The New Brunswick High School football team hopes to end a 26-game losing streak, which dates back to the 2009 season, when it hosts winless Perth Amboy at Memorial Stadium on Friday night.
“We’re looking at them just like any other opponent, not like they’re a winless team,” rookie head coach Castor Losada said. “Every week we go into the game thinking we’ve got a solid game plan. If we execute, we can win.”
New Brunswick (0-6) appeared on course to register an upset or two earlier this year, but mistakes and a lack of depth contributed to what turned out to be lopsided losses.
The Zebras led Colonia 3-0 at halftime and were in a scoreless fourth-quarter deadlock with Woodbridge before enduring 21-3 and 30-0 losses, respectively, in consecutive weekends.
“We’ve had a ton of mental errors as far as penalties and not lining up correctly,” Losada said. “That just comes with the fact that we’re a young team.”
Quarterback Tereak Butler, who has also played some running back and wide receiver, has been hampered by injuries all year, as has running back Shamal Ayton, a promising transfer from North Carolina.
Ayton, however, is apparently healthy, as evidenced by his solid rushing performance against Bishop Ahr last weekend.
The line – Christian Fernandez, Eddie Hernandez, Tariq Baksh, Sam Pierce, Angelo Peralta and Craig Elliot – has been New Brunswick’s strength.
Wide receivers Yameer Shamary and Juwan Haney, a transfer from Perth Amboy, area adjusting to Butler and Luis Contreras sharing time at quarterback
Losada inherited the losing streak from former mentor Robert Jackson, who led New Brunswick to a 0-19 record the past two years.
Jackson took over for John Quinn, who built New Brunswick into a perennial state power, leading the Zebras to a 68-19 record including three sectional titles and an undefeated campaign in 2003, the school’s first since 1926.
Quinn groomed 16 Division I scholarship players including Dwayne Jarrett, a two-time All-American at USC, and Jonathan Casillas. Both went on to play in the NFL.
Only Butler and defensive back Shaun Terrell, who played as freshmen for Quinn, remember what it feels like to win a game. Both were part of the 2009 team that qualified for the NJSIAA playoffs.
“It’s an interesting dynamic with that,” Losada said of the current losing streak. “Just a few seniors have been around for the past few years. The other kids don’t know any better. All they really know is this season.”
Both New Brunswick and Perth Amboy (0-5) have struggled to score points with the Panthers registering 30 and the Zebras posting 29. Defense has kept both teams in games, especially Perth Amboy, which is by far the Greater Middlesex Conference’s youngest team.
Terrell and lineman Sam Pierce have helped anchor the defense, along with outside linebacker Carlos Rosario, one of several first-year players.
“We are getting better every week” Losada said. “(The players) don’t see it that way necessarily because they are not winning games.”