Game of the Week: North Brunswick opens anticipated gridiron campaign with impressive victory

Scott Jacobs

For the North Brunswick Township High School football team, the hype was real in its season opener on Sept. 6 at home.

North Brunswick, widely lauded by other coaches before the season, looked like one of the best teams in the state against rival South Brunswick High School when the 2019 season kicked off on Sept. 6.

The Raiders dominated the Vikings, 26-0, scoring two touchdowns in each half while holding South Brunswick off the scoreboard. North Brunswick increased its all-time series lead over South Brunswick to 24-19-1.

Both teams are in the Greater Middlesex Conference but in separate divisions. North Brunswick is a member of the GMC White Division and South Brunswick is a resident in the GMC Red Division.

The Raiders controlled the rivalry game in all three phases, offense, defense and special teams. Their offense and special teams units made huge, electrifying plays, the kinds that swing games in favor of great teams.

Quarterback Ramy Berberena hit receiver Leon Lowery for a 98 yard score. Skill guy Dahvey Hicks returned a kickoff 95 yards to the house and ran for a 36 yard touchdown.

So three of North Brunswick’s four touchdowns went for 36 yards or more, and two went for 95 yards or more. The Raiders’ featured back, Myles Bailey, also took the rock 13 times for 123 yards, a rushing average of 9.5.

“Defensively we played very well at times and then they’d rip off a long play,” said South Brunswick coach John Viotto. “Three and out, then a 98 yard pop pass.”

North Brunswick’s defense was even better than its offense and special teams units.

In addition to not scoring all night, the Vikings gained just 18 total yards in the first half. The Raiders also forced them into six three and outs.

Even North Brunswick’s coach, Mike Cipot, could not play down his team’s effort after the contest. Even a level headed football coach had to acknowledge how good his team looked.

“It went well,” Cipot said of the season opening victory.

“The defense was flying around,” he added. “We took good angles to the football and didn’t let them get in space.”

“Plus we have playmakers and when their numbers are called, they can score,” he concluded.

North Brunswick recorded a program best 10 victories in 2018, and reached a state sectional title game for the first time since 1979, losing 6-0 at Sayreville War Memorial High School in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group 5 sectional playoff championship.

It was a resurgent campaign for the program, and 2019 could turn it into a successful era, especially if the Raiders win that last game. They have a long way to go, but they got off to a great start on Sept. 6.

North Brunswick will look to improve to 2-0 on Sept. 14 at Saint Joseph Regional High School. Kickoff in Metuchen is scheduled for 1 p.m.

“They have a good program,” Cipot said of the Metuchen school. “They have playmakers and are tough.”

“We’ll have to play sound defense and make plays on offense,” he added. 

South Brunswick will try to even its record on Sept. 13 at Monroe Township High School. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

Viotto and the Vikings installed a new spread offense over the offseason, and it struggled on Sept. 6. The coach is hoping that South Brunswick makes progress at Monroe.

“At some point it will click and we hope it’s this Friday,” he said. “But it’s like learning a new language, so there will be growing pains.”