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You can embrace a brighter, pain-free future.

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Physical Therapy Highlands, NJ  Sciatica Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

Physical Therpy For Injuries and Pain in Highlands, NJ

If there's one universal truth in life, it's that it can be unpredictable. Everyone experiences unexpected events that throw us off. While some surprises may only affect our bank accounts, such as home expenses, others can cause physical harm, such as car accidents that result in long-term pain and discomfort. Many Americans suffer from chronic neck and back pain - according to research, half of Americans over 18 develop musculoskeletal injuries that last longer than a year. These injuries often cause a range of mobility issues that make everyday tasks seem hard to do. Unfortunately, many people with chronic pain turn to addictive medications and invasive surgeries for relief, which tends to lead to further complications.

However, if you are experiencing chronic pain or mobility issues, there's good news: Safer and more effective options are available to you. Physical therapy in Highlands, NJ is one of the best solutions for eradicating pain, maximizing mobility, improving range of motion, building muscle strength, and helping you regain control of your body. At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, our physical therapists and trainers offer customized programs designed for your body and address your pain symptoms. That way, you have the best possible chance of reclaiming a normal, active life, without surgery or harmful pills.

With the incorporation of therapeutic exercises and manual therapy as well as newer techniques and modalities like AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmills and DRX9000 Spinal DecompressionMachines, our physical therapy services can help address conditions such as:

  • Sciatica Pain
  • Ankle Pain
  • Back Pain
  • Elbow Pain
  • Headaches and Migraines
  • Hip Pain
  • Knee Pain
  • Neck Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Wrist Pain
  • TMJ Pain
 Headaches And Migraines Therapy Highlands, NJ

Service Areas

When it comes to physical therapy in New Jersey, few clinics can match the care, compassion, and effective treatment options that NJ Sports Spine & Wellness can provide.

Why is Physical Therapy in Highlands, NJ So Important for Wellness?

Physical therapy can provide numerous benefits, such as pain reduction, enhanced joint and body movement, improved range of motion, proper alignment, and more. While the main goal of physical therapy is to restore function and facilitate a return to regular activities, these outcomes usually result from a broader rehabilitation process, wherein many patients learn a brand-new way of moving.

At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, our physical therapists work closely with patients to understand their unique goals, preferences, and abilities. Based on their findings, they create a customized treatment plan that caters to the patient's specific needs.

Here are just a few specific examples of why physical therapy is crucial when recovering from an injury:

  • Physical therapy helps restore function and mobility after illness, injury, or surgery.
  • Physical therapy promotes healing and pain management by utilizing therapeutic modalities and exercises.
  • Physical therapy helps patients suffering from neurological conditions improve their independence.
  • Physical therapy helps seniors avoid falls by improving balance.
  • Physical therapy can improve flexibility and strength to enhance sports and physical activity performance.
  • Physical therapy facilitates injury prevention through education and analysis of proper body mechanics.
 Shoulder Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

Whether you're searching for long-term pain relief or need to improve your strength and balance as you age, physical therapy from NJSSW can help.

Now that you understand why physical therapy is crucial for recovery and wellness, let's take a closer look at some of the most effective treatments at our physical therapy clinic in New Jersey.

 Wrist Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

The DRX9000: Relief from Chronic Back and Neck Pain

Are you sick of living day-to-day with long-lasting neck or back pain? Have you searched high and low for a safe and effective alternative to surgery? The DRX9000 may be the answer you're looking for.

Beloved by high-level athletes and even celebrities, this advanced medical device employs non-surgical spinal decompression therapy to treat painful conditions such as:

  • Bulging Discs
  • Herniated Discs
  • Spinal Stenosis
  • Facet Syndrome
  • Sciatica
  • Arm Pain from Nerves in Your Neck

The DRX9000 is a device that has been approved by the FDA for treating herniated discs through spinal decompression therapy. This therapy works by applying equal amounts of pressure on your vertebral columns, which stretches your spine and creates a gap between spinal discs. This gap allows for better nutrient flow through your spine, which can help heal injuries gradually with regular treatment sessions. The DRX9000 also utilizes servo motors that rely on nested closed-loop feedback to customize therapy to your unique needs. By using DRX9000, you can often speed up your recovery by addressing your spinal disc issues ASAP.

