by Pat Gunther
The Battle of Ridge road certainly lived up to its hype. The RFH-RBR football rivalry goes back many decades. After a few years off, the rivalry was renewed on this fall on a fateful Friday night. The game was in fact a battle, proving to be dramatic and exciting for players and fans alike.
Rumson-Fair Haven won the game 9-3, scoring a late-game touchdown, followed by a safety that was the final blow. Red Bank Regional knocked down a go ahead 49 yard field goal with eight minutes and twenty seven seconds left in the game. On the ensuing Bucs possession, junior defensive tackle Mike Alonzo came up big by recovering a fumble on the RBR 17-yard line. Alonzo’s recovery set up Mike Guzman’s game winning 1-yard rushing touchdown with six minutes and six seconds left. The bulldogs won the game with a Jack Miles and Mike Alonzo safety with just over sixteen seconds left. Senior Wide Receiver Jack Wise then recovered the onside kick to finalize the win.
The dogs practiced all week adjusting to RBR’s multiple defenses and power-running style of play. The hard work had paid off and RFH captured the trophy and simultaneously won bragging rights for the year to come.
After the game, Senior Wide Receiver Jack Wise commented on the Battle of Ridge Road. “ We practiced with a lot of energy and enthusiasm all week to prepare for RBR, because after watching film and games we knew that they really had a lot of energy and could be difficult to hang with for 4 quarters” said Jack.
“RBR has great athletes and plays with explosive energy, but we felt having primarily offensive or defensive players would help our guys stay rested and ready to play on their side of the ball. Our offense also provided us with an advantage because I feel that we’re more established and have several different weapons,” Wise continued.
Many of RBR’s players play on both sides of the ball, and knowing this helped RFH capitalize on those physically demanding situations. The preparation is not the only thing that helped the team tremendously.
“Seeing the entire student body in the stands gives you a feeling of comfort, just knowing that you have more people supporting you than they do can really help you raise your play to another level,” noted Wise. The fans provided a huge edge for the Dawgs, and definitely can help decide the outcome of a game.
“We had stuck with them really well in the first half, and I knew that if we kept plugging away and our defense kept doing their job, eventually our offense would click and get the ball moving,” commented Wise.
The game was tied up until the middle of the fourth quarter, when the Bucs kicker knocked down an incredible forty nine-yard field goal. “I saw it go through and just thought wow, I mean forty-nine yards in a high school game is incredible but at the same time I knew our offense would get back on the field and get to work,” said Wise.
That’s just what they did, as the Dawgs drove the field after a Mike Alonzo fumble recovery. As the Dawgs hoisted the silver trophy Jack had a special feeling about this win in particular.
“I just thought about how great it was to win the game, knowing that we don’t have to drive past RBR everyday and know that they beat us. For us seniors it meant a lot knowing that our last time being able to do this ended in a bulldogs win.”
The bulldogs earned a significant local win that Friday night. Everyone at the game could agree that the RFH-RBR game was one of the most exciting games of a very rewarding season.