WEST ORANGE, NJ — The West Orange High School (WOHS) Mountaineers football team lost its home opener, 28-7, to the Irvington Blue Knights on Friday.
West Orange senior quarterback Vincent DeSantis scrambled to avoid the pass rush and keep several drives alive. However, the running and passing of Irvington quarterback Brandon Robinson and the running of running back Mu’dah Abdus-salaam proved too much for the Mountaineers.
Irvington got its first break of the game when a facemask penalty prolonged a first-quarter drive that the Mountaineers had seemingly stopped. Robinson completed a pass on the next play to the West Orange one-yard line, and he ran it in from there for the touchdown.
Later in the first half, Abdus-salaam’s 50-yard run and a pass-interference penalty on the Mountaineers set up Robinson’s second touchdown run for a 14-0 lead.
The Mountaineers got on the board late in the first half as DeSantis connected 31 yards to wide receiver Michael Giovine for the score. The touchdown was set up by Jordan White’s interception and runback into Irvington territory.
After each quarterback lost third-quarter fumbles, Irvington put the ball in the hands of Abdus-salaam, including at least six-consecutive carries for the touchdown and a 20-7 lead.
As the fourth quarter moved on, the Mountaineers attempted a fake punt, but failed to gain the needed yardage. Abdus-salaam continued to carry the ball frequently, including a fourth-and-seven conversion to the West Orange one-yard line. Abdus-salaam’s second touchdown of the game sealed the score at 28-7.
Mountaineers senior offensive/defensive lineman Thomas Hughes, however, still managed to keep a positive outlook on the home-opener loss.
“I appreciate that everyone in town comes out to see us and to support us, and I think that’s very respectful,” he said. “[It is important] for us to show everyone what we can do as a team; to show the town that we are representing them in the best way possible. I hope to see a lot of effort [in future games], and I want everyone to be successful at their position. I think the team is a cohesive unit.”
The home crowd, dressed mostly in black, did not let the loss phase it either. The black was for “Irvington’s funeral,” according to WOHS student Reyna Rahaman.
“[It creates] a better environment,” said Rahaman.
“It’s fun hanging out with friends, and it’s cool that people you’re friends with are starting on the field,” said WOHS senior Anna Favetta.
The WOHS Mountaineers will take on Columbia High School in Maplewood on Saturday at 1 p.m. The next home game will be held on Oct. 6 against Morristown at 7 p.m.
Josh Baker is a West Orange High School senior participating in the TAPinto West Orange Student Internship program.