M-W uses big plays and special teams to beat rival Newburgh

Monroe Woodbury v Newburgh

Crusaders extend win streak to five games and snap three-game skid against Goldbacks

By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider

Central Valley  — This is what got Jack Colbath and his Monroe-Woodbury teammates through grueling off-season workouts.

This is what got the Crusaders through two-a-day practices in the searing heat.

This is what got them through tedious film sessions.

This game. Monroe-Woodbury vs. Newburgh.

And this is the result the Crusaders had hoped for: Monroe-Woodbury 28, Newburgh 17.

The Crusaders broke a three-game losing streak against its rivals with the Section 9 Class AA Division I win on Friday night. Monroe-Woodbury (5-1, 3-0 Class AA) can clinch the Division I regular-season title with a win over Pine Bush next week.

“It’s a great feeling and we worked real hard for this,” Colbath said. “We have been trying to beat them for the last two years. We knew Newburgh would come out and be a great team. They were, but we really wanted this win. I know they said that we should be ready for them and we were.”

Monroe-Woodbury, which has won five games in a row, put the game away with 6:03 remaining when quarterback Steven Campione hit Johnny McCormick for a 20-yard touchdown on a fade pattern to make the score 28-15. The Crusaders gave up a safety and two points with 1:02 remaining to avoid punting.

Monroe-Woodbury scored the first 15 points of the game. Campione hit Kenny Hernandez on a 51-yard touchdown with 5:06 left in the first quarter and the Crusaders then went for an onside kick and recovered it. Monroe-Woodbury cashed in on coach Ryan Baldock’s riverboat gambler-style special teams call when Campione scored on a 1-yard run to put the Crusaders up 12-0.

Campione’s touchdown was set up by his 33-yard pass to Jack Dembia. After Campione’s 1-yard run, the Crusaders went for another onside kick, and recovered it. That set up a 33-yard field goal by Mike Boyle. Baldock attempted a third consecutive onside kick, but Newburgh barely recovered it.

He said he went for the onside kicks, in part, to keep the ball away from Newburgh star return man Uh’Charion Hanson. Hanson returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the Goldbacks’ 17-14 win over Monroe-Woodbury in last year’s Class AA title game. Newburgh (4-2, 2-1 Class AA) is the three-time defending Class AA champion.

“We didn’t take care of the ball tonight, we didn’t play great special teams, there wasn’t many positives to be honest,” Newburgh coach Bill Bianco said. “Our lack of attention to detail and sloppiness was really our downfall. You can’t turn the ball over that many times and not get the onside kicks and expect to win. It is what it is. Credit to them. Monroe-Woodbury was ready to go. We weren’t.”

Despite sputtering early, Newburgh pulled to within 15-12 at halftime on a 62-yard pass from quarterback Terry Anderson to Uh’Charion Hanson, and a 26-yard run by sophomore Sincere Tatum. Field goals of 27 and 28 yards by Boyle in the third quarter gave the Crusaders a 21-12 lead.

Monroe-Woodbury v Newburgh

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Newburgh kicker Pete Matthews answered with a 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter, but Campione’s pass to McCormick helped Monroe-Woodbury earn a win in one of the most anticipated games in Section 9 every season.

Friday’s showdown served as the latest showcase of the best local rivalries. 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.

“This is a game that we have been waiting for since January when we got into the weight room,” said Campione, who passed for 184 yards. “To win it, execute all of our stuff, defense coming up big, our offensive line carrying our offense, it’s a great feeling. We are going to enjoy it. We knew if we took a play off against this team, they were going to come back at us. But we didn’t take any plays off.”

Follow Justin Rodriguez on Twitter at jrodsportshs