This week was a tough one for those who pick a player of the week award. Lots of guys scored lots of touchdowns or made big defensive plays.
But Tommy Amankwaa had some of the biggest – and in some new ways – and that earned him Bellamy & Son Paving Big Central Player of the Week honors for Week Two of the season.
In Friday night’s clash at Noonan Field between No. 6 Hillsborough and No. 7 Phillipsburg, the Raiders got off to an inauspicious start. Thanks in pert to a fumbled snap, the Stateliners jumped out to a 14-0 lead before anyone could blink.
Will Dixon’s touchdown catch in the second quarter cut it to 14-6, but the extra point was blocked.
And in the second half, it was Tommy Amankwaa’s game.
The Hillsborough senior was part of a new wrinkle instituted by head coach Kevin Carty. See, Amankwaa is a receiver, but Carty wanted to get Amankwaa more touches, and used him in the ground game as a complement to hard runner Tyler Michinard.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Amankwaa scored on a 57-yard touchdown run, then caught the two-point conversion pass from QB Jay Mazuera to tie the game at 14 all.
Then, in overtime, Hillsborough got the ball first, and Amankwaa scored on a four-yard run to give his team a 21-14 lead. But his night was not done.
Phillipsburg found themselves with a 3rd and 28 after a bad snap, yet converted on fourth down. On third and 11 from just outside 11 yards away, Will Dixon pressured the P’burg quarterback and forced a pass that Amankwaa intercepted to seal the win.
The win snapped a four-game skid for the Raiders (2-0) against the Stateliners (0-2), who still lead the all-time series 18-9.
Click below to hear Tommy Amankwaa talk about his big night for Hillsborough, and a rare win over Phillipsburg:
So many players here, we just couldn’t decide, so here we go, in no particular order:
Shaun Purcell of Manville perhaps contributed to the healing process a little bit for the tiny borough, which was ravaged by the remnants of Hurricane Ida, with massive flooding and too many homes to count simply destroyed. Their season opener in Week One got cancelled, but in their Week Two season opener, they routed Dunellen at Columbia Park 48-6.
Purcell was a big reason why. In only two quarters, he only rushed five times, but had three rushing touchdowns, and also had a 38-yard touchdown catch.
His final numbers: six touches, 203 total yards, four touchdowns.
Woodbridge is off to a 3-0 start, and apparently suffering no ill effects from the graduation of Ali Lee, Jr., Anthony Santino, et al.
Barrons’ Senior Isaiah Allen, also a big contributor last year, particularly on defense, accounted for five scores in a 42-28 road win against Sayreville.
Allen had nine catches for 196 yards and 3 scores, 12 rushes for 78 yards and two more touchdowns, a two-point conversion, two returns for 96 yards, and also contributed eight tackles on defense. In short, he totalled 32 of his team’s 42 points.
There’s always a bit of unintended offensive bias when it comes to player awards, since those numbers more easily show up in the final box score, but defense and special teams shouldn’t be ignored.
If the old saying is “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me,” then what can you say about what Gavin Turner of Ridge did against Franklin in a 45-7 win.
Not only did he block one punt, but he blocked a second, caught it off the kicker’s foot, and ran it back 45 yards for a score in the third quarter to make it 38-0.
Side note: credit to Andy West for acknowledging Tommy Amankwaa would be the POW – unsolicited, I might add – but still throwing Turner’s name out there for honor roll. That’s how it’s done, folks!
North Brunswick’s Marquis Perry also had a big game against a big opponent, in the No. 1 Raiders’ win over No. 4 Old Bridge. On just six catches he amassed nearly 300 yards – 291 to be exact – and had four touchdowns, while also rushing three times for 70 yards, that being accounted for by a 70-yard TD on a fake punt.
We like a bit of trickery in the honor roll.
And then, there’s perfection, no matter who the opponent is.
Remember Aidan McLaughlin? The Monroe senior quarterback last year set a school record with 315 yards passing yards and three touchdowns on 14-of-23 in a 63-18 win over Perth Amboy.
This year, this week, the Falcons’ Riley Piscitelli was a perfect 10: or should we say 10-for-10. He completed every pass for 173 yards and five touchdowns (with a long of 47) in a 69-6 win over JP Stevens.
Though their first two opponents have been struggling programs in recent years, they’ve outscored them a combined 121-26.
Monroe has 1-1 Hamilton this week, and let’s see how they do at Old Bridge and South Brunswick in the ensuing weeks.
But for now, wheeee!