Football wins MIFL finals against Riverdale


Emily Wang , Staff Writer

The Varsity Football Team triumphed against Riverdale in the Metropolitan Independent Football League (MIFL) finals last Sunday, earning the title of MIFL Champions and ending the season on a three-game winning streak.

“The whole season came full circle,” team member Jack Chasen (11) said. The Lions lost their first game of the season to Riverdale by two points but beat them in their final game by the same amount. The team also lost to Montclair-Kimberley Academy (MKA) at Homecoming before beating them later in the semifinals. 

At the game on Sunday, the Lions maintained a sizable lead over Riverdale until the end, when Riverdale scored a touchdown with two minutes left and brought the score to 30-28. “The game wasn’t as close as the score [made it seem],” Varsity Football Coach Ron Beller said. “It was 24-nothing with two minutes to go in the second quarter.” Since Riverdale scored right before halftime, it gave them momentum going into the third quarter, he said.

A highlight from the game was a turnover by Sam Spector (11), Beller said. “He was able to blitz off the edge on the blindside,” he said. “The Riverdale quarterback didn’t see it coming and he was able to make a strip sack, jarring the ball loose. Then one of our best players, Nate Wildman [(12)], was able to recover it just before it got out of bounds.” 

The stands at the Brunswick School were packed with onlookers, and Head of School Dr. Tom Kelly brought the enthusiasm with food trucks, hot chocolate, and hats. “[There was] a lot of energy in the stands and the sidelines,” Beller said. 

When the Lions won, the crowd went crazy, Goodman said. The players, with mud staining their uniforms and smiles painting their faces, huddled around the coaches and one another. 

“A lot of the kids came up to us and were hugging us and saying, ‘I love you coach, I love you coach, I love you coach,’” Beller said. “That’s a really good feeling — you were able to make a connection where teenagers can come up to you and say, ‘hey, I love you.’”

Leading up to the final game against Riverdale, the team met six days in a row to strategize. The seniors helped the team focus during practice and during games, Goodman said. “We had a week to prepare, so we were watching film on Riverdale, going over game plans, and drawing up new plays,” Chasen said.

They devised plans that would poke holes through Riverdale’s defense and offense, Spector said. “Coach Beller decided to run a more man-coverage-based system, we also played a bunch of zone coverage.”

The team’s bond was what really defined the team, Zachary Goodman (12) said. “We’re a close-knit family and we’ve known each other for so long,” he said.

The Lions’ final season record was 5-4. “We did have an incredibly difficult schedule,” Beller said. “[But] in the end, it helped us win the championship because we were battle-tested.”