show against Andover’s run stop, as he ran for 164 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. Testa even broke free for a 50 yard run at one point. Valley’s combination of a strong aerial attack and a fierce ground game behind a strong offensive line gives them a lot of room for creativity and flexibility on the offensive side of the ball.

Valley’s defense also stood tall, as they recorded 64 team tackles, defended 5 passes, and also got an interception courtesy of Elijah Lugo. Holding an Andover offense that featured a running back who had rushed for over 1,000 combined yards over the previous two seasons in Joshua Ramos and a receiver who is a Top 100 Player in the state of Massachusetts, Kelvin Davila, is something that Valley should take pride in. The Indians had 8 players record multiple solo tackles, and Joe Miscia lead the entire unit with 15 total tackles. Valley’s pass rush was also extremely effective, and they chased around Sophomore Quarterback Victor Harrington all night long. Joe Fonseca and Richy Colona recorded a sack each, while John Testa and Joe Miscia each recorded half a sack. Valley combined for 7 total QB hurries in the game as well, with Testa, Colona, and Frank Tortora each recording 2.

It is safe to say that Wayne Valley handled their business in Andover last week, and are feeling great about now getting to host a 0-1 Wayne Hills team on their turf Saturday night. Wayne Hills is coming off a 4th consecutive loss in the out of state season openers, but remember, the Patriots have won a State Sectional Championship and a Group 4 Bowl Championship in that 3-year span and will look to add another championship banner to their collection this year. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 PM.