West Orange HS football team defeats Paterson Kennedy to improve to 2-0

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Photo by Kerry E. Porter. Paterson Kennedy head coach Ron Jackson, left, and WOHS head coach Darnell Grant are lifelong friends.
Photo by Kerry E. Porter.
Mountaineer pre-game tunnell.

WEST ORANGE, NJ – Two lifelong friends who happen to be head coaches and fraternity brothers of historically Afro American Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. were looking to do something that wasn’t done – they were actually playing against each other for the first time.

Ron Jackson’s Paterson Kennedy Knights took the opportunity to open their season Friday evening, Sept. 13, with a road football game against his brother Darnell Grant’s West Orange Mountaineers.

West Orange prevaled, 14-6, to improve to 2-0.

The Kennedy Knights were entering the 2019 season with a fresh slate after a surprising 6-4 2018 season, which included a playoff berth in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 5 playoffs. “We have our work cut out for us,” said Jackson before the game. He was worried that he was the next victim of a sleeping giant in West Orange. “I am excited to play my brother,” said Grant, who was making his home debut after a convincing 29-6 thumping of Montclair the week prior at Rutgers University’s Rumble on the Raritan.

What was taken to be nervousness was just turned into pure gamesmanship as the two squads kicked off. The Knights, led by Dwight Collins and Arnim Hunte, gave the Mountaineers a headache as the two teams played a similar style in football. The Knights were able to hold West Orange scoreless in the first quarter and deep into the second before West Orange’s junior running back Shaki Carson broke free for a 20-yard score, capping a methodical  seven-play, 56-yard march with just over 30 ticks left in the first half to take a 7-0 advantage.

The Mountaineers were riding high on the momentum they built as they came out swinging for the fences. Carson took the ball and galloped 30 yards for a Mountaineer first down, setting up a 25-yard connection between junior quarterback Mason Murdock and fellow classmate and wide receiver Amiyn Hanks for the second touchdown of the night.

The Mountaineers wanted to put more points on the board but Kennedy’s Collins had something to say about it. The Knights kept West Orange’s high-octane style of play in check and did not allow them to run over them as they found the end zone late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Arnim Hunte wedged his way into the end zone from a yard out after Dwight Collins did his best to carry his squad to the promise land. The drive took a little more than four minutes, going 63 yards in nine plays to close the gap at 14-6.

“I was expecting a tough game from coach Ron Jackson’s squad,” said Grant “It was evident that we were going to be challenged in which was what we wanted.” Jackson stated that they are very close and they always talk strategy about each other’s games but not when they have to go head to head. “All bets are off” they both joked.

Paterson Kennedy will have its home opener on Sept. 19 against Clifton at 6 p.m. “Clifton will be another big early test for us as we continue to make the necessary adjustments going into next week,” said Jackson. Grant will have to go and visit one of the big 6 in the machine of Don Bosco in Ramsey next week. Don Bosco will be coming off a bye week as its start the first of its in-state slate after dropping its first two games to St. John Bosco, Calif., and Gonzaga, Washington D.C.. “We hope we can continue the momentum going into the game,” said a hopeful Grant.

The Mountaineers will look to avenge a 47-20 loss from a season ago in its only head-to-head meeting. “This should be interesting in what they have to bring to the table,” stated Grant. “We can play our game and look for the winning result.” The game will kick off Friday evening at 7 p.m.

Photos Courtesy of Buzz1441