The Ridge football team won the North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 title Sunday at Rutgers University. The Red Devils did it with the team’s first undefeated season, going 12-0 and saving their best performance for last in a convincing 48-13 victory in the championship game.
“They probably played their best game today,” Ridge head coach Bill Tracy said. “That is all any coach wants to see for the kids to have a free mind, and just play, and play fast and play together then whatever the score is, the score is. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids.”
“I have to thank God for everything that we have,” Tracy added. “He brought us through. A couple years ago when we were really down and out, he was just strengthening our character for today. I am very humbled by this. This is a great group of guys—we are truly blessed."
Tracy added, "A couple of years ago, we circled the wagons together, we had a great support system, the administration, all the parents, the Touchdown Club, our youth football groups, we all stuck together. And it shows what you can do when you stick together in life.”
Ridge began the morning finishing its opening drive with a Conor Hughes pass to a wide open Tom Chiriaco for a touchdown. Union came back to tie the game at 7 at the start of the second quarter. Nearly ten minutes later, Ryan Bell took a Hughes pass into the end zone to put Ridge ahead, a place the team stayed the rest of the game.
As time wore down to the last few seconds in the first half, Matt Soulas picked off a pass and returned it to the Union 22-yard line. It took one play for Hughes to find Ryan Bell for another touchdown for a 21-7 halftime advantage.
Union scores one more time before Ridge adds string of TDs
Union came out of halftime and scored, but it took Hughes and Bell less than a minute to get into the end zone for another Ridge touchdown. Before their day was done, Hughes and Bell combined for three touchdowns. Hughes added his own touchdown as would Liam Derkasch and Michael Dunsheath.“Every game we accumulated in our skills to play this, our best game on the last week of the season,” Matt Soulas said after the game.
“I am feeling great!” Liam Derkasch said. “Working all season for this, all the practices to come to Rutgers and win, it is a moment none of us will ever forget. For myself, I always dreamed of playing on this field, scoring a touchdown and it happened! I am going to miss all these guys. We are one big happy family.”