Haughney, Lanzafama want to keep Old Bridge’s two-year hot streak going

Old Bridge head coach Anthomy Lanzafama addresses his team after winning the 2020 edition of the “Battle of Route 18” against East Brunswick, with the trophy sitting at his feet. (Photo: Mike Pavlichko)

by Dominick Savino

Despite a new conference and a once-in-a-century pandemic, some things remained the same for Old Bridge in 2020.

For the second straight season, the Knights (5-1) finished with the best record in their league, sweeping Big Central Division 5C with a 4-0 divisional record.

The Big Central is not formally recognizing division championships in 2020 because of the uneven number of games played in the COVID-affected season, but Old Bridge — for all intents and purposes — won its second straight league title for the first time in program history.

Old Bridge, which won the GMC Red Division in 2019 thanks to three league wins decided by a combined nine points, discovered some more late-game magic this year. Junior QB Owen Haughney scored a final-minute rushing touchdown on Opening Day to complete a come-from-behind, 21-14 win over Monroe. And Old Bridge finished its unblemished run through Division 5C with a fourth-quarter rally against South Brunswick, powered by RB Lawrence Hunter’s first career three-touchdown game.

Haughney led the offense in his second season as the dual-threat starter, throwing for 759 yards and eight touchdowns while adding 223 yards and four more touchdowns on the ground. Hunter, a first-year starter, was the team’s breakout star, pacing the Knights with 779 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Haughney and Hunter are two key members of Old Bridge’s Class of 2022, which also received key contributions from WR/DB Jake McAleavey (426 receiving yards, 3 TD) and OL/DE Luke Maisonet (27 tackles, 8 TFL).

It’s a 25-member junior class that, in addition to a perfect 9-0 division record, has guided Old Bridge to a 15-2 overall record in the last two years. That includes eight wins decided by seven points or less, the latest of which was a 28-27 overtime thriller over Long Branch to end the regular season.

But the returning Knights still believe they have unfinished business.

Old Bridge played in just one playoff game over those two seasons: a 34-7 upset loss to Kingsway in the first round of the 2019 Central Jersey Group 5 sectional tournament. Old Bridge was forced to sit out this year’s makeshift, two-week postseason after Long Branch reported a positive COVID case on its team less than 48 hours after the game.

“Now, we’re just focused on what’s in front of us,” Haughney said. “We want to bring that state title back to Old Bridge for the first time.”

Haughney and head coach Anthony Lanzafama spoke to Central Jersey Sports Radio about the season. Click below to hear their comments:

Owen Haughney

Head Coach Anthony Lanzafama

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