MONMOUTH JUNCTION – In Vikings country, when the smoke from the entrance tunnel finally settles and the players come marching onto the field, there’s only one true meaning: It’s another showdown for the South Brunswick football squad.
On Saturday morning, against long time rival, North Brunswick, South Brunswick sent out their seniors for one last time in front of the home crowd. The Vikings made sure to give them a fitting departing gift by adding a 41-14 victory over North Brunswick to their already impressive season.
“It was a good way to go out winning 41-14,” Phil Campbell said. “That’s what we expected. We started out slow, but we talked to the guys in the second half and really began to play.”
Mohamed Jabbie added, “We were taught for four years to get to this moment. It was our final home game and we wanted to show out in front of everyone. We wanted to end out with a bang.”
The usual core four players of the Vikings strong offensive attack once again gave the South Brunswick community a performance to remember. Campbell began the scoring by running up the middle with force for a seven-yard touchdown.
South Brunswick allowed the Raiders to answer on the following possession. Max Emmanuel gave his team hope by jetting down the sideline past the Vikings defenders for a 65-yard score. North Brunswick held a slim 8-7 lead over the heavily favorited Vikings. It was the last time the Raiders would be within striking distance.
Josh Liao took the game into his hands when he took a designed quarterback keeper nine-yards for the score. South Brunswick didn’t look back from that point.
“We knew what we had to do but some of the other guys kind of got lost in the whole Thanksgiving and Rutgers thing,” Campbell said. “I had to let them know that we are playing football and we are here to compete.”
Liao would jump back into the spotlight later on in the contest by scoring his second rushing touchdown on the day, this time from 20-yards out. He also exhibited his precise right arm in the third quarter. The junior connected with Justin Shorter for a 54-yard touchdown to give the Vikings a lengthy lead.
Liao finished the competition with 128 passing yards and added 76 more yards on the ground. Liao was thrown into the fire at the end of his sophomore year when starting quarterback, Amir Johnson, was sidelined with an injury. Thursday’s performance was a small example of how much Liao has grown.
“Mo, Phil and Wendell are great leaders out there and they made my transition easier,” Liao said. “I struggled in the beginning of the year, there was a lot of pressure on me.
I honestly didn’t think we were going to throw that much this year. We have so many great weapons and all of them do so great at catching the ball. When you have weapons out there, you have to get them the ball, and that’s what coach has been doing.”
Jabbie gave South Brunswick insurance in the second quarter when he flashed his speed on a 62-yard punt return for a touchdown. Wendell Allen put the finishing touches on the game with a eight-yard dash around the right corner for a score.
The Vikings distributed the wealth on the offensive side of the ball all afternoon. This type of performance is a testament to the confidence the players have in each other.
“We feel like we have a lot of talented players on this team,” Allen said. “Everybody is capable of breaking one at any time. We play unselfish football and we play as a team, it definitely shows.”
North Brunswick leads the all-time series 23-16-1, but the Vikings have taken charge in recent memory. South Brunswick currently on a six game winning streak against the Raiders, which is a case in point of how much the program has grown. They will now face Old Bridge on Dec. 5 at Rutgers Stadium in the Central Group V title game. Holding up a trophy will be the perfect way for the seniors to close out their high school careers.
“Coach George and his coaching staff came in and they had a great tradition,” Jabbie said. “Coach George never talks about wins or losses, he just talks about becoming a better man. We work hard every day in practice and it shows on the scoreboard.”