Quarterbacks Jack Navitsky of Red Bank Regional, above, and Mike O’Connor of Rumson-Fair Haven, below, lead their teams into a “once-in-a-lifetime” championship showdown Saturday. (Photos courtesy of Shore Sports Zone. Click to enlarge)
It may be the ultimate Battle of Ridge Road, but Saturday’s NJSIAA Central Group 3 championship football game between Red Bank Regional and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional means both teams must hit the road, traveling to Rutgers in Piscataway.
Sure, “some folks will be in purple, and others in maroon,” but the game offers a chance for a “total community” event, says RBR alumnus and Little Silver resident Rick Brandt. He’s organizing a pre-game tailgate party at which supporters of both the RBR Buccaneers (maroon) and the R-FH Bulldogs (purple) are welcome to mingle and break bread.
“There may be the rivalry between the two schools, but this tailgate will highlight all of the great friendships in the two districts, allowing folks to connect before this once-in-a-lifetime championship matchup,” Brandt tells redbankgreen by email. “This is meant to be a fun, easy-going, get together between friends family, alumni, and community members.”
All are welcome to come by for a bite before the game starts. “We just ask you bring something,” said Brandt. “People are bringing burgers, hot dogs, trays of chicken to throw on the grills, coolers, cases of soda, sandwich platters, outdoor heaters, corn hole sets, tables and everything else you could imagine a good tailgate needs.”
The tailgate party will run from 2 to 6 p.m. in “Scarlet” parking lot at High Point Solutions Stadium. Organizers plan to have a tented area with a DJ, lights, music, and a buffet of food drinks catered by businesses from the peninsula area. Registration and details of the bring list are here. There’s also a Facebook page for the event.
Game kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. R-FH (9-2) led by quarterback Mike O’Connor, is seeking its third consecutive state title.
Undefeated RBR (11-0), led by quarterback Jack Navitsky, is making its first appearance at a sectional final in a decade, and hoping to recapture a trophy it has not held since 1975 won at a game against Hopewell that was then regarded as one of the greatest football games in New Jersey high school history.
redbankgreen will have video highlights of the game from Shore Sports Zone as soon as they’re available.