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High School Football:
Cooper Scores Four Times In Helping Township Advance Past Absegami

Friday, November 21, 2003

By Vincent Lewis
SJSports Staff Writer

The South Jersey Group IV football bracket has not gone the way that most would have guessed. With the top four seeds knocked out of the playoffs, the lower seeds rule on this day as the sixth seeded Minutemen from Washington Township were hosting the Braves from Absegami. Both of these teams were responsible for ending Shawnee and Toms River East quest for the title and were looking to send one more team home. Jesse Cooper had a lot to do with Township’s 49-7 victory to advance to the finals and play the winner of the Eastern-Cherokee game.

The news traveled quickly around the league when the lowest seeded team in the Group IV bracket shocked the top seeded Mustangs from Mainland. Eastern were the winners of that game by one point and showed all the lower seeds that it could be done. Not to be outdone, the seventh seeded Braves stunned Toms River East by nine points. Township took that situation one step further by scoring two more touchdowns than Shawnee. With all of these upsets, it would be the second year in a row that neither of the top four teams are not crowned the South Jersey Group IV champs.

The question of whether the higher-ranking Minutemen could stop the Braves offense was answered quickly. First Washington Township had to overcome an early turnover during the opening kickoff. The defense would then set the tone by stopping Absegami and set up the game’s first scoring drive of the game. Cooper scored his first of three first half touchdowns with 7:07 remaining in the first quarter. His second would give the Minutemen a 13-0 lead during the second quarter. The Braves would get their only touchdown of the game to pull within six points when quarter Ryan Goodman scored on a keeper. But right back marched the Minutemen receiving yet another touchdown run by Cooper from 2 yards out. Quarterback Sal Calaciura tossed a quick 10-yard screen pass to Ryan D'Imperio giving Township a 28-7 halftime lead.

The second half start the same was as the first with Cooper showing off his running ability scoring from 35 yards. Calaciura built on Township’s 35-point total by completing his second touchdown pass to Pat Hearn. Nick Doud scored the last touchdown of the night halfway through the final quarter. With the win, Washington Township will not only face the Vikings from Eastern for the Thanksgiving game, but also the two will me for the South Jersey Group IV title.

Photos by Art Redd

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