No Harmful Medications Needed (Do we really need this paragraph or could we just mention it int he beginning about how it is a non-pharmaceutical method)

Perhaps the most significant advantage of the DRX9000 is that it provides a non-pharmaceutical method for relieving pain. With the opioid epidemic affecting the entire nation, many patients are reluctant to take prescription painkillers. The DRX9000 offers a secure and non-addictive alternative for pain relief that does not require medication.

During the course of the treatment, the patient will lie down on a specially designed table that is connected to the machine. The table will then be gently stretched as the machine creates negative pressure within the affected disc. This process will be repeated over a series of sessions, typically ranging from 20 to 30 sessions, depending on the patient's specific condition.

The DRX9000 treatment is considered to be safe and effective for many patients. It is designed to be gentle on the body, and patients usually experience little to no discomfort during their sessions. The machine is also equipped with advanced safety features, including sensors that can detect any sudden movements and stop the machine if necessary.

Expedite Rehab and Training with the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill

The AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill boasts NASA Differential Air Pressure (DAP) technology, which is a highly accurate air calibration system that leverages your actual body weight to achieve exceptional results in rehab and training. By utilizing a pressurized air chamber, the AlterG allows you to move freely and without pain, as it uniformly reduces gravitational load and body weight by up to 80% in precise 1% increments. This process helps foster improved muscle strength, balance, function, range of motion, and overall fitness.

What Makes the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill So Effective for Physical Therapy in CItyname, State?

AlterG®'s state-of-the-art treadmill provides an entire range of benefits, such as mimicking natural movement and rhythm without the contrived feel of hydrotherapy or harnesses attempting to imitate real-life strides and motions. Additionally, it's beneficial for speeding up recuperation after orthopedic injuries or surgeries by enabling early mobilization and retaining strength. Furthermore, it's excellent for sports recovery since athletes can utilize it to maintain their physical fitness.

Some of the numerous benefits of using the AlterG® Anti-Gravity Treadmill include:

  • Accelerated Recovery Time
  • Relief from Impact-Related Pain and Discomfort
  • Customized Programs Suited to Your Needs
  • Effective Solution for All Ages
  • Safe and Controlled Environment
  • Improves Motivation and Confidence
  • Used by Elite Athletes and Celebrities

The AlterG Anti-Gravity Treadmill is a revolutionary piece of equipment that has transformed the field of physical therapy. With its list of unique features and superhero-worthy benefits, this anti-gravity treadmill is a game-changer that can help you achieve your fitness and recovery goals while also minimizing the risk of injury.

 Chronic  Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ
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Physical Therapy Highlands, NJ

Experience Optimized Healing with LiteCureâ„¢ Low-Level Laser Therapy

After reading the headline above, you might be asking yourself, "Are lasers really used for physical therapy in cityname, state?" The answer to your question would be a resounding "Yes!" This advanced type of laser therapy harnesses the power of light through photobiomodulation (PBM), which is revolutionizing how patients heal and deal with pain.

Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a medical process that utilizes targeted light to activate the body's natural healing mechanisms. By penetrating deep into the tissue, photons interact with mitochondria (the cellular powerhouses in your body) to increase energy production. This interaction triggers a biological cascade that leads to increased cellular metabolism. As a result, PBM can reduce pain, accelerate tissue repair, and enhance overall well-being.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) is a non-invasive and painless treatment that utilizes specific wavelengths of light to stimulate healing and reduce pain. It works by penetrating the skin and tissues to promote cellular activity and increase blood flow, which in turn helps to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and accelerate the healing process.

LLLT has been shown to be effective for a variety of conditions, including musculoskeletal injuries, arthritis, neuropathy, and more. It is a safe and gentle treatment option that can aid in regaining function and mobility from injuries, accidents, surgeries, and other conditions. That makes it a viable and trustworthy addition to your personalized physical therapy plan from NJ Sports Spine & Wellness.

