For the Montclair Local by Leslie Monteiro
A week after suffering their first loss of the season, the Immaculate Conception football team worked hard to ensure that there would not be a losing streak.
The Lions took out their frustrations on winless Marist Saturday afternoon at Codey Field, routing the Royal Knights, 35-0, to improve to 4-1 on the season.
“We had a good week of practice,” ICHS head coach Ryan Horan said. “We have lot of depth this season, and we had our first players and second players working together. Proud of the second team for finishing this game.”
It was a complete performance all around by the Lions. The offense was in gear all game long, and the defense forced Marist into numerous turnovers that turned into points.
The Lions opened the scoring on junior running back Amilkar Love’s 24-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.
Then, Lions senior running back Jah’Simer Hill started to get it going, running for couple of first downs that set up IC sophomore quarterback Kody Gibbs’ five-yard touchdown run, extending the lead to 12-0.
“Our team got off to a slow start, but once we started to come together, we started to figure it out,” said Hill, who caught a nine-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
The running game figured out Marist’s defense after getting off to such a slow start to the game. Hill led all rushers with 100 yards on 10 carries, while Love was close behind with 95 on 7 rushes.
“I was wearing Marist’s linebackers down,” Love said. “Then Jah’Simer picked it up where I left off.”
From there, the defense picked it up and contributed to the rest of the scoring. Immaculate has allowed just 52 points through five games this season, 39 of which came in the defeat to a strong Hudson Catholic team — which knocked off a well-regarded Hackensack squad this past weekend.
“Our defense is carrying us this season,” Horan said.
The Lions were strong against the run, including stuffing a fourth down run to deny Marist a scoring opportunity in the second quarter.
They then got on the scoreboard themselves, as defensive end Tyrese McDougall recovered a fumble in the end zone before halftime, which extended the lead to 20-0 after Gibbs’ two-point conversion pass to McDougall.
After Hill’s touchdown catch in the third quarter, the Lions ‘D’ went back to work, as defensive back Iba Barnes intercepted the Marist quarterback and returned it 85 yards for IC’s fifth and final touchdown of the day.
Normally a safety, Barnes had stepped in as a cornerback after Lions star Isas Waxter left the game at halftime with an injury.
“I always practice as a cornerback, so I was able to pick up Marist’s tendencies,” Barnes said. “Since I am small, people don’t expect me to be physical, so I am able to be in a position to make plays. Coach Pep coaches me to be in position to make plays.”
Kevin Duarte also had an interception to cap a perfect day on defense.
“Our defense is learning, and we are going to get even better,” Barnes said.
The Lions will play their final home game of the season this Saturday, Oct. 6, against Morris Catholic.
After that, IC will hit the road to play Glen Ridge, Sussex Tech and Newark Central prior to the cutoff for the NJSIAA playoffs. The Lions are currently ranked seventh out of 13 teams in the NJSIAA Non-Public, Group II playoff standings.