Senior RB Closes Out Career with 3 TDs as Raiders Celebrate First Winning Season Since 2007
SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ—Perhaps it was appropriate that GMC Gridiron was present to see Scotch Plains-Fanwood finish off its first winning season in 13 years. The last time the site covered a football game in Raiders’ Country was in that last winning season in 2007 when the Raiders lost to South Plainfield (16-14) in the North Jersey Section 2 Group 3 semifinals.
On Thanksgiving Eve, the Raiders capped off a strong finish to this successful campaign with a 35-7 victory over the Colonia Patriots in a clash of two teams from the Big Central Football Conference’s Division 5A. Both teams were supposed to play on opening night, but due to a COVID-19 situation at Scotch Plains-Fanwood, the contest was postponed, and the Patriots ended up losing to Group 5 school, Clifton of North Jersey (31-20) on opening night.
The Raiders did not return to play until a week later when they fell to GMC Gridiron’s No. 1 team, Woodbridge (41-19). Scotch Plains-Fanwood then lost a heartbreaker to Cedar Grove (42-38) in overtime in Week 2. Since that time though, the Raiders had won four straight entering the final contest of the 2020 season against Colonia. All four wins were by a combined total of 142-56, or an average of 35 to 14 per game.
Leading the charge for the Raiders was senior running back, Shawn Martin. After putting together a 93 yard rushing performance with two touchdowns on 12 carries, or an average of 8.6 yards per carry in a 40-2 victory over J.F. Kennedy on November 19th, Martin followed that up with a monster performance in the win over Colonia.
Martin rushed 19 times for 219 yards and 3 touchdowns in the win over Colonia. He averaged 11.5 yards per carry in the win, and tabulated nearly 23 percent of all of his rushing yards for the season. His three scoring runs accounted for 60 percent of all of his rushing yards on the evening. Anthony Robinson also added a 59 yard scoring run to open the game as the sophomore running back finished with 133 yards on 17 carries, or an average of 7.8 yards per carry.
Scotch Plains other score came on a 20 yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hayden Widder to Christian Piesch with 40 seconds to play in the second quarter for a 21-0 lead. Colonia tried to show some life in the third when junior QB Josh Oluremi struck with a 33 yard scoring pass to fellow classmate Jake Ciencin to narrow the deficit to 21-7 at the 9:35 mark of the third.
Piesch also had an interception for the Raiders in the 2nd quarter to halt another Colonia drive while Patrick Miller made a couple fine defensive plays in a losing cause for the Patriots including an interception of a Widder pass in the 2nd period. Scotch Plains-Fanwood’s defense was dominant with 6 sacks including three from Kenny Yeager. The Raider defense capped the win by knocking down a Colonia pass late in the contest.
Colonia was limited to just 101 yards passing, and 64 yards rushing while Scotch Plains tallied 391 yards rushing on 38 carries, or an average of 10.3 yards per carry. In addition, the Widder completed 48 percent of his passes for an average of just over 10 yards per completion. Martin added 4 receptions for 53 yards to finish with 272 yards on 23 touches.
Jaeden Jones was a bright spot on defense for the Patriots with 9 tackles, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery. Josh Prophete also collected 9 tackles while Jermaine Ellis picked up 8 tackles and Mike Salcedo had 7. Scotch Plains had Colonia on the ropes early as the Raiders put plenty of pressure on Colonia’s defense with several drives into Patriot territory including two for scores.
The Pats didn’t help themselves by getting called for penalties that helped Scotch Plains-Fanwood keep their drives going. On top of that, the Raiders special teams also recovered an onside kick following Robinson’s opening score at the 11:34 mark of the first. Martin would get the first of his three rushing scores when he took the handoff from Widder, and ran to his right for 12 yards and a score just inside the pylon for a 14-0 lead with 5:38 to go in the first.
There would be a lull in the scoring action as Colonia was able to stop Scotch Plains on its third scoring drive into Pats territory, and then Patrick Miller, who made a great defensive play on a pass attempt to the end zone in the first quarter, came up with an interception of Widder to halt another Raiders drive. Scotch Plains-Fanwood would eventually get the ball back, and drive into Colonia territory with the clock winding down in the first half.
The Raiders then made it a three score lead when Widder threw a high arching pass to Piesch in the right side of the end zone for a touchdown with 40 seconds left. Thanks to an unsportsmanlike penalty on Scotch Plains, Colonia was able to get good field position on the ensuing kickoff. However, the Raiders made a nice hard hitting defensive play on one pass, and then stopped a feisty Jake Ciencin from getting downfield after a pass reception in the closing seconds to maintain a 21-0 halftime lead.
The Patriots received the second half kickoff, and moved quickly to get a score to breath some life into their chances. Oluremi hooked up with Ciencin twice on the drive including a 33 yard touchdown pass with 9:35 to play in the 3rd for a 21-7 Scotch Plains-Fanwood lead. Colonia then forced the Raiders to go three and out on the next Scotch Plains possession, which gave the Patriots an opportunity to get within a score.
Several plays later, on 3rd down, Oluremi was forced to scramble to his right, and throw downfield to a Patriots receiver, but a Scotch Plains defender managed to reach in at the last second, and knock the ball out of the Colonia receiver’s hands, which forced the Pats to punt. Scotch Plains-Fanwood then moved the ball to midfield when they again turned to Martin.
With 5:07 to play in the 3rd, Martin, took the handoff, ran to his left, and streaked down the Colonia sideline for a 50 yard touchdown run, and a 28-7 Raiders lead. Scotch Plains defense would do the rest by sacking Oluremi a couple more times in the closing minutes of the game. Meanwhile, Martin would take another handoff, find a gap in the Colonia defense, kept his balance after a Patriot defenders hit, spun around, and then pulled away from the field as he sprinted to a 70 yard touchdown with 3:26 remaining in the contest.
Concluding the season with the victory, Scotch Plains-Fanwood completed the year at 5-2 overall and won its last five games. Meanwhile, Colonia, which had been 2-3 at one point in the season to earn a spot in the GMC Gridiron Top 10, lost three straight to end the year, and finished at 2-6 overall.