LLLT has shown promising results for challenging conditions that other treatments can't match. Some of the most common conditions treated include:

  • Muscle Pain
  • Pain from Tendinopathy
  • Osteoarthritis Pain
  • Swollen Joints
  • Myofascial Pain
  • Back and Neck Pain
  • Pain from TMJ
  • Achilles Tendon Injury Pain
  • Plantar Fasciitis Pain
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If you're slogging through life and suffering from one or more of the conditions above, you should know that there is hope for pain relief. Contact NJ Sports Spine & Wellness today to find out if low-level laser therapy is right for you.

Freeze Away Pain and Swelling with Ice Compression Therapy

Game Ready Ice Compression Therapy is an advanced treatment technique that combines the advantages of modern cryotherapy (ice therapy) with the proven benefits of compression therapy. This clinically proven, synergistic approach is widely used in sports medicine, physical therapy, orthopedics, and post-operative care to speed up recovery, alleviate pain and inflammation, and enhance rehabilitation.

Understanding the Powerful Benefits of Ice Compression Therapy

 Sciatica Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

Game Ready Ice Compression Therapy is an advanced treatment technique that combines the advantages of modern cryotherapy (ice therapy) with the proven benefits of compression therapy. This clinically proven, synergistic approach is widely used in sports medicine, physical therapy, orthopedics, and post-operative care to speed up recovery, alleviate pain and inflammation, and enhance rehabilitation.

The "cold" component of ice compression therapy helps nullify nerve-ending sensitivity, which provides pain relief. The extra compression gives you even more pain relief by reducing swelling and pressure on limbs and other body parts.

By improving lymphatic flow and enhancing blood circulation, compression therapy can help reduce swelling and edema, thereby improving your recovery process and simultaneously reducing pain and discomfort.

The concurrent use of cryotherapy and compression can enhance the body's innate healing mechanisms by reducing inflammation, mitigating tissue damage, and stimulating tissue repair.

Game Ready's combination therapy has been shown to be effective in improving joint flexibility and range of motion by promoting tissue healing. This treatment can be a great option for those looking to alleviate discomfort and improve overall joint health.

 Headaches And Migraines Therapy Highlands, NJ

Whether you're recovering from surgery or you're trying to manage chronic pain in your back or joints, ice compression therapy may be the advanced treatment you need. Contact NJSSW today to learn more about how this treatment can help you live an active life free of pain.

NormaTec Compression Therapy:

A Non-Invasive Option for Enhanced Recovery

Game Ready Ice Compression Therapy is an advanced treatment technique that combines the advantages of modern cryotherapy (ice therapy) with the proven benefits of compression therapy. This clinically proven, synergistic approach is widely used in sports medicine, physical therapy, orthopedics, and post-operative care to speed up recovery, alleviate pain and inflammation, and enhance rehabilitation.

What Makes NormaTec Compression Therapy Best for Physical Therapy in Cityname, State?

Game Ready Ice Compression Therapy is an advanced treatment technique that combines the advantages of modern cryotherapy (ice therapy) with the proven benefits of compression therapy. This clinically proven, synergistic approach is widely used in sports medicine, physical therapy, orthopedics, and post-operative care to speed up recovery, alleviate pain and inflammation, and enhance rehabilitation.

NormaTec's compression therapy devices have undergone continuous refinement and improvement since their inception. The adjustable settings of their system enable users to regulate the intensity, duration, and pattern of compression, thereby enabling our skilled providers to tailor treatment to suit the specific requirements and comfort levels of each patient.

 Shoulder Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

Experience Holistic Wellness with Cupping Therapy in New Jersey

In the realm of holistic wellness, cupping therapy is a venerable and time-honored practice that has proven to be an effective technique for managing pain and enhancing blood flow. At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, we recognize the diverse benefits of cupping therapy, which we offer at both our Matawan and Marlboro, NJ locations.

This ancient technique creates suction on your skin using specialized cups that help promote blood flow, muscle relaxation, and pain relief.

Why is Cupping Therapy Helpful for Physical Therapy in CItyname, State?

 Wrist Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, we believe that incorporating holistic treatments into physical therapy can greatly benefit our patients. As part of our efforts to alleviate stress and manage chronic pain or conditions, we offer cupping therapy as one of those holistic treatments. This modality has been proven effective and offers numerous benefits for physical therapy, which include:

Cupping therapy can help release muscle tension and relieve back pain. The suction from the cups releases fascial restrictions, decreases muscle tightness, and relieves muscle knots, providing relief from pain caused by muscular tightness or strain.

