EAST ORANGE, NJ – The East Orange Campus High School varsity football team ended its season on a high note as the Jaguars defeated their long-time rivals, the Barringer HS Blue Bears, 20-12, in the teams’ annual Thanksgiving Day game at Schools Stadium in Newark.
The Jaguars finished the season with a 7-3 overall record, which included a co-championship of the Super Football Conference-Liberty Blue Division. EOCHS and Montclair shared the divisional title.
The Jaguars were coming off a disappointing 28-7 outing against the Red Devils of Ridge HS in the NJSIAA North Jersey, Section 2 Group 5 state playoff quarterfinals on Nov. 2.
It would also help that the game was played in frigid conditions at Newark Schools Stadium.
The Barringer Bears spent their time collecting thoughts as they were denied a berth in the North 2, Group 4 state playoffs by West Orange in a 14-6 overtime thriller on Oct. 27.
The Thanksgiving Day game was also marked by the annual Old Guard Dinner where the keynote speaker was Barringer legend and NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett. He was also on hand as the school retired his number and inducted his 1975 State Championship Team to the Old Guard Hall of Fame.
It didn’t take the Jaguars long to sniff out the end zone late in the first quarter. Both the Blue Bears and Jaguars traded punts, but it was the East Orange’s defense, led by DB Khasim Daniels, who pounced on an opportunity to scoop and score a scrambling Zamir Wise fumble in the end zone to put his Jags up 6-0.
There wasn’t any scoring in the second quarter, but that all changed when both teams seemed to have warmed up when East Orange WR Quadir Scott found the end zone with just 24.3 ticks left in the third. He caught a 10-yard hot potato from QB Nasir Montgomery, which stretched the lead to 14-0. But that was not the end of it. Barringer switched quarterbacks in using a combination of Mark Johnson and sophomore Corey Walker. Walker played wide receiver midway through the fourth quarter when he hauled in a 5-yard pass from Johnson for the Blue Bears’ first score of the day to pull within 14-6.
But the Jaguars’ response was emphatic and immediate when returner Bryant Manuel toasted the Blue Bears as he found the end zone 69 yards later.
Not to be outdone, Barringer’s returner, Ahmad Johnson, felt he had something to say as well when he cruised through traffic and on his way to a turkey dinner waiting for him 93 yards later, giving the Blue Bears a fighting chance to come back from a 20-12 deficit. But time ran out as the Jaguars held on to close their season out with a 7-3 record, which hasn’t been done since 1985 with the former East Orange High School Panthers.
“We were more focused this day versus our playoff game against Ridge,” said East Orange head coach Rae Oliver. “We were inexperienced when it came to playing in certain weather conditions, which helped us to prepare for today. It is also the first time we nominated a player for an MVP award in the inaugural Andre Tippett MVP Award.” The award was given to Khasim Daniels for his outstanding contribution in all facets of the game.
Photos by Kerry E. Porter