To hear a detailed account of Westfield’s strengths is to also hear what drives unbeaten and top-ranked Hunterdon Central.
Mirror images? Not exactly, but a near identical split on a reliance on the pass and rush with sound senior quarterbacks directing and durable backs taking their handoffs. Sound special teams with solid punters and kickers is also a strong part for both.
Westfield (2-1) hopes to make up for what it missed last Friday night in Phillipsburg – a conquest of a perennial Mid-State 38 Delaware Division power. Hunterdon Central (3-0) wants to continue to build on what’s become a dominant season, something it wasn’t able to complete last season when it started 0-3 on its way to a 5-5 campaign.
Game time at Stewart Field is 7 p.m.
Central’s 2012 rebound began with the throttling of the Blue Devils in Westfield. The team it faces tonight, however, are a total contrast of the team it beat 49-14 with Jason Cabinda running for 196 yards and four touchdowns. Most of the Westfield starters who suffered, but learned valuable lessons during the rocky trail to a forgettable 2-8 season have returned. The team’s strength is its platooned defensive line of seniors Chris Sweeney, Joe Scaglione, Thomas Anderson and junior Cotter Spurlock, wide receivers receivers and brothers Sean and Dylan Elliott and tight end David Kane with quarterback Chris Hogge showing to be an accurate passer with senior Eugene Rawles a durable back.
“No. 7 (Hogge) has a great presence in the pocket,” Perotti said.
Central’s all-senior interior offensive line of Seth Meade, Richard Yard, Justin Meilinger, Jake Trechock and Trevor Gabel will have a good test. Senior wideout Ryan Dunleavy is quarterback Mike Knight’s top target, but junior tight end Brian Meilinger and wideouts Max Miller and Walt Wyncoop have become prominent.
“They have pretty much everything,” said Westfield coach Jim DeSarno.
Cabinda, Caleb Blickenderfer, nose tackle Nestor Crespo and Dunleavy in the secondary are the leaders of a very deep defense.
“If there is a key to the game it is, as always, up front,” said Central coach Matt Perotti, whose team eliminated Westfield from the North 2 IV playoffs.
Plaudits are the only words opposing coaches use when referencing Westfield these days with coach speak always being part of it.
“It’s tough to find a weakness,” said Perotti, who leaned against the fence at Kehler Stadium Sept. 20 to witness Westfield’s 29-8 dismantling of Hillsborough.
Of course, DeSarno holds a similar opinion of Central. He has seen enough of Cabinda, Knight, kicker Stephen Barr and a swarm of defenders.
“They just keep coming at you,” DeSarno said.