The taste of losing to Morris Knolls last week was bitter, so Parsippany Hills coach Dave Albano had a plea before Friday night's Montville game:
Someone -- anyone -- please step up! Make your presence felt! Make a play!
Let's all get this bad taste out of our mouths!
So Julio Tatis stepped up.
The Par Hills O-Line did.
The defense did.
And, after a disheartening setback last week, Par Hills rebounded ... resoundingly.
In what was expected to be a competitive, tight game, Albano's team turned it into a stunning rout.
The Vikings scored on all five first-half possessions and went on to overwhelm Montville, 48-14.
"They're kids, and they bounce back," Albano said. "We needed to step up and we did. We talked about coming together and we did that."
You might say that.
How bad was the blowout? Well, the scoreboard clock ran continuously after Tatis scored his fourth touchdown to make it 42-14 with 6:45 left in the third quarter. Junior varsity players began trickling onto the field for both teams. Soon, there were very few varsity players left.
Par Hills delivered a resounding message not only to Montville but to everyone else in the NJSFC Liberty Blue. Did you see that Chatham? What did you think of that, Warren Hills?
The Vikings still have those schools left on their schedule. By now, those two are well aware of the statement Par Hills made.
In addition, the victory was a thorough one against a Montville team that hung with West Morris earlier this month. So North Jersey Group III schools, take note. In one half, Par Hills stamped itself as a contender.
"This is what we can do when we play together as a team," lineman Mason Kerrigan said. "When we play together like that, we play really well. The brotherhood was there this week. When we play together, we play like this."
Albano and his team wanted to leave the Morris Knolls game behind, but they did want to remember one detail about the game: The way Knolls established the run.
"Basically, we wanted to do what Knolls did," Albano said.
And they certainly did. It all started up front.
"Our O-Line played physical," Kerrigan said."We played our brand of football."
Kerrigan and his linemates -- Christian Imbriano, Nicholas Strongham, Austin Cerullo, and Christopher Stearns -- pushed their weight around for the likes of Tatis, who rushed 23 times for 152 yards and four TDs.
Tatis' breathtaking, 62-yard touchdown on a blinding burst through the middle of the field was his first of four scores and gave Par Hills a 14-0 lead after kicker Joshua Griffith's second of six extra points.
Tatis' run aptly summed up what was taking place almost immediately following kickoff: Par Hills overpowered Montville up front. Then the Mustangs couldn't catch Tatis, a two-time Meet of Champions qualifier.
He also scored touchdown runs of 3, 9, and 5 yards. And if that wasn't enough, his 30-yard interception return at 4:23 of the second quarter led to a Jake Simoni-to-Joe Ciccotelli touchdown pass of 6 yards to make it 35-7.
Ciccotelli had a big night, hauling in seven passes for 93 yards and two touchdowns. He had a 10-yard touchdown catch from Simoni late in the third quarter.
Another impactful catch he made was a 46-yard pass he caught from Simoni that quieted a Montville team intent on getting back into the game early in the third quarter.
At that stage of the game, Montville recovered a Tatis fumble of the second-half kickoff at the Vikings 29.
Four plays later, Montville's Anthony Feaster ran in from 2 yards out to bring Montville to within 35-14, but the Mustangs showed life -- until the Simoni-to-Ciccotelli connection that brought the ball to the Montville 24. Three plays later, Tatis ran it in from the 4 to make it 42-14.
Par Hills' speedy, gang-tackling, swarming defense, meanwhile, controlled Montville's explosive offense for most of the game. While the Vikings were going up and down the field throughout the first half, Montville went three-and-out in two of its first three possessions. On the other, it had one first down and then needed to punt.
On its fourth series, when Montville did begin moving the ball, Tatis had his interception.
The way Par Hills was moving up and down the field, Montville's output wasn't nearly enough.
"We have a lot of one-way kids," Albano said. "We were starting two new linebackers --
Tyler Hanenberg and Kevin Maass -- and they did very well. They stepped in and did a great job."
They were two of the many, many guys who stepped up, just like Albano asked.
It was a great night to be a Viking.