Our skilled practitioners and physical therapists use modern cupping devices and techniques to create consistent suction on the skin, which stimulates blood flow and encourages oxygen-rich blood to flow into muscles and tissues. This improved circulation can reduce inflammation, remove toxins, and promote healing.

Cupping therapy can relieve back pain by improving circulation, reducing muscle tension, and increasing lymphatic drainage. It's a natural and non-invasive approach that can improve mobility and quality of life.

Cupping therapy uses a gentle suction and pulling sensation that helps ease back pain and reduces stress by creating a calming effect on the body and mind, promoting physical and mental healing.

Reclaim Your Mobility with Physical Therapy in Highlands, NJ

At NJ Sports Spine & Wellness, we always prioritize your well-being and offer comprehensive care tailored to your needs. With customized physical therapy tailored to your specific needs, we provide a drug-free, non-invasive, and highly effective treatment path for pain relief and recovery. From tried-and-true techniques to cutting-edge treatments, we're New Jersey's top choice for innovative physical therapy.

Take the first step towards a pain-free, vibrant life by contacting our office today. It all starts by scheduling your initial consultation. With our highly-trained and licensed specialists by your side, you can embrace a brighter, pain-free future.

 Chronic  Pain Therapy Highlands, NJ

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Latest News in Highlands, NJ

Drawing Done By Highlands Teen Will Be On USS New Jersey Coin

Karshmer's drawing will appear on a commemorative coin. He won $1,000 and an invitation to attend the submarine commissioning this April:|Updated Wed, Jan 10, 2024 at 9:55 am ETThe USS New Jersey, America's newest submarine, and the first U.S. submarine designed to support an integrated male and female crew. (USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee)LEONARDO, NJ — We told you this...

Karshmer's drawing will appear on a commemorative coin. He won $1,000 and an invitation to attend the submarine commissioning this April:

|Updated Wed, Jan 10, 2024 at 9:55 am ET

The USS New Jersey, America's newest submarine, and the first U.S. submarine designed to support an integrated male and female crew. (USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee)

LEONARDO, NJ — We told you this back in December, but here's a reminder that America's newest submarine will be unveiled this April at U.S. Naval Weapons Station Earle in Middletown.

And a drawing created by a local teenager was chosen to go on the back of a commemorative U.S. coin that will be minted for the submarine.

The teen is Russell Karshmer, who lives with his family in Highlands. He is a high school junior at the Marine Academy of Science and Technology (MAST), located on Sandy Hook. Karshmer is also a cadet chief petty officer in the Navy Junior ROTC program, which has a unit at MAST.

To commemorate the new submarine, the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee held a coin design contest in 2023. Karshmer's drawing was selected as the winner out of more than 300 submissions.

Karshmer will receive a $1,000 scholarship and a special invitation to attend the commissioning ceremony at NWS Earle on April 6.

Find out what's happening in Middletownwith free, real-time updates from Patch.

New Submarine Will Be Commissioned In Middletown This April (Dec. 15, 2023)

Karshmer drew the view from the top of Mount Mitchell, the highest point on the Eastern Seaboard.

His drawing is incredibly thoughtful: He deliberately included symbols that represent our state, including the state bird, an Eastern Goldfinch, perched atop the state tree, a red oak, as it holds the state flower, a violet, in its beak. Also depicted in Karshmer's drawing is the submarine itself, and the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, the oldest operating lighthouse in the United States.

Even the number "three" is significant in his drawing: The USS New Jersey is the third warship to bear the name of the state, and New Jersey was the third state to join the union. That's why Karshmer drew three oak leaves, three acorns and the three piers of Naval Weapons Station Earle, which itself was designed to look like King Neptune's trident.

He also intentionally used the official state colors of New Jersey, blue and buff.

The judges said they were impressed by how much detail Karshmer put into his design.

“The Commissioning Committee was extremely impressed by the thoughtfulness and detail,” said Julianne Dods, a trustee at the USS New Jersey Commissioning Committee. “We applaud all the students for their creativity and congratulate Russell for his remarkable work in helping to depict this historical event.”

The submarine is called the USS New Jersey and it will be commissioned in a huge ceremony at 10 a.m. April 6 at NWS Earle in Leonardo. It is a Virginia-class submarine, and is also the first U.S. submarine designed to support an integrated male and female crew.

The name of the vessel was announced in May 2015 and it was christened in November 2021. The commissioning ceremony is where military boats or submarines are officially recognized as joining the Navy fleet. Organizers call it a "sacred"" event for a U.S. military vessel.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people attend, including many high-ranking members of the U.S. Navy and U.S. government.

Those who would like to attend the commissioning should go to www.njcommissioning.org to enter the ticket lottery to be on hand for this historic event. The deadline to enter the lottery is Jan. 14 and tickets are limited, so make sure to enter as soon as possible. It may even be possible for some groups to get up close and even tour inside the submarine.

To stay up to date on the Commissioning of the USS New Jersey: www.njcommissioning.org

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11 sets of twins prepare to graduate from New Jersey high school

ALLENDALE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Twins make up about 3% of the U.S. population, but for one high school graduating class in Bergen County, New Jersey, the rate of seeing double is more than doubled!Justin and Roman, Dan and Nico, John and Juliana, Ryan and Robert, Tommy and Isabelle, Andre and Gabe, Kyle and Anthony, and Tommy and Sarah are eight of 11 sets of fraternal twins that all started at Northern Highlands Regional High School together."My teacher said there are a lot of twins in my grade, why don't we do a spreadsh...

ALLENDALE, New Jersey (WABC) -- Twins make up about 3% of the U.S. population, but for one high school graduating class in Bergen County, New Jersey, the rate of seeing double is more than doubled!

Justin and Roman, Dan and Nico, John and Juliana, Ryan and Robert, Tommy and Isabelle, Andre and Gabe, Kyle and Anthony, and Tommy and Sarah are eight of 11 sets of fraternal twins that all started at Northern Highlands Regional High School together.

"My teacher said there are a lot of twins in my grade, why don't we do a spreadsheet on them, so I had to nag everybody," Northern Highlands High School senior Juliana Lavinio said.

The pairs of twins make up about 6.5% of their graduating class of 340 students.

"I think It's neat, I think that's the best way to put it. Oh cool, fun fact," senior Kyle Gentile said.

"We all came from different towns so we didn't realize when we were younger that there were three sets in Allendale and a lot more in other towns," senior Sarah Cornacchia said.

Each set has gone to school together all their lives. Most of them are going in different directions for college, but are they sad about it?

"Absolutely not. He's going to Fairfield, I'm going to Miami," seniors Dan and Nico Pantello said.

"We shared a room for a long time. It was horrible," Anthony Gentile said.

"I think we are very different people even though we're still best friends, we'll be ok, we're only four hours away from each other, so we can take a train," seniors Isabelle and Tommy Padilla said.

Justin and Roman Dario are the only ones headed off together.

"The University of Florida it's big enough to where we can have our own separate lives, but now that we have different roommates we're going to branch out and meet other people," Justin and Roman Dario said.

Andre and Gabe Johnson said they will miss each other's helping hand.

"Unfortunately, I won't have him to help me with homework or any other tasks that usually goes to him, but it's all good," Andre and Gabe Johnson said.

Ryan and Robert said they are going to different schools but will have the same major.

"We're going to be in the pre-dental track, so we'll see where that takes us, hopefully we'll run a practice one day together," Ryan and Robert said.

Principal Joe Occhino says they are all great kids.

"They're outstanding students, they're confident, they help each other, highly academic," Occhino said.

But the class missed the twins graduating together record at Northern Highlands by five. The class of 2021 had 16 sets of twins.

"Pretty amazing actually," Occhino said.

The class will graduate on Thursday evening.

