By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
When asked about Newburgh’s looming showdown with Monroe-Woodbury, running back Giani Hill broke out a sports cliché that would make some coaches proud.
“We try to take one game at a time and not get ahead of ourselves,” Hill said.
Then Hill conveyed how he and his teammates really feel.
“This is a game that we’ve had circled on our calendars all year,” he said. “We’ve been waiting to play them for a while, and it will be a great game.”
In what is always one of the most anticipated games of the year, Newburgh hosts Monroe-Woodbury in a Class AA showdown at 7 p.m. on Friday. Like so many years before, the showdown will decide the Class AA regular-season champion and the top-seed in the playoffs.
Newburgh, the four-time defending Class AA champions, has defeated the Crusaders five times in a row. Monroe-Woodbury last beat the Goldbacks (6-1, 5-0 Class AA) on October 9th, 2015 by the score of 24-20.
“It’s a match-up I’ve been waiting for,” said Newburgh running back Terry Anderson, who has rushed for 706 yards and nine touchdowns this season. The Goldbacks’ running attack also includes Syncere Tatum (474 yards, seven touchdowns) and Hill (350 yards, 11 touchdowns). “It’s always such a good game. I know our team will bring it and they (Monroe-Woodbury) will too. They always do.”
Friday serves as the latest edition of the best rivalry in Section 9. Newburgh vs. Monroe-Woodbury is usually the biggest game of the year. The rivalry goes back two decades. Back in 1997, NFA defeated Monroe-Woodbury 20-14 to win the Class AA championship. The teams’ would meet for the title for the next four years in a row and seven of the next nine years. Since ‘97, Monroe-Woodbury and NFA have battled for the Class AA championship 13 times with Newburgh winning seven times.
The Goldbacks put away Monroe-Woodbury 42-20 in last year’s Class AA playoff semifinals, before overwhelming Pine Bush 33-6 in the championship. Newburgh has lost only one game this season, falling to Jersey power River Dell 24-0 four weeks ago. The Goldbacks have outscored opponents 298-94 this year.
Monroe-Woodbury (5-2, 4-0 Class A) opened the season with a loss to Class AA state power Aquinas Institute 42-20 and fell to undefeated Cornwall 34-21 on September 28th.
“It’s always a big game circled on everyone’s calendar,” Monroe-Woodbury coach Ryan Baldock said. “I think what makes it so big is that we have been very competitive for a long time. It’s Newburgh’s Senior Night and there is going to be a big crowd. I think it’s a great opportunity to see where we are headed into the playoffs.”