PISCATAWAY, NJ - The Piscataway High School varsity football team only has three home games at Dominic R. Ciardi Field this season so when they play for their fans in Chiefs Nation, they have to make it count.
That’s exactly what they did Friday night as the Chiefs (2-0, 1-0 in the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division) thumped the East Brunswick High Bears 32-7.
“[It’s] always good to get a home win,” Piscataway head coach Dan Higgins told TAPinto Piscataway. “We always take pride in defending our home turf.”
Piscataway had control of the game from the coin toss (which they won) to the final whistle. The Chiefs dominated on the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, opening holes for the running game and stopping the spread attack that East Brunswick (0-2) ran. Piscataway finished with at least four sacks, including two in the final pair of plays of the game.
The offensive line came up big creating running lanes for star running back Elijah Barnwell, who displayed patience when following blocks and the ability to juke around a would-be-tackler. The senior finished with 193 yards and three touchdowns first half touchdowns on only 10 carries.
“The offensive line was solid, but (Barnwell) makes them look better because of his vision and cutback ability,” Higgins said.
As impressive as a ball carrier he is, Barnwell was quick to praise the big guys up front.
“My line definitely held it down,” Barnwell told TAPinto Piscataway. “They did what they were supposed to do and I just ran off their blocks and rewarded them with touchdowns and yards. They get the most props.”
Backup running back Juwon Jackson rushed eight times for 44 yards and quarterback Danny Haus had five carries for 12 yards including a keeper for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Haus also did some damage through the air thanks to his pass protection, completing 6-of-10 passes for 54 yards, displaying the ability to hit targets on the run.
Rounding out the scoring for the Chiefs was kicker Mike Stalenyj, who nailed a long 35-yard field goal in the third quarter.
Piscataway led 14-0 in the second quarter and stopped East Brunswick once again on downs forcing a punt, but the Chiefs coughed up the ball on the return. The Bears would march down the field and quarterback James Schuld hit Isaiah Jackson in the flat for a 7-yard score to cut it to 14-7 with 2:51 left in the first half.
Piscataway would score just over a minute later on Barnwell’s third score of the day, a 45-yarder as he took a handoff from Haus out of the shotgun, scooted right and it was off to the races.
Barnwell, who doubles as a standout linebacker, and the rest of his teammates would shut out the Bears in the second half while the Chiefs tacked up 11 more points.
Through two games, Barnwell has carried the ball 33 times for 317 yards and four touchdowns. After finishing with 1,743 yards and 23 touchdowns as a junior in 2015, it’s no wonder why the school’s all-time leading rusher is being looked out by colleges all across the country.
But up next, Piscataway faces a stiff test in the South Brunswick Vikings, who have beaten the Chiefs the last three years. The Vikings have sent countless players to Division-I schools the last few years in Mo Jabbie (Rutgers) and Phil Campbell (Pitt), and current standout wide receiver Justin Shorter is committed to Penn State.
Higgins talked about they need to do this week to prepare for the big GMC Red battle.
“We need to play more consistently and better on 3rd-downs,” he said. “It will take every man to give his very best to beat them.”
Barnwell can’t wait to put on the pads and strap on his helmet for next Friday night’s tilt in South Brunswick.
“I’m excited for that,” he said with a smile. “You know, I’m 0-3 against South Brunswick in my high school career and it would feel good to go out in my senior year with one (a win).”