East Orange Campus HS football team trounces Columbia, 52-0, to go to 3-0

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EAST ORANGE, NJ — The East Orange Campus High School football team defeated Columbia, 52-0, on Sept. 17, to improve to a 3-0 record on the season.

With two teams tied for the top spot in the Super Football Conference–Freedom Red Division, there was bound to be one sole winner. On one hand you have Rae Oliver’s East Orange Campus Jaguars, led by Kyle Louis, Ahmad Nalls, Damon Phillips and Raeden Oliver. The Jags defeated Montclair 37-28 in the season opener and easily dispatched Bloomfield 34-0. The Jags have also won two out of the last three division titles. They are looking to reclaim the top mantle as they are once again on the hunt. 

On the other hand, you have Gary Mobley’s Columbia Cougars, who are enjoying a resurgence after several losing seasons, prior to Mobley taking over four short years ago. The Cougars, led by Stephen Henry and Michael Agu, are also on the hunt, and they are hungry for more than wins. Both squads came into the Friday-evening clash 2-0, as Columbia had taken Morristown to task, 27-7, and survived a potent Livingston attack, 29-24. The stage was set for an early test that will probably get people talking. The “Big Cats” Battle of the Oranges took place at Underhill Field in South Orange. 

The cool, calm evening turned into a 52-0 blowout of Columbia by East Orange as the Jaguars set the field ablaze with a 24-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game. East Orange running back Damon Phillips did the honors of that feat. “We wanted to set the pace from the door,” said Phillips after the game. His first score came just three plays after the opening kickoff. The Cougars’ defense came with their ears pinned back and dropped Phillips for a 2-yard loss on the opening play. He quickly made that back in the second play, before shifting gears and finding open grass after, in his words, “playing off my lead blocker, Ahmad Nalls, that gave me the opening.” Phillips went 64 yards, eclipsing the three-play drive with the opening 6-yard score of 7-0 after Geraldo Gibson’s point-after kick with 10:38 left in the first quarter.

East Orange struck almost immediately after the ensuing kickoff. Jaguars defensive back Edwin Thomas looked to tackle Columbia wide receiver Steve Memo but in turn stripped the ball and trotted 19 yards for the 14-0 lead. Phillips would break open another big 24-yard run and score, to put the Jags up 21-0 with 9:29 left in the first quarter. The Jags marched down the field and Geraldo Gibson kicked a 20-yard field goal. East Orange just completely ran away from the Cougars as they made a living in the end zone. 

Phillips pulled a hat trick, scoring his third touchdown in the opening quarter from two yards out and closing the quarter 31-0. East Orange kept its foot on the gas as defensive back Josh Richards curled around his opposing wide receiver Steve Memo and picked his pocket for an interception of Columbia quarterback Tarik Huff. That would end the first quarter and set up a 37-yard connection between Raeden Oliver and Damon Phillips, as this dynamic duo continued to wreak havoc on the Cougars’ defense. Oliver got in his rhythm, completing four passes on 11 attempts with two touchdowns and 98 yards. It was a relatively light evening for Oliver, as he found Ahmad Nalls all by his lonesome on a quick dart for the 16-yard, 45-0 halftime lead.

East Orange would close out the scoring late in the third quarter off linebacker Keyontae Scott’s fumble recovery to the Cougar 42-yard line. East Orange made quick work of the final 42-yard drive, handing running back Kasim Cross the ball as he scooted 15 yards for the score. 

“We kept getting in our way,” said Columbia head coach Gary Mobley, “We surprised ourselves when we took on Morristown and Livingston. But we are supposed to keep it going. We simply can’t make mistakes like we did and expect to win even against the likes of the East Orange, Montclair, or West Orange.” 

East Orange head coach Rae Oliver said that although he’s happy with the outcome, he wanted the execution to be near perfect for his Jaguars. East Orange had a nearly flawless first half, during which they weren’t penalized a yard; they ultimately finished the game with only seven penalties and just under 50 yards. 

Both coaches stated that they can only look ahead to the next game although they both felt that this game did show who will be in control and who will be challenging for the division title. It will have to wait until both take a crack at the defending champs in West Orange.

Columbia will be on the road taking on Barringer Blue Bears Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m. at Newark Schools Stadium. East Orange will continue its road trip on Route 280 West, making a pit stop in West Orange for what will be another test for the Jaguars. The game will also be played on Friday, Sept. 24, at 7 p.m.

East Orange Campus (3-0)

Sept. 3: Win, vs. Montclair, 37-28

Sept. 11: Win, vs. Bloomfield, 34-0

Sept. 17: Win, at Columbia, 52-0

Sept. 24: at West Orange, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1: at Livingston, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9: vs. Newark East Side, 1 p.m.

Oct. 16: at Pope John, 1 p.m.

Oct. 30: vs. Newark West Side, 1 p.m.

Nov. 25: at Barringer, 10:30 a.m.

Columbia (2-1)

Sept. 3: Win, vs. Morristown, 27-7

Sept. 10: Win, vs. Livingston, 29-24

Sept. 17: Loss, vs. East Orange Campus, 52-0

Sept. 24: at Barringer, 7 p.m.

Oct. 1: vs. West Orange, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9: at Montclair, 1 p.m.

Oct. 15: at Bloomfield, 7 p.m.

Oct. 22: at Newark East Side, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29: vs. Passaic County Tech, 7 p.m.

Photos Courtesy of Kerry E. Porter