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Sidney Gopre, the terrific all-around athlete at running back and linebacker for Weequahic, is the state's top defensive player and leader of a unit of resistence for the Newark school which has held opponents to a total of 29 points this season. He is also the Sideline Chatter/360 Fitness Athlete of the Week after being named MVP in this past Thursday's 27-0 Thanksgiving Day victory at Shabazz. Weequahic meets Rumson in the Central Jersey, Group 2 final, 7:30 p.m., Saturday at Kean University. (Photos by Glenn Kross- visit www.glennkrossphotography.com)
Weequahic's LB Sidney Gopre (right) stands over Cedar Grove QB Joe Slattery after sacking Panther in the Indians' memorable 55-20 win over the 'Grovers' to help win SEC-Colonial title.
Sidney Gopre gets a hold of Cedar Grove's Joe Slattery for another of his QB sacks in that game
Weequahic team leader Sidney Gopre (5) waves the American flag with an Indian emblazaned on it as he leads his teammates onto field at Cedar Grove before Brick City team's 55-20 victory.
Weequahic’s Gopre Leads Stellar‘D’
Sidney Gopre is considered by many to be the best defender in the state not only because of his speed, agility and nose for the football. It’s also because he’s taken to his role of leading a Weequahic unit of resistance that is better than ever.
“This season we just have a different mentality, believing that we can dominate a game, and as a unit we’ve done that,” said the 6-foot-2, 198-pound Rutgers commit. “We bring energy each and every play this season and that’s the key to our success.
“And, it’s all part of our emphasis on finishing the job this fall which means winning a playoff championship.”
Gopre, who was the MVP in the annual “Soul Bowl” on Thanksgiving Day when Weequahic shut out Brick City rival Shabazz, 27-0, is the Sideline Chatter/360 Fitness Athlete of the Week.
He will lead the Indians (11-0) into this Saturday night’s Central Jersey, Group 2 playoff championship game vs. Rumson (10-1), 7:30 p.m., at Kean University’s Alumni Field in Union.
Gopre has the range and athleticism to be the consummate outside linebacker at the next level, something Rutgers has seen in the young man with an unrelenting ability to be a lockdown defender.
“He’s without a doubt the best defensive player in the state,” said Weequahic coach Brian Logan. “I can’t believe that there is another player out there that can do the things he can do as far as stopping the opposition.
“He’s been a game-changer throughout his career and he’s done a great job of leading this defensive unit which is having a fantastic season together.”
Gopre had 10 tackles and a sack in last Thursday’s Soul Bowl and has increased his numbers to 90 solo hits and 59 assists for 149 tackles (13.5 per game) for Weequahic. He also has an astounding 35 tackles for a loss, 14 sacks and 4 forced fumbles.
Among his defensive teammates, inside linebacker, Lynwood Duncan, has 80 tackles and a team-leading 18.5 sacks, while D-lineman Tysheem Perry has 59 tackles and 3 sacks and linebacker Baron Wright has 39 tackles and 3 interceptions.
“It’s great to see other guys make big plays on defense and I’m glad to do what I can do, but it’s definitely a team effort out there,” said Gopre. “We’ve done a pretty good job of stopping just about everyone (while allowing only 29 points all season and posting eight shutouts).”
Most of the points allowed by the Indians came in a 55-20 win at Cedar Grove on Nov. 8, a win that went a long way to solidifying Weequahic's hold on the Super Essex Conference-Colonial Division championship this season.
Weequahic has lost in the playoff finals in each of the past two seasons, falling to Cedar Grove, 34-21, in the 2011 North 2, Group 1 final at MetLife Stadium before returning to the home of the Giants and Jets to drop a narrow 13-12 decision to Carteret in the Central Jersey, Group 2 title tilt last December in a game where the Indians led, 12-0, at halftime, yet relinquished the lead in the end.
“It means a lot to get the job done this year and win the playoff title,” said Gopre. “We’ve been dedicated to that goal since last off-season and I’m confident in this group of guys to earn the championship this time around.”
Rumson features a consistent ground attack spearheaded by junior running back Charlie Volker who has rushed for 2,012 yards and 23 TDs. The Monmouth County school also features its own Rutgers commit on the defensive side in DE Donald Bedell who has 74 tackles and 9 sacks.
Weequahic’s offense counters with exciting junior running back Al-Kadair Ports (1,125 yards rushing, 17 TDs), who is also the consummate kick/punt return man with 5 TDs on returns this season.
“Al-Kadair came over from East Side and has been a fantastic player for us,” said Gopre. “He’s got speed and moves and he’s very dangerous as a return man, that’s for sure.”
Veteran QB Kedar Clarke (800 yards, 10 TDs rushing; 30 of 54 for 600 yards, 9 TDs, just 1 Int.) is a solid field general guiding the offense, while Gopre is also a competent runner with 487 yards rushing (11.07 per carry) and 6 TDs.
“In certain packages I’m out there at running back,” said Weequahic’s defensive leader. “Wherever and whenever they need me on offense I’m there and I do my best to help keep the drive going.”
Gopre is committed to Rutgers; however, he also has other schools he may entertain taking a look at in the off season, including Michigan State, Miami and Syracuse.
“I’m pretty solid on Rutgers, but I’ll still listen to what other schools have to say,” he said. “It’s simply a process where you want to make sure you’re doing what’s best for your future, and I certainly feel very strong about Rutgers and their commitment to me as well.”
All SC/360 Fitness Athletes of the Week receive a complimentary speed and agility session from 360, located at 25 Greenbrook Road in Fairfield. There are many programs and classes for youngsters and adults available at 360 throughout the year. For more information, call 877-787-0360, ext. 1005 or email: Rob@nj360fitness.com
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
It appears that Weequahic's Sidney Gopre (left) is running downhill behind his blockers
Sidney Gopre (5) and company from Weequahic made their presence felt during 55-20 win at Cedar Grove as the Indians had multiple sacks of Panthers' fine QB Joe Slattery (7)
Sidney Gopre (5) dives forward as he's corralled by a couple of Cedar Grove defenders
Weequahic coach Brian Logan (orange sweatshirt) puts his hands on the shoulders of two of his players while leading the Indians through post-game prayer after last December's 13-12 loss to Carteret in the Central Jersey, Group 2 final at MetLife Stadium. The Brick City team returns to a playoff final for the third season in a row .(Sideline Chatter photo)
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