Football: Mazalewski combination moves Passaic Valley closer to playoffs
LITTLE FALLS – Zach Mazalewski had just completed another magic show.
While reveling in his team’s, 35-28 victory over feisty Lakeland last Saturday in Little Falls, the Passaic Valley senior quarterback was quick to point out what lies ahead for his Hornets.
Passaic Valley will take a 4-2 mark into a game at powerful Pascack Valley on Friday night in Hillsdale. Kickoff time is 6 p.m. Entering this week, the Hornets were sixth in power points in North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4, as it seeks to qualify for the NJSIAA playoffs for a second-straight year. Passaic Valley last accomplished that feat in 2002 and ’03.
Zach Mazalewski and his twin brother, Anthony Mazalewski, put on an aerial show last Saturday, as the Hornets needed everything in its arsenal to hold off Lakeland. Zach completed 17-of-27 passes for 230 yards and four touchdowns, including three scoring strikes to Anthony, who hauled in 11 passes for 118 yards. Zach Mazalewski also rushed for 75 yards on 11 carries as the investment firm of Mazalewski and Mazalewski continued to draw dividends for its shareholders.
“This was a good win for us,” Zach said after the game. “But make no mistake, we have to start preparing for Pascack Valley. That will be a big test for us.”
Pascack Valley, the defending sectional champion, will take a 5-1 record into tomorrow night’s game. The Indians defeated Passaic Valley twice last year, including a one-sided contest in the first round of the State playoffs. Last Saturday’s game, which also marked ‘Senior Day’ in Little Falls, was entertaining from the start, as Passaic Valley faced Lakeland for the first time in five years.
The Hornets held leads of 7-0, 14-7, 21-14 and 28-21, but on each occasion the Lancers would battle back to tie.
“Lakeland is well coached, and has a tough group of kids,” said Passaic Valley head coach Bill Johnson. “We needed to find a way to win a game like that, and we did. It was a hard fought game.”
The Hornets took advantage of turnovers, including a first-quarter interception by Keith Martinez, which set up an eight-yard scoring pass from Mazalewski to Mazalewski that made it 7-0 after the first of Steve Luisa’s five-straight point-after kicks.
Lakeland (2-4) responded later in the first quarter to tie the game, but PV capitalized again on a turnover, this time an interception by Nikolas Levajac, which led to a 25-yard scoring pass from Mazalewski to Mazalewski to give PV a 14-7 lead in the second quarter.
Before the end of the first half, Lakeland would rally, scoring the tying touchdown with five seconds left in the half. Passaic Valley quickly regained the lead, taking the third-quarter kickoff and driving 62 yards for the go-ahead score when, Mazalewski found Mazalewski with another scoring strike, this time from nine yards out to make it 21-14.
Lakeland would storm back to tie it, but Passaic Valley regained the lead in the third when Martinez (64 yards rushing) scored from five yards out to give the Hornets a 28-21 lead.
Lakeland tied it, again, late in the third at 28, but PV finally put the game away in the fourth when Zach Mazalewski ran out of trouble and hit Jake Sliker with a perfect pass in the corner of the end zone to put the Hornets ahead for good, 35-28. Fittingly, Zach Mazalewski recorded an interception on defense late in the game to seal the victory. Mazalewski also gave the crowd a few wows when, on two occasions, he hurdled over a defender en route to extra yardage.
“Zach has been playing great all season long,” said Johnson. “And he really stepped it up today. When we needed a big play, he got it done.”
Mazalewski also noted the tremendous play of the offensive line. Tom Ibrahim, Levajac, Anthony Maffucci, Tyler Hablitz and Ryan McCabe all stood out, as the Hornets’ offense continued to click.
“Those guys don’t always get the recognition, but they should,” said Johnson. “And a kid like McCabe can never be underestimated. He does so much for our team.”
NOTES: The Hornets are 0-5 against Pascack Valley since the teams began playing regularly in 2010. Last year’s regular-season game, a 21-7 setback, was the closest game in the series, thus far. After Friday night’s matchup, the Hornets return home to face Indian Hills on Saturday, Nov. 1, in the second annual Homecoming Game. Dylan Atieh had a back injury, which limited his playing time last Saturday. He’s hopeful of playing on Friday