by Andrew Garda
This weekend, Mounties running back Danny Webb verbally committed to West Point. For Webb, it was an end to what has been a long process.
“I had originally wanted to commit last year but wasn’t too sure,” Webb said before practice on Tuesday. “So, it was a long, thought-out process.”
One of the final turning points for Webb was the atmosphere during games, which he got to experience again this weekend and said it was a tremendous experience. He also noted the way the team, coaches and fans made him feel like family.
Webb is cognizant of the massive commitment attending West Point represents, though, beyond college.
“I’m doing a prep year, so it’ll be five years of school and four years of service,” he said. “It really is a big commitment. I know what I’m getting myself into so, it’ll be fine.”
Congratulations to the latest in a long line of Mounties heading off to play at the collegiate level.
— #GoBlackKnights (@goblackknights) October 23, 2017
Early on in the first half of the Mounties’ 48-7 win over West Orange, head coach John Fiore got a little hot under the collar due to a late hit penalty linebacker Willie Matthews was flagged for. Fiore stepped forward and let the officials know he strenuously disagreed with their call.
Enter Matthews — linebacker, running back and … peacemaker?
“I knew Coach Fiore was yelling,” Matthews said somewhat sheepishly after the win. “But that play was on me. It was a late hit, I’m going to admit it. So instead of getting my coach riled up in the moment, I was like “Coach, I got it. It was on me.” I had to calm him down.”
True leadership comes in all forms. Sometimes it’s yelling encouragement to a teammate. Sometimes it’s getting in a guy’s face to let him know he messed up.
It takes another level of leadership for a player to try and calm a coach down, especially by admitting you screwed up.
Well that, or quick feet to run in the other direction in case he doesn’t take it well. Lucky for Matthews, he has both.
Scouting Report: Seton Hall Prep
This will be, without a doubt, the toughest team the Mounties have faced this season. It’s possible they will be the toughest foe MHS will face including the playoffs. Yes, even with that 2-5 record. The Prep schedule is tough, and the Pirates are better than their record indicates.
That said, the Pirates are beatable, something head coach John Fiore has done five out of seven times the teams have met.
Offensively, SHP can run or throw. The key for either one comes down to the offensive line. Senior quarterback Cameron Carti can throw the ball and has a decent misdirection move for a playaction. Nobody is mistaking him for Joe Montana — or Tarrin Earle, for that matter — but he can throw the ball when he has time.
He hasn’t always had that time, though, as pass rushers from the likes of Pope John, DePaul and St. Peter’s Prep are likely to keep most offensive lines up at night. Overall, the SHP unit has good size and strength, and will give the Mounties’ defensive front line a workout. Pressure from the edges will be vital, but perhaps even more critical will be the push up the middle. The defensive tackles, led by Marcus Crowell, have to penetrate the line, clogging up running lanes and pressuring Carti. Internal pressure by the tackles will force Carti and his backs into the waiting arms of the edge defenders and stall out the Pirate offense.
Defensively, the Pirates are an interesting puzzle for Coach Pat Leonardis and Fiore to solve.
SHP runs a base 3-4 defense, with four down lineman and three linebackers. While they will rush a linebacker — either blitzing or just sending him on a normal rush — the other two linebackers will sit back to read and react. That means the shot slants and crossing routes that MHS will sometimes run might be hard to execute as the linebackers will be in the lane.
However, if the Mounties’ run game can get going, at least one of those linebackers should pull up in support, which will give someone, likely Collin Callahan, room to operate. That’s a great matchup for the Mounties.
Even better? The Pirates defensive backs seem to like to give wide receivers a cushion. That might work against some of the teams they’ve seen before, but against Tysean Williams, Charles Murphy and DJ Williams? Those receivers will eat that yardage up quick and be by in a flash.
While this will be a tough test for Montclair, it’s also a matchup they should be able to take advantage of. The Mounties line up against Seton Hall Prep well on both sides of the ball. If they execute, this is a game which could be a big win for them in the eyes of the rest of the state.
PLAYING WITH POWER POINTS
With two games left in the regular season, Montclair knows quite a bit about its November schedule. The Mounties will be the No. 1 seed in the NJSIAA North 1, Group V sectional tournament, will host a quarterfinal game at Woodman Field Nov. 11, and would host a semifinal game at Woodman Nov. 18 if they advance.
What’s left to be decided is just who will be in the Mounties’ half of the bracket.
This weekend will shore up the No. 2 through No. 6 seeds in the section; the winners of the Ridgewood-Passaic Tech and Union City-North Bergen clashes will grab the second and third seeds, with Clifton and the two losers of those games slotting in at No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 .
Four teams remain in the hunt for the final two spots in the bracket. The winner of this weekend’s Livingston-West Orange game will almost certainly take one of them.
Bloomfield can take the other (and the No. 7 seed) if it can win a pair of tricky games, at Bayonne tomorrow and against Morristown next weekend. However, losing one of those games would open the door for Paterson Kennedy to take the No. 8 seed.
Montclair Local’s projection sees Passaic Tech, Union City and West Orange winning the key games this weekend, and Bloomfield going 1-1, meaning the bracket would shake out like this:
No. 1 Montclair (8-0, 192 power points) vs. No. 8 Kennedy (4-4, 87);
No. 4 Clifton (6-2, 135) vs. No. 5 Ridgewood (6-2, 128);
No. 2 Union City (5-3, 158) vs. No. 7 West Orange (4-4, 89);
No. 3 Passaic Tech (7-1, 155) vs. No. 6 North Bergen (6-2, 122).