Glen Rock to face Hawthorne in New Jersey state semi-final


by Lee Hasselmann, Staff Writer

Tomorrow, Saturday Nov. 20 at 2:15 PM, Glen Rock will face Hawthorne in the football state semi-final at Glen Rock High School. The winner will play the state final at Metlife Stadium, home of the New York Giants and Jets. The game will be a rematch of week 2, which Glen Rock won 41-18.

This game is extremely important to the players and the program according to Glen Rock’s Coach J.P. McCarten, who also teaches at the high school.  He said the team is trying to stay focused on this game rather than looking past it to the final.

This week’s practices have been filled with a little “nervous energy,” according to McCarten. But, overall the kids are handling the spotlight “just fine” and preparation is “business as usual.”

“The key to the game is to dominate upfront… that’s the bottom line,” McCarten said.

He put extra emphasis on protecting Junior quarterback Matt Schlett and giving him time in the pocket. McCarten also stated that pressuring Hawthorne to throw the ball downfield, which the team is not comfortable doing in their style of offense, is Glen Rock’s defensive goal.

On offense, “if we can run the ball against them,” he said, “we are going to be in really good shape.”

Schlett’s stats from Glen Rock’s the week 2 matchup with Hawthorne include 75 passing yards with a .615% completion percentage and 126 yards on the ground while averaging 8.4 yards on each of his 15 carries.

According to McCarten, the current seniors have “suffered quite a bit through the years” to get to where they are. The 2014 season was brought to an end in the first round of the playoffs. The year before that was the same story.

“We got beat pretty bad by Waldwick,” said McCarten about the 2013 playoff experience. “When they were freshmen, we did not make the playoffs.”

“They are a good group,” he said. “They support one another, they lift-up guys around them.”

Several players will return from injury for the game, including seniors Tommy Pulzello and Mike O’Hagan, both of whom provide impact plays when on the field.

According to McCarten, Hawthorne has given Glen Rock no credit for their win in the week 2 matchup.

The Hawthorne game came after a “pretty tough loss against Rutherford” in week 1, said McCarten. He describes week one as a “let down” but mentions the fact that it had actually sparked a fire under the team which has stayed lit in games since.

In terms of football history, Glen Rock and Hawthorne go way back.

“One of our coaches currently lives in Hawthorne. Both of his kids played for Hawthorne football,” McCarten said.

Father of senior captain Mike O’Hagan played football for Hawthorne High School and has coached several staff members in the Hawthorne program.