This week’s NJIC Game of the Week will be in Rutherford Saturday when the Bulldogs host Garfield in a key Colonial Division showdown.
It’s Rutherford’s homecoming game, and that means it’s the perfect time for former Bulldogs to see how far their program has come.
Below is everything you need to know for the game.
NJIC Game of the Week (Week 2)
Garfield (2-0) at Rutherford (2-0), Saturday, 1 p.m.
On the line: Rutherford’s seniors who graduated last June never saw their team lose a divisional game. Rutherford’s last loss to a Colonial Division opponent came in 2014 when the Bulldogs finished 3-7 overall. If you’re doing the math, that’s four straight Colonial Division titles since 2015, but that’s not all. Rutherford ran its overall record to 40-4 during the span, played in three sectional finals and won two of them. Those seniors last year closed out their careers with a victory over Kittatinny in the North, Group 2 bowl game, which capped a remarkable run that also included an undefeated season in 2017. The kicker? Rutherford graduated 21 seniors from last year’s team, but has shown no signs of slowing down despite an almost-entirely new group of playmakers. So what’s on the line? An opportunity for Garfield to do something no team has been able to do in the last four years or the opportunity for Rutherford to prove that there’s no end in sight for its recent run of success.
Last meeting: Abellany Mendez ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns while Lawson Fisher registered two sacks to help Rutherford win, 21-6, in last year’s Week 2 showdown. Saturday’s game will be the 11th meeting between the two Bergen County schools. They first met in 1958 and went 52 years before their next meeting in 2010. They’ve played every year since. Rutherford holds the all-time edge with a 7-3 record.
Rutherford’s 2019 results: Defeated Manchester Regional, 35-32; Defeated Palisades Park, 48-7
Rutherford on offense: Evan Ward made his debut as Rutherford’s quarterback in last year’s game against Garfield, filling in when starter Kyle Russell went down with an injury. Now, the junior steps in as Rutherford’s full-time leader behind center. Ward threw three touchdown’s in last week’s over Elmwood Park and will try to lead the way once again. Still, this is an offense that wants to feed its backfield. Senior Kris Guzmen should get a big bulk of the workload Saturday after rushing for 108 yards and three scores against Manchester while Ward, Brian Iguanti and Harold Kwon should also see some action.
Rutherford on defense: Rutherford certainly does not want this to turn into another high-scoring affair like its opener against Manchester. Iguanti and senior linebacker Sebastian Gaeta are two key returners from last year’s team. Gaeta had 14 tackles and a sack against Manchester.
Garfield’s 2019 results: Defeated Lodi, 40-21; Defaeted Glen Rock, 19-7
Garfield on offense: Senior running back Josue Matias got Garfield off to a fast start when he ran for 162 yards and five touchdowns against Lodi. This is an offense that can mix things up so look for a mix of Matias and some innovative looks, quite possibly even with multiple quarterbacks. Jason Hawes and Matthew Fucile have shared time behind center. Will that continue against Rutherford?
Garfield on defense: Keep an eye out for the big guy in the middle of it all. Senior Mike Alfonso can play multiple positions on defense and brings plenty of disruption with his size. He’s already forced multiple turnovers in Garfield’s first two games and needs to be accounted for on every play. Kacper Szuberski and senior Maxwell Drakeford are two more senior linebackers capable of being difference-makers.
Prediction: Rutherford 34, Garfield 28 … Rutherford remains the Colonial Division’s team to beat until proven otherwise. That’s the kind of credit the Bulldogs deserve with a 26-game division winning streak still in tact. Garfield should prove to be another tough challenge, but Rutherford finds a way to win.
- 1958: Garfield, 21-0
- 2010: Rutherford, 35-6
- 2011: Rutherford, 48-20
- 2012: Rutherford, 42-13
- 2013: Garfield, 46-6
- 2014: Garfield, 42-39
- 2015: Rutherford, 27-6
- 2016: Rutherford, 26-6
- 2017: Rutherford, 28-0
- 2018: Rutherford, 21-6