by Andrew Garda

garda@montclairlocal.news

The Montclair High School football team is heading to a second North I, Group V sectional final after defeating North Bergen, 47-12.

The top-seeded Mounties now face two-seeded Ridgewood in a game the Maroons are itching for after last season’s playoff defeat.

Montclair had things rolling their way early against the Bruins, stripping the ball from them on NB’s initial drive after the kickoff. Walter King recovered the fumble and the Mounties took over on the North Bergen 45.

Then, as they had against West Orange in the first round, the duo of Charles Murphy Jr. and Josh Crawford went to work. While the offensive line blasted holes in North Bergen’s defensive line, the two led Montclair’s offense down the field, with Crawford capping the drive with a touchdown.

Crawford would score three more times, totaling 167 yards before the game was done. Murphy would compile plenty of yards on the ground as well, adding a deep bomb to King as well as short passes to Steven Rose and Amare Witter.

All told, Montclair totaled 277 yards on the ground and 362 yards overall.

Meanwhile, the Mounties defense generated five turnovers with fumbles recovered by King, Crawford and Tariq Jiles, and a pair of interceptions by Jiles and Witter.

North Bergen was able to move the ball early, scoring twice, but while they ran for 187 yards on Montclair, the Bruins continually stalled once they reached Mountie territory.

With Willie Matthews is done for the season, the defensive unit has rallied together, led by Gary Robinson Jr. and Josh Crawford. Witter, Jiles, King, Elijah Coates and Shawn Collins all have stepped up in the two weeks since Matthews went down with an Achilles injury, and while the unit isn’t flawless by any means, they are playing good football.

They’ll need to against a Ridgewood team which still feels disrespected by the 49-14 dismantling last time they visited Woodman Field. The Maroons ran for 236 yards and three touchdowns against Clifton this weekend and 348 yards plus five touchdowns against Passaic Tech.

Of course, Montclair is playing better football than PCTI has all season, and is likely to be a tougher nut to crack than Clifton, if they play offense and defense the way they have the last two weeks.

For more on the win over North Bergen, quotes from players and the coaching staff, as well as a look ahead to Ridgewood, check out the Montclair Local this Thursday on line and in print.