Rahway football wins at Summit in battle of undefeated squads; Mountain Division-leading Indians (3-0) averaging nearly 51 points

Arribas, Bradford, Burnett excel on offense; Bailey, Darisme and Lumpkin on defense; Sola on special teams

Rahway lost seniors Jakir Robinson, the quarterback, and senior running backs Zion Pendleton and Dashon Moore to graduation after the Indians went 10-2 for the first time in 10 years and reached the North 2, Group 3 state championship game, also for the first time in exactly a decade.
Time to feel sorry for the Indians?
I think not.
Rahway has played three games so far. The Indians have won them all.
Rahway is averaging a shade under 51 points minus the talents of the three above-mentioned standouts.
That’s because newcomers such as Nasir Arribas, Rashon Bradford, Ashan Harris, Emari Guillette and Brandon Burnett have stepped it up.
In a battle of 2-0 teams, Rahway went back to Summit this past Saturday and this time, after trailing by six in the third quarter, went on to produce a convincing 41-23 Mid-State Conference-Mountain Division triumph at Tatlock Field.
“I’m real proud of the kids,” Rahway head coach Brian Russo said. “Our offensive and defensive lines, we had warriors on both sides of the ball. Our special teams did well.”
Arribas completed nine-of-24 passes for 209 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Four different receivers, Bradford, Burnett, Brayden Pierre-Louis and Mark Bails, caught passes, with Burnett hauling one in for a 71-yard score.
“Give Nasir credit, he knows how to work with his big targets,” Russo said. “Summit is relentless. They just keep coming at you.”
Burnett carried 16 times 166 yards and three touchdowns. Harris gained 100 yards on nine carries and scored once.
Rahway scored its final four touchdowns in the second half after being down 17-11 as the third quarter progressed.
“We wanted to come out and punch them in the mouth when the second half began, we got the ball first in the third quarter,” Russo said. “Then Summit stopped us and scored right after.
“The biggest thing for us is how we would respond when the chips were down there?”
Rahway did in a big way by scoring the game’s next 23 points to take a 34-17 lead. Bradford scored twice, first-year placekicker Christopher Sola kicked his second field goal of the game and then Harris scored his touchdown.
“I didn’t expect to see us click like this,” Russo said. “I credit Summit for what they did early on. They lose a quarterback and then another kid comes in and they do what they do.
“Eventually we were able to run our base offense.”
Bradford has excelled beyond expectations so far for the Indians.
Both in the secondary on defense at safety and at running back on offense, Bradford has excelled beyond expectations so far for the 3-0 Indians.
“He has one of the best grade-point averages on our team,” Russo said. “He’s very bright and coachable. He watches film and he’s also a heck of a defensive player.
“At running back he’s been electric. Track has helped him as he’s worked with Danny Johnson. Rashon’s a hard worker who has a second burst of speed that is able to finish big runs. He’s also had several touchdowns called back too.”
Defensive standouts included seniors Tahlee Bailey at end, Joshua Darisme at tackle and Qualil Lumpkin at middle linebacker. Bailey had 16 tackles of which two were for losses, Darisme 21 and Lumpkin 20, of which two of his were also for negative yards.
“Those guys were involved in so many tackles,” Russo said. “Tahlee, we call him ‘the old man.’
“He’s a warrior out there who refuses to give in and makes big plays when he has to.”
Sola kicked a 30-yard field goal in the first half to give Rahway an 11-8 lead at intermission. He then connected on a 22-yarder in the second half.
NOTES: Rahway leads the Mountain Division at 3-0, while Somerville is next at 2-0. The defending champion Warriors are 4-0 overall.
Summit is now 2-1 overall and 1-1 in the Mountain Division.
Rahway this week is guarding on looking past North Plainfield and ahead to Cranford and Somerville.
“We can’t afford a letdown,” Russo said.
Rahway (3-0, 3-0) will host North Plainfield (1-3, 1-3) Friday night at 7 at Rahway River Park.

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