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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Blair Defeat Archrival Peddie to Cap 5-3 Season

Quarterback Micah Balzarini on one of several key keepers for Blair. Photo by J. Phalon, 11/2023

With two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Blair Academy Buccaneers the Peddie School Falcons 14-0 in the oldest high school football rivalry in New Jersey and one of the most longstanding in the nation.

Blair’s victory kicks their winning record against Peddie to 58-50 since 1903. There have been five ties and one game skipped in 1944 because of a polio outbreak at Peddie. The century-plus rivalry was evident from the opening minutes with both teams being assessed multiple personal fouls including several offsetting infractions.

“Peddie came out and that and they were slugging,” Blair Head Coach Greg Bowman said. “We knew they were going to be physical, especially on defense. We shot ourselves in the foot a couple times, but they made plays and we made the plays. That’s what makes a good football game. That’s how it’s supposed to be.”

A scoreless game through three quarters, Blair got the ball back on downs six minutes into the fourth after defensive pressure by Blair forced a fourth-down incomplete pass. After a couple of quarterback keepers by Micah Balzarini, running back Yaneik Gallego ran 54 yards for the game’s first score.

Blair dominated the remainder of the game, allowing Peddie only two first downs though things got tense for the Bucs when Gallego fumbled, and Peddie recovered. Three plays later, however, Blair defensive back Lucas Dale picked off a Peddie pass and ran it back for a touchdown.

Mark Scialla, Noah Abbott and Brayden Phinney break of a fourth-down Peddie pass. Photo by J. Phalon, 11/2023

The win gives Blair a 5-3 season, including a four-game winning streak to close the year.
Despite an opening day blowout win against Cooper-Norcross, Blair lost the next three.
Bowman said the team had to regain their focus.

Lucas Dale lands in the end zone after an interception. Photo by J. Phalon, 11/2023.

“We couldn’t get over the hump early,” Bowman said. “We were in a couple games that, we
feel like we could have won, but we didn’t.”

Bowman credited the players with not getting down on themselves during that stretch and
working on what they could fix.

“It’s just each week that we wanted to get better, and we did, and we were able to finish strong down the stretch,” Bowman said. “Our guys didn’t waver.”

Looking ahead to 2024, Bowman said the Bucs will be losing 12 seniors, but he’s confident in the class coming up.

“Obviously, that’s a big group to replace,” Bowman said. “But we’’ve got a good group of
juniors that are ready to lead us as seniors.”

Joe Phalon
Joe Phalon, Contributing Writer
Contributing Writer

Joe was lured out of retirement by the opportunity to be a part of the Ridge View Echo. During a decades-long career in publishing and journalism, he has covered government on many levels from local school boards to the United States Supreme Court.

Along the way, Joe has worked at American Lawyer Magazine, The National Law Journal and The Record among other publications, and as the Press Officer of Columbia Law School. His work has been recognized with several first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the New Jersey Press Association.

Being part of the Ridge View Echo brings Joe back to his roots and the kind of news coverage he loves: Telling the stories of people and local communities as well as keeping an eye on how their money is spent by their government officials.

Joe lives in Blairstown with his wife Rose, the founder of Quilting for a Cause, and their two wiener dogs. He is an artist in his spare time.