Three weeks into the season, and two things have become crystal clear about the BCSL Olympic Division. For openers, Hasbrouck Heights is still the team to beat. But, and this is crucial, outside of a rebuilding Ridgefield team, this league is very evenly matched and extremely competitive.
And that means you are going to get a lot of games like ones Bogota and Cresskill played Saturday (21-13 Cresskill) or Friday's Pascack Hills-Emerson slugfest (6-0 Hills). Lots of edge-of the-seat action. Big plays. Just solid high school football.
So, can anyone beat Heights? This week, Park Ridge gets the opportunity.
The Owls, reluctantly, had the week off, despite coach Gary Meoli's best efforts to secure a replacement game for Palisades Park/Leonia. Meoli has a lot of underclassmen playing key roles, so he scheduled a JV game against Dayton last Friday and gave some of them an opportunity to play.
Meoli was particularly impresssed by sophomore linebacker/tight end Charles Rossi, and you m ight see him get a little more time this week against Heights.
Did you that this wll be one of only two regular season night games at Deken Field this season? This is the cradle of night football in North Jersey, and it's too bad that i may have to wait until the opening round of the playoffs to spend a Friday night there,
The Heights offensive skill players have received a lot of attention so far this season, and rightfully so. But keep an eye on senior defensive Mike Ruggierio, who had two interceptions (one returned 55 yards for a touchdown) against Ridgefield. That's good to see from someone coming back from knee surgery, and he's sure to play a big part as heights tries to shut down Park Ridge quarterback Matt Misley.
Emerson at Cresskill Friday night should be a dandy. Friday's loss to Hills snapped a six-game home winning streak for the Cavos, but coach Mike Menditto said it will not be a season-spoiler. This one will come down again to line play, and it will be interesting to see how the Cougars match up against George Buono and Colin Mueller.
The Pascack Hills coaching staff raved about the way those two played. Buono was double-teamed all night, and Mueller finished with 11 tackles. The Cavos, for their part, will ahve their hands full with Brendan Wengerter. As good as he is at running back, he's a real game-changer at linebacker, as evidenced by his 15 tackles, interception and stripped ball against Bogota.
The Cougars are also blessed with remarkable depth at quarterback. Sophomore Ryan Feulner stepped in and made his varsity debut after Justin Knight sprained his wrist, and the most impressive thing about him was his poise. He stepped in in the middle of a drive and put the finishing touches on it without missing a beat.
Another good matchup is Pascack Hills against Bogota. The Bucs played well enough to win Saturday, and this offense has big play potential. Quiarterback Alex Keleman and receiver Amelio Soto --- who stayed after practice on their own last week to work on routes --- are as good a combination as you'll find in this league, and Soto works hard to pick up extra yards after he catches a ball. Keleman is one of five quarterbacks tied for third in North jersey with 6 TD passes.
Coach Joe Sabella said afterwards that we haven't seen the best of Bogota yet, so this is a crucial bounceback week for them A lot will ride on their ability to keep Ryan Hansen in check. He'll get his yards on the ground, but the Bucs can't let him dominate inside the 20-yard line if they want to pull off the upset.
Take New Milford seriously. Those were good wins over Park Ridge and North Arlington, and while everyone raves about the emergence of running back Filip Piasevoli, don't forget Jeremy Clarke. His ability as a receiver takes a lot of pressure off the ground game, and his speed is a nice weapon on special teams.
Hasbrouck Heights 2-0
Pascack Hills 2-0
New Milford 1-0
Park Ridge 1-1