by Rebecca Freer
Westfield’s 24–14 victory over Bridgewater-Raritan last Saturday earned the team its first sectional playoff semifinal appearance since 2009. The Blue Devils defied many negative predictions about the game and started off the first round of playoffs strong.
The No. 4 seeded Blue Devils could make a sectional final for the first time since 1998 if they can defeat the No. 1 seeded Linden on the road, in a North 2 Group V semifinal.
Simcox said: “We only lost to [Linden] by one in the regular season, and we were missing two starters on defense….We know how good they are but we also know that we are just as good...and we have a lot of motivation to beat them.”
The Blue Devils began the game against BR with a 24-yard touchdown by junior running back Jack Curry in the first quarter, setting the tone for the remainder of the game.
Senior Quad-Captain Nick Buontempo kept the momentum going when junior quarterback Zach Kelly found Buontempo for a short touchdown pass early in the second quarter. However, BR retaliated by putting its first points on the board off an 86-yard punt return.
To tie up the game at 14, BR intercepted a pass by Kelly and ran it back for a 16-yard touchdown. The Blue Devils made sure they kept the lead as senior Luke Prybylski recovered a fumble allowing sophomore Michael Moriarty to make a 31-yard field goal, putting Westfield up 17–14 at the half.
In the beginning of the second half, Westfield did not capitalize on multiple possessions, but the defense held strong and prevented BR from putting up any points on the board. Senior Sean Elliott made multiple catches to grant the Blue Devils the yardage that ultimately generated a touchdown from senior Quad-Captain Jack Simcox, making the final score 24–14.
Said Coach Jim DeSarno: “Anytime you advance in a state tournament—I don’t care what sport—it’s exciting. The team has worked extremely hard since June for this opportunity. I’m happy for our team and I know they will give [a] great effort.