WEST ORANGE, NJ - In what could be described as a true defensive battle, the John F. Kennedy High School varsity football squad suffered a heartbreaking loss to West Orange at the Mountaineer’s Suriano Stadium. Behind 14-0 in the second half, the Knights mounted a furious comeback and were knocking on the door for the tying score at the game’s very end.
West Orange won the opening coin toss and elected to kick off. Kennedy’s first offensive drive was impressive yet failed to garner a score. On the first play from scrimmage, the Mountaineers delivered a message. JFK’s Jamier Wright-Colllins carried up the middle but was met by a horde of West Orange tacklers. Led by the play of senior linebacker Adonis May, the home team’s ability to bend, but rarely break, against the potent Kennedy running game spelled the difference in the contest. For the evening, the Knights were led by the blocking of senior offensive linemen Bryan Bynum, Christopher Woolston, and Christian Wel.
On Kennedy’s opening offensive possession, junior signal caller Chris Silfa found senior wide-out Shafear Johnson for six yards. Wright-Collins then nabbed an aerial, while crossing the field, for another 15 chunks of real estate. However, the promising drive soon fizzled.
The Knights’ defense then returned the favor to the Mountaineers and forced a punt. The line-drive kick found Wright-Collins, deep, who turned in a nice 15-yard return. Several plays later, West Orange defensive tackle Aquan Robinson stopped Paterson’s junior Kyle Readus for a three yard loss. However, a 15-yard face mask infraction moved JFK into Mountaineer territory. Another Johnson reception netted yardage. Now in the game at quarterback for Kennedy, junior Amin Hunte ran a sneak for the first down, and more. However, with a first and ten at the West Orange 35-yard line, a fumbled snap led to a wild scramble for the pigskin with the Mountaineers recovering.
West Orange then followed the running of junior Shakhi Carson who carried the ball on no less than four straight plays. However, the JFK defense, once again, was up to the task.
The ensuing Mountaineers’ punt rolled to the Knights’ five-yard line. On the first play of the Kennedy’s offensive series, Silfa sliced up the middle for five yards of breathing room. Following a stop by May for West Orange, Wright-Collins bounced off right tackle to the 20 for a first down. However, May again stepped to the forefront by tossing Silfa for a five yard loss. Shortly thereafter, the referees ruled that an apparent Mountaineer fumble actually occurred after the player had hit the ground. However, the debate over the confusion proved obsolete as the Mountaineers were flagged for a holding penalty. With 7:59 left in the second quarter, neither team was able to mount a serious scoring drive before the second quarter horn sounded with the score knotted 0-0.
The second half was highlighted by two Mountaineers’ touchdown drives. The second scoring thrust followed a long run by Carson and was completed by a touchdown pass deep to the right corner of the end zone.
Perhaps the play of the game came soon thereafter for Kennedy. Wright-Collins sped 15 yards down field and turned to see a bullet pass coming his way. Leaping to full extension, the steady senior not only managed to catch the ball but did so while being literally sandwiched between two West Orange defenders. Another video worthy play featured a dramatic duel between West Orange wide-out Jared Massey and Kennedy cornerback Brandon Curry. The latter was able to knock a long bomb away in the end zone, at the last moment, to prevent what seemed like a sure score.
A short Kennedy touchdown run set up the last chance drive opportunity for the Knights which only a valiant effort by the Mountaineers defense could stop. The final tally read-West Orange 14-Kennedy 6.