ALSO READ | Middle, elementary school students set sail in the East River on their handmade boats

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With a big second half, Ramapo football tops Northern Highlands for sectional title

FRANKLIN LAKES − Same old story: Ramapo and Northern Highlands squared off in a North 1, Group 4 sectional championship classic for the third year in a row.New ending: The Raiders shook off losses in the last two sectional finals and defeated Northern Highlands, 14-10, Friday night at Drew Gibbs Field.Ramapo senior Brandon Del Valle caught the winning 21-yard touchdown from Landon DePrima with 2:00 remaining. That capped a 14-0 second half by the No. 1 seed, which advanced to the Group 4 state semifinals an...

FRANKLIN LAKES − Same old story: Ramapo and Northern Highlands squared off in a North 1, Group 4 sectional championship classic for the third year in a row.

New ending: The Raiders shook off losses in the last two sectional finals and defeated Northern Highlands, 14-10, Friday night at Drew Gibbs Field.

Ramapo senior Brandon Del Valle caught the winning 21-yard touchdown from Landon DePrima with 2:00 remaining. That capped a 14-0 second half by the No. 1 seed, which advanced to the Group 4 state semifinals and will host Mount Olive (11-1) next weekend.

"Our team always starts off slow – I don't know why," Del Valle said. "But we're just a special team. We've all grown up together and been through a lot of stuff together, and I feel like that's why we won this game."

Check out the photo gallery, then continue reading.

Ramapo (11-0) had beaten the No. 3 seed Highlanders (9-3) in September, 34-33, after trailing 21-0. So erasing a deficit half as large was nothing, right?

"It's never nothing, particularly not versus them," Raiders coach Mike DeFazio said. "That's a phenomenally coached team, and they've got great players that are very, very smart football players.

"Would you have expected anything else?"

No one familiar with this rivalry would.

What it means

Ramapo earned its first sectional title since 2019 by knocking off the two-time defending champs. Northern Highlands prevailed in the 2021 North 1, Group 4 final, 35-30 in Allendale, less than two weeks after the death of longtime Raiders coach Drew Gibbs.

Last year, in the rematch at Gibbs Memorial Field, Northern Highlands won a 49-42 overtime thriller that was interrupted by two power outages.

Ramapo now has an opportunity to match the best record in program history: 13-0, achieved in 2018 and 2019 when the NJSIAA tournament went as far as the regional finals.

Key plays

As far as individual plays, several helped swing the game. DePrima completed a 40-yard pass to Zach Schnorrbusch late in the first half for the Raiders' longest play of the night, setting up DePrima's 12-yard TD pass to Charlie Wingfield.

Senior Gavin Taylor then made an interception to set up the drive for Del Valle's winning score, and junior Dylan Rosano broke up a Highlander pass in the end zone as time expired.

The key change on offense, though, was Ramapo committing to the run in the second half. Its running backs totaled four carries in the first half but had 18 in the second half, split between Rosano (14 for 40 overall) and James Magerko (8 for 31).

"We just had to lock in," Rosano said. "Linemen had to get the right mentality, fire off the ball, and it all starts with the line. They win the game."

By the numbers

There was a dramatic shift in Ramapo's defensive results after halftime. In the first two quarters, Northern Highlands QB Nate Johnson completed 14 of 15 passes for 119 yards.

In the second half, the Raiders allowed six completions in 16 attempts for a total of 40 yards.

Meanwhile, DePrima started 7-of-12 for 55 yards in the first half, then went 8-of-11 for 110 yards, two touchdowns and one interception after the break.

Game balls

► Del Valle finished with two catches for 32 yards and a TD, and made nine tackles on defense. Magerko added 12 tackles and a fumble recovery.

► Matthew Boydell gained 179 all-purpose yards for Northern Highlands: six rushes for 50, six catches for 43 (and a TD), three kick returns for 79 and one punt return for 7.

► Jesse DeNobile led the Highlander defense with 10 tackles, 2½ sacks and a forced fumble.

