West Morris
Photo Credit: Adriana Leone

West Morris Central Upsets 2022 State Champions to Take Home the North 1 Group 3 Sectional Title


Friday night was the sectional final in the NJSIAA North 1 Group 3 bracket, where the top seeded Old Tappan Golden Knights hosted the sixth seeded West Morris Wolfpack in a Friday night showdown. These two teams matched up in last year's state semifinals and was bound to be a good game. 

With the Golden Knights deferring on the coin toss, the Wolfpack received the ball and were looking to make some noise early on. They returned the ball into Golden Knight territory, but a holding penalty on the Wolfpack erased the gain and they were forced to punt on the first drive. The Golden Knights took over at their own 30-yard line and worked their way up the field getting themselves into the red zone. The Golden Knights' offense would cash in for six as Alex Orecchio threw a 16-yard reception to Michael Miceli and the PAT was good for Nico Ottomanelli giving Old Tappan the early lead. 

The second quarter began with a red zone opportunity for the Wolfpack and a chance to tie the game up. West Morris capitalized on the opportunity as Sam Rizzuto scored six with an 8-yard rushing touchdown. Johnny Vieira secured the PAT to tie up the game. The Golden Knights responded with an offensive drive of their own, storming up the field in dominant fashion. Orecchio was the star of this drive, converting multiple first downs with his legs and finished the drive off with a 2-yard rushing touchdown. The PAT was good by Ottomanelli.

After an explosive offensive drive by the Golden Knights, their defense responded with one of their own, as they three and outed West Morris after a huge loss on third down due to a quarterback sack by Jack Small. The defenses would then go back and forth. What looked like another stop by the Golden Knights defense, the chains moved after an unsportsmanlike penalty and putting the Wolfpack into Golden Knights' territory.

The penalty was erased after an interception by Evan Brooks giving Old Tappan the ball at their own 32. The West Morris defense was able to hold the Golden Knights to a field goal and Ottomanelli cashed in the 31-yard field goal to give Old Tappan the 10 point lead going into the second half. 

The third quarter was truly a masterclass by both defenses; neither offense could really get much going. When the Golden Knights seemed to have figured out the Wolfpack defense, a false start on fourth down forced them to kick the field goal, but Ottomanelli missed wide left, keeping the score 17-7 going into the final 12 minutes. 

The West Morris' offense exploded in the fourth quarter, starting the quarter in the red zone, similar to how they began the second quarter. Just like the second quarter, they were able to convert in the red zone as Jacob Morris rushed 1-yard into the endzone for six. Vieira made the PAT to make the game 17-14 Old Tappan. The Wolfpack defense was lights out, giving the offense an opportunity to take the lead late. The offense did just that with a huge fourth down conversion put the Wolfpack in Golden Knights territory.

They worked up the field and Garett Crisp would be the hero for West Morris as he rushed in for a 26-yard touchdown, and Vieira with another PAT to give West Morris the 21-17 lead with 1:37 remaining. The Old Tappan offense came out strong, but fell just short as West Morris was able to stop them and take over on downs with :19 seconds left. The Wolfpack went down into victory formation to seal the comeback and upset to win the sectional title once again.  

With Friday night’s win, the season for West Morris continues as they found themselves back in the state semifinals once again where they will take on West Essex next Friday night.  

Adriana Leone

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