EAST ORANGE – The East Orange Campus High School varsity football team endured a season in transition.
Al-Majid Hutchins, a 2007 EOCHS graduate who was a standout defensive back for the Jaguars, was promoted to head coach right before the start of training camp in August, after serving as the team’s defensive coordinator under Marion Bell, who was dismissed as head coach after 11 successful seasons.
The Jaguars, though, didn’t miss a beat, putting in a competitive season in which they qualified for the state North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 playoffs. EOCHS, the eighth seed, lost to top-seeded Bridgewater-Raritan before beating Barringer in the annual Thanksgiving Day game at Robeson Stadium to finish with a 4-6 season.
“I think we had a good season,” said Hutchins. “Anybody that came to our games saw that we could have easily been (6-4) 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 (Bell) was on the other sideline. To go head-to-head with those guys, it was special.”
The following EOCHS players have earned Worrall Media All-Area honors: senior linebacker Keneek Tomlinson, senior linebacker Taheem Jackson, senior kick returner Ameer Holcolmb and senior receiver Johnathan Richards.
Tomlinson, a 6-foot-1, 215-pounder, was a terror on defense this season with a whopping 14 sacks. Holcomb was dangerous on special teams as he returned three kickoffs for touchdowns this season.
The Jaguars plan to build off the win over Barringer going into next season, with a good returning group. The Jaguars will return their entire offensive line, along with quarterbacks Q’uran Dixon and Naseem White. Dixon is a sophomore and White is a junior.
“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.”
EOCHS results (4-6 record)
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 (2 OT)
*North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 playoffs