Union City Outruns and Defeats West Orange 32-21 in the First Round of the State Playoffs

West Orange senior running back McDerby Ceneus follows a blocker and tries to get to the outside. Credits: Evan Easterling
Senior Quarterback Jahir Blanton attempts a pass over the middle of the field. Credits: Evan Easterling
Each team anticipates the snap of the ball and a battle at the line of scrimmage. Credits: Evan Easterling

WEST ORANGE, NJ - The West Orange Mountaineers ran out to an early lead but the Soaring Eagles from Union City roared past the Mountaineers to win 32-21, in a game that could be likened to a race.

The Friday night crowd at Suriano Stadium in West Orange filed in for a matchup of the North Jersey Section 1 Group 5 four and five seeds and the game did not disappoint.

The game was certainly not for those who do not like running the football, as Union City alone behind the running back trio of juniors Tamaine Boyd, Jonathan Castellano, and Nawell Rojas, ran for over 350 yards. Castellano, in addition to running for 88 yards on 10 carries with a rushing touchdown, returned the opening kickoff for a Union City touchdown.

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Union City Coach Wil Valdez said of his team’s running attack that, “We did a good job of dominating the line of scrimmage.”

After Castellano’s kickoff return for a score, the Mountaineers immediately counterattacked with a kickoff return near midfield and a fake punt to extend the drive. The drive was finished with a 19 yard rushing touchdown by senior Isaiah Scott, making the score 7-6 in West Orange’s favor.

Scott’s touchdown was the first score as part of 21 unanswered points put on the board by West Orange following the Union City touchdown. David Grant, a senior running back, scored on a 10 yard run on the Mountaineers’ next possession, and then Jahir Blanton was able to complete a short pass to senior receiver Jean Charles who broke a tackle and sprinted 76 yards down the sideline for pay-dirt. Charles’ touchdown made the score 21-6 and ended West Orange’s scoring for the night.

Union City took over the game after Charles’ touchdown run and scored 26 unanswered points. Union City drove down the field after the West Orange score and received a big run from Tamaine Boyd. Boyd ran for 37 yards down the sideline but was denied of the end zone by a tackle by Davon Harper. Boyd was able to get the ball into the end zone a few plays later on a one yard run to make the score 21-14 after a two point conversion. Boyd would add two more touchdowns in the third quarter and ran for a total of 213 yards on 17 carries.

West Orange attempted to make a comeback with about 3:00 left in the fourth quarter, but an interception thrown by quarterback Jahir Blanton without 1:30 left only left a few kneel downs between Union City and the next round.

Coach Valdez looks to bring a strong running attacking into the next round saying, “We love to run downhill, attack, and make plays.”

Union City will play the winner of the Montclair vs. North Bergen game, a matchup of the 1st and 8th seeds. The Montclair and North Bergen game will take place on Saturday November 16th at 1:00 pm.

The loss ends a 7-3 season under first year coach Jim Matsakis for West Orange, who is optimistic about next year and the promise of the underclassmen.

“Hopefully the underclassmen took notes from the seniors and learned it is more about West Orange than any individual and if they realize that then next year we can improve.”







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