Homecoming thriller almost leads to division title

Jack Markowski, The Delphi Editor

Friday night’s Homecoming Game turned out to be closer than most expected.

In a bout between division rivals for the division title, expectations were low for Del Val coming into the game against the Hillside Comets. Hillside had a 6-0 record going in and were ranked #9 by nj.com, while Del Val, sporting a strong 4-1 record, was coming off of a lopsided defeat at the hands of Bernards. Combine their record with the fact that the Comets had scored fewer than 34 points only once and had only allowed another team to score 14 points in their 6 games, and it was clear that the Terriers were heavy underdogs going into the game.

The game started out as a defensive battle, as neither team allowed any points during the 1st quarter. Hillside opened the scoring early in the 2nd quarter when RB James Louis rushed for a 19-yard touchdown, but the Comets missed the PAT as it was blocked by Del Val. Going into the half, Del Val capped off an impressive long drive against the stingy Hillside defense with a 5-yard touchdown run by QB Tylor Blake. Justin Carney converted the PAT to make it a 7-6 game in favor of Del Val, and that score held at halftime.

An upset of one of the state’s best teams seemed increasingly possible for the Terriers, but Hillside came out firing at the start of the second half to stop those talks. An 82-yard kick return for a touchdown by James Westry was followed by a successful 2-point conversion to give Hillside a 14-7 lead, while the Terriers offense had no answers for the Comets’ defense.

The score was pushed to 20-7 late in the 3rd quarter as a 10-yard passing TD from Nantes Biggins to Jason Moore was set up by a long kick return into Del Val territory, which was followed by another unsuccessful PAT attempt. On its next defensive possession, Del Val shut down Hillside and stayed in the game when Tylor Blake ran for another touchdown, followed by another successful PAT from Justin Carney.

The Terriers were able to stop Hillside late in the 4th quarter to get the ball back and have another shot at scoring, providing Del Val the chance of completing one of the biggest upsets of the year in NJ high school football. However, the offense couldn’t find the end zone, and Hillside eventually ran the clock out, completing a nail-biting victory and staving off the upset-hungry Terriers to clinch the division title.

All in all, it was a great game for Del Val, and the team showed a lot of promise against an annual powerhouse. The Terriers will look to keep up their good play from Friday against North Plainfield at home this Friday for Senior Night before traveling to Governor Livingston to cap off the regular season.