By winning North 2, Group 1 title, Shabazz completes first undefeated season since 1966
Redemption is what Shabazz head coach Darnell Grant said afterwards at Kean University Alumni Stadium on Saturday. Last season, the Bulldogs (12-0) lost to Weequahic (9-3) in the North 2, Group 1 sectional title game on the same field.
“After last year’s loss, they took three days off and were back in the weight room and came out and worked hard all summer to get ready for this season,” said Grant.
Having just played Weequahic on Thanksgiving nine days ago and emerging victorious in a low-scoring affair 7-0, the Bulldogs wasted no time putting this game away in the first quarter. After linebacker Michael Fields recovered a fumble at the Indians 36-yard line, junior quarterback Anthony Travis connected on a 36-yard touchdown pass in stride to wide receiver Sean Sanders with less than eight minutes to go.
Next up was the special teams’ play for Shabazz partially blocking a punt that gave the Bulldogs terrific starting field position at the Weequahic 41. Five plays later Travis hooked up with wide receiver David Orduson on a 19-yard strike down the middle of the seam.
Shabazz stout defense dominated play throughout the game forcing the Indians into committing miscues on this day as cornerback Shakeee Pearson picked off a pass at the Bulldogs 47-yard line and returned it to the Indians 39. The Bulldogs defense allowed a meager 53 yards of total offense and three turnovers. A shovel pass from Travis to Dajuan Carr moved the ball down to the six-yard line. On 3rd & goal at the 1, Travis punched it from one yard out for the score making it 21-0 with 1:23 to go.
“Anthony (Travis) didn’t have a good day on Thanksgiving but even with a short week he is so cerebral to play and processes the coverage,” Grant said. “All year we came out and jumped on people early. Being around these guys every day and seeing their work ethic, how they love each other and sacrifice for each other.”
Right before halftime, the Bulldogs defense recovered another fumble leading to Travis tossing a 23-yard scoring pass to Nasir Collins. Travis (7 for 11, 154 yards) finished his stellar day, teaming up with Sanders for a second time on a spectacular 36-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“It started with practicing hard and executing our plays,” said Travis. “The hard work really paid off.”