By PAUL GOTHAM
WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. — Amari Colon and Tahjmir Mullins scored back-to-back touchdowns within the opening five minutes of action, and the Monroe defense continued its dominance as the Redjackets defeated Section VI champion Health Sciences/BASC, 14-6 in the New York State Class B Far West Regional, Saturday at Williamsville High School.
With the win, Monroe clinched its first regional championship in program history and subsequently advanced to the state semifinals for the first time in program history.
“For me, this is what was expected,” said Monroe head coach Terrell Cunningham. “We were talking about this last year on November 11th when we lost to Batavia (in the sectional final) at Brockport. It’s an expectation for us to get to this point.”
Colon took a pass from Khaya Moses on the second play from scrimmage and sprinted 56 yards for a touchdown. Mullins picked off a Shamere Banks pass on the ensuing possession to give Monroe the ball on the opposing 36-yard line. Six plays later, Mullins busted through the defensive line for a second Redjacket score.
Tahjmir Mullins sets up @RCSDRedJackets in Health Sciences territory with an interception and finishes it with this touchdown. 2-point try failed. Red Jackets 12-0 with 7:09 remaining in the first quarter. pic.twitter.com/Bwt1B46MnM— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) November 18, 2023
“For a lot of our guys, I tell them to stay at an even keel,” Cunningham said. “We can’t get too high, can’t get too low. Some guys they get overly emotional. It’s just football at the end of the day.
“You can’t take yourself out of your game by getting overly pumped up. You got to be locked-in, dialed-in and let the game go how it goes.”
Monroe held Health Sciences/BASC to a season-low offensive output. The Falcons came into the game averaging 34 points per game and had scored 30 or more points in five of their previous six outings.
Monroe’s defense finished with three interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Nazhier Wilson picked off two passes for the Redjackets to go with a team-high 15 tackles and one sack.
Interception Nazhier Wilson. pic.twitter.com/H3igi6dLBJ— Paul Gotham (@PickinSplinters) November 18, 2023
Monroe (12-0) came into the game with 11 consecutive shutouts and has allowed 12 points this season.
“If the game’s on the line, I want my defense on the field,” Cunningham said. “If we got to close out a game, I want my defense. Those guys play with my energy, my passion on that side of the ball.”
Moses completed 6-of-20 passes for 170 yards. Mullins rushed the ball 23 times for 179 yards. Colon caught three passes for 91 yards.
Jahcure Maxam finished with eight tackles including three for a loss and two sacks. Boston Perry Huggins had seven tackles and a sack. Dashon Constantine had seven tackles and two sacks. Jermaine Montgomery accounted for six tackles.
Monroe will play Section IV champion and two-time state champ Maine-Endwell next Saturday.
Maine-Endwell has won six state titles since 2011.
“They know what it takes to win,” Cunningham said. “Anybody who wins at that level, you definitely got to respect what they got going on.”
A 3 PM kickoff is scheduled at Cicero-North Syracuse High School.
Health Sciences/BASC finished the season with 10 wins and 2 losses.