Plenty of fans came out for one final game on Saturday, December 3rd between two of the best high school football teams in Newark: the Shabazz Bulldogs versus the Weequahic Indians. These two teams have been rivals since Day 1, with fans of both sides waiting to see how the annual game plays out year-to-year.
The championship game on December 3rd was not the first time the two teams played this year however. In fact, the Bulldogs and Indians battled it out on Thanksgiving Day just a few weeks ago! In this game on November 24th the Weequahic Indians took the W, almost shutting out the Shabazz Bulldogs with a score of 22-8.
The final championship game between the two Newark teams — played at Kean University for the sake of neutrality — was full of ups and downs for both sides. To start things off, Senior Jahid Alexander of Weequahic scored a touchdown in the first quarter. At this point in the game the Indians were feeling good and off to an excellent start. Meanwhile on the other end of the field, head coach Darnell Grant knew his team could do better.
With the second and third quarters of the game came two more touchdowns for Weequahic by Junior Tymen Sampson and Senior Ali Beh. At this point in the ball game, most hope was lost for the bulldogs. However, Coach Grant was still optimistic for his team! And as sure as the sky is blue, Grant’s hunch was on the right track; in the final quarter of the game Shabazz #1 player Nysir Smith scored a 5 yard rushing touchdown to put his team on the board!
Unfortunately, this touchdown was not enough to win the bulldogs the State Championship Title. Although the Weequahic Indians did not make any touchdowns in the fourth quarter, they ended up taking the 18-8 win…just as they had during the previous rival game on Thanksgiving morning.
Before the championship game, the Weequahic Indians had an undefeated, 12-0 season this year while the Shabazz Bulldogs carried an 8-4 record. Paired with the Indian win on Thanksgiving, it is not surprising that the Indians were able to take the final win. This being said, the All-Newark State Football Championship game was no walk in the park. When informed on the highlighting plays of the big game, NJIT student Lorenzo Campanella exclaimed “Wow, must have been a real nail-biter!” . All in all, both Newark teams were honored to partake in the championship game, and a win was had by all players in spirit.