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Weequahic sophomore defensive back Tyler Phillips (8), who had two intercetpions in Saturday's 18-8 victory over Shabazz in North 2, Group 1 playoff final, wards off Shabazz' Nasir Collins on return after one pick. (Photos by Gene Nann-nannphoto)
Sophomore tackle Dior Desuah (52) was a big part of Weequahic's defensive push
Weequahic's Ihmir Marsette (right) looks to head upfield after intercepting pass with Shabazz' Jason Artis (12) in pursuit during Saturday's North 2, Group 1 playoff action.
Weequahic defensive tackle Dior Desuah (52) was big part of unit's success
Weequahic's Tyler Phillips (right) makes the pick in front of Shabazz' Nasir Collins
The Weequahic football team gets together to celebrate 2016 N2G1 playoff title while head coach Brian Logan (second from right) holds football up the air next to trophy.
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Weequahic took a 6-0 lead with 7:18 left in the first quarter when after Dior recovered a fumble at the Shabazz 24 yard line, the Indians proceeded to cash in four plays later on a 1-yard TD plunge by junior running back Robert Leverette.
“Getting up early on them was big because we didn’t want them to establish any momentum,” said Dior, who also starts at right tackle on the offensive line for the Indians. “And having the defense be able to set up a score is always a nice bonus because we always want to try and help our offense put itself in a good position to score.”
Shabazz, which scored in the game’s waning moments on a 5-yard TD run by Nysir Smith, had a golden opportunity to try and tie or go ahead in the contest after recovering a Weequahic fumble on a punt return at the Indians 41 yard line with 9:49 left in the third quarter.
A well-placed 31-yard timing pattern with Bulldogs QB Prince Olubakinde connecting with impressive wide out Justin Johnson gave Shabazz a first-and-goal at the Weequahic 10.
A questionable pass interference call against the Indians moved the ball to the 4 yard line; but the Weequahic defense stood tall at that point, led by Dior in the interior, and the Indians benefitted from an errant direct snap on 4 th-and-goal at the 3 as Olubakinde was forced to simply fall on the ball as the Bulldogs relinquished their best scoring opportunity at a meaningful point of the game.
“Offensively we just made too many mistakes,” said Darnell Grant, the Shabazz head coach. “In a game like this the team that makes the least mistkes will win.
“With that being said, I have to take my hat off to coach (Brian) Logan and his staff. They did a great job. As far as we’re concerned, we’ll be back!”
Defense, the trademark of Weequahic football during this 2016 perfect run through both the North Jersey Super Football Conference schedule and the N2G1 playoff field, came to the forefront once again this time in a championship setting against an archrival.
“We prepare so well in practice during the week and playing aggressive and complete defense is a huge part of what we do,” said Marsette, the Indians’ talented cornerback and wide receiver who has received a scholarship offer from Rutgers. “We came out and showed what we’re capable of and we stopped Shabazz when we absolutely had to, and I thank my teammates for coming up huge in that spot.”
The all-Newark playoff final had a lot of energy in the crowd among fans from both schools and others from throughout the city wearing jackets from other Brick City schools including Barringer all taking in the second meeting in 10 days between two local rivals.
“This game was a big deal with two city teams going at it and it’s a lot like playing in your backyard with your brothers,” said Beh. “We know a lot these Shabazz guys from our Newark Pop Warner days when I played for the Central Ward Chargers, others on our team were with the Central Ward Rams and their players were with the South Ward Bulldogs or East Ward Stallions.
“Wherever we all came from in Newark, it was always great competition and part of a continuing rivalry that has taken us all through high school now.
“Our defense helped us win this championship and it feels great to be 12-0 which is something no one can ever take away from us!”
NORTH 2, GROUP 1 PLAYOFF FINAL, DEC. 3RD AT KEAN UNIVERSITY
SHABAZZ (8-4) 0 0 0 8 - 8
WEEQUAHIC (12-0) 6 0 12 0 -18
W- Robert Leverette 1 run (pass fails)
W- Jihad Alexander 33 interception return (run fails)
W- Ali Beh 15 yard return of errant lateral (run fails)
S- Nysir Smith 5 run (Nasir Collins pass from Smith)
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
Weequahic QB Tymen Sampson (2) looks upfield after eluding Shabazz defender
Weequahic's Indian faithful were proud of their coach & team for copping N2G1 title
Shabazz coach Darnell Grant raises arms in the air to signal his Bulldogs defensive unit
The very acrobatic and athletic Ihmir Marsette of Weequahic (6) gets up high in the air to try and make the catch during Saturday's North 2, Group 1 playoff final vs. Shabazz.
Weequahic played a swarming brand of defense all game long in slowing down Shabazz
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