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Charles DePrima leads Ramapo to 21st straight win

After exiting last week’s game at the end of the first half with a knee injury against Wayne Hills, Ramapo (8-0) junior quarterback Charles DePrima said a little soreness was not going to prevent him from playing vs. Pascack Valley (6-2) on Friday night. There would be a lot on the line for the Raiders; a 20-game winning streak and senior night with 17 players playing their final home regular season game.

Two senior players made an immediate impact in the first quarter for Ramapo. Shane Campbell blocked a punt and Ryan O’Connor recovered the ball at the Indians 21-yard line. On third and seven at the 18, DePrima threw a short screen pass to junior running back Rich Sica who did the rest by sprinting towards the end zone for the score with seven minutes remaining.

“Shane has done an outstanding job as a wide receiver and on special teams this year and we’re really fortunate to have him,” said Ramapo Head Coach Drew Gibbs. “He has a number of big returns this year and that blocked punt was outstanding.”

However, Pascack Valley responded on their ensuing drive stringing together a 11-play 73-yard drive that chewed up almost six minutes of the clock capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run from running back Jake Williams who entered the game with 862 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns. 

Displaying his lightening speed, Campbell returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Indians 30-yard line. Flashing quick strike ability it took DePrima just four plays to throw his second passing score of the night, connecting on a 18-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver John Skead early into the second quarter. The back and forth heavyweight duel continued as Pascack Valley’s offense marched down the field in 12-plays, 80 yards and eating up almost six and half minutes of the clock. With Williams gaining chunks of yardage on the ground he finished off the impressive drive plowing ahead for his second touchdown of the night, a two-yard score with five and half minutes left. 

Backed up their own 10-yard line on the following possession did not affect DePrima and rest of the Raiders offense. Moving the ball swiftly down the field through the air, DePrima engineered a nine-play 90-yard drive ending up by launching a 32-yard pass to wide receiver Sean Clapp leaping into the air to snag the ball for the score with just about two and half minutes on the clock. 

After forcing the Indians offense into a quick three and out, the Raiders got the ball back with over a minute in change left that proved to be ample time for DePrima. Welcoming teammate senior running back Jake Tirone to the lineup after missing the last couple of games due to an injury, DePrima tossed a screen pass to Tirone who did the rest from there scampering 35 yards down to Pascack Valley 24. 

In rhythm with the passing game, DePrima found Clapp for 15 more yards setting up a first and goal at the six. On second down, DePrima took upon himself eluding several defenders before stretching the ball across the goal line for the score with 22 seconds remaining. In the first half, DePrima completed 9 of 11 passes for 176 yards. 

“The coaches had a great game plan this week and just executed what I was told do so,” said Charles DePrima. “Right before the first half it was huge that we scored. Jake is an absolute beast, he is our whole team intensity and a great player to have and I love playing with him and could not have asked for better teammate. The receivers are always doing their job and know where they are going to be and practice the routes all the time.”

With the Indians receiving the second kickoff, wide receiver Andrew Martinez provided a highlight reel moment returning the ball 55 yards. A personal foul assessed against Ramapo advanced the ball down to the 22. With it appearing the Raiders defense had stopped Pascack Valley offense on a fourth and six at the 10-yard line but a pass interference call set up a fourth and two situation but the Ramapo defense came up a momentum shifting goal stop on a Williams run. 

A holding penalty called on the Indians defense allowed the Raiders to continue their offensive possession. DePrima took advantage of the opportunity presented launching a 74-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the seam to John Skead, the second time the pair had connected on a scoring pass and extending the margin to 35-14 with eight minutes left. 

The Ramapo defense continued to be relentless forcing the Pascack Valley offense into two additional turnover on downs. After gaining 68 yards in the first half, Jake Williams was limited to 30 the rest of the way. Meanwhile DePrima punctuated a spectacular offensive performance on a 30-yard touchdown run with nine minutes to go in the fourth quarter, sealing a 42-14 victory and 21st straight win for the Raiders. DePrima completed 15 of 19 passes for 267 yards. 

Drew Gibbs on the win against Pascack Valley, “I’m really proud of our guys and they way they stepped up and played. We had a tough and emotional win last week against Wayne Hills, a rival and we had to go up this week against a 6-1 Pascack Valley team. Just a different guy stepping up every time, they really play for each other and as a team.”

“Charles made the plays in the air and on the ground. Late in the game he took that QB sneak and brought everyone inside and just go enough speed to break it on the outside and big play that put the finishing touches on the game. Great job the offensive line and knew this would be a tough week to run the football and they gave us a heavy blitz all game and took away some things we like to do best and fortunate to win the game in the air. We have a lot of good players but certainly Jake Tirone and we missed him when he is not in there and having him back today is his on the field ability but his leadership.”

“You watch our defense and it’s pretty physical and people think they can come in and push us around but our defense has played really well in short yardage situations and came up with a number of big stops. To hold that team to 14 points, they have an outstanding runner in Jake Williams, Bergen County Athlete Of The Week and broke a couple of runs but we did a good job of team D and getting him to the ground.”

Charles DePrima on the victory, “In the second half we always make adjustments and knew what to do. The offensive line had a great game blocking and give credit to them and without a line I would not be able to do anything. We knew this was huge game tonight, senior night and kept in the back of my head they are my brothers’ and play for them and on the big stage came through.”

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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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