Minutemen stifle Shawnee offense, start season 1-0


Kevin Minnick, nj.com

The Minutemen after the game, their first season opening victory since 2011.

Thomas Tait '22, Editor-in-Chief

The Washington Township Minutemen varsity football team beat the Shawnee Renegades 20-13 this past Saturday.

The game was highlighted by a strong rushing offense from the Minutemen and a valiant defensive performance.

Junior RB Jo’Nathan Silver reached 175 total yards (148 running and 27 receiving) and two touchdowns. Junior Quamir Land picked off Shawnee QB Matt Welsey three times, all in the first half. The Minutemen defensive line was able to disrupt the Shawnee offense, while the Township offensive line facilitated a dominant run game.

The game opened with the first interception by Land, giving Township great field position at the Shawnee 42. The very next play, Silver capitalized on the Shawnee turnover and took it 42 yards to the endzone for Township’s first score of the game.

The game remained quiet throughout the rest of the 1st (outside of a second interception by Land) and most of the 2nd. With about five minutes left in the half, Shawnee’s Matt Welsey threw an 11-yard dart to junior WR Ian Van Steeg to tie the game at 7-7. Township responded with a Damon Wiseburn field goal from 32 yards out to take the lead 10-7, a lead that would hold until the end of the half, which concluded with Land’s third interception of the night.

The second half opened with back-to-back field goal attempts from Wiseburn, who drilled one from 30 yards out and sent one wide right. Township added another seven off a second Silver touchdown run, this time from 32 yards out. The 20-7 lead held for the majority of the 4th quarter, which included a fumble recovery – Township’s fourth forced turnover for the game.

The game would finish 20-13 after a last second Welsey-to-Van Steeg touchdown from 42 yards. The extra point was not attempted.

The Township team we saw this game was much different from the team that ended last season. Last year, the season concluded with an offense that couldn’t move the ball and a defense that let opposing offenses move right through them. This game, the offense was able to go up and down the field on the highly touted Shawnee defense. The defense held steady all game, with the Shawnee offense only rushing for a total of 39 yards and passing for 177 yards.

Despite the obvious improvements the Minutemen have made, there was one main spot of concern that needs to be addressed if the teams intends to make a run at the division this year: the red zone offense. Township’s offense repeatedly stalled out near the 20-yard line, with Wiseburn’s three field goal attempts all coming from drives that ended within reach of the endzone. The Minutemen will only be able to beat good teams if they can score inside the red zone.

Washington Township hasn’t had a winning season since they went 5-4 in regular season games in 2015 – but if they can fix their red zone issues, they could very well end the streak of losing seasons.