EAST ORANGE – For first-year head coach Al-Majid Hutchins and his East Orange Campus High School varsity football team, beating a good Barringer team on Thanksgiving definitely was a great way to end the season.
Junior running back Giovanni Shine scored on a short run in double overtime to lift the Jaguars to a 12-6 victory at Paul Robeson Stadium.
The Jaguars, who were coming off a first-round state North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 playoff loss to top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan, finished the season with a 4-6 record.
The Jaguars scored on their first drive of the game when sophomore quarterback Q’uran Dixon threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Naji Howard for a 6-0 lead.
Dixon completed six of 10 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown, while senior running back Ameer Holcolmb had 70 rushing yards on 12 carries for the Jaguars.
The Jaguars’ defense delivered a strong performance, led by senior outside linebacker Kaneek Tomlinson, who had 3 ½ sacks, and senior inside linebacker Taheem Jackson, who had 12 tackles. Tomlinson finished the season with a whopping 14 sacks.
Marion Bell, who was the head coach of the Jaguars from 2004 to 2014 before being dismissed right before training camp this past August, returned to Robeson Stadium in his role as an assistant coach for Barringer. Bell, in fact, coached Hutchins, a 2007 EOCHS graduate. Hutchins served as Bell’s defensive coordinator for the Jaguars before taking over the EOCHS head coaching helm.
Barringer finished with an 8-2 record. Barringer was 8-0 before losing to Chatham in the first round of the state North Jersey Section 2, Group 3 playoffs.
Hutchins, indeed, was elated for his team for ending the season in winning fashion,especially for the seniors. Hutchins also was proud of his team for their strong efforts throughout the season.
“I think we had a good season,” said Hutchins. “Anybody that came to our games saw that we could have easily been 6-2 rather than what we are. But we were a playoff-bound team; we sent our seniors off the right way, and to win that Thanksgiving Day game, it was just a special experience, being that my mentor was on the other sideline. To go head-to-head with those guys, it was special.”
The Jaguars plan to build off this win going into next season, with a good returning group. The Jaguars will return their entire offensive line, along with Dixon and junior Naseem White as quarterbacks.
“We got a lot of talent coming back,” said Hutchins. “We’re very excited for next year. We definitely plan to compete for a state championship next year.”
NOTE: EOCHS and Barringer have played each other every year on Thanksgiving since 2009, with the Jaguars winning each meeting. The East Orange-Barringer series is one of the oldest in the state, dating back to 1897. The teams did not play each other for many years until 2009 when the Super Essex Conference was created.
EOCHS 2015 results
Sept. 11, Won, Bayonne, 36-22
Sept. 19, Loss, Oakcrest, 22-17
Oct. 2, Won, Livingston, 6-0
Oct. 9, Loss, at Seton Hall Prep, 37-12, at West Orange HS
Oct. 16, Loss, at West Essex, 24-7
Oct. 24, Won, at Bloomfield, 25-6
Oct. 31, Loss, West Orange, 31-27
Nov. 7, Loss, at Montclair, 38-30
Nov. 13, Loss, at Bridgewater-Raritan, 41-14*
Nov. 26, Won, Barringer, 12-6 (OT)
*North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 playoffs