|VIDEO: Cedar Grove closes season with win over Emerson|
It wasn't the setting that the Cedar Grove football team would have hoped for at the start of the season. But the Panthers ended their 2016 campaign on a winning note with a thorough 41-14 triumph over Emerson.
Instead of a large raucous crowd at a sectional final, as Cedar Grove experienced last season, this game was played in front of a small and quiet gathering at Emerson High School. This was what is now known as a regional crossover, better known as a consolation game.
The star of the game for Cedar Grove was junior quarterback Sammy Ventola. Ventola tossed four touchdown passes and ran for another.
The Panthers built a 27-14 lead at halftime as Ventola threw a pair of scoring passes to Ryan Turi and one to Max DeVito. Then Cedar Grove took complete control with an eight-minute drive to open the second half, capped on a touchdown run by Danny DiPrenda.
Ventola's 42-yard touchdown toss to John Guaimano capped the scoring in the fourth quarter.
For Emerson, the passing game created some havoc in the first half, with quarterback Robbie Leuck throwing a pair of touchdown passes to Brian McCormick. But an intensified pass rush in the second half helped shut down the Cavos as Cedar Grove pulled away.
Both teams finish the season at 5-5. These squads tied for 11th in power points in North 1, Group I, missing the eight-team state playoff field. But both would have qualified for the states in the far weaker North 2, Group I bracket.
For sports video highlights of this New Jersey high school regional crossover football game, click play in the box at left.