The comeback according to the quarterback


Photo by Varsity Vantage

Hank Shapiro, Business Manager

The jog from the field to the locker room might have been the longest 30 seconds of my life. Nothing had gone right for our team in the first half. Down 20-0, there were no signs of life on either side of the ball. We were dumbfounded with how Bridgewater-Raritan utterly dominated us in the first half. 

There was silence for at least a minute which is unheard of in our locker room. The coaches went to their office to regroup and come up with a strategy for the second half. You could start to hear murmurs from some of the older players. One of the best things I heard was “What’s written is written.” We had to move forward and forget about the way we played in the first half and fix every mistake possible. All the seniors then proceeded to talk to each other and the underclassmen about what they need to do on every single play in the second half to win this game. Our goal was to win the game 21-20, but we didn’t care how it happened all we knew was that we did not want this to be our last meaningful game of the season. 

Our coaches adjusted our assignments for the second half and we were told by the referees that it was time to get on the field. Coach DeSarno gave us a small speech to get us going and we were excited, but you could feel the energy in the locker room was not the same as it was before the game. This was easily the most nervous I have felt before playing in a game.

Watching Bridgewater-Raritan take the opening kickoff back to midfield and then proceed to churn away the clock by running the ball was heartbreaking. With every second lost, we were a second closer to ending our season. Our defense ended up giving up a field goal, but momentum was all Bridgewater-Raritan after we gave the ball right back to them on the next drive. With the score 23-0 and without the ball you could hear a pin drop on the Westfield sideline.

Our biggest opponent at this point in the game was time. We scored our first points of the game with three minutes left in the third quarter and we wouldn’t get the ball back until eight minutes left in the fourth quarter. This Westfield team is not built to quit and that is because of all the work we put in during the summer and preparation we put in during the week leading up to this game.

We kept chipping away at their lead using big plays as our main weapon of attack in addition to our high tempo offense. After our next score with six minutes left in the game we went for a two point conversion to make it a one score game, but we failed. It looked like there wouldn’t be enough time in the game to complete our comeback. The score was 23-13. We needed our defense to do their job and they did.

At this point we gained so much momentum our sideline was buzzing with energy and you could feel the tides turn. We scored again to make it 23-20 with three minutes left in the game.  Our crowd was electric and our defense made one last big stop. 

Our ensuing drive only lasted two plays. The first play they triple covered Griffin Rooney, but for whatever reason on the next play they only had one man covering him.  We ran one of our most basic plays. The Bridgewater-Raritan crowd was on their feet doing anything to disrupt my focus. Little did they know I knew this would be the play to end their season.  I dropped back, scanned the defense, and launched the ball to Griffin in the endzone from 30 yards away. He made a great catch giving us the lead for the first time in the game. 

The comeback was complete.  The feeling that everyone felt on our sideline is something that we would remember forever. It wasn’t about me, or Griffin Rooney or any one player. It was about all of us, the team playing with one goal, one mission. We would survive to see another day and continue in the playoffs. 

I’m sure if you ask any WHS football player about that game they will still be in shock, but what’s written is now written and we’re on to Ridgewood.