On a hot, late-August day with the sun beating down, hobbling several players with cramps, Metuchen got touchdown scores from six different players as the Bulldogs beat arch-rival Highland Park 40-6 Saturday afternoon, in a Week Zero game heard on Central Jersey Sports Radio.
It means Metuchen can keep the Goal Post Trophy another year; they’ve had it since 2017. It also extended Highland Park’s losing streak to 34 games, the longest active streak in New Jersey.
The Owls – with some of their best program numbers in years, over 30-players strong heading into the game – were still in it at halftime, down 14-0. Matt Flood’s four-yard touchdown run and Aiden O’Leary’s 43-yard touchdown catch-and-run both cam in the first quarter, and Highland Park wasn’t out of reach.
But two third-quarter TDs gave Metuchen some distance – a three-yard run by quarterback John Bolesta, a touchdown pass to Cody Cardillo from five yards out – until Highland Park threw some wrinkles in on offense, using wide receiver Markos Hantsoulis in the Wildcat, leading to a 24-yard touchdown run with under three minutes to go in the third quarter.
The Bulldogs finally salted it with a one-yard run by Evan Toth and a 12-yard touchdown scamper by Daniel Ayala.
For the Owls, though, the loss showed some promise, and there are winnable games on the schedule. Their numbers finally allow third-year head coach Shawn Harrison – whose program didn’t field a varsity team in 2020, his first year – some flexibility on both sides of the ball.
Metuchen still trails in the overall series, despite having won four straight on the field, plus a 2019 forfeit. Not counting that decision, the Owls lead 61-24-1.
The win was the first for new Metuchen coach Jordan Leitner, a former star quarterback for the Bulldogs.
Click below for postgame reaction from Metuchen’s win over Highland Park: