The Columbia High School Cougars opened up their fall 2019 football season on Saturday, rolling to a 28-12 victory over Newark’s Central High School at the Malcolm X. Shabazz Stadium in Newark.
Supported by the ‘19-20 fall Cheer squad led by captains Jana’e Allen and Adunni Charles and a small but vocal CHS crowd, the Cougars demonstrated that the strength and teamwork developed over a summer of 6 am weight-room workouts and summer practices would pay off on their very first possession, with multiple completions from junior QB Nick Aaron (12). Despite the first stalled drive, the Cougars put up the game’s first points with 7 minutes to go in the first quarter on a pass from Aaron to senior Hudson Grumieaux (2). Senior kicker Drew Sinclair (3) was good for the extra point.
Central answered the Cougars with a long touchdown pass with 2 minutes to go in the quarter but missed the extra point and it was clear the fans were in for an afternoon of exciting football.
The second series started at the 50-yard line, when Aaron scrambled and threw a long touchdown pass to junior Kai Arrington (9). Sinclair connected again for the extra point.
Central answered (after a 15-yard penalty on the kick-off) with a touchdown and, feeling the Cougar pressure, went for but failed to make the 2-point conversion to end the first quarter at 14-12, Columbia.
Central, not gaining the ground they needed, had to punt on their next 4th down and the Cougars were back in possession on their own 36 yard-line. A shaky snap over Aaron’s head resulted in a loss of 16 and then a delay of game penalty, but the Cougars kept their heads up, punted on 4th and 26, and kept their focus.
Central started possession on the Cougar 48 but got backed up on holding penalties, and couldn’t convert to end the half. The teams headed into half-time at 14-12.
The teams battled in the third and the quarter ended with Central punting to position Columbia at their own 48. A 30-yard run from Henry set the Cougars up with a 1st and 10 at their own 15, and junior Michael Caines (6) ran 15 for the TD. Sinclair’s PAT sailed clean to put Columbia up 21-12. The CHS offensive and defensive teams showed strength and smarts throughout.
The Cougars took down the Central QB on a nice sack and strong offense followed, frustrating the Central team and allowing for the Cougars to take over on downs.
An interception gave CHS the ball back, and a completion by Aaron and a subsequent touchdown run by junior Chance Frost (11) put points up for the Cougars again, and with 1:58 left in the 3rd quarter, Columbia led 28-12. Frost had 1 sack and 11 tackles in the game.
Central continued to fight, but the Cougars stayed hungry and humble, and notched the first victory of the season with third-year Coach Gary Mobley and his staff.
Along with Frost (11) (who also had 1 carry for 2 yards and a touchdown), the entire defense held throughout the game. Max Moore (57) landed 7 tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 1 sack, Stephen Henry (5) had 4 tackles and an interception, and Fred Holdbrook (8) made 6 tackles and 2 sacks (while also having 6 carries for 43 yards). Aaron (12) had 4 carries for 20 yards. Moise Fadel (20), Tristan Reynolds (19), Jahquil St. Cyr (14), Quincy Sabin (25), Justin Anderson (54), Bernie Mercier (52), Oneil Gooden (73) and Jethro Pierre-Paul (56) all delivered for this new-look Cougar defense.
Stephen Henry had 18 carries for 112 yards and Caines (1) had a strong game through the air and on the ground with 108 all-purpose yards to go with his sensational rushing score to put the game away in the fourth.
Catch the Cougars, cheer squad, and the first performance of the CHS Marching Band and Color Guard’s fall show at home at Lynn V. Profeta Field at the Underhill Sports Complex this Friday, September 13, against Memorial High School (West New York, NJ). Kick-off is at 7 p.m.
Photos are added here as PDFs until we can obtain jpg files: