East Orange football Panthers impress in season opener

EAST ORANGE, NJ – It was a day of remembrance and also a day of football as the East Orange Panthers and Orange Tornadoes collided in the Garden State AYFL season opener at East Orange’s Paul Robeson Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 11.

With a moment of silence and the National Anthem recording sung by the late Whitney Houston, the two neighborhood rivals kicked off the annual Battle of the Oranges where they were playing for bragging rights.

The Panthers 8U team played in a Saturday evening tilt against the Union County Warriors at Linden High School’s Tiger Stadium where the Panthers were victorious in a close battle 7-0.

The Panthers and Jr. Tornadoes 10U teams got the day going on Sunday where the Jr. Tornadoes led by QB Azir White’s two touchdowns help defeat a very strong Panthers attack. The Jr. Tornadoes took the opening drive 52 yards that spanned most of the first half and took the lead with FB Davion Adams’ 2-yard easy skip into the end zone for the 6-0 halftime lead. Orange wasn’t done scoring after the half. White found a little crease to his right as he scampered 23 yards for the 14-0 lead as the Jr. Tornadoes capped off a fast and furious four-play, 60-yard drive midway through the third quarter. The Jr. Tornadoes defense held the Panthers to just under 70 yards in total offense, keeping Azir White in perfect striking distance for the final score. White closed the game with a 15-yard touchdown as the Jr. Tornadoes 10U squad walked off with a convincing 20-0 victory over East Orange.

The JV game was all East Orange as they wasted no time in pouncing on Orange. Led by QB Kaleb Simmons and TE/DE Aniyah Jones, the Panthers quickly took the opening kickoff and drove the ball 53 yards in eight plays, with Simmons handing the ball off to RB Calvin Scott for an eight-yard 7-0 first quarter score. Late in the first quarter, the Panthers were on the move as they took the ball over on downs from Orange. With the ball on the Jr. Tornadoes 11-yard line, Simmons found his TE Aniyah Jones on a quick rolling screen to his left where she snagged the reception and dove in for the 14-0 touchdown. The game remained that way as Orange could not find an answer for the Panthers.

The Varsity Panthers were up next as they began their GSAYF Conference title defense. The Panthers are coming off a stellar 2015 campaign where they were runner-ups in the Big East AYF Regional Championships in Upstate New York last year. The Panthers and Varsity Jr. Tornadoes traded touchdowns with Orange throwing the first punch. QB Alsafeek Jackson found WR Jodan Eylsee on a 27-yard strike, putting Orange up 7-0. But East Orange didn’t let that get them down. Led by RB Ja’Quan Hayes and QB Quawee Shubrick, the Panthers found the end zone fairly quickly when Shubrick reversed the field for 35 yards and a score, tying the game at 7-7 for the remainder of the first half. The Panthers took the ball to open the second half and immediately drove the ball 68 yards in 10 plays. FB Corey Walker fumbled the ball on the Orange 11-yard line, scooped up the ball after what seemed to be a “fumble roosky” type play as he swept to his right and simply walked in untouched for the 13-7 lead. Walker, who also plays linebacker on defense, found the endzone for the second time in the final frame. With just over four minutes left in the game, he forced a key tackle, giving East Orange the ball just inside Orange’s territory. On offense two plays later from the Orange 33-yard line, Walker rumbled 33 yards for his second touchdown of the day, giving the Panthers a 20-7 victory over the Jr. Tornadoes of Orange.

East Orange will be hosting the Silk City Cardinals at Paul Robeson Stadium starting 9 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, with the Junior Pee Wee level (8U) kickoff. Live footage will be aired  via www.facebook.com/ppypanthers. For more information on game times and locations, contact Tyrone Miles 201-341-3933.