By Edward Kensik
For Montclair Local
MONTCLAIR – The Immaculate Conception football players and coaching staff were looking forward to last Saturday, hoping to enjoy a sweet sense of revenge after they took the field against rival Montclair Kimberley Academy.
They got it with a 60-yard kickoff return along their own sideline to the end zone in the fourth quarter by IC senior wide receiver/kick returner Isas “Ice” Waxter. The touchdown helped defeat MKA, 12-7, in a penalty-filled defensive battle at Van Brunt Field.
MKA took home a 38-32 victory last season, when the long-time rivalry was revived after a six-year absence. but Waxter was going to make sure that this class would not lose to the Cougars this season on this day.
“I just followed my blockers,” said Waxter after the game, adding that he remembered last year’s defeat at the hands of MKA. “I knew how important [winning] was. A lot of our juniors and sophomores last year were crying that we could not win the game for our seniors.”
For the entire game MKA head coach Anthony Rea and the Cougars were making sure they kicked it away from Waxter. And it was a squib kick on the kick-off, but IC junior Amilkar Love handed the ball off to Waxter, who went the distance.
“That was the smartest thing [Love] has ever done,” said IC head coach Ryan Horan.
Before the Waxter touchdown, Montclair Kimberley finally found the end zone and it was their playmaker who did it single handedly.
Senior Trey Wilson got the handoff and ran around in the backfield, averting tackles for a 32-yard touchdown. After several penalties, MKA kicker Christian Breitweiser finally hit the point-after for what would turn out to be a brief 7-6 Cougars lead to start the fourth quarter.
But then Waxter hushed the MKA crowd with the 60-yard kick-off return.
Despite having 10 minutes left in regulation, MKA’s offense continued to struggle throughout most of the game. The Cougars tried to get Wilson the ball any way they could, but the IC defense would not let that happen.
Wilson would finish with 12 carries for 63 yards.
“Everybody knows the deal, there is no secret to it,” said Rea about getting Wilson involved in the offense as much as possible.
While Waxter is the big threat playmaker for IC, sophomore quarterback Kody Gibbs and senior running back Jah’Simer Hill did the grunt work during the game.
Hill carried the ball 12 times for 90 yards, including an eight-yard touchdown run in the third quarter that broke the scoreless deadlock and gave IC a 6-0 lead.
Gibbs, who carried the ball seven times for 28 yards, had possibly the biggest play outside of Waxter’s special teams touchdown.
With a fourth down and 14 on the MKA 27-yard line, Gibbs scrambled 15 yards for a first down. Three plays later, Hill scored his touchdown from eight yards out.
In addition to sweet revenge, the IC coaching staff and players won this game for their longtime football chaplain, Father Frank Burla, who was not feeling well to attend the game.
“We miss him and we hope he gets better,” said Horan about Burla, who was one of the main forerunners to bringing the sport back to the school a few decades ago. “This game was for him. He is a big reason that football came back to Immaculate Conception.”
For Montclair Kimberley’s Rea, the loss was a tough pill to swallow. The Cougars drop to 1-2 for the season, and will now work to take on Pennington next Saturday, September 22, on the road.
“It’s a loss,” said Rea. “Everybody worked hard and now we move on to the next week.”
Immaculate Conception raised their record to 3-0 with the win, but now face possibly their toughest task this season as they travel to Hudson Catholic on Saturday in a North Jersey Super Football Conference United Blue battle. The game could determine who wins the division.