By Jim Hintelmann
RUMSON –Holding on to a narrow 6-3 lead at the half, unbeaten Rumson-Fair Haven Regional erupted for three touchdowns in the third quarter, two by junior Connor Walsh, enroute to an A Division clinching 33-3 win over Raritan Friday, but Rumson coach Shane Fallon said that there was no impassioned pep talk at halftime to get the team fired up.
“There was no pep talk,” said Fallon. “We have a lot of kids who are all experienced. All we did was to tell them to cut down on their mistakes. There were too many penalties and we were sloppy in the first half.
“Raritan played hard and had a lot of momentum in the first half,” Fallon pointed out. “We just told the kids to get back to basics and stick together. That is what we did.”
Raritan got the ball to start the third quarter, but Rumson safety Dan Babiak, who had two interceptions in the game, picked off a Raritan pass on the second play and returned it 30 yards to the Rocket 18. Four plays later, Connor Riley went up the middle for a 3-yard touchdown run and 12-3 lead.
“I made my drop and saw their quarterback looking at his receiver,” Babiak explained. “I was able to get under it and get the ball. I feel proud to be champions. We worked hard in practice and everyone put in the time.”
“Babiak started the first four games this year,” said Fallon “but he developed mono and missed the rest of the season. He’s a lacrosse kid who has been in a lot of big games.”
Raritan mounted a short drive following the kickoff and reached the Rumson 27 before stalling, and it took Rumson just three plays for its next touchdown, a 53-yard run by Walsh.
“I had a lot of good blocking on that run,” said Walsh, who had missed the last two games because of a concussion. “I was expecting to get pushed out of bounds, but then I got more good blocking. We just fixed up the defense a little bit in the second half.”
“Connor had a great pre-season for us,” said Fallon. “Riley is a little banged up and its nice to have a 1-2 punch with Walsh stepping up.”
Again Rumson held for downs and Walsh dashed 53 yards for his second touchdown of the game and a 25-3 lead.
Babiak, who is looking at Notre Dame and Dartmouth, came up with his second interception three plays following the kickoff and returned it 40 yards to the 15. Riley went 10 yards for his second touchdown of the game, and the reserves finished up.
Having achieved its first goal of winning the division championship, Rumson now gets ready for some major games in which it might be playing three current unbeaten teams, Asbury Park and RBC in the regular season and possibly, Manasquan in the states. Fallon though, is taking them one at a time, starting with a huge non-divison game at Asbury Park Nov. 4.
“We just talk to the kids every week about winning the next game,” said Fallon. “We didn’t talk about winning this division until after the game.
“I’m sure that the kids are aware of it and people have been telling them about it,” he said. “but, as a coaching staff, we just focus on the opponent and prepare the kids.”
Rumson will have a bye week, which comes at the right time since some of the players have been slowed up a bit by injuries, before taking on B Central Champion and undefeated Asbury Park.