Tony McGuane nervously paced the sideline as the run-oriented Dunellen High School football team, not necessarily built to overcome a two-score deficit late in the fourth quarter, moved into field goal range with the clock winding down against Spotswood in Saturday’s Greater Middlesex Conference Blue Division showdown.
“I used to lie awake in bed dreaming about these moments knowing I’m a kicker since I was little,” said McGuane, who Spotswood iced with a timeout prior to his potential game-winning 25-yard attempt with five seconds remaining.
“I was telling everybody on the sideline, ‘Leave me alone. Leave me alone.’ Nobody knows what goes through a kicker’s head. It was great field position left by (the offense). I knew it might come down to (a field goal) and they drove the ball far enough so I was in range.”
McGuane split the uprights, setting off a wild celebration, as the Destroyers, who erased a nine-point deficit with two scores in the final six minutes, rallied for a dramatic 29-28 comeback victory.
“This is a team, this is a family,” McGuane said. “This isn’t about me. I just made the last three points.”
Senior quarterback Casey Wenzel and running back Deon Brown were among several heroes who helped the two-time defending division champions (4-2 overall, 4-0 division) extend their division winning streak to 13 games.
With victories over Cardinal McCarrick and Middlesex in its regular-season finales, Dunellen will become only the second school in league history (Carteret 1996-98) to win three consecutive Blue Division titles.
“That would be a great honor, especially for our kids,” said Dunellen coach Dave DeNapoli, who called Saturday’s win the “most exciting” of his 17 years with the program.
Dunellen graduated 17 seniors and entered this season with just three returning starters. Many believed Spotswood (3-4 overall, 3-2 division) was the favorite to win the division.