SUMMIT, NJ - The Summit Varsity Football team used an imperfect performance to finish the regular season a perfect 9-0, beating Hillside 39-25.
Head Coach Kevin Kostibos, while understanding the natural tendency to look past Hillside toward next week's playoffs, was not pleased with his team's first-half effort, despite heading into the locker room ahead 36-13. "As much as you tell the kids not to look ahead, we were coming off two big wins, and that is what we did. What we have accomplished so far means nothing, the second season starts now, and we have to get back to playing Hilltopper football."
Summit got a wake up call after Hillside scored on a pass and run play to take a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. Up to that point, the Hilltoppers had looked uninspired, but regrouped and went on a run that resulted in a commanding first half lead.
Colm Dougherty ripped off a long run, quarterback Charlie Terry found Andrew Masterfano on a pass to the Hillside one yard line, and Dougherty punched it in. A two-point conversion gave the Hilltoppers the lead at 8-7 and they never looked back.
After a fumble recovery, Chris Zanelli scored on a short run, followed by a Caleb Siink score after a long Drew Mulholland punt return, and it was 22-7. After Hillside responded with a 30-yard, counter delay touchdown, Summit came right back with Terry hitting David Connolly for 65 yards and a touchdown, and it was 29-13. On their next offensive series, Terry connected with Masterfano on the right sideline, with the flanker being hauled down from behind, and injuring his ankle in the process, at the 1-yard line. Dougherty slammed across the final yard and it was 36-13 at the half.
The second half saw Summit's second unit get all of the snaps, with Kostibos giving his reserves well deserved playing time, and simultaneously sending a message to the first unit. A highlight was Freshman kicker Jack Johnson, brought up from the undefeated Freshman team for the game, drilling a 37-yard field goal that cleared the crossbar with yards to spare. Somewhat remarkably, it was the Varsity's first field goal of the season, and Johnson barely missed from 40 yards later in the half.
Hillside did manage two relatively meaningless touchdowns as the clock wound down, but it was Summit taking three consecutive knees in the final two minutes that saw the regular season end, and the second season begin.
Summit begins their title-defending playoff run next Saturday at home, with the likely opponent being Governor Livingston. Exact kickoff time has not yet been announced.