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Estevez leads River Dell to Back-to-Back North 1, Group 3 state titles

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River Dell (11-1) senior quarterback David Estevez could do no wrong against the Ramapo Raiders (9-3) in the North 1 Group 3 sectional title game on Saturday afternoon at MetLife Stadium. Whether it is running, passing, intercepting passes and punting, Estevez owned the stat sheet on this day.

Esteves completed 8-0f-10 passes for 182 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. He also ran 24 times for 72 yards and three scores. To add to his contributions, Esteves also pinned the Raiders deep at the end of the first half with a pooch punt to the two-yard line.

“In the off-season, we had a players only meeting and I told them we would need a lot of sophomore and juniors to step up because we don’t have a lot of depth in the senior class,” said Esteves. “The fifth time here and fourth time here for me and like a fairytale ending, getting a chance in my last high school game to get a win.”

“One of the best kids I have ever coached and better person, going to Wesleyan, a Division III program and get an education,” said River Dell head coach DJ Nimphius of Esteves. “You see how the guys play for him and any doubt he is the best player has been put to rest.”

Right off the bat, Esteves and rest of the River Dell Golden Hawks squad were clicking on all cylinders, practically chewing up most of the clock on the opening possession of the game. Esteves directed a 15-play 66-yard drive that ate up 9:22, ending with a three-yard score. That would prove to be the only points of the first half for both teams.

“Coach came up and talked to us about last year and how we took it to them the first drive and scored and really focused on that drive and scoring,” Estevez said. “Upfront we really dominated in the first half.”

In the third quarter, Ramapo got the ball first and drove into River Dell territory when Estevez made his impact on the defensive side of the ball by picking off Ramapo quarterback A.J. Wingfield. On offense, Estevez found his favorite target from the Demarest game in Jack Racine (4 catches for 133 yards), hooking up on a 44-yard pass play. On second and goal from the Raiders one, Estevez plowed ahead for his second rushing score of the contest.

Held to 11 rushing yards and 47 passing yards by a stingy Golden Hawks defense in the first half, Wingfield managed to find some consistency on the Raiders ensuing possession, orchestrating an eight-play, 74-yard drive that took 4:15 with Wingfield finishing it off with an eight-yard score.

“Eric Morgan did a great job of getting them ready, a former captain at River Dell and great job of scheming them and spent countless hours at River Dell and off the field and got to appreciate that as a coach,” Nimphius said.

Not to be undone, Estevez worked his magic once again on River Dell’s next possession, sparking a 10-play 83-yard drive in 5:05. Faced with a 3rd and 16 at the Golden Hawks 22, Estevez connected on a critical 37-yard pass to Racine with a defensive back draped all over him.

With the drive continuing into the fourth quarter, Estevez found Racine for another big gain, this time for 21 yards on a 3rd and 22 at the Ramapo 47. Going for it on 4th and 2 at the Raiders 33, Estevez rolled out of the pocket and lofted a perfect 33-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Racine.

“Jack is one of our captains and really a good team leader and put a lot of trust in him,” said Estevez. “He comes to all the meetings and always first there and at practice and he deserves everything and great player.”

“A brand new team with 23 seniors and to come back with that character and pride and get another championship is special,” Estevez said.

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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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