by Andrew Garda
WEST ORANGE—It was a tale of two halves for the Montclair High School football team as the Mounties struggled in the first half and then walloped the West Orange Mountaineers in the second.
The result was a 48-7 win, a 6-0 record and the No.1 seed in the playoffs, including home field advantage.
Now the team turns its attention to Seton Hall Prep and proving they belong among the best of the best in Northern Jersey.
For the game against the Mountaineers, the Mounties faced a lot of challenges in the first half. There were plenty of flags thrown, many not falling in MHS favor. West Orange couldn’t compete with the overall skill and athleticism of the Mounties, so they got chippy, took some shots in the pile post-plays and did a lot of talking.
That seemed to get into the Mounties heads, and led to a lot of early mistakes.
That said, Montclair still led 15-7 at the half. After two quarters of play, MHS had run 42 plays to West Orange’s 16 and gained 293 yards to the Mountaineers’ 104.
The half ended with Tarrin Earle a crisp 16 of 20 for 171 yards and a touchdown to Collin Callahan, with Willie Matthews scoring on a short run. Danny Webb left the game early in the first quarter when he re-injured his ankle in a dog-pile, but all indications are he was fine and it was a precautionary move.
All that offense seemed to indicate the dam would burst for the Mounties at some point if they could just regain their focus and play their game.
And boy did they in the second half.
The Mounties dominated from the moment the third quarter began, as they executed a perfect onside kick which they recovered. Then Earle hooked up with Charles Murphy for a touchdown on the very next play, the first of three times they would connect for touchdowns in the second half.
In less than thirty seconds, the momentum had shifted and the Mounties never relinquished it.
It was a moment during which we may have seen this team reveal itself fully for the first time. They kept their composure, fought hard and played their game, not the Mountaineers’ style of game.
They spent the first half playing into West Orange’s hands. They spent the second half playing the game on their own terms.
The difference was obvious and undeniable.
For a full breakdown of the victory over West Orange, including quotes and play by play detail, check out next Thursday’s edition of the Montclair local.