Photos by Kerry E. Porter. Shabazz (yellow jerseys) vs. Weequahic, in North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state final, at Kean University, Saturday, Dec. 2.
UNION, NJ – The Shabazz High School varsity football team defeated Weequahic, 35-0, in a battle of Newark schools to win the North Jersey Section 2, Group 1 state playoff championship on Saturday, Dec. 2, at Kean University in Union.
The win came a week after Shabazz beat Weequahic on Thanksgiving. Shabazz also avenged last year’s loss to Weequahic in the title game.
Shabazz capped the undefeated season at 12-0. Weequahic finished 9-3.
“We are trying to bring football back to its prominence here in the City (of Newark),” said Shabazz head coach Darnell Grant after his semifinal win against Roselle Park two weeks ago. “(Weequahic) coach (Brian) Logan and I are definitely on a mission to bring Newark High School football back with the help of West Side coach Marion Bell, Barringer coach Ron London, Newark Central coach Mark Ingram, and East Side coach Brian Meeney. We all are coming back in a big way.”
A big way is an understatement as the two South Ward schools, separated by less than 3 miles, faced off in back-to-back games for the second straight year, a feat that has not been done since the 1960s.
For Shabazz, formerly known known as South Side High School, it was about going undefeated, as well as playing the best football they could possibly play.
On Thanksgiving, the Bulldogs and the Indians rested their primary players. “We wanted to throw a few jabs to see what they were going to do,” said Grant. Jabs weren’t all they did as the Bulldogs stifled the Indians 7-0 at the Soul Bowl.
In the championship game, senior QB Anthony Travis Jr. let loose for five touchdowns, throwing for four touchdowns en route to completing seven passes on 11 attempts for 141 yards. Travis also dove in the end zone for his fifth from a yard out. Shabazz’s stifling defense held Robert Leverette to 6 yards on 10 attempts and Charles Bruton to 34 yards on eight carries.
But that wasn’t the complete story. Weequahic was only able to garner four first downs and rushed 29 times for 10 yards, which includes the combined 44 yards from Bruton and Leverette. Weequahic was also held to 10 yards passing on five attempts with one completion, while snagging an interception as well.
“We threw everything at them,” said Grant. who acknowledged that his squad went back to the drawing board a week after their loss in the championship last year.
Shabazz will savor this victory for now, but will go back to the drawing board for their title defense next year. “It’s a great feeling to accomplish this goal. Winning 35-0 in such a fashion is unbelievable. My hat goes off to coach Logan and his Weequahic squad, ” said Grant.
For the first time since 1966, Bulldog Nation is undefeated as well as claiming the top spot in North Jersey Section 2 Group1 title for the first time since 2014.