It will be a different venue, but Hasbrouck Heights High School football team knows what they have to do.
The Aviators (8-2), the fifth seed, travels to take on top-seeded Cedar Grove (9-1) on Friday night at 7 p.m. on the road in the Group 1 North 1 state semi-finals. A Heights victory would send the Aviators into the sectional final which would presumably be played next week at MetLife Stadium.
Instead of playing at Cedar Grove High School, the snow on the field pushed the game to West Essex Regional High School which has a turf field compared to the grass field at Cedar Grove, same time at 7 p.m. (directions are below).
Heights comes into the game after defeating Butler, 34-14, while the Cedar Grove Panthers dominated eighth-seeded Belvidere, 41-14, and have won eight straight games.
For the Aviators they rebounded against the Bulldogs on the road after losing back-to-back games to Palisades Park/Leonia and Pompton Lakes.
The key for Heights to pull the upset will be scoring points as the Aviators are undefeated when they score 27 points or more so they will need some touchdowns from running backs Anthony Seidel and A.J. Traina along with contributions in the air from quarterback Darren Iurato whose top target is tight end James Fitzsimmons.
Another key for a Heights upset will be putting pressure on Cedar Grove quarterback Joe Slattery by the defensive line including Chris Golio, Justin Porzl, Ryan Palladino, Matt DeSimone, Joey Crabbe and Frank Altamura, along with linebackers Fitzsimmons and Mauro Altamura. The lone loss by the Panthers was against Caldwell, 40-12, and Slattery threw three interceptions in the defeat. The junior though has thrown for 1,778 yards in the air and 17 touchdowns.
Against Belvidere, Cedar Grove only ran for 53 yards, but Belvidere defended against the run so the Panthers went to the air as Slattery threw for five touchdowns including touchdown strikes to his top receivers Paul Rufo and David Njuko, who both caught two touchdowns each. Rufo has 725 yards in receiving yards for the season.
But Hasbrouck Heights will also have to stop the Cedar Grove running game including Slattery, Charlie Dorman and Mike Bocchino, all who have run for more than 300 yards this season.
Directions to West Essex Regional High School
Take Rt 80 West
Take exit 52 toward Lincoln Park/Fair Field/The Caldwells
Turn right onto Lane Rd
Take the 1st right onto 2 Bridges Rd
Continue onto Passaic Ave
Turn left onto W Greenbrook Rd
GPS ADDRESS: 65 W Greenbrook Rd, Fairfield, NJ 07004