Annual Holiday Rivalry Clash Between Panthers and Rams Kicks Off BCG Turkey Day Coverage
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ—On Thanksgiving Eve, Big Central Gridiron will travel out to Arminio Field in Roselle to take in the 105th edition of the annual holiday clash between the Rams and Roselle Park. Last year, Roselle defeated Roselle Park 32-14 at Herm Shaw Field. The Rams only led 19-14 at the half, and needed two second half scores to put the Panthers away.
Despite last year’s loss, Roselle Park leads the series that began in 1908, 53-43-8. However, Roselle is closing the gap with 4 wins in the last 5 meetings and 7 out of the last 10. The Panthers are surprisingly much better this season despite the departures last year’s seniors as well as Ted Gregoire (Hudson Catholic), Manny Faxas (Colonia), and William Peay, who is on the other sideline for this year’s contest.
The Panthers enter the contest at 5-5 overall including a 26-22 victory over a 7-3 Spotswood team on the road at the beginning of October. Roselle Park also reached the final of the NJSIAA North Jersey Group 1 Invitational Tournament before losing to top seeded Glen Ridge of Essex County (35-20).
Roselle Park also lost two one score games to Jonathan Dayton (20-14) on September 9th and Middlesex (7-0) on October 7th. Meanwhile, Roselle played in the Patriot Silver Division with the likes of state playoff qualifiers Hillside (9-2), New Providence (5-5), and A.L. Johnson (6-3), and began the season 0-4 including three defeats by a combined total of 12 points.
Since that time, the Rams have rallied with 7 straight victories including wins over Jonathan Dayton (35-0), Bordentown (29-27), and Haddon Heights (40-39) to win the South Jersey Group 2 Invitational Tournament. Roselle was one of five Big Central schools to win NJSIAA Invitational Tournament titles: Plainfield (North Group 5), South Brunswick (South Group 5), Linden (North Group 4), Summit (North Group 3), and Roselle.
Both teams have a common opponent in Jonathan Dayton, which edged the Panthers back in Week 2, and routed by the Rams in the opening round of the South Jersey Group 2 Invitational back on October 27th. Roselle Park has outscored its opponents by a slim margin of 234 to 232, or just by an average of 0.2 points per game. Roselle has outscored its foes 312-190, or by an average of 28 to 17 per contest.
More importantly though, the Rams have outscored their opponents by a margin of 269-107, or an average of 38-15 over their 7 game winning streak. Roselle has been competitive in every game except one, which was a 28-0 loss to Hillside at Woodfield Stadium back in Week 4 on September 17th. Roselle lost its first 4 games to playoff teams including Delaware Valley (20-17) by an average margin of 21-11.
The Panthers, on the other hand, only played two playoff teams in South Hunterdon (42-8) and David Brearley (46-26), and lost to both by an average of 44 to 17 per game. Roselle Park also got off to a rough start with three straight losses, and defeats in 4 of its first 6 games. Since then, RPHS has won 3 of its last 4.
Despite its losses from last season, Roselle Park has still managed to put together a solid running game with four players rushing for over 250 yards this season: Adrian Palacios (100 rushes for 731 yards), Elijah Ignacio (74 carries for 713 yards), Jermaine Hart (46 carries for 522 yards), and Dylan George (16 carries for 263 yards). The four account for 27 of Roselle Park’s 28 rushing TDs.
Roselle has a strong running game as well led by three year varsity player, Emmanuel Lyles, who has rushed for over 1,100 yards (125 carries for 1,159 yards and 15 TDs). Peay has chipped in with 53 carries for 387 yards and 5 TDs. Nafee Finney (41 carries for 448 yards and 6 TDs), and Samir Rivel (31 carries for 301 yards and 5 TDs). The four Rams RBs have combined for almost 2,300 rushing yards and all 31 of Roselle’s rushing TDs.
The Rams also feature a more diversified offense with more success in the passing game. Entering this evening’s contest, Roselle has completed 30 of 46 passes for 476 yards and 6 TDs versus only one INT. Meanwhile, Roselle Park has only completed 8 of 34 passes for just 87 yards. Xavier Padilla can throw and run for the Panthers while Nazir Baker has completed 25 of 39 for 344 yards and 5 TDs versus only one INT.
Roselle has played a much tougher schedule than Roselle Park has this year, and has still managed to have a great deal of success. Despite a 1-3 record in division, and an 0-4 record versus playoff teams, the Rams have a chance to finish the season strong at 8-4. The Rams should be able to do that with a more diversified offense and stronger running and passing games.
Prediction: Roselle wins, 38-7.