East football dominates Haddon Township, achieves first conference title in 32 years


Lucas Tang

East captures its first conference title in 32 years.

Coming into his first season as head coach of the Cougars, Tyler Drob laid out a number of goals to his team for the upcoming season. One of them was to win their conference.

The Cougars did exactly that when they defeated Haddon Township by a score of 45-12 on Saturday afternoon. The win clinched the 2022 West Jersey Football League Classic DIvision championship for the Cougars, a conference that East moved to this past offseason.

“It is a tremendous accomplishment for this group to win the conference,”said Coach Drob. “It was our first goal as a team this summer and we have been focused on accomplishing it all season.”

East was without their starting quarterback Ben Cohen (‘24), who injured his throwing hand during practice but still played running back during the game, so Zach Salsbery (‘25) had to fill in. Salsbery, who finished 5/9 with 145 yards and three touchdowns, got off to a fast start. On the opening possession of the game, Salisbury threw a 54 yard strike to Ethan Haddock (‘23) for his first touchdown pass of the game. This touchdown allowed Salsbery and the rest of the team to settle down knowing that they would be just fine without Cohen.

“Zach has been confident since starting to play this summer,” Drob said. “He continues to get better each week and I was confident he could play well.”

After the touchdown drive, Haddock was able to get an interception and set the Cougars offense up with great field position. A few plays later, Denzel Lee (‘25) was able to run it in for another touchdown. Suddenly, the Cougars were up two touchdowns and it was still just the first quarter. After a late Haddon Township touchdown, East led 12-6 going into halftime.

The Cougars defense continued to dominate in the second half. Jevin Dutch (‘23) started the half with a pick-6 which was Dutch’s first varsity touchdown. On the very next possession, Jake Janicki (‘23) had his first career interception. The Cougars defense could not be stopped with that being the third interception of the game.

“The defense was extremely prepared to respond from last week’s game against West,” said Drob. “Our coaches, including Coach Cesare (East’s defensive coordinator), have talked a lot about converting on our opportunities.”

The most exciting play of the game came late in the third quarter. Haddon Township was punting the ball away on their own side of the field. After the punt was almost blocked by the Cougars, the punter was able to get the punt off. After it looked like Haddock was about to let the punt go, he picked up the football and ran 65 yards into the endzone for a touchdown. This was East’s first special teams touchdown of the season.

East was able to score three more times before the game was over. Salsbery would find Haddock once again for a 46-yard touchdown and then on the very next possession connected with Jaxson Bowman (’25) for his 4th touchdown of the season. To cap everything off, Cohen ran the ball in on the next possession for the final score of the game. Overall, it was a dominating performance by the Cougars’ offense.

As the clock ran out, the Cougars were not only celebrating their conference championship but they also finally snapped their 12-game road losing streak. East had not won a road game since October of 2019 when they defeated Cumberland, which was also only their second road win since the start of the 2015-2016 season.

The Cougars will take on Steinert next Saturday at 1:00 pm.