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DeVera leads Wayne Hills to win over West Morris Central

(Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj)

(Photo by Sunil Sunder Raj)

Wayne Hills Head Coach Wayne Demikoff said after the game, his players’ motto was one step forward. A week ago, there were no guarantees that would ever happen due to the New Jersey Athletic Association disqualifying the school days from the state playoffs starting due to eligibility issues regarding the Hayek brothers’. The school administration appealed and a subsequent hearing led the NJSIAA to overturn the decision thus reinstating the team and players. Wayne Hills went on and defeated Roxbury in the first round.

Playing in his final game at Wayne Hills High School, and having already set a school record with 33 touchdowns, senior quarterback Brendan DeVera (11 for 16, 157 yards, 2 TD’s 1 INT, 48 yards rushing) tacked on a few more records leading the Patriots(10-1) to a 31-14 victory over West Morris Central and extending the team’s winning streak to 10 games in a row. Next Sunday, starting at 7 p.m. at Met Life Stadium, Wayne Hills will face off against arch-rival Wayne Valley for the North 1, Group 4 final. The last time both teams’ met in the sectional finals was 2007 at Giants Stadium with Wayne Hills winning 27-7.

DeVera is Wayne Hills’ passing record holder with 2,009 yards, single season touchdown holder with 44(35 passing, 6 rushing) and tied Kevin Olsen for most career touchdowns with 56.

“That’s a good football team over there. Well-coached, tough kids and happy to come out here with a win,” said Demikoff. “This time of the year you try to get to next week and we’re there. We have the playmakers and I take my hat off to the kids because they have been a different team the past couple of weeks being driven, motivated and angry. It’s been really exciting.”

The first quarter featured plenty of scoring with the Patriots striking first in large part to an interception by senior cornerback Hunter Hayek. Three plays later, his brother Tyler Hayek took a jet sweep and turned the corner and sprinted down the left sideline untouched for the 59-yard touchdown with 8:32 left. On West Morris Central’s ensuing possession, the running back duo of Cole Draghi and Zach Meister carved up chunks of yardage on the ground advancing the ball down to the Wayne Hills 3-yard line. On first and goal, Wolfpack quarterback plowed straight ahead for the tying score.

Starting with good field position at the 35-yard line due to a kickoff out of bounds, the Patriots utilized their running game with senior tailback Luca Grave(18 carries for 104 yards, 54 yards receiving) picking up meaningful yards. Faced with a 4th and 5 at the Wolfpack 32-yard line, DeVera tossed a screen pass to Grave who did the rest, rumbling down the right sideline into the end zone putting the Patriots back in the lead 14-7 with 45 seconds on the clock.

In the second quarter, Wayne Hills defense won the battle at the line of scrimmage stopping West Morris Central on a number of fourth down plays deep in Patriots territory. With 1:15 left in the first half, DeVera did not sit on the ball instead picking apart the Wolfpack secondary completing passes of 22 yards to Grave, 11 yards to Hunter Hayek, and Evidence Njoku. On 1st and 10 from the 14-yard line, DeVera took the snap and busted through the line and down the left sideline for the score extending margin to 21-7 with nine seconds.

“When things aren’t perfect, Brendan makes things happen, moving out of the pocket and finding guys open,” said Demikoff. “What can I say, Luca is a great high school tailback and you look at him and things he is able to do in-between the tackles and outside and a tough kid.”

“Luca is such a good back since coming back from his ankle injury,” said DeVera. “It’s awesome having those players knowing when I’m not running or throwing it I can give to an aggressive back or throw it deep and guys are going to catch it and make plays. We knew we had to score on them early because they did not want to get into a battle like that, milk the clock with their offense and slow it down.”

Coming out of the intermission break, the Wolfpack defense forced the Wayne Hills offense into a three-and-out. Keeping the ball on the ground, Draghi and Meister used their strength and speed advancing the ball to the Patriots 22-yard line.

Wayne Hills made a stand forcing Finlay into an incomplete pass the ball over on downs. With the momentum, Grave bulldozed through line gaining 29 yards on the drive. On 3rd and 9 at the Wolfpack 34-yard line, DeVera rolled out of the pocket and launched a strike down the middle of the seam to Hunter Hayek making it 28-7.

On 4th and goal at the 2-yard line, Draghi dove through a pile at the goal line for the score cutting the deficit to 28-14 with 11:12 left in the 4th quarter. DeVera then orchestrated a 15-play drive that ate up 8:01 on the clock resulting in a 41-yard field goal by junior placekicker Dario Sirni sealing the win.

On the match-up against Wayne Valley next week DeVera said, “A huge rivalry with Wayne Valley and best of best and I think we’re going to beat them pretty bad and wanted to see them more than anyone. We’re going to get a game plan and get the job done.”

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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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