By: Gabriela Parker and Juliana Scannelli ('23)
Once school starts, Friday night football games are on everyone’s mind. They are the kick-off to the long-awaited weekend. Every home game this year was packed to the brim with those in the student section, parents, peers, marching band members, and those looking to enjoy a high school football game. Many students missed the sport and cheering on their peers due to COVID-19, but they were glad to be back supporting their high school.
Unlike a few other schools in their conference, South Brunswick did have a football season last year, but it was full of restrictions. Student-athletes and coaches had to remember to fill out COVID surveys, wear masks on the field, and keep social distancing restrictions intact, which did not allow for players to bond as much as they had in previous years.
Senior and ex-football team member Gregory Williams gave some insight on what last year’s season was like, saying: “Playing football during COVID was different. Not being able to hear the crowd cheering you on, or having to wear a mask all the time while on the sidelines was difficult. It definitely brought a lot of the players' spirits down. Hearing the crowd go wild when there was a massive play would give us the extra energy we needed to get through the game. Playing during COVID was more of a mental game rather than just physical since we had to make a lot of changes to our routine. Now, having said all that, I enjoyed every minute of playing with all my teammates and being a Viking.”
This year was a new chapter for the Vikings. Their team contains players that have offers from D1 schools and one has even committed to play at Rutgers next season. Returning to school meant a return of the spirit and themes of football games. This was a refresher for the juniors and seniors and a new experience for the sophomores and freshmen.
The season's first game was against the team’s biggest rival, the North Brunswick Raiders, to whom the Vikings unfortunately lost. The game ended with three touchdowns and one interception from South Brunswick. North Brunswick scored seven touchdowns and was able to steal one interception from South Brunswick making the end score a Viking loss of 21-56.
A week away, there was a game against Piscataway, allowing the Vikings to pull in a win ending with a score of 27-0. The victory created momentum for the next home game of the season against Old Bridge, which was eventually short-winded because the game resulted in another loss and an ending score of 11-40 with a touchdown from Junior Damarion Potts.
Wide receiver coach Mr. Sean “Mac” McIntosh said, “I think that this season didn’t go the way we expected it to go. Changing some of our habits will allow us to turn our next season around and have it go in the direction we want it to.”
Some habits Coach Mac aimed to break with the team were to pay attention to the smaller details and be more mentally and physically tougher as a team. He wants the team to play more for each other rather than the individual.
He then went on to say, “A lot of the kids love the game of football but they don’t love the people that they play with and if we can put our differences aside and learn to trust one another, we’ll become a very successful football team. If we have a good week of practicing, then that will dictate how the games on Thursdays or Fridays will go. If we play our game [football] to the level we know we’re capable of we’ll be just fine.”
Following their devastating losses, South Brunswick was able to beat Perth Amboy 27-12. With touchdowns from junior Khiri Summers and senior Brian Rawls with 51 tackles in total from the defense line. A Monroe win seemed to turn the tide for the Vikings, with an ending score of 45-20, ending with 6 touchdowns from Brian Rawls, Jacob Brokaw, Damarion Potts, Khiri Summers, and almost 100 tackles from the defensive line. Vikings came in with their third back-to-back win against J.P Stevens on homecoming night, 47-6 was the ending score.
The momentum of three back-to-back wins was great because for the next two games they played against Sayreville whose record was 5-2 and East Brunswick whose record was 7-1.
Unfortunately, the Vikings lost both games ending with the score against Sayreville 29-16 and East Brunswick, 34-7. The unexpected losses from those teams and also Bridgewater-Ratain meant the end of the season for the South Brunswick team and for the seniors.
Overall, the team did relatively well-considering everything they had to go through last year but it seems like there will be a lot more to come in the next few years.