In celebrating a century of football at Roxbury, the Gaels are doing an admirable job of keeping the historic season filled with excitement. They officially marked their 100-year anniversary with a win over Mendham on Oct. 12, but capturing the program's first state title since 2009 would perfectly bookend the festivities.
So it's only fitting their latest victory confirmed an invitation to the playoff party.
Donald Panciello rushed for nearly 200 yards and four touchdowns and Roxbury puncuated its regular-season schedule in emphatic fashion, cruising past rival Mount Olive, 32-7, on Friday night.
By using a punishing defensive outing and a whopping 241-81 margin in rushing yards, Roxbury -- which has accumulated 487 victories in the last century -- sealed up the second seed in the upcoming North 1 Group 4 playoffs. Cosmo Lorusso's team will once again face Mount Olive, which slid into the seventh slot in the wake of Paramus defeating Wayne Hills, in the first-round next weekend.
Judging by their Week 9 showing against the Marauders, the opening act of the postseason shouldn't be a major hurdle. Roxbury set the tone on the first play of the contest and, even when Mount Olive kept the usually high-octane opponent in check in the first half, never seemed overmatched.
Joe Garofalo sparked Roxbury by returning the opening kick-off for a touchdown, but Mount Olive tied the game at 7-7 when Justin Maksimow hauled in a long touchdown catch with 47 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
That stood as the lone highlight for the Marauders, who fell victim to an offensive onslaught put forth by the Gaels' bruising running back.
Panciello capitalized for his first touchdown midway through the second and handed the Roxbury a six-point lead, one it wouldn't relinquish en route to improving to 8-1 on the campign.
Of course, that was just the start of Donald's show. Panciello scored three more times in a span of three minutes, 14 seconds on runs of 4, 8 and 33 yards at the end of the third.
After the senior plowed his way through for two touchdowns and the Gaels claimed a 25-7 advantage, Mount Olive fumbled on a sweep with 18 seconds left. On the ensuing play, Panciello zigged and zagged successfully to pay dirt to stake Roxbury to a commanding 25-point lead.
Contact Brian Fitzsimmons at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @FitzWriter