Here’s Mike Dougherty’s story on 8-0 Hackley, which finished unbeaten for just the fourth time in program history:
SUFFERN — There was no league title hanging in the balance for Hackley, no playoff game to look forward to. After playing as an independent, Friday’s meeting with Suffern was the next game on the schedule for the Hornets, and the last of the season.
Even so, the finale was anything but anticlimactic.
Hackley came into the game undefeated, so there was plenty to play for, and the Hornets showed plenty of urgency after falling behind for the first time all season. They came storming back, posting a 34-14 win over the Mounties under the lights at Suffern Middle School.
“It means a lot,” running back Elijah Ngbokoli said. “The more you want to do something, the harder you have to push to do it.”
Hackley, which is 8-0, last finished with an unblemished record in 2001.
“That was the goal for the kids coming into the season,” Hornets coach Phil Treglia said. “I think, as coaches, we just wanted to get better each week. We knew that the team coming back was strong. We had some good seniors returning, and won the Fairchester League a season ago so we had some momentum. The kids’ goal, even if it was silent, was to win every game.”
There were some nervous moments. Justin Rosenblum hit Liam Griffin with a seven-yard touchdown strike in the first quarter and Gabe Cohen went in from a yard out in the second to give Suffern a 14-0 lead.
Mustafaa Dais got the Hornets revved up when he brought the ensuing kick back 71 yards for a touchdown.
“We came back out and everyone kind of had their heads down,” the highly-recruited wideout said. “I had to do something there and I asked Elijah to let the ball go through so I could get it, and I took it to the house.”
Dais picked off a pass in the end zone to end the next Mounties possession.
Ngbokoli caught a screen pass from Joe McDermott and jetted 80 yards for another quick score that helped make it a 14-14 contest at the half. Suffern couldn’t keep up. McDermott hit Ngbokoli with another screen, and the junior running back sprang that one down the sideline for a 68-yard score that gave Hackley a 21-14 lead. McDermott ran the next one in from 9 yards away. Ngbokoli put an exclamation point on a night that included 275 total yards when he caught a short pass from McDermott and went 52 yards for a touchdown.