PISCATAWAY – The saying goes that defense wins championships. For the South Brunswick High School football team, a dominant effort on the defensive side of the ball earned another sectional title.
Staring a rushing attack from Old Bridge right in the eyes, one that had more than 600 yards in its two previous state playoff games, South Brunswick held the Knights to just 129 offensive yards and 51 on the ground, en route to a convincing 42-0 win at High Point Solutions Stadium in the NJSIAA Central Group V final Saturday afternoon.
South Brunswick (11-1) won its final 11 games of the season after suffering a 41-21 decision to Middletown South on opening night to capture its second sectional championship, after winning the 2012 crown.
“This is the end of a four-year run with these seniors that I haven’t seen in a long time coaching. Great ending and we’ve had a great run after that first game, 11 in a row. I couldn’t be prouder of these seniors,” South Brunswick head coach Joe Goerge said.
Coming into the game, Old Bridge had rushed for 614 yards in playoff wins over Edison and New Brunswick, but the South Brunswick defense stonewalled the Knights’ attack to a tune of just 51 yards on 26 attempts (1.96 per rush). Old Bridge (8-4) managed just 3.3 yards per play and lost the time of possession battle by nine minutes (25:28-16:27).
Old Bridge’s Jake Sodano had totaled 321 yards on the ground and scored seven touchdowns in the two prior postseason outings, but managed just 58 yards on 15 attempts.
The Vikings had four tackles for losses and sacked Old Bridge quarterback Artur Sitkowski twice, simply “executing” and “keeping their focus”, according to two of their stars.
“We were ready and we just had to execute,” senior captain Phil Campbell said. “We knew how it felt in the first game this season and how it felt coming off the field last year in this game, so we didn’t want to have that feeling again.”
Campbell registered just two tackles on defense from his free safety position, but that was due in large part to Old Bridge’s inability to get to the second level and force the bruising Rutgers commit to lower the boom. The dual-threat – Campbell rushed for a game-high 90 yards and added a late touchdown – said he and his defensive mates hoped to make a statement on Saturday.
“We wanted to shut them out,” Campbell said. “We just executed and it went our way.”
Another Rutgers commit playing his final game for South Brunswick, Mohamed Jabbie, ended his high school career in style, picking off a Sitkowski pass and returning it 31 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter, essentially putting the game out of reach.
“I used my receiver skills on that one,” Jabbie said. “I saw the ball in the air and took it to the house.”
Despite having won 10 games in a row coming in, including a Thanksgiving Day thrashing of rival North Brunswick, Jabbie said that keeping the focus during the week of practice wasn’t difficult.
“Coach told us all week just to focus and have one thing on our mind and we did. We went really hard this week in practice and that showed in the outcome of the game,” he said.
The Knights never got into the South Brunswick red zone and punted six times, while only possessing the ball for 4:39 in the second half.