Irvington HS football team seeks first-ever road playoff victory

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IRVINGTON, NJ – The fourth-seeded Irvington High School varsity football team will visit No. 1-seeded Phillispburg in the semifinals of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 state playoffs on Friday night, Nov. 17.

The Blue Knights are seeking their first-ever road playoff win.
The Blue Knights, under second-year head coach and Irvington native “Smoke” Pierre, brings a six-game winning streak and have an 8-2 record. Phillipsburg has a 9-0 record and is ranked No. 13 in the state by nj.com. IHS also was ranked in the state by nj.com this season, as high as No. 9. Irvington is currently unranked.

This marks the Blue Knights’ first road playoff game since 2005 when they lost to Piscataway in the North Jersey Section 2, Group 4 semifinals. It also is just Irvington’s third-ever road playoff.

Of Irvington’s last 14 playoff games, 12 were held at Irvington High School. That also includes the 2008 semifinal against Phillipsburg when Irvington was the host team at Untermann Field in Newark. The one game that wasn’t a home game in that span was the 2006 championship at Rutgers in which IHS lost to New Brunswick, 18-14.

Irvington defeated Linden in the quarterfinals last week to snap a four-game playoff losing streak.

The Blue Knights have appearanced in the state playoffs 12 times in the last 15 seasons since 2003.

In fact, in 2003, IHS qualified for the playoffs for first time since 1975, which was the second year of the current NJSIAA playoff era.

Darnell Grant, a 1991 IHS graduate, was the head coach of the Blue Knights from 2002 to 2009, leading the program to seven playoff appearances in his eight seasons at the helm. IHS was the No. 1 seed five times, in 2003 and for four straight seasons from 2006 to 2009. In 2006, Irvington reached its first state final when it was moved down from Group 4 to Group 3 for the first time.

Pete Pascarella was the head coach of the Blue Knights from 2010 to 2015 after serving as Grant’s assistant coach when Grant took over the helm. Pascarella led the Blue Knights to the playoffs in three straight seasons (2012 to 2014).

Irvington has been in North 2 in all their playoff years, except for 2016 when it was in North 1.

Here is look back at the IHS football playoff history:

Playoff record: 7-12 (1975-2017)

1975
No. 3 seed in North 2, Group 4
• Lost to No. 2 seed Barringer in semifinals, 7-6, away.

2003
No. 1 seed in North 2, Group 4
• Lost to No. 8 Piscataway in quarterfinals, 20-8, home.

2004
No. 4 seed in North 2, Group 4
• Lost to No. 5 Linden in quarterfinals, 14-6, home.

2005
No. 3 seed in North 2, Group 4
• Defeated No. 6 Elizabeth in quarterfinals, 42-21, home.
• Lost to No. 2 Piscataway in semifinals, 26-6, away.

2006
No. 1 seed in North 2, Group 3
• Defeated No. 8 Millburn, 47-14 in quarterfinals, home.
• Defeated No. 5 South Plainfield in semifinals, 49-14, home
• Lost to No. 3 New Brunswick in the championship at Rutgers, 18-14.

2007
No. 1 seed in North 2, Group 3
• Lost to No. 8 South Plainfield, 18-12, overtime, home.

2008
No. 1 seed, North 2, Group 3
• Defeated No. 8 Morristown, 27-20, home.
• Lost to No. 4 Phillipsburg, in semifinals, 14-6, at Untermann Field, Weequahic HS, Newark.

2009
No. 1 seed, North 2, Group 3
• Defeated No. 8 Warren Hills in quarterfinals, 22-14, home.
• Lost to No. 4 Passaic Valley in semifinals, 17-8, home.

2012
No. 1 seed in North 2, Group 4
• Defeated No. 8 Ferris in quarterfinals, 47-0, home.
• Lost to No. 4 Passaic Valley in semifinals, 17-8, home.

2013
No. 4 seed, North 2, Group 4
• Lost to No. 5 Iselin-Kennedy in quarterfinals, 14-12, home.

2014
No. 3 seed, North 2, Group 4
• Lost to No. 6 Woodbridge in quarterfinals, 34-33, home.

2016
No. 2 seed, North 1, Group 4
• Lost to No. 7 Randolph in quarterfinals, 13-12, home.

2017
No. 4 seed, North 2, Group 4
• Defeated No. 5 Linden in quarterfinals, 16-13, home.

Playoff record at Irvington HS: 7-8

Playoff record at Untermann field: 0-1

Playoff record on the road: 0-2

Championship record: 0-1

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