A dual-threat quarterback, Jake Lebovits didn’t get much of an opportunity to run in the preseason, so he wanted to make the most of his chances in the Metuchen High School football team’s opener.
The senior signal caller rushed five times for 107 yards and three touchdowns and was also perfect through the air, completing all five of his passes for 69 yards while leading the Bulldogs to an impressive 42-0 victory over South River at Denny Stadium on Saturday.
“During the preseason, coach didn’t let me run the ball at all, so I definitely wanted to come out and get my chance to run it,” Lebovits said. “Our pass game was also there. The line made good holes, and we executed
South River’s newly installed spread offense was outgained 263 to minus-3 yards in the opening half as the young Rams, who had four freshmen on the field at one time and who also featured many sophomores and juniors starting for the first time, dug themselves a 35-0 halftime hole.
The recent transfer of highly touted two-way lineman Kenny Cross, who left South River to attend perennial state power St. Joseph of Montvale last Monday, impacted the Rams, mostly on defense, where he had been a force in scrimmages as opponents double-teamed the 300-pound freshman, which allowed South River’s linebacker to roam more freely.
“We are going to get better,” South River head coach Rich Marchesi said. “In foresight, I didn’t think it (the final score) was going to be that bad. It opened our eyes a little bit.”
After graduating a couple of key linemen, including Rob Gilman and Tommy Gorman, who is now playing at Bucknell University, Metuchen head coach Bob Ulmer was concerned about how his team would perform in the trenches.
“We weren’t sure how they were going to react to the pressure, but they played well,” Ulmer said. “Some of our young linemen stepped up today.”
The offensive performances of fullback Peter DiMeglio (45-yard touchdown run), tailback Trevor Firgau (63 hard-fought yards and a touchdown on 18 carries) and wideout Shamar Serieux (four receptions for 54 yards) also contributed to the victory.
Staff Writer Greg Tufaro: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We’ve been talking about Shamar for three or four years now, and he’s been waiting for his chance, and he finally got it,” Lebovits said of Serieux, whose importance intensified with the transfer of second-team All-Area receiver Evan Collier to David Brearley earlier this month. “He’s stepping into that No. 1 receiver role real good, and you can’t say anything bad about it.”
Lebovits also praised Firgau, with whom he previously split time at quarterback, for unselfishly making a move for the better of the team.
“First year playing tailback I think in his career,” Lebovits said. “I know it’s a hard switch for him, and he’s doing a great job.”
DiMeglio opened the scoring with a 45-yard touchdown run on the fifth play from scrimmage. After running into a wall of defenders on a fullback dive, DiMeglio bounced outside and ran around left end. With the Rams loading the box on the third-and-2 play, DiMeglio didn’t have many defenders to beat once he approached the second level.
After South River failed to convert a fourth-and-3 from its own 40 — Justin Briggs stuffed quarterback Mario Nigro on a keeper — Lebovits converted a 30-yard pass to Serieux to set up his own 2-yard scoring plunge for a 14-0 advantage.
Lebovits displayed his athleticism early in the second quarter, reversing field on a brilliant 69-yard touchdown run that gave the Bulldogs a 21-0 lead. He scored on a keeper from one yard out six minutes later, padding the cushion to 28-0.
Tight end Devin Miller, who lines up at fullback in Metuchen’s rhino package, scored on a 2-yard plunge with 2:52 left in the opening half for a 35-0 lead. The Bulldogs capitalized on a short field as middle linebacker Jarett Sims intercepted Nigro at the South River 23 to set up Miller’s touchdown.
Firgau closed out the scoring, capping a 60-yard drive with his 9-yard scoring run on the final play of the third quarter.