Montclair High School football stifles Columbia behind Adams, Pfeifer
The Montclair High School football team was expected to finish its regular season with a resounding win against a Columbia opponent that had won only once this year.
Yet midway through the second quarter on Saturday, Oct. 22, Columbia had a great chance to tie the score. Mistakes by Montclair’s offense and special teams gave the Cougars an opportunity to stay in the game.
But the Mounties’ defense came to the rescue, highlighted by a Semaj Adams pick-six for 68 yards before a packed Homecoming Day crowd at Woodman Field.
Montclair head coach Jermain Johnson said that the defensive score came at the right time, when the Mounties were struggling offensively.
“Anytime we get a defensive touchdown, it elevates everybody’s play level,” Johnson said.
The Adams touchdown interception gave the Mounties a 14-0 lead, and they held on for a 21-7 victory to finish the regular season at 4-4.
“We made a couple mistakes today,” Adams said. “We need to bounce back. I feel we could have put up a ton more points on this team, and the score is not what it should have been.”
Adams, the Mounties’ top offensive threat at running back, was not needed much inside the red zone against Columbia, but did compile 79 yards on the ground.
Montclair junior quarterback Drew Pfeifer contributed a 1-yard plunge for a touchdown and threw a 45-yard strike to senior wide receiver David Thom-Rodgers for the team’s other touchdown.
Even though the Mounties had some great moments, Johnson was focused on their mistakes. “At the end of the day, we played to the level of our competition,” he said. “We could not get out of our own way today.”
On Sunday Montclair learned its path to the state sectional final. The Mounties are the seventh seed in North 2 Group 5 and will travel to second-seeded Ridgewood on Friday night, Oct. 28. It was only a couple weeks ago, on Oct. 14, when the Mounties defeated the Maroons, 17-10, in Ridgewood.
Johnson hopes his team can return to the mentality that it showed against Ridgewood and Irvington, his team having lost in the last second to Irvington, 22-21, on Oct. 8. “We played the way we needed to against Ridgewood and Irvington,” the coach said.
After the win over Columbia, Thom-Rodgers talked about the state tournament.
“We are trying to win everything,” he said. “This year’s senior class is one of the best classes I’ve played with. Those are my boys. I want to win it for them, and I want all of us to succeed as a team.”
Against Ridgewood, the Mounties have to avoid what happened in the first quarter against Columbia, when they threw an interception, fumbled and muffed a punt.
Defensively, Johnson would like to see what his team did against Columbia repeated on Friday against Ridgewood.
Columbia’s only score came on a 64-yard run at the end of the first half. Aside from that, the Mounties defense held the Cougars scoreless.
Montclair senior linebackers Andrew Andujar and Justin Bernal were leaders on defense. They each had five tackles.