WEST ORANGE, NJ — As part of Friday night’s home football opener, in which West Orange defeated John F. Kennedy High School, 14-6, accompanying ceremonies recognized the West Orange PAL football and cheerleading leagues and also officially retired the football jersey of fallen Class of 2015 alumnus Christopher Morgan.
West Orange PAL has provided tackle football and cheerleading opportunities for children in grades 2-8 for more than 50 years and has partnered with West Orange Public Schools for almost as long. As the different levels of cheer and football teams were announced, excited athletes ran onto the field as the crowd applauded.
Athletic Director Ron Bligh began the halftime presentation by joining April and Chris Morgan, Sr., their daughter, Camryn, and other family members and friends, as well as Superintendent Dr. Scott Cascone and West Orange Board of Education members Ken Alper, Sandra Mordecai, Mark Robertson, Cheryl Merklinger and Terry Triggs-Scales on the field.
Christopher Morgan, Jr. was tragically killed in an accident at West Point in June. He was a top student academically and athletically during his time in West Orange, playing football and making it to the podium as number five in the state in Atlantic City for wrestling.
Dr. Cascone presented the Morgan family with Morgan's now-retired “61” jersey.
"It was a humbling honor to present the Morgan family with the retired jersey for their son CJ," said Dr. Cascone. "The person that CJ was and the manner in which he conducted himself in all aspects of his life, henceforth, will stand out as a standard to which all members of the West Orange school community can be proud to hold themselves.”
The Morgan family said it was “a humbling experience watching CJ's High School honor him by retiring #61 during halftime.”
“So many of his teammates and close friends came to show their love and support,” family members said. “We live in the best town.”
The solemn moment brought together several generations of the West Orange community to honor Morgan’s memory.
Following the presentation, the mood lightened with the home field premiere of the West Orange Marching Mountaineers’ new program, “Which Witch,” bringing the audience to its feet in appreciation.
As for the team’s first win, newly appointed head coach Darnell Grant said that the boys “played really hard in their home opener against an experienced and athletic Paterson Kennedy.”
“The Mountaineers were led by the play of quarterback Mason Murdock, who was 17-23-170 yards and had two touchdowns,” he said. “Running back Shakhi Carson had an outstanding game as well, running for 141 yards and 19 carries. On the defensive side, Adonis May had another great game, recording 10 solo tackles and two sacks. Jared Massay and Cade Lipsey also recorded interceptions to seal the victory.”
More coverage on the game can be found HERE.
The football team will take on Don Bosco Prep in a non-conference away game on Friday. The next home game will be against Columbia on Oct. 11.