by Andrew Garda

Someday Willie Matthews is going to make a D-1 college very happy.

For now, Matthews just makes his coaches, teammates and anyone wearing Mountie blue very happy. He certainly did on Saturday against Columbia when he became what is believed to be Montclair High School’s all-time tackling leader.

“I can’t even fathom it right now,” Matthews said after the 56-0 win. “There have been so many great defensive players who have been through Montclair High School and to know that I have more tackles than them? In my junior year, not even my senior year? It’s really a humbling experience.”

“Kevin Robinson had 303 tackles,” said Mountie head coach John Fiore. “He was a three-year starter for us and he got to go to three state championships so he did it in 36 games. Willie started as a freshman, had something like 84 tackles. Sophomore year he was at 116 and he’s well over 100 [this season]. When he sets the record it’s going to be really tough to beat.”

That’s exactly what Matthews aims to do.

“My goal now is to make that tackle record untouchable by anyone, ever,” he said.

Crowell commits to W&M

With Tarrin Earle [Bucknell] and Danny Webb [West Point] already committed to their colleges, the Mounties are off to another strong class of recruits heading to very good colleges.

Add Marcus Crowell to the list now that the senior left tackle has committed to William & Mary.

“I’m really excited about attending William & Mary,” Crowell said after the win over Columbia. “It’s a great school and also a great football team. I just felt comfortable with the coaching staff and being on campus. I went and visited the school a couple of weeks ago and saw a game and I felt I could see myself for the next four or five years there.”

“He’s a great kid and he had a bunch of offers before he came here,” Fiore said. “I think most of the colleges have seen he’s gotten better this year compared to the past and he projects well.”

For his lifelong friend, Tarrin Earle, it was great to see his friend take a big step to achieve the dream of playing college football.

“Just being close with Marcus my whole life,” Earle said. “Knowing everything he went through the past year, having to move up here, having to leave his life, come up here and live with us. He’s one of the ... hardest-working kids I know — and to just finally see it pay off for him, to get to commit to a college makes me really happy to see it.”

Not just sports but academics

For Fiore, it’s not just that his team has three commits already, but where those three players committed to.

“[Crowell], Danny Webb and Tarrin Earle — Bucknell, West Point, William & Mary. That tells you the academics that Montclair provides.”

While the three will be continuing to play football, studying and school are clearly equally important to them.

For Fiore, that’s a testament to the environment MHS provides.

“Any kid who doesn’t want to be part of this tradition — 25 state championships — and that academic program and the building run by the principal, Mr. Earle, some of the best leadership I’ve been around — they’re crazy. Because you can’t get better than those three kids. And to play with your friends you grew up with your whole life? That’s priceless.”

Scouting Report: Livingston

The opening of the North Jersey, Section 1, Group 5 playoffs finds the Mounties facing a repeat of their Sept. 15 game in the second week of the season. Not much has changed for Livingston since that 41-0 shellacking, and that was when the Lancers were home.

They won’t find Woodman a more welcoming environment.

In that first game, Danny Webb ran for 124 yards and four touchdowns on just nine carries. Webb’s touchdowns were the bulk of the Montclair scoring, though Willie Matthews added one as did the combination of Tarrin Earle and Charles Murphy. Things were over before halftime and should be again.

There’s never a moment the Mounties can take a team for granted, but this shouldn’t be much of a fight. Fiore knows his seniors are aware of the gravity of each game now.

“I think this senior group really knows they have to finish. It’s the one little [mantra] of this group coming through. We haven’t finished the last two years. I believe they’re focused and I’m not going to have to do too much to keep that.”