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Ridge Football 1 Win Away From Capping Perfect Season With State Title

Red Devils and their fans head to Rutgers Stadium Sunday morning to face Union in championship game.

The Ridge line blocks the defender for Nick Franzese (5) to run around the outside in the Nov. 22 semifinal against the Linden Tigers. Courtesy of Terry Boudreau
The Ridge line blocks the defender for Nick Franzese (5) to run around the outside in the Nov. 22 semifinal against the Linden Tigers. Courtesy of Terry Boudreau
UPDATE: Ridge scores first touchdown at 7:58 in first quarter, Thomas Chiriaco.

Home from practice on Thursday night, Ridge senior football captain Ryan Bell said the team's focus heading into Sunday's state championship game at Rutgers Stadium is to just keep up what they've been doing.

And why not? The Red Devils posted a perfect season record, and then streamed through the first two postseason games, even trouncing Linden, a team had come as close as any of outscoring the Red Devils during the regular season.  

Although the Red Devils had to head into overtime to quell Linden the first time around, Ridge decisively led and clinched the state semifinal game 28-14 at home over Linden on Nov. 22, in front of an overflow crowd of exuberant fans.

Now, at 10 a.m. on Sunday, the Red Devils (11-0)—and their fans—will face No. 2-seeded Union in a game that could land the Ridge team this year's Group 5, North 2 championship.

"Definitely, it's exciting to be going to the state championship game, and it's going to be the biggest game of all of our lives," Bell said.

"Ridge won this game in 2003 — in fact, we had a 10-year anniversary gathering for those guys the night we played Somerville," coach Bill Tracy said in an email on Thursday. 

"We are very excited to represent the town at our State University — I know the boys will do everyone proud as they have all year long," Tracy said.

"We are very proud and excited for what this team has already accomplished and how they have represented the school and community throughout the season," said Ridge High School Athletic Director Rich Shello.

"It is a great honor to be playing at Rutgers against a very formidable opponent in Union. It should be a great ball game," Shello said.

Shello added he is sure that Tracy and the coaching team will have the Red Devils well-prepared and ready for the game. 

Earlier in the season, Tracy had noted the team's victories are a testimony to their stick-with-it attitude, with this year's seniors having soldiered on even through a varsity season when they were sophomores that had fewer wins, and more injuries. 

This year's senior lineup — also including stalwarts such as Nick Franzese, Conor Hughes, AJ Peterpaul, Matt Soulas, Liam Derkasch and other seniors — have mostly been together for a very long time, Bell said.

"All of us have been together for a while," Bell said. He said the teammates started playing football together on the same team back in middle school.
Linda Sadlouskos (Editor) December 08, 2013 at 10:05 AM
Game packed with Ridge fans as game starts on Sunday morning, more fans on the way! Banners everywhere!

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