by Andrew Garda
After three quarters of football Saturday afternoon, the Montclair Mounties had possessed a two touchdown lead over the Bayonne Bees and looked to be in control of the game.
Twelve minutes later, the Mounties watched as a 33-yard field goal attempt went wide and fell short, sending the Bayonne High School football team into a frenzied celebration and the Mounties to a 1-2 record.
Bayonne beat the Mounties because the MHS defense couldn’t adjust to the slants the Bees were throwing. Or rather, the coaches told the safeties how to adjust — step into the passing lane to disrupt the timing — but the safeties didn’t execute.
It’s that inability to execute which has been hiccup in Montclair games this season, win or lose.
Montclair is a very young team, with just 13 seniors, most of which lacked starting experience before the opening week loss to West Orange. That shows itself in ways both big and small.
The Mounties take bad penalties, they don’t line up where they should, they don’t adjust when they are told to and they show very little field or game situation awareness.
Those things added up to an inability to slow down a Bayonne team which doesn’t have the athletes or overall talent Montclair has, but is more disciplined, more experienced and more even-keeled.
This isn’t to say Montclair didn’t show off their talent or that they haven’t grown in the first three games of the season.
Michael Robinson threw a pair of touchdown passes to Donovin Bell for touchdowns, one a dime which the receiver caught in the red zone with several steps on the defender and took for a score.
Bell showed off his great hands and focus on the other touchdown reception, as he had to reach behind and grab a ball with just his fingertips.
Jordan Diggs once again showed his skills in making tacklers miss at the line, breaking off a 77-yard run in the second quarter, and Jordan Williams ran very tough, showing both power and elusiveness once he hit the second level.
And the defense clamped down on the Bayonne backfield, as well as put a cap on the Bees passing offense for much of the game.
“Much of the game” is most of the problem, though.
The offense struggles early, then often fades late when they need to move the ball. Montclair scored their 24 points in the second and third quarter, but when the team needed the ball moved in the last two minutes of the game, they were stalled by miscues and penalties.
Meanwhile, the defense starts strong, but we’ve yet to see four quarters of football from it. The Mounties had a two score lead, and yet couldn’t execute on the adjustments the coaches needed them to, allowing Bayonne to dictate the tempo of the game, and move the ball almost at will late in the game.
Montclair has a full week to figure out how to knock out the dents in their offense and defense before they head to East Orange and face a tough Jaguars team. They need to take a hard look at the game film and see what they could have done differently.
Because they can bet EO coach Rae Oliver will be watching and noting what they didn’t do this past week.
For a complete breakdown, plus quotes from head coach John Fiore, check out next week’s print and digital editions of the Montclair Local.