WESTFIELD – There isn’t much that eluded Westfield as it rang up victories in its first six outings this fall.
But after holding four of those opponents to single digits and yielding a measly total of 48 points overall, the defense still had one major goal to pursue.
“Every day in practice we break ourselves down (saying) ‘shutout, shutout,’ ” said junior linebacker Nicholas Maher, who contributed two of Westfield’s four, first-half sacks. “It was obviously something that we wanted for a long time. It’s been kind of a driving theme behind our defensive mentality and something we’ve used to motivate ourselves.”
Westfield finally got that shutout yesterday as it dealt Watchung Hills a 40-0 setback to improve to 7-0 behind four touchdown runs by Jack Curry. Curry, who entered averaging more than 150 rushing yards per game, ran 19 times for 90 yards before leaving the field for good midway through the third quarter.
Mike Moriarty delivered field goals of 24 and 37 yards and Matt Varano added a 1-yard touchdown run to conclude the scoring and trigger a running clock under the mercy rule with 10:40 remaining in the contest.
But this one was about the defense, which did not allow Watchung Hills to record a first down until after Varano’s fourth-quarter touchdown. The Warriors did not cross midfield until its final possession of the contest, spurred by that initial first down.
“Our kids really stepped up. They’ve been playing well all year and they’re hungry and they got after it today,” Westfield coach Jim DeSarno said. “We got a good rush and we also covered well so, when they had a little bit of time, we did a nice job of covering. It was really a total team effort.”
Westfield held Watchung Hills to minus-42 yards rushing, 29 of which came on a bad snap on a punt. Even if you omit that play, the Warriors were still in the red on the ground.
“We had so many mental breakdowns, this is the worst football game we’ve played all year,” Watchung Hills coach Michael Katz said. “We didn’t do a good job in all facets ofd the game.”
Watchung Hills’ Mark Ball, who entered the contest having completed 113 of 225 passes for 1,817 yards and 18 touchdowns, managed to connect on just three of eight passes for 14 yards yesterday. Ball was injured while drawing a roughing the kicker penalty on a punt on the Warriors’ first possession, returned to the game later in the first quarter, and was mercifully pulled after taking a couple of hard shots early in the third quarter.
About the only intrigue in the contest was who would play quarterback for Westfield as DeSarno continued alternating at the position. Phillip Martini, who completed his first seven passes and led Westfield to scores on each of his five, first-half series, finished completing nine of 16 passes for 131 yards.
WATCHUNG HILLS (2-6) 0-0-0-0—0
WESTFIELD (7-0) 14-12-7-7—40
W – Curry 7 run (Moriarty kick)
W – Curry 4 run (Moriarty kick)
W – Curry 17 run (kick failed)
W – Moriarty 24 FG
W – Moriarty 37 FG
W – Curry 8 run (Moriarty kick)
W – M. Varano 1 run (Moriarty kick)
Rushing — WH: Beyah 4-11, Seawright 3-9, Thorne 1-4, Smith 8-minus 3, Ball 6-minus 63; W: Curry 19-90, M. Varano 12-68, House 2-3, DiBella 1-1, Kelly 3-1.
Passing —WH: Ball 3-8-0-14, Smith 2-5-0-9; W: Martini 9-16-0-131, Kelly 1-4-0-7.
Receiving —WH: Clark 1-10, Ugarte 1-9, Beyah 1-3, Seawright 1-2, Pezuti 1-minus 1; W: Shirk 4-74, Boutsikaris 2-41, C. Varano 1-14, Pierre 2-10, M. Varano 1-minus 1.