Warriors Host Colonials in NJSIAA Regional Crossover on Wednesday Evening
WARREN, NJ—On Wednesday evening, Big Central Gridiron is taking a trip up to Watchung Hills Regional High School to see the Warriors in action against the Morristown Colonials in an NJSIAA Regional Crossover contest. Both teams enter the contest at 1-8, but Morristown hasn’t won since September 11th, and has lost seven straight while Watchung Hills has lost two straight following its first win of the season on October 15th.
In addition, the Warriors have been outscored by a margin of just 48 points in seven of those eight losses. The only game that Watchung Hills wasn’t that competitive was a 42-7 defeat at the hands of 2nd ranked Union in Union Township on October 22nd. The Warriors lost at Edison last Friday afternoon by a score of 21-7.
On the other hand, Morristown has been outscored by a margin of 205 points in its 8 losses. The only two defeats where the Colonials were somewhat competitive in was a 24-13 loss at Chatham on October 16th, and a 14-0 loss at Mendham last week. The average margin of defeat in Morristown’s other 6 losses is 30 points per contest.
Watchung Hills comes into tonight’s action with a Strength Index of 63.41 and an OSI of 36.96 for a UPR 19.6 to rank 20th in the North Jersey Group 5 Super Section. Meanwhile, Morristown, which has a Strength Index of 42.55, is ranked 25th with an OSI of 30.92, and a UPR of 24. While the Warriors has played 7 of its 9 games against Group 5 schools, Morristown’s schedule has only included one Group 5 opponent.
Both teams had very different seasons in last year’s COVID-19 abbreviated schedule. Morristown only played three games, and finished 0-3 while Watchung Hills competed in 7 contests, and ended up 5-2. These two teams have never played each other before. Upon taking the head coaching position at Watchung Hills in 2016, Rich Seubert was the third different head coach in as many seasons, but he has stayed on, and stabilized the program.
The superb season in 2020 completed a rapid turnaround by the Warriors over a three year span. In 2018, Watchung Hills was 0-10. Then, in 2019, the Warriors improved to .500 at 5-5 before winning 5 of its 7 games in 2020. This season has been a struggle for the Warriors, who hoped to be more competitive, but key injuries on top of critical losses to graduation, have left them looking to salvage only its 2nd win of the season tonight.
So far this season, Watchung Hills has been outscored by a margin of 193 to 139, or by an average of just 21 to 10 per game. Meanwhile, Morristown has been outscored 264-66 overall, or by an average of 29 to 7 per contest. Entering tonight, Watchung Hills has compiled 423 yards in the air, and 529 on the ground for a total of 952 yards, or about 106 total yards per game.
Senior Andrew Scopel, who had been dealing with an injured thumb earlier this season, has completed 12 of 41 passes for 161 yards and a TD while Junior Dylan Kelly has filled in to complete 11 of 23 passes for 142 yards and a TD. Sophomore David Dubas has rushed 42 times for 192 yards and a TD while junior Nirio Garcia has rushed 23 times for 118 yards and Chris Baker has rushed 28 times for 114 yards and a TD.
Senior wideout Brian Hayward leads the Warriors in receiving with 10 receptions for 157 yards, or an average of 15.7 yards per catch. Junior Riley McCann ranks third on the team in receptions with 3 and second in receiving yards with 87, but has three of the Warriors four TD catches. Joey Bechtle ranks second in receptions with 4 for 44 yards while Mead Briggs has the other TD reception of 35 yards.
Bjorn Golden leads Watchung Hills in solo tackles with 44 including 5 for loss and 2 sacks. Golden, Sean Krug, and junior David Labib share the team’s lead in sacks with two. Labib ranks 2nd in solo tackles with 41 including six for loss while fellow classmate, Joe Vecchio ranks 3rd on the Warriors with 38 solo tackles including three for loss.
McCann, who has 32 solo tackles including one for loss, and a sack, also handles the kicking chores for the Warriors. He has made 3 of his 4 field goal attempts including a season long of 35 in a 13-11 loss at home versus Elizabeth, and converted 7 of 9 extra point attempts. Dubas leads the team in kickoff return yards with 131 on four attempts including a long of 66 yards while Hayward is 2nd with 109 yards in 6 attempts including a long of 41 yards.
Leading Morristown’s rushing attack is Finn Rodgers, who rushed 17 times for 130 yards in the Colonials only victory over Xaverian (14-7) on September 11th. In addition, Rodgers also returned a fumble 27 yards for a TD in the win. Junior Zion Baitey is another contributor to the Motown ground game with 34 yards in the loss to Columbia (27-7) on September 3rd. QB Will Galligan had a TD run in the win over Xaverian while completing 3 of 9 passes for 20 yards in the opening week loss to Columbia.
Prediction: Watchung Hills wins, 28-7.