A berth in the state football playoffs was achieved this season by the Hillsborugh High School football team.
Hillsborough, however, ran into a formidable foe in the first round when it clashed with Sayreville War Memorial High School when the Central Jersey, Group 5 state sectional playoffs opened on Nov. 3 in Sayreville.
Sayreville, the top seed in the section, knocked out eighth-seeded Hillsborough, 42-7.
“They [Sayreville] were really tough,” Hillsborough coach Kevin Carty Jr. said. “They made a lot of really good plays and I think some areas where we thought we really could have attacked them, we didn’t quite get to. That’s to their credit.”
What started as a tight game when each team scored on its first possession, Sayreville broke away with touchdowns on its next three possessions.
Despite the defeat, Carty touched on the positives from the game.
“Our guys played tough,” Carty Jr. said. “We had some guys on the defensive line that I think made some really good plays. We had some guys make some really good catches. Josh Costa, making that touchdown catch was a really clutch catch for a young guy to make. He’s a senior, but he hadn’t really played a lot earlier in the year and he made a huge catch for us to stay in this game.”
Costa’s touchdown came on a 22-yard pass from quarterback Tom Ramsey. But after scoring their first touchdown, the Raiders Hillsborough never advanced to the opposite red zone. The 8-1 Bombers made sure the Raiders never made it past their 43-yard line for the rest of the day.
“When [Sayreville] got in before the half, that kind of hurt us a bit,” Carty Jr. said. “Then when we got the ball first, we didn’t score right back, and we gave it right back to them. So, they were able to sandwich the half with a couple of points and that’s when they pulled away on us. We weren’t able to come back.”
The Raiders concluded their season with a 4-5 record.
“It’s extremely disappointing,” Carty Jr. said. “I thought we were going to play a little better than this and it really didn’t go the way we wanted it to; we made some mistakes. Our guys have fought hard this whole season and it’s disappointing, but that’s how it goes.”
The Raiders have now finished with a losing record for the first time since the 2015 season when they ended 4-6.