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December 1, 2001
Hopatcong Chiefs - State Champs!!
First half goes to Mahwah...
|In the days leading up to the game, you could almost feel the fervor beginning to build in Hopatcong- and rightfully so. It wasn't more than a decade ago that the Chiefs were in the midst of their state record for consecutive losses. And now, here they were, on the verge of a state title, on the verge of starting a new chapter in the book of Hopatcong football. There were green and white balloons all over town, good lucks signs and banners placed along roads and beside people's houses. It was refreshing. I felt a hint of that oh so familiar Chief pride.|
|The game started at 1pm. There was some tailgate party going on at 11am and I figured half the town would be there, so Jen and I got there around noon. The cars kept pouring in. I'd say there were a few thousand people there. The stands were jam-packed. People were also lined along the fence and every free space was just about taken up. It was awesome to see such a great turnout for the game. And of course I was wearing my Hopatcong green! Here's a picture of the team right when the came out at the beginning of the game.|
|I really like this picture of the Hopatcong captains walking out to mid-field for the coin toss. The quarterback, Jerry Venturino is number four. I guess I've known Jerry for about eight years or so. I was his counselor at Hopatcong Summer Rec. for a few summers and also during my infamous stint of being a substitute teacher, I had his class a bunch of times. But that's a whole other story for a whole other day... Jerry is just a real down-to-earth guy.|
|Hopatcong won the toss and elected to kick. Unfortunately, it only took Mahwah a few plays to find the endzone. It was a rather auspicious start. It really seemed like the Hopatcong defense, which only gave up five first downs in their first two playoff games, was unable to contain the Mahwah offense. Mahwah came out so strong that the crowd never really had a chance to enjoy the first half. We blinked and it was 14-0 and the hopes of a state title were slowly pulling out of reach.|