Something Has to Give When Owls Play Destroyers at Columbia Park on Thursday Night
DUNELLEN, NJ—Something will have to give on Thursday evening when Highland Park comes to Columbia Park to battle Dunellen in a Big Central Conference Division 1B match-up. Both teams enter the game winless at 0-2. The Destroyers last win was in their season finale against Metuchen (14-3) on November 21st last season. Highland Park’s last win was on Thanksgiving Day 2016 over Metuchen (35-7).
Both teams have had their share of troubles in recent years, but they have persevered and been able to have a team get on the football season this year, which is a huge victory for both schools and their communities. Dunellen has won 3 of the past 5 meetings although the two schools did not play in 2018 and 2020. The Destroyers won those three games by a margin of 130-6 while the Owls won their two games by a score of 96-32.
Each team has been outscored by a margin of 83-6 in their first two games this season. Dunellen, which finished 1-7 in 2020, lost to Roselle Park (35-0) in its season opener on September 3rd and then lost to Manville (48-6) last Friday evening. Both games were played at Columbia Park. Meanwhile, Highland Park lost its season opener to Pingry (49-6) on September 3rd, and then lost to Jonathan Dayton (34-0) at Scotch Plains-Fanwood HS football field last Saturday.
The Owls will be playing their third straight road game while Dunellen will be at Columbia Park for the third straight week. Leading the way for the Destroyers will be RB Nasir Tippett, who is also a basketball standout. Tippett leads Dunellen in rushing with 146 yards on 32 carries, or an average of about 4.6 yards per carry. Tippett has accounted for approximately 76 percent of the Destroyers total rushing yards. Tipett also has the team’s only reception for 30 yards along with 27 tackles including four for loss.
Dunellen is young at QB with the likes of freshman Mousa Eldakroury and sophomore Jacob Manna, who have only combined for 5 pass attempts in the run heavy double wing/single wing offense. Last season, the Destroyers play selection was 95.5% run and 4.5 % pass. Dunellen averaged 101 yards per game rushing, and about 23 yards per game passing. DHS were outscored by an average of 28-8 per game in 2020. Couple of the key players lost to graduation from a year ago were RB Adem Sangiray and QB Anthony DeNapoli.
Sangiray led the Destroyers with 483 yards rushing and 175 yards receiving while scoring 9 touchdowns. He averaged 4.6 yards per carry and 25 yards per catch, or 5.9 yards per touch. Meanwhile, DeNapoli completed 7 of 13 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns. Aiden Sangiray, a sophomore, will try to fill some of the void left by his brother. Amor Johnson, another sophomore, will also contribute to the Destroyers rushing attack.
Veterans such as seniors Brandon Cepeda and Benny Hernandez along with juniors Vincent Brito, Jordan Diaz, and Eric Green, another hoops player, lead the defense. Highland Park is led by senior WR and CB Isaiah Cruz and Jayden Murray and juniors Phillip Wilson (WR/SS) and Luis Flores (WR/SS). Sophomore Jowuam Keyes runs the offense at QB.
Prediction: Dunellen 20—Highland Park 6