NUTLEY – The Nutley High School varsity football team enjoyed one of its best seasons.
The Raiders, under fourth-year head coach Tom Basile, finished with an 8-2 record, including winning eight straight games to start the season. The last time they started 8-0 was in 1940.
NHS lost at Caldwell in the final regular-season game. In the first round of the state North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 playoffs, the second-seeded Raiders lost to seventh-seeded West Essex to end the season.
The Raiders boasted several outstanding players. The following players have earned Worrall Media All-Area honors: Craig Merkle, Augie Mustardo, Brian Hewett, Devin White, Devin Merritt, Nick Senatore, Nick Miller, Anthony Condito and Hunter Lechthaler.
Merkle and Condito join Seton Hall Prep senior quarterback Zach Keller as the All-Area Offensive Players of the Year. For Merkle and Keller, it marks the second straight year they are the All-Area Offensive Players of Year.
Basile also is the All-Area Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season.
Here are the players’ achievements:
- Craig Merkle, senior running back. Merkle became the school’s all-time leader rusher with 3,278 yards on 394 attempts for an average of 8.31 yards per carry. Merkle also broke the school’s career record for touchdowns with 49 and points scored with 296 points. He also had 18 receptions for 308 yards and six TDs; one interception returned for a TD; and one kickoff return for a score in his career.
This season, Merkle rushed for 1,355 yards and 17 touchdowns on 184 carries, averaging 7.36 yards per carry; caught five receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns and had one two-point conversion for a total of 116 points.
- Anthony Condito, senior quarterback. Condito completed 64 of 120 passes (53 percent) for 986 yards and 10 TDs with five interceptions. He also rushed for 407 yards and 11 TDs on 92 attempts. Condito signed a baseball scholarship with Rutgers University.
- Augie Mustardo, senior offensive tackle/defensive end. Mustardo posted 45 tackles, including 12 for loss, and seven sacks.
- Brian Hewett, senior tight end/defensive end. Hewett had 50 tackles, including eight for loss, and five sacks.
- Devin White, senior offensive guard/inside linebacker. White recorded 84 tackles.
- Devin Merritt, senior outside linebacker. Merritt had 53 tackles, including 15 for loss, five sacks and three forced fumbles.
- Nick Senatore, senior wide receiver/defensive back. Senatore had 24 receptions for 394 yards and two touchdowns, and recorded 30 tackles and two interceptions.
- Nick Miller, senior defensive back. Miller posted 44 tackles, 10 pass breakups and one interception.
- Hunter Lechthaler, junior placekicker. Lechthaler was 3-for-3 on field-goal attempts and 42-for-47 on point-after kicks.
Nutley results (8-2 record)
Sept. 12, Won, Belleville, 62-12
Sept. 18, Won, at Ferris, 64-6
Sept. 25, Won, at West Orange, 48-38
Oct. 3, Won, Montclair, 35-28
Oct. 10, Won, Irvington, 28-7
Oct. 16, Won, at Livingston, 43-22
Oct. 24, Won, Columbia, 45-24
Oct. 31, Won, at Weequahic, 28-24
Nov. 7, Loss, at Caldwell, 34-29
Nov. 14, Loss, West Essex, 28-7*
North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 playoffs