Defense leads South Plainfield to victory
Dondre Tate returned the game’s opening kickoff for a score and also hauled in a touchdown pass in the first quarter, staking the South Plainfield High School football team to an early lead in a 25-7 victory over J.P. Stevens on Friday night.
Despite his offensive and special teams playmaking prowess, Tate remains better known as a lock-down cornerback.
He anchors a first-string defense that has yet to yield a touchdown this season. South Plainfield (2-0) received stellar play from its defensive line including Dishon Hessing, Luke Niemeyer, Marquise Bradley and Brendan Hedden. The secondary, featuring free safety TJ Massaro, who had another monster game, was equally impressive.
“They are flying to the football,” South Plainfield head coach Gary Cassio said of his defense, which registered three interceptions and a fumble recovery. “They’ve been doing a phenomenal job.”
The vastly improved Hawks, whose quarterback, Joey Young, continues to impress, were limited to 48 rushing yards.
Jesse Shilulli scored J.P. Stevens’ lone touchdown with under a minute remaining in the game against the second-string defense.
Zach DelVecchio had rushing touchdowns of 5 and 1 yards. Tate caught a 29-yard scoring strike from Charles Lovett and had a 95-yard kickoff return.
The Tigers lost Lovett and backup quarterback Sam Nieves, who doubles as a cornerback, to injuries and cramping in the second half. Third-string signal caller Josiah Harvey finished the game.
J.P. Stevens packed the box, forcing the Tigers to spread the field. Cassio said opposing coach Joe Riggi formulated a stellar defensive game plan.