To quote the late, great Tom Petty, “It’s good to be king.”
Or at least you’d think. With bragging rights to the mythical “King of the Hill” title on the line last Saturday at Riverdale, Fieldston came into Frank J. Bertino Field and ended the Falcons’ three-year reign as “kings” with a convincing 32-14 victory.
King of the Hill goes to the winner of the yearly head-to-head matchups among Fieldston, Riverdale and Horace Mann. This year, Fieldston knocked off both the Falcons and Horace Mann to lay claim to the title.
But afterward, any talk of being the new “kings” was hard to come by. You see, Fieldston — a winless program just two seasons ago — has its sights set on bigger game, namely, the championship of the Metropolitan Independent Football League. Now after their latest victory, the Eagles have moved one step closer to wearing that crown.
“We haven’t even talked about King of the Hill because we’ve been so focused on trying to win our league,” Fieldston coach Gus Ornstein said. “We’re so focused on trying to win that championship that this is kind of a byproduct. It’s a weird thing in that we haven’t done it in so long, but I don’t even think it’s on (the Eagles’) radar.”
It wasn’t exactly an auspicious start for Fieldston as Riverdale needed just 15 seconds to open with the first score of the game, a 64-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Rosenzweig to Ernie Robertson for a quick 6-0 Falcons’ lead.
But it was all Fieldston from there.
The Eagles pulled within 6-2 when linebacker Josh Godosky sacked Rosenzweig in the end zone for a safety before pulling ahead, 9-6, just before the half on a 40-yard touchdown pass from Jesse Cooper-Leary to Ben Rosen-Cappellazzo.
But that act was just getting warmed up.
The same tandem teamed up for two more touchdowns — on passes covering 26 and 24 yards — as the Eagles built a 22-6 lead with 2:51 left in the third quarter. When Godosky added a 1-yard scoring plunge with 10:50 to play in the fourth, the victory was assured and “king” bragging rights secured. Not that the Eagles cared all that much about it.
“This entire year we haven’t talked about that even once,” Godosky said. “We know this is a competitive league and winning it, that’s the goal. Riverdale is in our league, so that’s a game we had to win. But it’s not about King of the Hill, it’s about winning the league.”
On a team that boasts such offensive weapons as Godosky, Cooper-Leary and the O’Hagan twins — Pierce and Patrick — now comes the emergence of Rosen-Cappellazzo, who now has five TD grabs in his last two games.
“Ben has been my friend forever, and we’ve played football together forever, and this year it just seems to have clicked for him,” Cooper-Leary said. “I’ve been able to put that ball out there for him, and he’s been able to go get it. It’s really great having a weapon like him.”
Godosky said it was fun to catch the “The Jesse & Ben Show” from his front-row seat at running back.
“Jesse had an amazing game, perfect throws,” Godosky said. “And Ben, for the second week in a row, has just gone off. He’s a real weapon.”
Riverdale coach Joe Otero, who saw his team’s three-year reign as “kings” come to an end, was impressed with the Eagles’ performance.
“Fieldston is a very good team,” Otero said. “I love Gus and I love their program, and I believe they are going to win the division. They got (Montclair Kimberley Academy) at homecoming next, which I think they will absolutely win. I really do hope they win the conference.”
From a winless program just two seasons ago to the doorstep of the MIFL championship — did Ornstein see such a season coming for his Eagles?
“I did think we were going to be good this year,” Ornstein said. “This is a tough league we’re playing in, and these guy have answered the bell each week. We got a good group of kids and it’s a fun group to coach. They have completely bought in and they’re playing real well right now. But we want to win a league championship. That’s been our goal from the get-go.”
A victory over Riverdale is always welcome, Cooper-Leary said, but there is little time to relish it with so much more still to accomplish.
“For me I’ll celebrate this one until I get in the car to go home,” Cooper-Leary said. “Then it will be on to MKA.”
Which will be the next step toward the Eagles’ goal.
“We’re focused on winning the league championship,” Pierce O’Hagan said. “It’s nice to get King of the Hill, but our No. 1 goal is winning the league. We have two games left, so we just got to take care of business.”