Montclair High School football stymied by Union City running attack in home opener
Many of the members of the starting defense for the Montclair High School football team had not seen the likes of the Union City offense. It was old-fashioned “hand-the-ball-to-a-running-back-for-five-yards-or-more-and-a-cloud-of-dust” — or “Smash Mouth Football.”
It took a half for the Mounties’ defense to finally start getting a handle on the Eagles’ Wing-T, but by then they were behind, 21-0, and would ultimately fall, 31-7, in a North Jersey Super Football Conference Freedom White Division contest.
"We just wanted to slow them down, and the young guys have never seen this type of offense," Montclair head coach Jermain Johnson, who was leading the Mounties for the first time at home, said.
The Montclair defense was able to do a better job on the Union City offense in the second half, but it was too little too late.
With the Wing T it was a battle in the trenches.
"They out-physicaled us," Johnson said. "And we didn't adjust to it until late in the second quarter."
With the loss Montclair dropped to 1-2 on the season. It will look to rebound on Thursday night, Sept. 22, at Livingston. The Lancers also lost to Union City, by 66-7.
Johnson is looking to start getting some cohesion across the board against Livingston.
"Once things come together, we’re going to be fine," he said.
The lone touchdown for Montclair came with two minutes left in the first half.
Junior quarterback Drew Pfeifer found junior wide receiver David Thom-Rogers wide open behind the Union City defense. Thom-Rogers would go 64 yards for the touchdown. Kicker Gage Hammond hit the point after as Montclair sliced the Eagles’ lead to 21-7.
But Montclair would not see pay dirt the rest of the day.
The defense acclimated to the Eagles’ running game in the second half, but Union City still was able to work the counter successfully and kept the chains moving.
For the offense, it was shades of the season opener, a 13-7 loss to West Orange. The running game never got going, especially after the first drive. Montclair had 52 rushing yards compared to Union City's 368.
In addition to the Eagles’ dominance of the line of scrimmage, two plays put a damper on Montclair’s chances of winning.
The Mountie offense came out percolating on its first drive.
But with the ball deep in Union City territory, Pfeifer fumbled, and Union City's Reynaldo Mercedes pounced on the ball.
And in turn Union City would go 12 plays and 90 yards.
Instead of Montclair being ahead 7-0 early, it would be down, 7-0.
For the first half Union City's offense would have the ball for four time-consuming drives and score three times while only being stopped once, at the end of the half.
The other big play came with five minutes remaining in the third quarter when Pfeifer scrambled 74 yards for an apparent touchdown. But a flag came out and Montclair was called for blocking in the back, wiping out the touchdown.
For Johnson the penalty really put a crimp in a comeback. "That was huge, and a questionable call," the coach said.
Instead of being down 24-14, Pfeifer would end the drive by eventually throwing an interception in the end zone.
Montclair Football Schedule
(Dates and times subject to change)
Sept. 22 at Livingston, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 1 East Orange, 2 p.m.
Oct. 8 at Irvington, 1 p.m.
Oct. 14 at Ridgewood, 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 21 Columbia, 1 p.m.