After consecutive losses to the Greater Middlesex Conference Red Division’s three best teams, the battle-tested Edison High School football squad was more than prepared for Monroe Friday night.
“You look at the scores of those games and it looks like we got killed,” Edison coach Matt Fulham said of being outscored 97-27 in losses to Piscataway, Sayreville and South Brunswick.
“But when you really go and study the film, you could see that the mistakes we were making were correctable. We just made a practice plan and went out during the week and focused on fixing things that we were doing poorly.”
Edison actually led Piscataway 7-0 in the second quarter, was ahead of South Brunswick 14-13 in the third quarter and only trailed Sayreville 13-0 at the half.
“The first three games we knew we had potential,” Fulham said. “There were times during those games that we played very well. The problem was there were times that we played very poorly.”
Four second-half turnovers led to the South Brunswick defeat, while a lack of conditioning and depth factored into the Piscataway loss. Against Sayreville, Edison became the first team and one of just two on the year to score on the Bombers’ first-team defense.
In Friday night’s 12-10 win over Monroe, which entered the contest averaging 36 points per game, Edison turned in a stellar all-around effort as the Eagles finally lived up to their Home News Tribune preseason No. 9 ranking.
Senior end Abdal Ragab led the defense. He made several tackles for a loss, batted down a couple of passes and disrupted Monroe’s no-huddle offense.
“He’s the best defensive lineman we’ve seen all year,” Monroe coach Chris Beagan said. “I give them all the credit. We didn’t play well but they certainly outplayed us.”
Linebackers Kyle Boyer-Tucker (interception), Christian Appia and Abram Thelisma also shined for the Eagles (1-3).
Edison and Monroe both run similar offenses, which helped the Eagles prepare.
“When you’re running the other team’s offense, your scout team has to give you a quality look, and there were times this year where our scout team couldn’t duplicate the speed or the execution that another team was going to give us,” Fulham said. “But this week our scout team was able to execute what they were doing.”
Edison’s leading rusher, Aqeel Daniels, played Friday night with a hip pointer. He and Jordan Dunn ran well as the line created holes and receivers finished their downfield blocks.
Unlike the South Brunswick loss – Edison finished with five turnovers – the Eagles had zero giveaways and two takeaways against Monroe.
“A focus for us this week was protecting the football,” Fulham said, “and that definitely helped us.”
Platooning quarterbacks Dan Lordi and James Waldron were equally effective for Edison, combining to pass for 143 yards.
The Eagles were clearly a better conditioned team than in their 32-7 season-opening loss to Piscataway.
Edison must run the table – defeating North Brunswick, Old Bridge, East Brunswick and Marlboro – to have a shot at qualifying for the North 2 Group V playoffs.
Game of the Week
The Home News Tribune Game of the Week has had a thrilling conclusion each of the past four weeks.
Colonia’s 28-21 victory over Woodbridge Friday night featured a winning TD pass with 28 seconds remaining, less than a minute after the Barrons had an apparent go-ahead 19-yard field goal nullified by a penalty and the ensuing 24-yard attempt blocked.
St. Joseph needed a goal line stand with 33 seconds left to preserve a 9-6 win over Bishop Ahr the previous week.
In Week 3, Old Bridge rallied from a 21-0 deficit and had a chance to win on its final possession before falling 27-21 to South Brunswick.
South Brunswick made a goal-line stand the previous week, stopping Monroe, which opted to go for the win rather than an equalizing field goal in the closing minute of a 35-32 Vikings’ victory.
Will Sayreville and Piscataway top those fantastic finishes when the two-time defending sectional champions meet at Ciardi Stadium Friday night?
Highland Park, inexplicably, has fared better against tough Shore Conference opponents than GMC Blue Division foes.
The Owls (0-5) were outscored 118-22 in losses to South River, Middlesex and Spotswood.
They played well in a 25-23 loss to Keyport and in a 20-14 loss to Keansburg.
Keansburg (4-1 for the first time since 2007) defeated Spotswood 48-35 and Dunellen 42-28 but lost 33-31 to South River.
Keyport (3-1) outscored Blue Division schools Middlesex and Cardinal McCarrick by a combined 90-13 margin.
Sanu’s jersey will be retired
South Brunswick will retire former star Mohamed Sanu’s No. 2 jersey in a halftime ceremony during the Vikings’ Oct. 26 home game against Sayreville.
Sanu, now playing with the Cincinnati Bengals, has a bye week and will fly home for the presentation.
He wore the jersey while playing quarterback and safety from 2005-07. Sanu’s No. 2 will be framed and displayed inside the high school, while a sign with his jersey number will be placed beneath the stadium scoreboard.