Orange HS football team falls in playoffs to end fine 7-3 season

ORANGE – “This is a tough one for us,” said Orange High School head varsity football coach Randy Daniel. “We over-thought the game which we defeated ourselves.”

He is speaking of the Tornadoes’ first-round loss to the Scarlets of Ridgefield Park High School, 33-12, in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 playoffs this past Friday evening, Nov. 13, at Bell Stadium. Orange and Ridgefield Park  were seeded fourth and fifth, respectively.

Ridgefield Park drew first blood when defensive end Donte Capurso snagged the first of four interceptions from Orange quarterback Tyree Ward-May and rumbled in for the early 7-0 lead with 6:28 left in the first quarter. The Scarlets and the Tornadoes’ offenses tangled with the others’ defenses for the remainder of the opening period.

Orange stormed back in the second quarter, scoring twice in quick succession as they pulled ahead of the Scarlets, 12-7. The first was a 66-yard bomb from a scrambling  Ward May to wide-open wide receiver Rasheed Boyd with just 8:43 left in the half. Orange recovered a live ball on the ensuing kickoff the very next play, putting them on Ridgefield Park’s 38-yard line, driving down for the go-ahead score in five plays and capped off with a 3-yard plunge by running back Al- Jaqua Hawkins with just 4:32 left in the first half.

Ridgefield Park, however, regained control of the game with help of defensive back Steve Morosko’s  interception of Ward May’s pass to Nyquee Hawkins, taking it down to the Orange 4-yard line where running back Elijah Carlos blasted into the end zone for the 14-12 halftime lead.

The second half was all Ridgefield Park. The Scarlets’ defense combined for three more interceptions,  led by Carpuso and defensive back Chris Stofan.  The Scarlets  ran away from the Tornadoes after each interception by scoring on the next plays on offense, led by Marquez Antinori and Isaiah Drakeford.

Ridgefield Park will visit top-seeded Cranford High School, which defeated  eighth-seeded Voorhees High School, 56-7, Friday evening; while upset-minded Chatham and West Essex both toppled their respective opponents in Barringer and Nutley. Chatham handed Barringer its first loss of the season by routing them 31-6 and halting Barringer’s run on a possible undefeated season. West Essex’s disciplined attack kept Nutley in check with 28-7 win.

“We only had seven seniors on the team this year,” said the Orange coaching staff after the game.

“We are expecting great things from our underclassmen that will be mostly sophomores and juniors next season,” said Daniel. The Tornadoes conclude their 2015 campaign with a 7-3 record which included going undefeated for their first six games of the season.