The annual Thanksgiving Day soccer matchup between sister faculties Highland and Triton is dubbed “The Backyard Brawl.” Sadly, that nickname grew to become a literal description for the sport on Thursday morning.
With Highland on the transfer in Triton territory early within the fourth quarter, tempers flared and a melee ensued shortly after a first-down run by Tartan halfback Muhammad Lightsey. After officers and coaches lastly separated the gamers, the officers conferred and determined to finish the sport at that time.
So, with 9:03 displaying on the clock, the sport was official and Highland got here away with a 28-Zero West Jersey Soccer League victory in Blackwood.
The ending put a damper on what had been a dominating efficiency by the Tartans, particularly by a few of their seniors who had been taking part in of their ultimate profession sport. Senior two-way lineman Winston Jordan had a monster sport for the Highland D, recovering a pair of fumbles that arrange scores and including a pair of sacks.
Senior backs Lightsey and Mike D’Amico scored two touchdowns every and mixed for practically 200 speeding yards.
“I feel bad for the parents, the seniors,” stated Highland coach Brian Leary, a giant proponent of Thanksgiving soccer. “We’re two schools that are very similar. We’re very close together. The kids all know each other. Like I told our players, there’s no room for that in high school football.
“I feel bad for our seniors because they played a great game. We were playing really well, but it got away from us a little bit and I hate to see that. Emotions usually run high in this game, but unfortunately it got a little out of control today.”
Highland (2-5) has gotten the very best of the Mustangs (3-5) lately, successful their third straight within the collection. Triton nonetheless leads the general collection, 31-15-1. The groups performed the vacation sport yearly from 1971-2001, and resumed the custom in 2016.
This yr’s sport took on extra relevance for the seniors because the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on their ultimate season. The Tartans had been in a position to end robust, successful two of their final three video games after an 0-Four begin.
“I grew up with these (Triton) kids, played midget with these kids and there was a lot of trash talking going on before the game,” stated D’Amico. “They’re right down the road. It’s usually like this when we play Timber Creek or Triton. This has been a heck of a season and beating them – I wouldn’t go out any other way.”
D’Amico (10 carries, 84 yards) began the scoring for the Tartans halfway by the primary quarter as he walked into the top zone for a 1-yard rating to cap a brief two-play drive arrange by Jordan’s fumble restoration on the Triton 10-yard line.
The Tartans prolonged their lead on their ensuing possession as they moved 95 yards in 10 performs, together with a 44-yard cross from quarterback Sean McClellan to Lightsey – the Tartans’ lone cross completion of the sport.
Lightsey (17 carries, 114 yards) completed the drive on a 4-yard TD run with slightly below 10 minutes left within the first half.
The Mustangs had an awesome likelihood to get again within the sport simply earlier than halftime as they moved the ball contained in the Highland 10, however with no timeouts and the clock shifting, Braiden King was stopped on the 1 on third down, and quarterback Michael Lewis was stopped simply shy of the aim line on fourth down after taking a fast snap to attempt to rating earlier than time ran out.
The Tartans put it away early within the second half as Triton fumbled the ball away on its first play from scrimmage. Jordan pounced on it for his second restoration, and Lightsey scored on a 2-yard run simply 5 performs later for a 21-Zero lead
D’Amico plowed over a pair defenders en path to the top zone for a 29-yard scoring run to make it 28-Zero late within the third quarter.
The Highland protection held the Mustangs to underneath 100 yards of complete offense, together with unfavorable web speeding yardage. Freddie Alford joined Jordan with a pair of sacks, and D’Amico had one as properly.
Regardless of the way in which the sport ended, D’Amico stated he was relieved the Tartans had been in a position to get seven video games in throughout the pandemic, which prompted quite a few cancellations for South Jersey groups all through the autumn.
“To end it out on a win in a season where it was so uncertain if we were going to play each week… it was just great,” D’Amico stated. “We saw everyone come together and work as a team. For us, as seniors, it was a proper sendoff for a job well done.”
“This senior group has been a part of some real good winning teams here,” Leary stated. “They stuck together and played hard every game no matter what. Even though it was a little tainted by what happened at the end, I’m just glad we got them a win.”