On Oct. 27, the St. Peter’s Prep football team traveled to northern Bergen County to a town called Montvale to face St. Joseph’s Regional in a regularly scheduled game. The Marauders made a host of careless mistakes that day, in the form of turnovers, penalties and mental lapses, and they lost the game by a score of 16-7.
It was a result that hit veteran Prep head coach Rich Hansen like a punch to the gut.
“After going over the films of that game, we figured that we left at least 28 points on the field that day,” Hansen said. “Penalties, turnovers, unforced errors, we can’t keep playing like that and expect to win games, especially not at this point of the season.”
Sure enough, just two weeks later, the Marauders have to make that same trip up the Garden State Parkway again, right before it becomes part of the state of New York.
The Marauders were set to face the Green Knights once again, this time in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 semifinals.
And that idea just irks Hansen.
“It’s the world we live in now and frankly, I’m not really happy about it,” Hansen said about facing St. Joseph again for the second time in three weeks. “I’m not a fan of it. And it’s probably going to happen again next year and the next. It’s probably going to be the same thing for a very long time. From a conceptual standpoint, it’s just not good for us. I’d rather be playing someone new, like St. Augustine or Camden Catholic or someone like that. Usually in the state playoffs, there’s a certain air in practice when you’re facing someone new. We don’t have that here.”
But Hansen had to regroup and realize the state of where his Marauders stand.
“We’re in the state semifinals once again,” said Hansen, whose team is participating in the semifinals for the seventh straight year and looking for a chance to reach the finals for the sixth time in those seven years. “We have a chance to get back to the finals, so we’re excited about that.”
Hansen said that there’s no time to change things up so that the Green Knights are seeing something new.
“We have to go with the horse we rode in on,” Hansen said. “We can’t change what we do in a short period of time. It’s not like a switch you turn on and off. We’re going to go with our strengths. We have to figure out what we do best.”
In the 35-14 quarterfinal victory over St. Joseph’s of Metuchen, the Marauders battled the heavy rains and swirling wind at Caven Point Cochrane Stadium to advance in the playoffs.
The Marauders utilized a three-headed backfield with seniors Anthony Summey (10 carries for 80 yards) and Kyree Parker (five carries for 52 yards rushing and 23 receiving) along with freshman bull moose power back Paul Lefkowitz (11 carries, 72 yards and a touchdown) to secure the win.
“Any time you can utilize others and get fresh legs into the game, it helps,” Hansen said. “Depth is part of what your plan is and you have to use it. I’m good having the three backs. Kyree has been getting more and more carries the last couple of weeks and Paul has been solid. The initial plan 10 weeks ago was to get other people into the mix and that’s working now.”
The Marauders also have the best player on the field in senior quarterback Maasai Maynor, who recently became the all-time leading passer in the history of the school and who is closing in on his second straight 2,000-plus yard passing season.
Maynor is headed to the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis next fall, but before he goes, he’d love to have the legacy of leaving with a state championship.
“He knows how important he is,” Hansen said of Maynor, who threw for 146 yards and three touchdowns in the rain against St. Joseph’s of Metuchen. “He’s the catalyst. He’s the straw who stirs the drink. He’s one of the best players in the state. We’re giving him the design and hoping he can lead us to the Promised Land.”
The Marauders are also getting solid contributions from another sensational sophomore in defensive tackle George Rooks, who is performing like he’s ready to be a big-time college recruit in the coming years. Playing alongside R.J. Oben (headed for Duke in the fall) doesn’t hurt at all.
So the Marauders have to hope that they can reverse the curse (St. Joseph of Montvale has captured nine of the last 10 meetings between the schools) and advance to MetLife Stadium once again. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that the Marauders could be victorious. Hansen would just rather face someone else…
The local cross country runners fared very well at the NJSIAA Group championships at Holmdel Park recently.
Topping the list was McNair Academic’s brilliant senior Claire Chapeau and St. Peter’s Prep’s sensational sophomore Edwin Klanke, who both finished second in their respective races.
Klanke finished second in the Non-Public A championship in a blistering 16:28, leading the Marauders to a second place team finish. Teammates Liam Christman (13th in 17:08), Paul Ames (18th )and Tyler Parrado (20th) aided in the cause, as the Marauders posted an average time of 17:11, which has to be the best recorded team time in Hudson County history. The Marauders finished second to perennial national power Christian Brothers Academy.
Chapeau was second in the Group I race in 19:40, leading the Cougars to a second place finish as a team. Teammates Safaa Merghoub (13th) and Stacey Dubreus (15th) were solid. Weehawken’s Delaney Rice, last week’s Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week, finished 10th in the race, easily the best performance by a Weehawken runner in a Group championship.
The St. Dominic Academy contingent placed third as a team in Non-Public B, led by Kayla Sullivan, who was eighth in 20:44, Isabel DeBari (18th) and Milani Bethel (23rd). But the Blue Devils qualified for the Meet of Champions as a team.
Others to fare well were McNair Academic’s Hamza Barkouch, who was fifth in Group I in 17:02, Benedictus Bago of Snyder, who was eighth in Group III in 16:34 and Memorial’s Francis Martingale, who was 13th in a stacked Group IV field in 16:42…
The Great Hagueini went a perfect 4-0 with his picks last week, pushing this year’s record to 7-2. This week, he likes Union City over Piscataway and St. Peter’s Prep over St. Joseph’s (Montvale). Hagueini says that he has to stay local with these picks. Remember, don’t use these predictions for any wagering, unless it’s for ham, salami and fresh mozzarella on a crispy bread and a big old root beer with your Uncle Looie.–Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com