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***Roxbury and Delbarton hitting full stride as they prepare to play on Saturday to highlight what will be big football weekend in Morris!

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***Montclair's powerful running back is SC/360 Fitness Athlete of the Week after big game vs. SHP. Read more in "Feature Articles"

***Jon Miller has been a clutch goal scorer for Madison's soccer team and he led the way in MCT semifinal win over Kinnelon. See more on big victory in "The Buzz"

Verona co-captains Matt Intili (22) and Frank Ferrari (12) have their focus on both the SEC-Colonial Division and North 1, Group 1 playoff titles this fall as the Hillbillies are off to an impressive 5-0 start and now get set for the meat of their 2014 schedule with Millburn on tap this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (Photo by Bill Allen-NJSportAction.NET)

Undefeated Verona Off To Strong 5-0 Start
With A Nice Mix Of Experience And Youth
By Steve Tober

VERONA- There was a stretch of time not that long ago, from 2004-2008, when for five consecutive seasons the Verona Hillbillies were at the pinnacle in terms of competing at the highest level in Group 1 football in the Garden State.

The star players from running back Mike Canfora to wide receivers Dan DePalma and Chris Looney to renowned linebacker Carlo Calabrese were centerpieces in some memorable battles, and victories.

The Hillbillies went 48-10 (83%) during that span, played in three North 2, Group 1 finals, and capping the five-year stretch by capturing the playoff championship in 2008 with a hard-fought 13-12 win over Hoboken.

And, while the next five seasons have not been subpar by any means, they haven’t been quite the caliber of the previous quintet of memorable campaigns, even though there have been continued splendid showings in the playoffs, such as a hard-fought effort despite an eventual 27-16 loss at Pompton Lakes in the 2012 N1G1 semis, and then last year’s impressive 30-28 quarterfinal upset win at Cresskill.

Which brings us to 2014 and a Hillbilly team that is off to a 5-0 start as the only remaining undefeated team in Essex County; however, there haven’t been many real obstacles to date, except perhaps for last Saturday’s initial Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division contest of the season vs. an always athletic and physical Shabazz (2-3, 0-2) team as Verona came away with a hard-fought 21-13 victory.

The first four wins of the season were over Newark East Side (0-6), Marist (1-5), Glen Ridge (3-3) and West Side (0-6), which weren’t exactly true tests for what is a Hillbilly team with legitimate talent, a host of veteran performers and a bevy of promising youngsters.

“We can only play the teams that are on our schedule, and coming into the year we felt that our first two games against East Side and Marist would be a good way to ease into our schedule,” said longtime head coach Lou Racioppe. “We knew that Glen Ridge always plays us tough and that West Side was pretty good last year, and we handled all of those teams.

“Coming into the Shabazz game, we knew we were in for a tough game. While our record is 5-0 we know we still have some big games ahead of us and, of course, there is always room for improvement.”

Next up is Millburn (1-4, 0-2) on Saturday, 2:30 p.m., at Doc Goeltz Field, and the Millers are another squad, like West Side, which have taken a step back after showing so much promise last fall.

This will be the first Verona-Millburn football game since back in 1987.

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