EAST ORANGE, NJ – The East Orange Campus High School football team opened the 2017 season with new head coach Rae Oliver and a new quarterback in sophomore Quadir Scott.
The Jaguars defeated Memorial of West New York, 20-0,Friday night, Sept. 8, at Paul Robeson Stadium.
The Memorial Tigers came into the game with a chip on their shoulder after being beaten quite handily by the Jaguars last season. But the Jaguars once again dominated Memorial.
The game started with both teams showing signs of first-game jitters as they both racked up penalties in the first quarter. East Orange Campus, a young squad featuring three freshmen starters while the rest are sophomores, juniors, and a handful of seniors, traded three-and-outs and fumbles with the Tigers, led by RB/LB Smelvin Morel and Julio Lebron.
But the EOCHS defense of East Orange, led by junior DB Khasim Daniels and sophomore DE Marvel Thomas, found its opportunity to break the scoreless tie late in the first quarter. They had already shut down the Tigers’ passing and rushing attacks much of the first quarter. Memorial was looking to go into the second quarter with a scoreless game, but Daniels and Thomas forced a fumble with 3.9 ticks left in the quarter.
Scott immediately gave the ball to Brian Vincent, who capped a four-play, 62-yard drive on a 15-yard run to the end zone for the 6-0 lead that extended into halftime.
Jags senior RB Devonne Swan, who had 16 rushes for 148 yards and a two-point conversion, took the brunt of the ground work to get his squad in scoring position in the third quarter. Scott found his fellow classmate in WR Matthew Parchment streaking down the Tigers sideline and connected with him on a 30-yard pass to extend Campus’ lead 14-0 after Swan’s two-point conversion with just 5:49 left in the third quarter.
The game stayed that way until East Orange’s final possession. Memorial turned the ball again after East Orange’s defense dropped QB Pedro Morales Jr. for consecutive losses and a punt. Scott found running room with just under a minute left in the game where they had the intent to run the clock out, but was able to stay inbounds after the Tigers’ defense completely missed their opportunity to force Scott out of bounds as he danced his way through traffic, hitting the spin cycle at least twice before walking into the end zone 18 yards later. “It was never our intention to score that last touchdown with the game winding down like that,” said Coach Oliver. “That is why we took a knee on the extra-point conversion and I spoke to Memorial’s Head Coach (Stefano) Calderara to explain that I wanted to keep the score where it was, but lost track of the time on the board.”
Coach Oliver is definitely pleased that he got the win in his debut, but he asked that everyone give him at least another week. “We haven’t been in our pads and hitting for that long and I wasn’t sure that our players would be ready in time,” he said. Oliver stated that his players are all relatively sophomores and juniors who were able to hold off a more experienced Tigers squad without some of their seniors, which included Rady Rojas-Portillo who will be back in time for their road game against Columbia High School. Rojas is returning for his senior season after a breakout junior year which ended with a torn labrum, sending him for a much-needed surgery this past offseason. “I am excited to him and a few more seniors back in time for some of our upcoming games,” said Oliver. “With that being said, I want to see our progression as the season goes. We are looking to change the culture here by teaching our players to show respect and reasoning as we look for the win against our opponents. It all starts with the perception we as coaches are working on here.”
The Jaguars are looking to avenge a 34-28 loss to Columbia last year as they will play in a 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 16 tilt at Underhilll Field in Maplewood. It was Columbia’s only win of last season.
“Once we play this game, then I welcome everyone to let us know what you think we need,” concluded Oliver. Columbia lost at Bloomfield, 41-13, in the season opener Sept. 8 and will look to spoil the Jaguars attempt to go 2-0 on the season.