WEST ORANGE, NJ - It could be the match up of the week as the high school football playoffs begin. The West Orange High School Mountaineers will face off against Union City under the lights at Suriano Stadium on Friday, November 15 beginning at 7:00 pm in the first round of the NJSIAA/Atlantic Health North Jersey, Section 1, Group 5 playoffs.
West Orange heads into the Playoffs as fourth seed. Union City is ranked as fifth seed, only because of a forfeiture to Bayonne on September 17. The are also ranked No. 17 in the state. The Mountaineers have lost to two teams this year, the first, in their season opener v. West Essex, 33-7, and the second, to Montclair on November 2, 40-13. The Mountaineers hope to use their speed and turnover ability to score against Union City, who lost only one game this season to St. Peter's Prep 48-12, in addition to the forfeiture. Union City is the heavy favorite to win the game, but don't count West Orange out just yet.
Jim Matsakis, Mountaineers Head Coach, had a lot to say about his team.
"Coming into the season there were several doubts as to whether this team would have any success. There were issues of attitudes, lack of varsity experience, and learning a new system, to name a few," he began.
"Jahir Blanton sums up the ability to overcome all doubters and prove people wrong. He has managed to lead this group of seniors into the playoffs having never played QB on the varsity level before."
Matsakis continued "He is not the only person that was placed in a new position. DJ Grant, a young man that hasn't played running back since his youth days managed to havean outstanding year running the ball. If this group can continue to rely on each other the way they have with different players impacting the game every week, they can accomplish things they thought unattainable."
Matsakis remarked on other team players. "JaSaan Eley has proven that size does not matter and has made his impact known the entire season. Kenny Milien has proven that he can play "lock down" corner when asked; Chris Morgan has proved all season that he can compete with the "Big Dogs" on the line every game. I could go on and on about how different young men have impacted this season but hopefully we can continue this run against a very tough Union City this Friday night... Go Mountaineers!"