by Andrew Garda
Opening day for the Montclair Mounties football team is fast approaching, but while fans were already excited to see MHS against the West Orange Mountaineers, news that the two teams will face each other at Rutgers University on Friday, September 7 at 7pm will build the anticipation up even more.
The game will be the final one in a two-week high school football showcase called the “Rumble on the Raritan,” and played at RU’s recently rechristened SHI Stadium. The slate of seven games begin on August 31 and finish on September 7.
Schools from New York. New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. will compete over the course of two weekends.
The game between Montclair and West Orange is an intriguing one, with the Mounties looking to rebound from their disappointing loss to Ridgewood High School in the North 1, Group V state final last season by a score of 27-7 and the Mountaineers will have Darnell Grant on the sideline for the first time.
Last summer, Grant was ranked as the No. 34 most winningest coach in New Jersey by the staff at NJ.com. He departed Shabazz, where he had coached for nine years, with a 132-56 record over the course of 17 years as a head coach.
Of course, he’s facing MHS head coach John Fiore, ranked as No. 28 on the same NJ.com list, with a 147-63 record over 18 years.
While the game will be Grant’s first coaching the Mountaineers, it will kick off Fiore’s tenth season in charge, during which he has already won four sectional titles, three of which came in the form of undefeated seasons.
Last year the two teams faced off to kick off the 2018 season, with WO coming from behind to shock the Mounties 26-19. MHS would get their revenge in the opening round of the playoffs with a dominating 35-0 win.
For those interested, you can purchase tickets to the game on the Rumble on the Raritan website.