2021 Football fairy tale season ends in semi-final

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Photo Courtesy of Bernards Football

Freshman Ari Rosen (78) leads team onto field

The football team had an impressive season with a record of 8-3. Winning the first round of the playoffs against Bound Brook 28-27 on Friday November 5th, and advancing to the next round they showed just how much they wanted to win. Touchdowns were made by Juniors Enzo Britez and Nicky Kouflie, and Sophomores Connor Laverty and Chris Dietrich.

When asked how he felt after getting the touchdown, Nicky shared, “I felt excited and pumped up in the moment, but I also knew I needed to keep working the next drive because it was still a close game.” This game also marked Kouflie’s fourth touchdown of the season. Enzo explained what he hopes to see in the next round of the playoffs, “I want to see improvement. Round 1 certainly wasn’t our best game, and this whole week’s focus had been about getting better, and putting the work in each day. ”

The next round of the playoffs were against Haddonfield High School, who had a record of 8-2. It was a close game, with touchdowns from Kouflie and Laverty. The game ended with a final score of 24-14. For many members of the team each game is bittersweet. As they entered each round of the playoffs, knowing it may be their last game of the season, and of their highschool career.

When asked what was the biggest accomplishment of their high school careers, Jack Romano shared, “My biggest accomplishment over my high school football career was winning The Heart Of a Giant award.” Walsh added, “My biggest accomplishment was being named captain and being able to play multiple positions.”

This year’s team had twelve seniors: Tyler Austin, Brady Walsh, Aidan Brown, Jack Yates, Michael Leanza, Carson Ruggia, Max Malin, Nick Paterno, Jack Romano, Andrew Johnson, John Perling, and Don Heppes. I asked what the highlight of the season was for them.

Ruggia said, “The highlight of the season was beating Hillside. It felt great to have the team bond and the collective spirit to win a game like that.” They played Hillside at Rutgers Stadium, and for many it was an important win. Not only was it the first win of the season, but it was also the first win Bernards had against Hillside in over five years.

Heppes agreed, “Hanging out with my friends and beating Hillside was the highlight of the season.” Bernards won 14-7 against Hillside with touchdowns from Senior Brady Walsh, and Sophomore Chris Dietrich.

Another important game this season was on October 15th, against Voorhees. Bernards won 33-0, with touchdowns from Leanza, Jake Caldwell, and two from Brown. Not only was this a great win for the football team it was also the Homecoming Game.

This game maked 1,000 yards rushing for Leanza. He shared, “My biggest accomplishment by far was rushing for over 1,000 yards this season. My sophomore year I really did[n’t] rush for many yards, and in my junior year I only ran for a little over 500. To reach 1,000 yards on the season this year was something I had set out to accomplish as a freshman and is for sure the biggest milestone of my career.”

Brown also had an impressive season, with 11 touchdowns. Reflecting back on his high school career, he explained, “My favorite memory over the 4 years has to be my sophomore year in my first summer practice with the team catching a ball over my friend Patrick Caldwell, who at the time was the returning starting cornerback and a year older than me. This is not my favorite memory because of the “catch,” it is my favorite memory because once I got up, I heard my nickname for the first time. That was the day the upperclassmen started to call me ‘AB.'”