WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange High School football team’s thrilling victory over Ridgewood will certainly be remembered for a long time.
For the first time in program history, the Mountaineers have reached a state sectional championship game.
The sixth-seeded Mountaineers defeated second-seeded Ridgewood, 34-31, in overtime in walkoff fashion in the semifinals of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association’s North Jersey, Section 2, Group 5 state playoffs on Friday, Nov. 4, at Ridgewood.
Saboor Kareeim, a 6-foot-3 senior wide receiver and University of Illinois commit, caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Amir Stewart to end the game and send the Mountaineers to the championship.
West Orange, which improved to 7-3 this season, will travel for the third straight week in the playoffs. They will visit top-seeded and undefeated Phillipsburg in the championship on Thursday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m. The commute to Phillipsburg, located near the Pennsylvania border, will be long, but it will definitely be sweet for head coach Darnell Grant and his team. The game was originally scheduled for Friday, Nov. 11, but was rescheduled to Nov. 10 due to the forecasted inclement weather.
Phillipsburg defeated No. 4 seed Paterson Eastside, 37-6, on Friday, Nov. 4, to improve to 10-0 this season.
Ridgewood took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 19-yard run before the Mountaineers answered later in the quarter when junior running back Adonis White ran for a 26-yard TD to cut it 7-6. The extra kick was blocked.
Karriem caught a 2-yard TD from Stewart, and junior running back Rayel Hunter caught the two-point conversion pass from Stewart, to give WOHS a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. Ridgewood scored on a 1-yard run, followed by the extra point, to tie it 14-14 at halftime.
After Ridgewood scored on a 2-yard run in the third quarter to take a 21-14, Hunter scored on a 7-yard run to cut it to 21-20 later in the quarter. The conversion pass failed.
Ridgewood extended the lead to 28-20 on a 5-yard TD run and the extra point in the fourth quarter, before White ran for a 7-yard run, and Stewart hit Karriem for the two-point conversion to tie it 28-28 and send it to overtime.
Ridgewood kicked a 35-yard field goal in overtime to take a three-point lead before Karriem scored the winning touchdown.
West Orange upset third-seeded Watchung Hills, 18-10, in the quarterfinals at Watchung Hills on Friday, Oct. 28.
Notes – Grant, in his fourth year at the helm, previously was the head coach at Irvington, his alma mater, and Newark Shabazz, where he also took both those schools to state sectional championship games. He is now in his sixth state sectional final. He won two sectional titles, both at Shabazz, in 2014 when they were 8-4 and in 2017 when they were 12-0. Shabazz was a sectional runner-up in 2013 and 2016, and Irvington was a sectional runner-up in 2006 under Grant. The current state playoff format began in 1974.
WOHS game stats vs. Ridgewood
- Stewart: 17 of 23 attempts, 173 yards, 2 TDs, 2 interceptions.
- White: 22 carries for 152 yards, 1 TD.
- Hunter: 12 carries for 69 yards, 1 TD.
- Stewart: 1 carry for minus-7 yards.
- Karriem: 12 catches for 144 yards, 2 TDs.
- Jarvis Jones, senior wide receiver: 3 catches for 21 yards.
- Terrell Wilfong, sophomore WR: 1 catch for 6 yards.
- Matthew Barrino, senior WR: 1 catch for 4 yards.
- Mason Malloy, senior lineman: 1 catch for 3 yards.
- Jones, defensive back: 10 tackles.
- Jhensen Touze, senior defensive lineman: 7 tackles with 3 for loss and 2 sacks.
- Zekhi Wimberly, junior DL: 7 tackles.
- Chris Barrino, sophomore linebacker: 7 tackles.
- Al-Jahmir Newsome, senior LB: 6 tackles with 3 for loss.
- Myles Snead, junior DB: 6 tackles with 2 for loss.
- Gensly Auguste, senior DL: 5 tackles.
West Orange (7-3)
- Sept. 2: win, at Montclair (at Montclair State University), 13-7
- Sept. 9: win, at Bloomfield, 34-7
- Sept. 16: loss, vs. Passaic County Tech, 12-6
- Sept. 23: win, at Mount Olive, 28-14
- Sept. 30: win, vs. Bayonne, 35-0
- Oct. 7: loss, vs. East Orange Campus, 25-12
- Oct. 14: win, at North Bergen, 41-7
- Oct. 21: loss, vs. Irvington, 27-18
- Oct. 28: win, at (3) Watchung Hills, 18-10, quarterfinals*
- Nov. 4: win, at (2) Ridgewood, 34-31, overtime, semifinals*
*North 2, Group 5 playoffs (West Orange is No. 6 seed)
Editor’s note: This article has been updated. The game against Phillipsburg is now on Thursday, Nov. 10.