J-Rod’s Week 3 video recap: Monroe-Woodbury defeats rival NFA

CENTRAL VALLEY – Another week, another big-time statement game for Monroe-Woodbury.

Wow! That’s all you can say after the Crusaders’ latest win, 35-14, over rival Newburgh Free Academy on Friday night in a Section 9 Class AA Division I showdown.

At the start of the year, everyone figured Class AA would come down to the three-pack of Monroe-Woodbury, Newburgh and defending champ Pine Bush. Keep in mind, your favorite hack prognosticator, J-Rod, predicted that the Crusaders would be the odd team out.

Let’s just say I don’t have any trips to Vegas planned any time soon. Right now, this division looks like it belongs to Monroe-Woodbury (3-0, 1-0 Class AA). While the Crusaders were beating up Newburgh, Warwick beat Pine Bush 52-26 in a non-league game. Monroe-Woodbury took out Warwick 33-0.

There is much more football to be played, but Monroe-Woodbury has been impressive, allowing 28 points in three weeks, an average of 9.3 points.

Monroe-Woodbury’s heroes against Newburgh? There were plenty of them. Running back Cole Gennett, a junior, rushed for 117 yards and three all-purpose touchdowns. For good measure, Gennett, who also plays linebacker, had an interception.

Quarterback Kevin Carr put up 237 yards and two scores. He’s been sensational in three games. Meanwhile, Monroe-Woodbury’s defense held down a Newburgh team which scored 95 points in wins over Minisink Valley and Iona Prep.

“It feels awesome,” said Monroe-Woodbury defensive lineman Rob Kelly, who made plays all night. “We just played great. Our offense did incredible, our offensive line up front had a great performance. Everyone just stepped up big time. We believed in ourselves. We have the guys to do it and we had a great defensive game plan. We were in the right spot every time.”

Newburgh (2-1, 0-1 Class AA) entered the much-hyped showdown as the second-ranked Class AA team in the state. The Crusaders were 23rd in the poll. Many fans felt that it could be a preview of the Class AA championship.

If it is, Monroe-Woodbury owned round one. The Crusaders scored the first three touchdowns of the game on a pair of 1-yard touchdown runs by Gennett and a 61-yard run by Carr. The Goldbacks, who had scored 95 points in their first two games, made it 21-7 when Aaron Forbes scored on a 67-yard run as time expired in the first half.

However, it was more Carr, more Gennett, to start the second half when they connected on a 55-yard screen pass for a touchdown just 3:15 into the third quarter to make it 28-7. Carr, who started at quarterback last season, added a 15-yard rushing score later in the second half to make it 35-7.

Forbes finished with 214 rushing yards, but Monroe-Woodbury’s defense shut down Newburgh’s two other dangerous running backs, Anthony Dubose and Natore Dennis. Dubose rushed for only 49 yards and Dennis had 11. The bruising pair had combined for 491 yards and 10 touchdowns in Newburgh’s first two blowout wins.

With the big victory, the Crusaders also broke a two-game losing streak in, perhaps, the best rivalry in Section 9.

Newburgh beat Monroe-Woodbury in Central Valley 7-0 two years ago to end the Crusaders’ impressive 63-game win streak against local opponents. The Goldbacks went on to play for the Class AA state title, losing to Orchard Park. Newburgh defeated Monroe-Woodbury 16-10 last season, but the Crusaders still won the Class AA Division I regular-season title.

The Goldbacks didn’t make the playoffs. Monroe-Woodbury went on to lose to Pine Bush in the Class AA championship. It marked the first time since 1996 that Monroe-Woodbury or Newburgh didn’t win the title.

“It feels great,” Monroe-Woodbury center Nick Dillon said. “I’ve been waiting two years for this. It was a big game for all of us and it means a lot. They are a great team and we are a great team, too. This proves a lot for us. It doesn’t mean we will win every game, but this is what we will look to do every time out.”

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