EAST ORANGE, NJ — The East Orange Campus High School football team had a lot to be thankful for this past Thanksgiving Day.
Finishing the season as one of the best teams to ever play in the city of East Orange, the Jaguars wanted to send off their seniors with a win to remember.
But Barringer had other ideas when they marched into Paul Robeson Stadium Thursday morning. Barringer wanted very much to beat the Jaguars this year. Getting them to turn over the coveted Old Guard trophy would prove to be a challenge. “I very much want to beat East Orange tomorrow,” said a Barringer senior player at the annual Old Guard dinner given each year the night before the annual game.
But the Jaguars continued their domination of Barringer as they won, 26-13, to finish the season with a 9-2 record.
The Jaguars have won 11 straight Thanksgiving Day games against Barringer.
The East Orange-Barringer series is one of the longest in the nation. It was the 108th meeting between the schools. The series resumed in 2009 after being on hiatus since 1994.
The Jaguars this season won the Super Football Conference-Liberty Blue Division title for the second year in a row. EOCHS won the title out-right this year after sharing it with Montclair in 2018.
EOCHS, seeded third, had a good run in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 5 state playoffs as they defeated Montclair, 15-14, in the first round at home on Nov. 9 before losing at second-seeded Passaic County Tech in the semifinals on Nov. 15.
The Jaguars, who won all six games at home this year, also won nine games for the first time since 2011 when they also were 9-2 and reached the semifinals of the North 2, Group 4 playoffs.
With the tailgate party in the background, the Thanksgiving Day game got started with the weather not necessarily cooperating, leaving East Orange to kick off to Barringer. But it would be the Jaguars who would draw first blood on their first possession. Led by the senior group of QB/DB Quadir Scott, OL/DL Keshawn Munford, WR/DB Ian Brown, WR/DB Jasim Brown and RB/DB Bryant Manuel, the Jaguars quickly marched 63 yards in 12 plays with Scott finding WR Terrell Neals for an eight-yard dart in the corner for the 6-0 lead with 5:24 left in the first quarter.
Barringer (5-5), led by junior QB/LB Corey Walker, couldn’t find an answer until the second quarter. But not until after Scott engineered another hike of 59 yards in 15 plays, going almost seven minutes that started late in the first quarter and finding WR Jasim Brown to cap the drive with an 11-yard pass to extend the lead to 12-0.
But Walker, who played the majority of his youth football in East Orange, answered right back. He took advantage of a fumble that East Orange dropped deep in its territory. Walker slipped into the end zone three plays later with a six-yard touchdown. Walker then did the unthinkable. He gave his Blue Bears the lead over the Jaguars when he unleashed a 62-yard bomb to WR Keondre Miller to take a 13-12 lead with 4:08 left in the half. It also happened to be the first time East Orange trailed Barringer since 1990-91. East Orange was stunned and couldn’t let this go so easily.
The third quarter was just a struggle for field position until the Jaguars found a way to break open the lagging stalemate in the fourth quarter. Scott decided to wave good-bye as he capped an eight play, 78-yard drive with a 13-yard scamper to retake the lead, 20-13, after a two-point conversion. Walker could not get the answer back for Barringer, leaving Scott to keep control of the game for the Jaguars. But the final blow came from the one person who started it all: junior WR/DB Terrell Neals, who plucked Walker’s pass from his intended WR, Keondre Miller, and returned it for a pick-6 with just 46 seconds left in the game, giving East Orange another win over Barringer.
“Those people up there wanted to see you play a competitive game,” said East Orange Campus head coach Rae Oliver to both teams.
Barringer head coach Dewayne Williams said, “For you seniors, we want to say thank you and we always want you to remember this as you continue to strive forward.”
For Oliver, it also serves as an extra special setting as he was able to coach his cousin, Munford, who is the last of a legacy that goes back almost five generations. “It was an absolute pleasure in coaching him. With our family supporting him throughout his youth and high school careers, it was an honor to coach him,” Oliver said.
“After transferring from Morris Catholic and DePaul, it’s no place like home,” Munford said. He said that he had fun learning from his cousin, as well as his parents, knowing that he will be the last Munford male to come through the hallowed halls of East Orange.
It is only the second time in the history of East Orange Campus High School, that the Jaguars went undefeated at home, joining the 2007 state setional championship team that defeated Montclair at the old Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands for the title. It was also the first time under the new playoffs adaptation that the Jaguars were able to record their first playoff win in almost a decade, which led to them defeating Montclair twice this season. EOCHS defeated Montclair on Sept. 28 at home.
“We are very thankful for the community, our fans, our Board of Education, as well as all our staff members who went the extra mile in making sure we stayed on track,” said Oliver, whose team regrouped after losing senior standout quarterback Nasir Montgomery to a season-ending injury in the middle of the season. “With all that went on throughout the season, on and off the field, which included losing Nasir (Montgomery), I am especially humble and thankful for your support. Now that we are back-to-back Super Football Conference-Liberty Blue Division champions, I look forward to doing it again next season in 2020.” Oliver concluded in thanking the class of 2020 for setting the tone when they all were at other top non-public programs around the state, but decided to come home by the end of their sophomore years to help make the dream a reality. East Orange Campus draws from three high schools — East Orange Campus, Cicely Tyson Performing Arts Middle and High School and East Orange S.T.E.M. Academy — throughout the city, allowing all their players to attend specialized classes throughout the school year.
This East Orange-Barringer series dates back to 1897 when Barringer was called Newark High School. East Orange owns the lead in the rivalry in 60-39-9. The last time Barringer was able to defeat East Orange was 1993 when Johnny Camacho defeated the then-East Orange High School Panthers, 42-0. EOHS and Clifford Scott High School merged into EOCHS in the fall 2002.
Photos by Kerry E. Porter
EOCHS vs. Barringer, Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28, at Paul Robeson Stadium
Correction: The head coach of the Barringer was misidentified. The coach is Dewayne Williams.