BCG Game Preview—Ridge @ Westfield—October 23, 2021

It’s A Battle of Devils as Ridge Visits Westfield in a Saturday Afternoon BCC Division 5 Crossover

WESTFIELD, NJ—On Saturday, Big Central Gridiron will wrap up its Week 8 varsity football coverage with a trip over to Kehler Stadium in Westfield to see the Blue Devils host the Red Devils of Ridge in a Big Central Conference Division 5 Crossover contest.  Both teams will be looking to get a win as Westfield is striving to get its second straight win and move over .500 while Ridge will be trying to rebound from its Week 7 loss to Phillipsburg.

Ridge, currently ranked 7th in the latest Big Central Gridiron Top 10, and 4th in the latest BCG Somerset County Top 10 is currently 4-2 with losses to Hillsborough (42-14) and Phillipsburg (20-13).  The Red Devils are also presently ranked 12th behind Colonia in the North Jersey Group 4 Super Section.   Ridge has Westfield and Elizabeth, both from BCC Division 5A left on its schedule.

Meanwhile, Westfield, which still has a Division 5A game left with Plainfield on Thanksgiving, also has Ridge this week, and another BCC Division 5B team, Phillipsburg next week prior to the state cutoff.  The Blue Devils, which defeated division rival Elizabeth (28-7) a week ago, is presently ranked 8th in Union County, and 8th in the North Jersey Group 5 Super Section behind Phillipsburg.

Entering Saturday afternoon’s contest at Westfield, Ridge has outscored its opponents by a margin of 159-95 overall, or by an average of about 27 to 16 per contest.  Meanwhile, Westfield has been outscored by its opponents by a slim margin of 102-98, or by an average of only 17 to 16 per contest.  Westfield has competed well against the likes of Union (lost 14-3) and Hillsborough (lost 28-7).

The Blue Devils have also lost on the road at Linden (20-14) and rallied from behind to defeat Watchung Hills in Warren on September 17th (16-13) following a season opening victory over St. Joseph’s (31-20). Ridge has defeated Franklin (45-7), Bridgewater-Raritan (24-0), Hunterdon Central (49-20), and Watchung Hills (14-6).  Three of those four victories have come on the road away from the friendly confines of Lee Field.

Westfield is 2-1 at home while going 1-2 away.  Both teams have played Hillsborough and lost, and Watchung Hills, and won.  Hillsborough, ranked atop of the latest Big Central Gridiron Top 10, BCG Somerset County Top 10, and is ranked first in the South Jersey Group 5 Super Section is currently 7-0.  Watchung Hills won its first game last week over Monroe (42-14), but its six losses have come by a combined 34 points.

With both playing previously in the Mid-State 38 prior to the formation of the Big Central, Ridge and Westfield are not completely unfamiliar with each other.  Prior to 2010, these two schools only played each other once.  The only meeting occurred in the 2008 state playoffs with Red Devils defeating the Blue Devils, 49-13.  However, the two teams played each other six times from 2013 to 2017 with Westfield winning 5 of the 6.

The last year the two teams played each other in 2017, Ridge and Westfield played each other twice.  First in the regular season at Ridge, and the second time in the state playoffs at Kehler Stadium.  The Blue Devils won both.  Westfield, which leads the all time series, 5-2, has outscored Ridge by a margin of 161-100 over those last six contests, and by a margin of 174-149 over the course of the seven game series, or by an average of about 25 to 21.  The two schools are 1-1 against each other all time in the state playoffs.

Playing only two games a season ago, Westfield is rebuilding somewhat with a relatively young squad coming into this season.  The Blue Devils are led at QB by junior Trey Brown, who has completed 64 of 129 passes for 702 yards, and 5 TDs while throwing three interceptions.  Brown has also rushed 40 times for 195 yards while teammate Justin Colby leads the ground attack with 342 yards and 4 TDs on 90 carries.

Colby has also caught 7 passes for another 59 yards and one more score, and is averaging a little over 4.1 yards per touch.  Senior wideout, Trey Constantinou leads the team in receiving with 22 receptions for 259 yards and a TD, or about 11.8 yards per catch.  Paul Cerro, also a junior, is another key target in the passing game with 12 catches for 101 yards.  Another contributor to the rushing attack is junior Dylan Wragg, who has rushed 26 times for 120 yards and two scores.

Wragg, who has also caught two passes for 33 yards and a TD, kicked Westfield’s only field goal this year, a 35 yd attempt against Watchung Hills.  Teammate Henry Hipschman has converted all five of his extra point attempts.  Junior Daniel Hanlon leads the defense with 11 total tackles including a sack along with a fumble recovery.  Jack O’Connor is second on the team with 8.

Meanwhile, Ridge is led by senior QB, Mike Olivo, who proved in the Red Devils season opening win over Franklin, that he can beat you with his arm and his legs.  He also returns punts, which is kind of rare for a high school quarterback.  So far this season, Olivo has completed 45 of 73 passes for 742 yards and 7 TDs while throwing five interceptions.

Olivo also leads the Red Devils in rushing with 72 carries for 561 yards.  Senior Lucas Hudkins is the second highest contributor to Ridge’s running game with 63 carries for 312 yards and 3 TDs.  Hudkins also has helped out the passing attack with 8 catches for 65 yards while junior Patrick McCaffrey leads the team in receiving with 8 catches for 204 yards and 3 TDs, or about 25.5 yards per catch.

Senior Harry Hagerman leads Ridge in receptions with 9 for a total of 173 yards and 2 TDs, or an average of 19.2 yards per catch.  Hagerman has also rushed 5 times for 29 yards.  Junior Adam Meiner is another target through the air with 7 receptions for 127 yards, or about 18.1.yards per catch.  Matthew Lusardi leads the team in total tackles with 43 including 15 solos, 2 for loss, and a sack.

Jack Santonastaso ranks 2nd on the team in total tackles with 38 including 13 solos while Dylan Sweeney is right behind with 35 total tackles.  Olivo has 31 total tackles including a team high 24 solos.  On special teams, Meiner (6 kickoff returns for 121 yards including a long of 65 yards) and Will Deady (5 kickoff returns for 58 yards including a long of 36 yards) can break one on kickoffs while Olivo has returned 7 punts for 29 yards.

Placekicker Asgrimur Gudmundsson has made 2 of 3 field goal attempts including one in the season opener versus Franklin, and has been successful on all 21 of his extra point attempts.  Another player to watch for on special teams is senior Gavin Turner, who blocked two punts versus Franklin and ran one of them back 45 yards for a score.

Expect this game to be a fairly close and competitive one.  Both teams are very tough on defense, and have the ability to stay close in games.  However, Ridge has more in the way of experience, and is more capable of making the big play, which should give it a slight edge in this contest.

Prediction:  Ridge wins 24-14.