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By: Kerry E. Porter - Correspondent
It’s that time of year again where the excitement for a championship is crackling in the air. North Jersey Pop Warner has been very busy this football season in adding new teams to its conference, giving it 23 teams spanning Essex, Union, Bergen and Hudson counties and New York City. The spirit of the community was shown recently as North Jersey Pop Warner crowned teams from three divisions and five levels.
On Oct. 26, there were three games and a cheerleading competition in Elizabeth High School’s Dunn Arena and Williams Field. North Jersey will send the Plainfield Cardinals Junior Pee Wees to the New Jersey State Division 3 Regional game after they defeated Bayonne, 26-20.
At press time it was not clear who won the Junior Midget contest between the Plainfield Cardinals and Brick City Lions B squad for the Division 3 crown.
In the final game of the evening, North Jersey crowned the Midget East Orange Wildcats conference champs as they defeated the Manhattan Bandits, 32-0.
On Oct. 27, North Jersey brought the championship weekend to East Orange’s Paul Robeson Stadium where the East Orange Rams and Junior Jaguars were in action. The Rams sent their undefeated Junior Pee Wee squad, led by quarterback Quadir Scott, running back/linebacker Demitri Stone, and wide receivers Ian Brown and Sincere Evans. They ran away with the game that included Scott’s two second-half touchdowns to shut out the Jackie Robinson Bears, 26-0. “This is a great feeling to get to the regions,” said Rams head coach Steve Scott. The Junior Pee Wee Rams will play for a chance to go to the Regional Championships being held at Shabazz Stadium in two weeks against some tough opponents in the newly-reformatted Regional brackets.
Crosstown rival East Orange Junior Jaguars were able to prove that going to regions is everything and will seek to go to nationals. Since their inaugural season 10 years ago, the Junior Jaguars have been a stable presence in the regional tournament, narrowly missing the national tournament in Florida twice. So this year, the Junior Jaguars sent two levels (Pee Wee and Junior Pee Wee) to the Division 1 conference championship. In the Junior Pee Wee contest, the Junior Jags faced the high-powered Brick City Lions. The Lions, led by QB Zaire Miller, RB/defensive back Jaleel Terrell and RB/LB Jaquan Lawyer, were surprised when the Jags, led by Jasim Brown, Brandon Brown-Shaw and QB Nasir Montgomery, scored touchdowns of 15, 5, 65, 10, 46, and 3 yards to run past the Lions, 31-14. The Pee Wee Game featured a battle of the Oranges and bragging rights for the area. The Junior Jaguars and Bengals squared off, but the undefeated Junior Jaguars, led by QB Saladin Paschell, RB Piotr Partyla, WR Tashawn Williams-Higgs and RB Desir Evenson, had something to say. They all combined for touchdowns of 5, 3, 62, and 23 yards over the Orange Bengals, led by QB Nasir Mitchelle and WR Rasheed Johnson, to win, 25-0.
The Montclair Bulldogs (9-0) and Linden Tigers (8-3) Junior Midget teams locked up for a Division 2 defensive battle that came down to the wire. Linden was looking to avenge an early-season loss to the Bulldogs as they marched 63 yards in 12 plays with the help of QB Tajon Leary’s 1-yard touchdown with 8:39 left in the second quarter and a 6-0 lead. The Tigers held the Bulldogs until very late in the fourth quarter when Montclair QB Michael Pinnix Jr. found WR Jalen Walters between two Tigers for a 50-yard bomb with just 15.2 seconds left in the game, tying it 6-6 and forcing an overtime. Walters and Pinnix combined again when Walters dove into the end zone from 2 yards out and Pinnix kicked the two-point conversion and the 14-6 thriller.
The Hillside Jr. Comets and the Eastwick Saints of Elizabeth collided for the right to represent North Jersey Pop Warner in the Division 2 regional playoffs. It also will give either team their first appearance in the regional tournament. Hillside, led by Boris Nicholas-Paul, Shadon Willis, James Westry and Andrew Robinson, found the end zone five times on scores of 2, 60, 80, 1, and 8 yards to cruise to a 34-6 victory. Eastwick WR Javon Fowler scored the lone Saints touchdown on a 5-yard reception.
At press time, it was not clear who won the Brick City Lions vs. the Orange Bengals unlimited game.
North Jersey Pop Warner will send its cheerleaders to the Regional Cheer Competition to be held in Albany, N.Y. on Nov. 9. Among the group will be the East Orange Rams Unlimited Squad, the East Orange Junior Jaguars and Junior Midgets.
The Regional Playoffs will start Nov. 9 and will conclude with the Regional Championships on Nov. 23 at Newark’s Shabazz Stadium. For more information on the games and sites, please go to www.easternregion.org.