Willie Matthews (29) wraps up a Livingston ballcarrier during Friday’s 41-0 Montclair victory.
Courtesy Wil Young

by Andrew Garda

garda@montclairlocal.news

LIVINGSTON—The first two weeks of the season could not have gone better for the Montclair High School football team. The Mounties rolled again Friday night, dismantling Livingston 41-0 for their second win in a row.

As was the case last week against Passaic Tech, the Mounties piled on the points in the first quarter, getting a 28-0 lead before the first 12 minutes of the game were up. They then added another touchdown less than 10 seconds into the second quarter.

“You know, getting up two games in a row like we have, you really don’t get to see what you’re made of,” MHS head coach John Fiore said after the win. “That kind of happened to us last year. Then we got a test against Union City and we didn’t pass it. Hopefully this group’s different, and we pass it when we get to that game. Now we have a little time to get healed up again [with the upcoming bye week], to help secure that.”

It all started on the very first offensive possession, a seven-play, 65-yard drive capped off by a 4-yard Danny Webb touchdown run.

The first play set the Mounties back with a false start penalty, but senior quarterback Tarrin Earle gained the yards back with a 6-yard quarterback keeper right after that. Then Webb took a handoff and when he saw there was nowhere to run inside, he slipped around the outside edge on the left side of the line, finally being forced out of bounds at the Livingston 35-yard line.

The Unstoppable Danny Webb

For senior Finn Jones, who joined the offensive line this offseason and added it to his duties as stud linebacker, having Webb in the backfield makes everyone looks good.

“It’s the craziest thing because you get your first shot in on the guy you’re blocking,” Jones said after the win. “And even if maybe [the defender] goes a way you didn’t want him to go, and you’re like ‘Aw, damn,’ you turn around [and] Danny is down the field already in the end zone. It’s really great blocking for Danny Webb because he always makes you correct. He has a way of doing it.”

“He’s probably the best running back in the state and he’s touched the ball less than 20 times all year,” Fiore said of his playmaker.

Ability is a large part of Webb’s success, but the other part of the equation is that this offensive line has really jelled over the last two games, something Webb appreciates.

“I give all credit to the offensive line,” Webb said after his 124-yards, four-touchdown performance Friday night. “I couldn’t do this without them.”

DOMINANT IN THE TRENCHES

That blocking was definitely part of the equation in his first touchdown on that initial drive. The Mounties had landed on the Lancers’ 5-yard line after a scrambling Earle found senior tight end Elias Otten in space along the sideline.

On the next play, Webb took the handoff, and cut right as the line stonewalled the defensive rush. He did have to dodge inside for a moment as a defender got past fullback Terrel Santana, but Santana re-established his block and gave Webb enough time to bounce back outside and roll into the end zone.

The Mounties dominated defensively as well, relentlessly pursuing the ballcarrier.

Aziz Henderson makes a tackle on Livingston’s Jason Wittlinger during Friday’s win.
Courtesy Wil Young

The first Lancers possession ended up totaling -2 yards, after a sack by senior linebacker Jaire Gray and junior linebacker Willie Matthews, after Matthews, along with senior linebacker Mike Herring flushed the quarterback out of the pocket.

The Mounties got the ball back and two plays later, Webb broke off a 43-yard touchdown run.

By the time the half rolled around, the starters were getting some rest after having dropped 41 points on the hapless Lancers.

There were some hiccups with the younger players not knowing their plays, but much of the depth at many areas on defense really came through, and the coaching staff was able to sub players in and out all along the defensive front at will with no letup.

“We rotated three mikes [middle linebackers] tonight,” Fiore said. “In three series, it was Mike Herring, Matt Neimann and Aziz Henderson. Neimann made some great plays, Aziz made some great plays and Mike made some great plays. And Willie [Matthews] does a great job. He’s one of the best linebackers in the state, people have to wake up.”


Mounties Notebook—Shawn Collins, Finn Jensen and breaking down a big touchdown play


LOOKING AHEAD

The Mounties made it out of the first two games with no new injuries as they enter the bye week before the game against Union City on Thursday, Sept. 28, at 7 p.m. in Bloomfield. Being healthy, and getting hurt players healthier is a big help, said Fiore.

“Last year we played three games with our starting offensive line. Right now we don’t have [Bo] Bigelow [out with an injured knee] but the line we started with game one, we’ll be in our third game with,” Fiore explained. “When Bigelow comes back, that’s a bonus. Now we have six guys we know we can go to at any time.”

The Mounties are in an intriguing position right now. They’ve had two blow-out wins, but as Fiore has said, they haven’t really been tested yet. We’ve yet to see what Webb can do with a full game, and the entire backfield has really yet to show what they can truly do.

We have seen glimpses — such as Matthews’ touchdown against the Lancers and his 83 yards on just a pair of carries, or fellow junior Josh Crawford’s second big touchdown run of the year to get called back due to a flag.

This is a three-headed monster, and it hasn’t even awakened.

The passing offense similarly seems to be waiting to blow up. Earle hasn’t needed to bring all his ability to bear yet, given how easily the Mounties have been scoring.

And all the while the Mounties defense is stifling opposing offenses, choking the life out of them as they relentlessly attack the quarterback and mercilessly lunging for picks in the secondary.

The Mounties will likely need to show what all of their pieces can do against Union City, and getting back players like Bigelow could be a big help.

They need all hands on deck against a team that has derailed the Mounties’ momentum for two years.

For the Mounties, this will be their first big test and one they will work hard to pass.