This week, Immaculata was slotted ahead into the No. 18 spot in the NJ.com Top 20. But Friday night, away at Somerville, Ridge delivered a punch into the belly of the Immaculata Spartans that will be felt around the county and Group 5.
Ridge came out swinging, ending the evening by outscoring the Spartans 31-7. The team secured a 17-0 lead in the first quarter that was frozen until an active fourth quarter.
Ridge now has opened its the season with a 2-0 record, after last week's shutout against Montgomery High School.
Ridge takes early lead
Ridge opened up the scoring with a solid drive culminating with an 11-yard run by Nick Franzese.
Friday's leader may have been Conor Hughes (No. 10). Hughes ran the offense, kicked a field goal and 4 extra points, and scored an touchdown on an interception. On one of his kickoffs, the ball went flying through the uprights at the other end of the field.
On the next series following Franzese's early touchdown — which uplifted Ridge fans' spirits — Hughes followed up by scoring on a 34-yard field goal.
Liam Derkasch would add an 11-yard run to complete the Red Devil scoring in the first half.
Ridge's suffocating defense shut down Immaculata's offense and their newly cleared quarterback, I'zjaier Saunders, who had been prevented from playing the Spartans season opening. Terrific play from the linebacker corps and defensive line halted Immaculata from getting anything, and the Spartans were held scoreless until the fourth quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Ridge put on the finishing touches with an outstanding 54 yard touchdown run by Derkasch. A final blow came when Hughes carried in a 42 -yard interception for a touchdown.
"Coming off the win last week and coming here beating 'Lata, it's great," said Liam Derkasch. "'Lata has always been a great team and beating them 31-7 says a lot about our team."
"They are a great team and they gave us a tough time tonight," said Ridge's Thomas Chiriaco. "Even with the 17-0 lead at the half, we knew we had to be relentless to win tonight. The team, our line, everyone played outstanding. There was no doubt in our minds that we could do it."
"This is a great group of kids and they have been playing together for a long time," Ridge head coach Bill Tracy said of this year's Red Devils. "They really wanted this game. They had a tremendous week of practice. They always get up for Immaculata.
"To their credit, down 17-0, Immaculata really fought back hard — as we knew they would. This was a great game and I am really proud of our kids," Tracy added. "They went through a lot two years ago when we had a really hard season and last year and this year, they are really putting the wheels back on."
"Quite frankly, I am not surprised," said Connor Stieglitz. "Everyone all week was just focused. It is such a great feeling, there is nothing better."
"We practiced it all week and the coaches prepared us extremely well," said Conor Hughes. "It is a rivalry game and we were lucky enough to come up on top two years in a row."