No-Huddle Hilltoppers Peaking at the Right Time
SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – Coming into the 2023 season, the Summit Hilltoppers had not been the same dominant program at the Group 3 level that it had been in the past. Over the previous three seasons, Summit had only compiled an overall mark of 13-13 including a record of just 7-6 in BCC divisional play. However, in 2023, Summit is surging towards the playoffs. The No-Huddle Hilltoppers are peaking at the right time with four straight wins going into Saturday afternoon’s match-up at St. Joseph’s.
The last time Summit played this well was in the 2019 season. In Summit’s last year in the Mid-State 38, it ended up in a three-way tie with Somerville and Rahway at 5-1 in the Mountain Division. The Hilltoppers finished 6-3 overall that season. These Hilltoppers could be even better this year. Entering into Week 8, Summit is 6-1 overall on the season. The only loss suffered by the Hilltoppers was a Week 3 defeat at home to St. Thomas Aquinas (44-20).
In its previous seven games, the Hilltoppers have outscored their opponents by a margin of 289-161, or by an average of 41-23 per contest. Summit has scored at least 40 points in five of its games this season. The Hilltoppers scored a season-high 64 points in its win at Colonia a week ago. Summit even scored 20 points (a season low) against an Aquinas team that has recorded five shutouts and allowed no more than a touchdown in 7 of its 8 wins this season.
The key to its success has been the combination of a no-huddle fast-paced offense and a running game that provides body blows to its opposing defenses. Summit has accumulated nearly 2,100 yards on the ground or approximately 7.6 yards per rush. The Hilltoppers rushing attack accounts for 70 percent of its yardage and 65 percent of its scoring.
Leading the way for the Hilltoppers offense is senior RB, Carter Shallcross. Through the first 7 games, Shallcross has already rushed for over 1,000 yards to lead the team. Shallcross has garnered 1,030 yards on 131 carries, or about 7.9 yards per rush. Shallcross has also caught 5 passes for 190 yards. Between his rushing and receiving, Shallcross has 14 TDs and a two-point conversion this season.
Directing the offense is sophomore QB, Cole Sabol. In Summit’s seven games, Sabol has completed 33 of 63 passes for 889 yards and 12 TDs versus only 2 interceptions. Sabol has also rushed 25 times for another 72 yards and 5 TDs. Summit’s ground game also has a solid supporting cast in Ryan Schnall, Henrique Giucardi, and Shane Walsh. Schnall has rushed 64 times for 366 yards and 5 TDs. He has also caught a pass for 16 yards. Giucardi has chipped in with 320 yards and 2 TDs on 28 carries while catching 3 passes for another 46 yards.
Walsh has rushed 28 times for 310 yards and 3 TDs and also caught 2 passes for 55 yards and another two scores. Senior Jake Procaccini is Summit’s leading receiver with 13 receptions for 419 yards or an average of 32.2 yards per catch along with 6 TDs. Walsh is also a contributor on defense with 22 total tackles including 6 solos, 3 for loss, and a sack. Senior Tyler Kessel is the Hilltoppers leading tackler on defense with 97 total tackles. Kessel also leads the team with 41 solo tackles and 11 tackles for loss.
Charles Treger leads Summit with 3 sacks while junior Oscar Marx has the most interceptions with 4 on the season, and is 2nd on the team with 9 tackles for loss. Another key to Summit’s success has been its kicking game. Senior Seamus Browne does the punting and placekicking for the Hilltoppers. Browne has converted 7 of 8 field goal attempts including a season long of 42 yards in a victory over Rahway while converting 32 of 34 extra point attempts.
Summit still has a difficult task before it can move on to the playoffs. The seventh-ranked Hilltoppers travel to Brenner Family Field in Metuchen to take on 9th ranked St. Joseph’s in a Big Central Conference football crossover contest. The Falcons are coming off a solid road win at now 10th-ranked Watchung Hills at Tozier Stadium in Warren last Friday night. St. Joseph’s competes in the very competitive BCC American Gold Division, which consists of the likes of Union, Westfield, Somerville, and Elizabeth.