Although you couldn’t blame the Jefferson Falcons football team for looking past this Friday night’s regular season finale at West Morris-Mendham, head football coach Jerry Venturino won’t allow his team the luxury of doing so.
Looking purely at the numbers, the Falcons have the upper hand coming off a thrilling 26-18 win over West Milford last Friday, which boosted their record to 5-3 on the season. They now have a playoff berth within their talons.
Meanwhile, the Minutemen advanced to 2-5 on the season with a 41-15 win at Vernon last Friday night. However, the discrepancy in the teams’ records and fortunes will not be a reason for the Falcons to overlook the Minutemen.
Speaking via telephone on Tuesday night, Venturino said the coaching staff’s goal this week is to keep the Falcons focused.
“We fear none but respect all. The team has been putting forth a good effort in practice and we’re out to finish what we started,” he said.
Just as the Falcons rode an emotional wave in last week’s Senior Night victory over the Highlanders, Venturino anticipates the Minutemen will have a boost of their own.
“It’s always tough to close out the season on the road and this is probably their (Mendham’s) Senior Night, so they’ll have a lot of emotion. We have to go out and play our brand of football.”
Just as the Falcons have a strong running game behind junior Michael Gould, who rushed for 147 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns against West Milford, the Minutemen have a couple of formidable weapons of their own. Dylan Hakes and Gage Armijo combined for 268 yards and three TDs against Vernon. Their presence is not lost on Jefferson’s head coach, who described the tandem as being very quick and a constant threat to break a big run, adding, “they also have a shifty quarterback who we’ll have to do a good job of containing. Since he does such a good job of extending plays with his legs, we’ll have to do a solid job of covering their receivers downfield as well.”
The Minutemen play an aggressive style of defense but present some extra challenges.
“They play a 3-4 mostly but will mix up their fronts at times. They will switch from playing man defense to playing a zone, so it’s our job to get the kids prepared to see all the different fronts they’ll show us,” said Venturino.
West Morris-Mendham High School is located at 65 E. Main Street in Mendham. Kickoff is set for 7p.m.