The Bayshore area is home to many historic games that brings its residents the pride and love for their town. One of those games is the classic Keansburg versus Keyport football game. A strong friendly competition that has impacted generations. Today was the first meeting of the two teams for the 2019 season.
Both teams have had a long rich history in athletics but they also have another quality in common, Family. Look at the backs of fan’s shirts and you will read “Titan Pride” or “Keyport, Family”. Winning is not the only priority for these teams. Before the rivals began their gridiron assault, Keansburg walked an iconic woman who has taught for over 50 years in the Keansburg School District. Roz Simek has just begun her 51st year of teaching. As a thank you to her dedicated years to the education of students she was escorted out to the field during the coin toss where she participated in the call.
Keyport won the coin toss but deferred allowing Keansburg to take first possession of the ball. Keyport was lucky to have gained a new head coach this season, Jason Glezman. Coach Glezman has been with the team for several years now, he has shown nothing but love and trust in his players and fellow coaching staff. With a new head coach comes new strategies to obtain a win but the long-standing Head Coach of Keansburg John Bird has trained his team to react and to trust each player’s movements.
With the ball in the air, the game had begun and it was now time to see who wants the win more. Keansburg’s offense was striking hard at the line with fast plays on the ball. Within minutes of the first quarter #7, Mikal Braithwaite sprinted towards the endzone. Braithwaite had set the pace for the game with an immediate touchdown for the Titans. It was not only the Titan’s offense that was impressive but the defense was explosive, putting tons of pressure on the Keyport quarterback. As Keyport was making a play the ball had gotten loose allowing Keansburg’s defense to recover the fumble. That fumble opened the gates for Braithwaite to repeat another rush to the endzone making the score 14-0 with 3:56 left in the first quarter.
Keyport was far from out as #11 DJ Thompson made a skilled play catching a long pass near the endzone. Thompson was a highlight player for the game with multiple quick-action plays that lead him near the endzone.
Time for round two as the teams switched sides starting the second quarter. Keansburg opened up strong with two touchdowns. The first was by #5 Patrick Beltran. The second was an amazing 90-yard kickoff return by #10 Nasir Williams. The Titans were striking like lighting and the Raiders were the conductor.
As the first half ended the Keansburg Cheer team stepped on to the field for a dazzling halftime performance. The cheer team then lead up to the honoring ceremony for Roz Simek. At mid-field Titan Athletic Director Tommy Stark gave a moving thank you to Simek who accompanied by the Keansburg School District Superintendent, principals, administration, Board of Education, and loved colleagues and family members. She was also presented with a specialty plaque and football for her achievement.
After the festivities, the game was back on with Keyport’s defense wasting no time rushing the ball. Keyport’s #52 Devin Mezza had two back-to-back plays sacking the quarterback and then blocking a pass to a titan wideout. With Keyport only showing one touchdown on the scoreboard the Red Raiders pushed their energy into the fourth quarter to help bridge the gap.
Keyport pushed hard making another touchdown but Keansburg answered back with a touchdown of their own. Keansburg players couldn’t control their excitement as they defeated their Bayshore counterpart 34-14. The teams have a traditional trophy bell that is presented to the winner of each game. The trophy was presented to head coach Bird who lifted it for all of his players to see.
The game had ended but the friendly competition amongst the teams has not. The two teams will see each other again on Nov 2 at Keyport High School where Keyport will be ready to take back the trophy as Keansburg protects its place with the Titans.
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