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Bergen Catholic captures first state title since 2004

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Bergen Catholic head coach Nunzio Campanile said after his team captured the Non-Public, Group 4 sectional title, “We came here to win and that was the message our guys know and why we play.”

Faced with a fourth and one at their own 39 on the Crusaders (10-2) first possession of the game against Saint Peter’s Prep (9-3), Campanile kept his offense on the field. The gamble worked out perfectly as quarterback Johnny Langan gained three yards on the keeper to extend the drive.

“Our kids would have looked at me and said what are you talking about and why wouldn’t we go for it,” explained Campanile. “Set the tone for the game and finished a phenomenal drive and stayed after them and put the pedal to the medal the whole time. The best game we played in eight years since I’ve been here and brought it on every down.”

Langan directed an impressive 12-play 70-yard drive that consumed 5:02 of the clock with Langan capped it off with a five-yard score. Bergen Catholic’s defense quickly forced out but more importantly a 15-yard punt gave the Crusaders excellent starting field position at the Marauders 26.

Campanile did not hesitate again on a fourth and eight play, Langan plowed ahead for 11 yards. Employing a bag of tricks, on a second down play Langan completed a pass to Dylan Classi who in return pitched the ball to Rahmir Johnson for the 14-yard touchdown with 3:33 remaining

Saint Peter’s Prep could never get on track in the game, after a 20-yard field goal by Michael Kearney that extended Bergen Catholic’s lead to 20-0 with 9:18 to go in the second quarter, Ayir Asante fumbled the ball away on the ensuing kickoff return as Isaiah Givens recovered the ball at the 33. Six plays later Langan scored his second rushing touchdown of the game by extending the ball across the goal line.

“The last three or four games he has been off the charts and he put the team on his back and that’s what players and leaders do,” Campanile said of Langan. “I told the team there is nobody else I want leading our team more than him and so proud of him and look forward to following his college career. The offensive line was so physical and they have a tremendous defensive line and out guys got after them and able to get Johnny, Rahmir  (Johnson) and Josh (McKenzie) at the next level.”

The Marauders finally got some momentum going driving deep into Crusaders territory but the defense put the clamps down coming up with fourth down stops. Shayne Butler breaking up a pass in the end zone and defensive lineman Jevontae Jean-Baptiste rocking quarterback Massai Maynor as John High recovered the ball.

“Our defense played so hard, getting off blocks and in the backfield and disrupting things all day and a lot of hits on the QB and they struggled to run the ball. We got some good players in Baptiste, DiCosmo and Anthony Corbin played phenomenal again.”

With 1:09 left, instead of sitting on the ball, the Crusaders swiftly moved down the field aided by pass interference call. After Langan hit Garrett Cody for 17 yards, Langan connected on a 5-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Devera in the back of the end zone with three seconds remaining as Bergen Catholic took a commanding 31-0 lead at halftime. Langan finished the game rushing 15 times for 92 yards and completing 10 of 15 passes for 108 yards.

“A great feeling to come out here and hand it to them because they beat us freshman year in the playoffs. The offensive line are a great group of guys and love them to death and stepped up for me in this game and knew they would. Every time I stepped on the field I felt no one else is going to tackle me and brought that attitude.”

“Every person left it on the field tonight and ever since I was a little boy my dad told me how he won a state championship at Bergen and just wanted to bring the same thing the way he did and awesome to fall behind him and one of my own.”

In the second half, Bergen Catholic kept up the relentless attack with Anthony Corbin racing to the house on a 55-yard fake punt run. With a running clock the only issue remaining would be a Crusades shutout victory but Massai Maynor scored on a three-yard touchdown run with less than five minutes making it 44-7.

“I feel awesome and so happy for our kids and worked so hard for this opportunity and really proud of them and how they came out and performed when they got here and certainly did,” said Campanile. “It’s hard to win championships and don’t take it for granted. We play a lot of tough games, won and lost a lot and that’s why you play the big ones. We played our best game in the most important and what it’s about and building towards that in December.

Everyone knows in this state how good the brand of football is and to go through every game that we won in New Jersey and beat the next best team in the state twice is a heck of an accomplishment for our kids.”

On bringing 17th state title in school history to the town of Oradell, “It means everything to bring it back, to our alumni and our school.”

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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