They said it

"We can play through pressure. That's one thing about our team that helps us win, we can play through the pressure." − Del Valle

"We made the actual adjustments a little bit toward the end of the second quarter. But they really came to fruition in the second half. The biggest thing is, our guys do such a great job of steadying the ship themselves. The coaches focus on the football stuff; they [the players] bring it together from the team execution and culture part. And again, they just did a great job." − DeFazio

Northern Highlands QB Nate Johnson gets 'O' going early en route to win over Willingboro

Special to NorthJersey.comALLENDALE — Northern Highlands knows the challenges of Group 4 football all too well. In what could be the most stacked Group in New Jersey, you better be battle-tested if you harbor any hopes of attaining a championship.That’s why the Highlanders opened up against one of the top teams in South Jersey, Willingboro on Friday night. The Chimeras obliged by playing Highlands rough and tough. In the end, the deciding factor was a veteran offense.Highlands got their season ...

Special to NorthJersey.com

ALLENDALE — Northern Highlands knows the challenges of Group 4 football all too well. In what could be the most stacked Group in New Jersey, you better be battle-tested if you harbor any hopes of attaining a championship.

That’s why the Highlanders opened up against one of the top teams in South Jersey, Willingboro on Friday night. The Chimeras obliged by playing Highlands rough and tough. In the end, the deciding factor was a veteran offense.

Highlands got their season rolling with a 35-26 football win over Willingboro on Friday night, thanks to both the arm and the legs of quarterback Nate Johnson and an offense that looked more like it was October than the end of August.

The Highlanders scored on each of their first three possessions, taking the pressure off of a defense that has plenty of newcomers and was facing a Chimera offense that featured a multi-dimensional quarterback and a solid running back.

NH struck first on a 36-yard screen pass from Johnson to Cole Stecker 2:41 into the game. Willingboro responded with a 14-play drive leading to a Lamar Best touchdown pass to Nasir Hawkins. Without a kicker, they went for two and missed.

Johnson hit Chase Calarco in the flat for a 12-yard TD to make it 14-6 before Willingboro tied it at 14 on a Derrick Bryant 8-yard run and a two-point conversion pass. Matthew Boydell’s 3-yard run put Highlands up 21-14, and the Chimera offense finally blinked as a Jesse DeNobile sack forced a punt just before halftime.

The teams traded interceptions at the beginning of the third quarter and Willingboro got the best of the exchange, with Hawkins taking his pick back to the Highlands 6. Best scored from two yards out on third down, but the Highlander defense came up big on the two-point try with Jeremiah Rivera breaking up the pass to maintain a 21-20 NH lead.

Johnson came back with a 36-yard flat pass to Calarco for a touchdown and a 29-20 lead and added a 1-yard QB sneak to make it 35-20 with 8:59 left in the game. Willingboro scored on a 9-yard Best to Jarelle Taylor TD pass with 29.2 seconds left, but the two-point conversion was deflected away and Highlands recovered the onside kick.

What it means

For Northern Highlands, it was a good start to its defense of the North Group 4 title. They got exactly what they needed, a challenge to both sides of the ball and a successful ending.

For Willingboro, it was a disappointing loss, but a solid building block. A Group 2 school that consistently plays bigger schools, they showed they are once again going to be a handful for any opponent and will be primed for the South Group 2 postseason.

Inside the game

The first game always brings out some of the things that you just can’t prepare for or expect in the preseason. Four holding penalties by the Highlanders stood out, though they were able to overcome three of them (the fourth was right before the interception). The defense had numerous missed tackles, and while you can tip your cap to the Willingboro skill players for their elusiveness, you can bet that there will be an emphasis on tackling drills this week in practice.

The Chimeras fell prey to the Highlanders’ quick counts as Johnson kept them off-balance. They were hit with defensive encroachment penalties five times, two of them resulting in first downs. Johnson was also able to exploit the Willingboro defense with quick reads that allowed him to find seams into the second level.

Turning point

You can make a solid case for Rivera’s pass breakup on the two-point conversion that could have given Willingboro the lead. Had the Chimeras been able to jump ahead, it would have negated the early Highlands efficiency and potentially changed the complexion of the game.

Instead, they fed off the stop and had plays of 16, 17 (after a holding penalty) 10 and 36 yards to score right back.

By the numbers

Johnson was 14 of 20 passing for 212 yards (12 of 15, 177 in the first half) with three touchdowns and one interception. He spread the ball around to eight different receivers before halftime. He also had 92 rushing yards on 12 runs.

