The Mountaineers Emerge Victorious in Cougar Territory


Stephen Zichella

West Orange QB Mason Murdock celebrates long touchdown pass at the end of the second half.

Mark Mincolelli

MAPLEWOOD, NEW JERSEY – The high powered, varsity West Orange football team made their way into Cougar town on a beautiful 67°F Saturday night, to face off against Columbia High School, who had been unbeaten up until September 27th’s date with the Mountaineers.

West Orange was off to a slow start, hardly moving the ball down the field against the Cougar defense. A stagnant offense was a formula for a scoreless first quarter. The team’s inability to move the ball downfield, left the Mountaineer coaching staff and fans in shock. Searching for answers, coach Brandon Green relayed a message to his “big men.” Green encouraged #54 Calvin Nwosu and #66 Brian Lazo to “stick together the whole game,” and tells them “we’re all human, mistakes are going to be made.” He assures them that it has just been a slow start, and to trust in each other.

Photo Credits to Stephan Zichella: RB Michael Charles looks for a spark on a rushing attempt.


The 1st quarter of football had closed out with the score still 0-0, as the West Orange defense had been resilient much like it had been all season long. The unit, led by captain, Chris Parsons, a junior linebacker, and Cade Lipsey, a senior safety, hadn’t allowed a completion the entire quarter, and hadn’t permitted any scoring, despite a promising opening drive sparked by Stephen Henry’s 20 yard run on just the 2nd play from scrimmage. In a postgame interview with Lipsey, I asked him what allowed his team to go through such drastic changes from last season to this season, and he responded that him and his teammates felt “more unified under this new coaching staff (constructed by head coach Darnell Grant)” and that the locker room feels more like a “brotherhood,” than it ever as in his previous 3 years within the program.

The West Orange offense would eventually find its way in the following quarter. Shaki Carson, who finished with 71 rushing yards on 16 carries, had crossed the goal line first, putting the Mountaineers up 7-0 after senior kicker Bryan Reitberger put the extra point through the uprights. Carson would then score a second touchdown later on in the quarter to make the score 14-0 West Orange. Jayson Raines, a wide receiver with D1 offers, had made a spectacular grab over the head of a Cougar cornerback, for a score, to follow up Carson’s 2 touchdown runs. The Mountaineer lead was then stretched to 21-0 following the Julio-Jones-like grab. Raines’ reception proved to be the turning point of the game for the Mountaineers: “It felt really good. It had energized us going into halftime, which allowed us to come out strong in the second half and keep the lead,” said Raines.

Photo Credits to Stephan Zichella: Jayson Raines celebrates a wild touchdown with just 22.5 seconds left in the second quarter.

The defense continued to show grit all game long, and on a 3rd and 12 play, it would be #50 Aquan Robinson, who would put the dagger in the Cougars. Columbia’s quarterback had fumbled the snap, leaving Robinson to recover the ball in the endzone for a touchdown,  improving the score to 28-0. Robinson had earned the right to put on the teams “Moneybag,” which is awarded to players who make big plays in the game. Jayson Raines, Shaki Carson, and quarterback Mason Murdock all previously earned the bag during the game.

To close out the game, #11 Mason Murdock would toss a 57-yard touchdown pass to star receiver Jayson Raines again, increasing the lead to 35-0, as the game came to a close. The West Orange Mountaineers improve to 3-1. Quarterback Mason Murdock completed 10 out of his 22 passing attempts, and finished with 147 passing yards, 2 passing touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Following the 35 point victory, I was able to catch up with senior kicker, #16 Bryan Reitberger in regards to his team’s victory. I asked him how it felt to beat this Columbia team yet again, and he responded by saying “it feels good, you know, we made a lot of mistakes but next week in practice we’re going to get better.”

Despite the mistakes the Mountaineers made, they were able to  put together a solid overall performance. Next Week, the Mountaineers are on the road once again, as they seek another victory against the Livingston Lancers on Saturday, October 5th, 2019 at 3:00pm.

Photo Credits to Stephan Zichella: Coach Darnell Grant of West Orange, makes the calls leading to an important win for the Mountaineers.