In the first round of the playoffs, the Hornets faced a very good Caldwell Chiefs squad last Friday night. Caldwell is a young team that has some play makers so this wasn’t going to be easy for HP. The two teams matched up very well, which made for an exciting game.
The Chiefs drew first blood on their first possession of the game when quarterback Brian Clarkin hit speedster AJ Curtiss on a crossing pattern and ran for 66 yards for the TD. The Hornets had trouble getting anything going on their drive and turned the ball over on downs.
Next possession, the Chiefs drove the ball down to the Hornet 21-yard line. The Hornets were able to stop the Chiefs on third down, making the Chiefs settle for a 21-yard field goal by Anthony Costigan, for the 10-0 score.
Hanover Park was finally able to get some offense going in the 2nd quarter with hard running from Rory Deluca. QB Donato Casolaro found Tomasz Radomski on a 43-yard touchdown pass, making it 10-7.
Caldwell went to the well and pulled out one of the oldest trick plays in the book. Clarkin hit James Miller in the flat, Miller then pitched to AJ Curtis for a 70-yard dash into the endzone. It’s rarely seen today, but the hook and ladder proved to be successful for the Chiefs, catching the Hornets by surprise.
Just before the half, HP’s Rory DeLuca returned the kickoff to the Caldwell 13-yard line. Four plays later, DeLuca punched it in from the 1-yard line for the score. It was 17-14 at the half.
In the second half, things kept going the Chiefs’ way. On the first play, HP fumbled on their own 30-yard line, turning the ball over in Chiefs’ territory. Clarkin then found Curtis in the endzone with a 26-yard pass. The Chiefs’ lead was now 23-14 with 10 minutes left the 3rd quarter.
It appeared the Hornets had no answer for the speedy Caldwell passing game. But, a heavy dose of DeLuca and Casolaro on the ground, paved by Anthony Otto and company up front, and HP started turning things around. HP scored on a long sustained drive in which Casolaro scampered in for a 3-yard TD run making it 23-21.
HP’s defense played stingy with Michael Centanni making huge stops and an interception. After that it was Erick Magnifico and Sean Conley making key stops. The Hornets were able to go ahead for good, at 34-29, with Casolaro’s nifty running and great blocking up front. It was a strong team win against a very dynamic Caldwell team. Caldwell is going to be a team to watch as these fast young players develop into upperclassmen.
Hanover Park meets Rutherford this Friday night at 7:00 pm at Rutherford. If the Hornets stay focused and play the way they are capable of playing, they control their own destiny.