Montclair football: Champion Mounties by the numbers
by KEVIN MEACHAM
The Montclair High School football team wrapped up its 2017 season in the perfect way, swatting aside Union City to capture the school’s fourth NJSIAA football sectional title in six years.
This was a record-breaking team in many ways, whether you look at team records, individual records, single-season records, career records, etc. Any championship group is special, but the 2017 Mounties will be remembered as one of the most powerful squads in school history.
To celebrate this championship season, we combed through our notebooks and spreadsheets to give you a look at some of the key numbers that defined this magnificent season:
5: Interceptions for team leader Tysean Williams. The senior standout had a big year at corner; he and his cousin and fellow cornerback DJ Williams combined for six picks and 17 passes broken up between them. They were part of a unit that held opposing QBs to just a 45.6 percent completion rate, posting 19 interceptions and allowing just 9 TDs through the air.
6:22: The amount of time Montclair trailed all season. Only Seton Hall (for 19 seconds) and Ridgewood (for the remaining 6:03) managed to even have a momentary lead on the Mounties.
7.9: Montclair’s combined yards per carry this season. Credit must go to a dominant offensive line (sophomore center Sebastian Fortune, junior guard Nasir Thompson-Wyatt, senior guard Finn Jensen, senior tackle Marcus Crowell and junior tackle Gary Robinson), who opened big holes for a variety of runners. Daniel Webb’s 11.2 yards per rush weren’t enough to lead the team — that honor goes to sophomore Nate Bryan, who gained 215 yards on 19 carries (11.3 per carry) and three scores.
8: Sectional championships for MHS since the NJSIAA instituted playoffs in 1974. The Mounties have appeared in 20 championship games, all in the last 36 seasons. Before the advent of the playoff system, Montclair was awarded 18 NJSIAA sectional titles in 25 years under the legendary coaching duo of Clary Anderson and Butch Fortunato.
9: Games in which MHS scored a non-offensive touchdown. It’s hard enough to slow down the Montclair offense, but the Mounties’ defense and special teams also got in the act nearly every game. Webb (3 punt returns, 1 kick return) and Walter King (1 interception return, 1 fumble return) led the way in this category.
12: Number of receivers who caught at least one pass. The Mounties were absurdly deep at wideout all season, and it showed in how many players were able to contribute. Five players (Collin Callahan, Charles Murphy, DJ Williams, Tysean Williams and Josh Crawford) had double-digit catches, while two others (Elias Ottens and Antwain Hutchinson) caught TDs.
26.9: Yards per catch average for Murphy. The junior wide receiver turned into a nearly automatic red-zone-TD machine, as nearly half of his 26 catches went for scores. But the 6-foot-4 Murphy’s outstanding speed and leaping ability also made for big plays in the open field.
29: Scoring drives that lasted less than 1:00. This team could score anywhere and anytime and from every possible angle.
47.9: Montclair’s per-game scoring average, by far the highest in school history. The 575 total points easily broke the previous single-season record of 501, set in 2011.
67: The number of PATs kicked by Harry Wylie, out of 70 attempts. MHS didn’t play many tight games in 2017, which meant that Wylie’s steady consistency was a bit under the radar in 2017. But the senior was as reliable as any Mountie kicker has ever been this year, making 95.7 percent of his extra-point kicks. Of his three misses all season, two were blocked. And Wiley finished out the year strong, making his final 16 kicks.
77-17: The won-loss record for eighth-year head coach John Fiore. Montclair’s two highest-scoring seasons ever, by both total points and points-per-game, have occurred under Fiore’s watch. When Fiore was named head coach, MHS hadn’t had a perfect season since 1966; Friday’s win clinched the program’s third 12-0 season in six years.
89: Total tackles for loss by the Mountie defense. Led by a terrific front line (Crowell and Kahreem Paul in the middle, Robinson and Ottens on the ends), MHS made tackles behind the line of scrimmage on roughly 1 out of every 8 snaps. Thanks in part to that, opponents averaged just 3.1 yards per carry.
107: Combined points of the MHS-Seton Hall game on Oct. 28. The shootout at Woodman Field was the only game this season with definite drama, as Montclair scored an unprecedented 49 first-half points on the parochial school, only to see the Pirates pull within 12 points late in the fourth quarter. Seton Hall had a chance to cut it even closer with just over 2:00 left, but Tysean Williams’ 79-yard interception return TD clinched a wild and memorable 63-44 win.
183: Tackles for Willie Matthews. The junior linebacker has been a constant presence on the defense since he stepped onto the field as a day-one starter his freshman year. This year, Matthews took things to a new level, averaging 15 tackles (3 for loss) per game and blossoming into one of the state’s best players.
447: Montclair’s point totals in just first halves this year. Two teams in MHS football history have ever eclipsed the 400-point mark over entire seasons; this year’s Mounties blasted through that mark before you even count the third and fourth quarters. Montclair jumped on opponents early; the average halftime score of all 12 games this season was 36-7.
6,239: Tarrin Earle’s career passing yardage. A three-year starter at QB, Earle leaves MHS as the statistical leader in every single passing category, both single-season and career. The Bucknell commit leaves Montclair having thrown 61 career TD passes and just 17 interceptions.
6,669: Career all-purpose yardage for Webb. The prolific senior averaged more than 10.5 yards every time he had the ball, between rushes, receptions, punt returns and kick returns, over his four-year career. Webb’s 79 career TDs is a school and Essex County record; he had a career-high 28 this year alone on just 135 touches.