Saturday, November 1, 2008

Highland Park Football: Gold Division Champions

EDISON—For the second year in a row, Middlesex was between Highland Park and a division title. Last night’s result once again left the Owls at the top of the standings, as they outlasted previously undefeated Middlesex 45-36 in a high-scoring affair at J.P. Stevens High School.

Senior running back Bryant Fitzgerald, who was the area’s leading scorer heading into the game with 102 points, stole the show again with five touchdowns on 262 yards rushing coming off 26 carries.

The Owls (6-1) took home their second straight Greater Middlesex Conference-Gold Division title, but not without a fight from the Blue Jays (6-1).

HP was trailing 14-13 at the break as Middlesex running back Mike Little (whose 97 points prior to the game was second in the area to Fitzgerald) rumbled into the end-zone. Little finished with 163 yards on the ground.

Fitzgerald, a state champion sprinter, not only visited the house five times on the ground, but he recovered a fumble and had a touchdown run and punt return called back on penalties.

“Gentlemen, you’re peaking at the right time,” second-year Highland Park head coach Rich McGlynn said to his team after the game. “This is our division again and now we have a lot more to work for.”

Special teams came up big for HP, who built a 33-14 lead thanks to junior Mike Ryan, as he forced the Blue Jays to fumble on consecutive kickoffs.

Jashon Holloway and Nate Smith added runs for scores for the Owls, who are expected to vault into the Central Jersey Group I top-three in power points following the victory.

Highland Park made it to the sectional semifinal in 2007, before losing to Keansburg. HP defeated CJG1 powerhouse Florence in its quarterfinal game.

NOTE: The game was played in Edison, as the new FieldTurf behind HPHS is in its final stages of installation.

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