Highlands had 366 total yards and Willingboro had 282. Best was 18 of 28 passing for 164 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, but was just 9 of 17 for 63 yards in the second half. Bryant had 24 carries for 91 yards.

They said it

“Those weren’t designed runs; they were designed reads. He (Johnson) is just so quick with his reads that he makes it look like a designed run. We knew we were going to need the offense to take control, and they did. The holding penalties need to get cleaned up, but I thought they did a good job of keeping (Johnson) upright and giving him the ability to make those reads and throws.” – Northern Highlands coach Dave Cord

“We’ve been on a roll since we started summer workouts, and with so many guys coming back we were confident that we could come into the season with a lot of confidence. We have a really good group of backs and we rotate them in and some good receivers. That makes things a lot easier for me; all I have to do is find the guy in space.” – Johnson.

Northern Highlands football bounces back strong with commanding win over Ridgewood

ALLENDALE − Northern Highlands enjoyed a big bounce-back thanks to “Little Schmo” and friends.Less than a week after falling to Old Tappan, the Highlanders rolled past Ridgewood, 35-7, in Thursday’s Super Football Conference cross-divisional game.Danny Smiechowski caught a 38-ya...

ALLENDALE − Northern Highlands enjoyed a big bounce-back thanks to “Little Schmo” and friends.

Less than a week after falling to Old Tappan, the Highlanders rolled past Ridgewood, 35-7, in Thursday’s Super Football Conference cross-divisional game.

Danny Smiechowski caught a 38-yard pass to get Northern Highlands into the red zone on the second play of the night, and he capped a 28-0 first quarter with a 1-yard touchdown reception from Nate Johnson.

Coach Dave Cord called out, “Hey, Schmo!” to get Smiechowski’s attention afterward – that’s actually a term of endearment to the senior from Upper Saddle River.

“It started with my grandpa,” said the tight end/linebacker, whose last name is pronounced, “schma-HOW-ski”.

“He was ‘Schmo’, my dad was ‘Schmo’, my brother was ‘Schmo’, and I was a ‘Little Schmo’ growing up. And now I’m just ‘Schmo’.”

The Highlanders (3-1) looked like anything but, once again showing the form that helped them reach last year’s Group 4 championship final.

What it means

The result was a far cry from last year’s meeting, a 7-6 Maroon victory in Ridgewood. Since then, Northern Highlands has won 11-of-14, and two of its three losses in that span have come against 2022 NJSIAA champions (Group 4 Millville and Group 3 Old Tappan).

“We’ve got to bounce back,” Smiechowski said. “We’re tired of losing. It’s been four years in a row, we’re tired of coming up short. And we just want to finish the job this year.”

Ridgewood (1-2) has dropped two straight and lost two players to injury in the second quarter, QB Hudson Feeney and left tackle Peter McHugh. Coach Torre Watson said that both sustained ankle injuries.

Key drives

Northern Highlands had four touchdowns before the visitors recorded a first down, as a fumbled kick return and a bad punt snap were among the early miscues that doomed the visitors.

Factor in 75 yards in kick/punt returns by Matthew Boydell, and the Highlanders’ average starting field position for their first four drives was the Ridgewood 33.

Johnson cashed in with two touchdown passes and two scoring runs, and Cole Stecker made it 35-0 on a 13-yard touchdown run with 8:28 left in the second quarter.

Game balls

► Smiechowski made 3 catches for 46 yards and a TD and added 5 tackles on defense.

► Johnson completed 7-of-8 passes for 106 yards and rushed 5 times for 38 yards.

► Charlie Merrick (6 catches, 68 yards) caught a 15-yard TD from backup Gavin McCrone in the fourth quarter to help Ridgewood avert the shutout. Merrick also made five tackles.

They said it

“We had a pretty hard loss last week, and we knew we had to change our mindset from the start. We all knew we had to put in some more work in the practice week, and even with a short week and all… we had lots of excuses we could have made, but we all put in the work, we all changed our mindset, and it showed.” − Smiechowski

“I thought we came out flat against a super talented, really good Old Tappan team. And in a short week, our plan was to keep the playbook thin on both sides and play fast and physical, and that’s exactly what they did.” − Cord

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