Play­ing for pride

Play­offs out of reach for Yel­low­jack­ets

Newark Post - - FRONT PAGE - By JON BUZBY JonBuzby@hot­mail.com

Ne­wark High played Ap­po­quin­imink to a score­less stale­mate in the first quar­ter last Fri­day night, but af­ter that, it was all Jaguars.

The Jags pounced on the Yel­low­jack­ets early in the sec­ond quar­ter, scor­ing 13 points in un­der a minute on two con­sec­u­tive rush­ing touch­downs, the sec­ond af­ter a fum­ble re­cov­ery.

Ne­wark’s chances of a come­back were ham­pered when fresh­man quar­ter­back Amir James, who started un­der cen­ter, left the game early in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter tak­ing a big hit and then was not al­lowed to re­turn due to pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures for a pos­si­ble con­cus­sion. James was re­placed by sopho­more Joe Hodges, who was still hob­bling af­ter suf­fer­ing an in­jury in the St. Ge­orge’s game.

“While we were in the first quar­ter, we started to move the ball with Amir, and our of­fense was start­ing to set the tone for the game,” se­nior cap­tain Day­ton Swan­hart said. “Once he went down [with an in­jury] we had to change up how we were call­ing plays since Joe wasn’t 100 per­cent. We were al­ready pretty in­jury­plagued, and it was an­other hit to that list of peo­ple.”

Se­nior cap­tain James Jor­dan also pointed to in­juries as mak­ing a dif­fer­ence.

“We lost our mo­men­tum when our third-string quar­ter­back went out with an in­jury,” Jor­dan said. “We were very lim­ited per­son­nel-wise and what plays we could call due to the in­juries. So nat­u­rally we be­gan to slow down and lose the spark we had.”

Ne­wark never re­gained that spark on of­fense, and Appo added three rush­ing touch­downs in the sec­ond half to im­prove their record to 4-3 with a 36-0 vic­tory.

Play­offs out of reach

Ne­wark’s fifth loss elim­i­nated the Yel­low­jack­ets from play­off con­tention for the sev­enth con­sec­u­tive sea­son. The last time Ne­wark reached the post­sea­son was when they ad­vanced to the cham­pi­onship game in 2011 led by three fu­ture Di­vi­sion 1 play­ers – Tay­lor Reynolds, Xavier Grif­fin and David Grin­nage. On a side note, Grin­nage, who is play­ing for the Jack­sonville Jaguars, caught his first NFL pass in last week’s game against the Cow­boys.

For this year’s se­nior class, know­ing they’ll never ex­pe­ri­ence a foot­ball play­off game is a frus­trat­ing way to go out. How­ever, the cap­tains are de­ter­mined to make sure the team bat­tles un­til the end.

“This team wants to win,” Swan­hart said. “Play­offs ob­vi­ously are al­ways a goal, but the team came into this year with the men­tal­ity we want to show we aren’t a team that’s go­ing to just lie down. The other cap­tains, along with my­self, try to re­mind them we’re here to play foot­ball and to just play a game where you leave ev­ery­thing on that field ev­ery sin­gle game. Espe­cially with the se­niors, em­pha­siz­ing these are our last games some of us will ever play.”

Jor­dan echoed those same feel­ings.

“Even with the play­offs out of reach, I know this team wants to win out,” he said. “Ev­ery­one’s per­sonal goals re­quire them to play their hard­est no mat­ter the wins and losses. I have faith my broth­ers will play 100 per­cent ev­ery play these last three weeks be­cause that’s who we are as a team and a fam­ily.”

Here come the Cava­liers

Ne­wark cel­e­brates “Se­nior Night” tonight when the Yel­low­jack­ets face their tough­est op­po­nent yet. The Mid­dle­town Cava­liers, ranked No. 1 in ev­ery me­dia poll, will look to get back on the win­ning track fol­low­ing a 52-7 loss to na­tional pow­er­house IMG Academy in Braden­ton, Florida.

“Com­ing off a blowout loss to IMG, and be­ing our se­nior night, we all know Mid­dle­town will be com­ing to our field with the mind­set to win,” Swan­hart said. “We’re go­ing to need a great week of prac­tice and be ready to play our best game of foot­ball we have this year.”

Jor­dan summed up the Cava­liers in five words: “They are a great team.” Kick­off is 7 p.m.

The Buzz from the Hive will be posted on­line each Mon­day morn­ing dur­ing the high school foot­ball sea­son and also in Fri­day’s print edi­tion. It will in­clude some game anal­y­sis and ex­clu­sive quotes from Ne­wark High foot­ball coach Barry Zehn­der and se­lect mem­bers of the team af­ter they’ve had a chance to watch game film, eval­u­ate their per­for­mance, and be­gin prepa­ra­tion for the next game.

NE­WARK POST FILE PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Se­nior cap­tains James Jor­dan (4) and Day­ton Swan­hart (11, far right) say the Yel­low­jack­ets are play­ing for pride now that the play­offs are out of reach.

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