The River Dell Golden Hawks varsity football team kicked off the 2023 regular season and home opener against a familiar opponent, the Parsippany Hills Vikings, at River Dell High School in Oradell, New Jersey.
River Dell and Parsippany Hills were facing off against each other in the regular season opener for a second consecutive year, with the Vikings emerging victorious last year 34-6.
Last season, the Golden Hawks finished with an overall 6-5 record and 3-2 in the Super Football Conference Patriot Blue. River Dell rolled past Vernon 35-14 in the first round of the North Jersey Section, Group 3 tournament before falling in the semifinals to Hillside 33-13.
The Golden Hawks usher in a new era with 20 seniors graduating last year, including the all-time passing leader in River Dell varsity football history, Jake Sconza. This year’s team fielded a total of seven seniors.
A magnificent summer night with deep blue skies, golden sunshine, and warm temperatures, the stands packed to capacity with the River Dell student section, parents, and fans. In addition, numerous fans were standing on the outside perimeter.
The Golden Hawks team, led by Head Coach DJ Nimphius and junior linebacker Mason Nagle, carrying the signature green flag, raced out onto the field and burst through the paper signage held by the River Dell cheerleaders.
Mason Nagle on the support from the home fans and community, “They’re so amazing and getting all the support from my teammates and community is a great feeling and running out representing my team.”
Parsippany Hills received the opening kickoff, and immediately, the Golden Hawks rose to the occasion with senior defensive back Nick Kelly hauling an interception splendidly by backpedaling while falling to the ground.
Both teams struggled to move the ball as they traded punts as the quarter proceeded. With less than three minutes remaining, the Vikings put up the first points on the scoreboard as quarterback Jake Simoni fired a 30-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Joey Cicciotelli down the middle of the seam. The extra point attempt was no good, leaving the score at 6-0.
In the second quarter, Parsippany Hills strung together an 11-play 66-yard drive that lasted 3:42. The Vikings covered a critical fourth and 12 at the River Dell 12 with Jake Simoni hitting wide receiver on an 18-yard pass. The drive culminated in a 5-yard TD run by running back Julio Tatis with less than nine minutes remaining to extend the advantage to 13-0.