South Plainfield managed just one win a year ago in what turned out to be a COVID-shortened five-game season.
Enter a brand-new head coach, Tigers alum Bill Hamilton, and they’re 1-0 out of the box.
Sophomore Patrick Smith was the hot hand for South Plainfield, rushing for 201 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries, part of a ground game that rolled off 387 yards, en route to a 35-14 Week Zero win over South River at historic Bill Denny Stadium Saturday afternoon.
Smith had touchdown runs of 83 and 54 yards, while senior Jalen Russell added a 61-yard score, and Tyler DelVecchio rushed for a 40-yard touchdown.
Because of the big plays, South Plainfield dominated, despite never running a single play from scrimmage inside the red zone; the closest they got was the South River 37 yard line, but it didn’t matter.
The Tigers also had a defensive touchdown, a 35-yard scoop and score by senior defensive end Gregorio Zambrana on a bad handoff by South River in their own end.
After coming out of the half down 21-0, then falling behind 28-0 on Zambrana’s score, South River senior quarterback Ryan Kurtz briefly brought the Rams alive. He threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to senior Jeffrey Ferriera (they botched the extra point), then after the Tigers scored again to make it 35-6, he threw a 13-yard pass to senior Marcus Granadiero to set up a two-yard TD run by De’Andre Morris, who ran in a two-point conversion to make it 35-14 with 1:32 to play in the third.
But then it started to rain, grounding the Rams’ air game, and that would be the final score.
Click below for postgame reaction:
South Plainfield sophomore RB Patrick Smith:
South Plainfield head coach Bill Hamilton: