West Orange High School Athlete of the Year Jahir Blanton Signs with University of New Haven

Front, L-R, Jackie Blanton (Mom), Jahir Blanton, John Blanton (Dad). Rear, L-R, Track Coach Joe Picataggio, Football Coach Jim Matsakis, Gyasi Blanton (Jahir's brother), Flecia Blake, Track Coach, Josephine Bobien, Athletic Director Ron Bligh, WOHS Principal Hayden Moore. Credits: Cynthia Cumming

WEST ORANGE, NJ - It's been a very good year for West Orange High School senior Jahir Blanton, who today signed with the University of New Haven for a scholarship to play both track and football. In addition to some pretty outstanding stats in both sports, on June 9, Blanton received the prestigious West Orange Hall of Fame WOHS Athlete of the Year Award for an athletic career that spanned four years and two sports.

Blanton began the 2013 football season a a first-time varsity quarterback on the Mountaineer football team with a new head coach, Jim Matsakis; a new playbook; and a lot to accomplish. He did not disappoint, helping the Mountaineers achieve a solid 7-3 season record. He had a total of 1,342 passing yards, averaging 122 yards per game; had 90 rushing attempts for 604 yards and 4 touchdowns; averaged 6.7 yards per rush; 84 completions and 14.3 yards per completion. Overall  Jahir averaged  10.6 yards everytime he touched the ball. At 5'8 and 150 pounds Blanton ranked 73rd out of 3,822 nationally and led the team to several thrilling victories.

Head Football Coach Jim Matsakis said, "Jahir was a valuable asset to our program and embodied the type of selfless behavior that it takes to be successful both on and off the field.  Jahir had the ability to elevate the play of those around him while at the same time enjoying his role as the Quarterback for the Mountaineers."

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"His passion and enthusiasm will truly be missed and noticeably absent this season but I am certain that the attitude he example he set will be evident by the teammates that are taking the field this year."  

Jahir was no less successful in track and field. During his high school career, including this year, Blanton was elected captain of the team; has competed three times and has medaled twice at the Meet of Champions as a member the school record-holding 4 x 100 relay team. His name appears five times in the WOHS Record Books. His 4 x 100 Relay team holds the State Sectional record; he is ranked second in the 100 meters in school history.  He also won the 100, 200, and 400 at Conference Championships and has been a standout member of  this year's State Sectional, Super Essex Conference, Essex County Relay and Essex County  Championship teams. 

Said Boys Track and Field Coach Joe Picataggio, "Jahir is looked up to by the younger athletes for his leadership and is a role model exemplifying discipline, perseverance, and determination. He is admired by his peers for his work ethic, dignity and internal fortitude. In addition, the entire coaching staff appreciates his support  and for demonstrating maturity beyond his age. These virtues, in addition to the confidence, the religious background, and humility he possess, are largely the result of a strong and loving family supporting his efforts."

Picataggio noted, "Jahir has the ability to lead, communicate and motivate others. He will succeed in any endeavor he encounters."  

In addition to a series of Track and Field recognitions this month, Blanton also received the Essex County Football Hall of Fame Scholar-Athlete Award and the Men of Essex Scholar-Athlete Award.

Blanton, along with Aliyah Barnes, another West Orange High School Track athlete that has entered numerous record books, was awarded the West Orange Hall of Fame - WOHS Athlete of the Year Award, during Sports Awards Night on June 10. 

Jahir Blanton is a soft-spoken and unassuming young man that is not only an athlete but a scholar as well. He plans to major in Criminal Justice and Forensic Psychology at UNH. "My goal is to become a Federal Agent," said Blanton.

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