NORTH BRUNSWICK – Close, but no cigar, has been the theme for the North Brunswick Township High School football team in its quest to win a state championship the past four years.
The Raiders have made it to two state sectional finals since 2018, the last coming this past season when they lost to Hillsborough High School in the NJSIAA Central Jersey, Group V championship game and finished with an 8-4 record.
Overall, the last five seasons on the gridiron under Coach Mike Cipot for the Raiders have been one of the most successful in program history, going 40-13 in that span.
The only missing piece in that run for the Raiders has been a state title, and Cipot says his 2022 team is “motivated” to win that elusive prize for the program and the North Brunswick community this fall.
“We’re motivated to get back to that stage and win,” Cipot said of North Brunswick’s aspirations to win a state championship this season. “These guys are a hungry group. They’re a focused group. They’re not going to be denied.”
North Brunswick has a big X-factor at the quarterback position with three-year starter Frankie Garbolino back under center in 2022 for his senior season.
Garbolino put together a monster junior campaign in 2021 for the Raiders, throwing for 1,857 yards and 23 touchdowns. He also tallied 225 yards on the ground with three rushing touchdowns.
BROTHER TO BROTHER TD CONNECTION! North Brunswick QB Frankie Garbolino (@FrankieGarbs10) fires a pass to bro Jack down the middle of the field for a TD vs Jackson Memorial. CC: @NB_RaiderNation @mcipot @central_jersey #NJFootball 🏈 pic.twitter.com/7iinMMicAL
— Steven Bassin (@SBassin_Sports) August 19, 2022
The senior quarterback says he’s determined to do whatever he can to help North Brunswick get over the hump this season and be the team to bring home a state championship.
“We want to finish the job,” Garbolino said. “That’s our motto right now. We want to not only (reach a state championship game), but we want to win it.”
North Brunswick has supplied Garbolino with a lot of weapons to work with on the offensive side of the ball.
“It’s always great to have guys that can break tackles and make plays with the ball in their hands,” Garbolino said.
Sophomore Jack Garbolino, junior Demba Conteh and seniors Zahmir Dawud and Alani Ajigbotosho make up a strong North Brunswick wide receiving corps.
In the North Brunswick backfield, Cipot said he loves the “physicality” junior Tamir Gladden and seniors Jared Tynes, Tamir Jenkins and Justin Batts bring to the running back position.
“There’s a lot of things we can do to be an exciting offense this year,” he said.
Tynes, Jenkins and Batts provide a strong linebacker group on the defensive side of the ball to lead the North Brunswick defense, Cipot said.
Seniors Isaiah Barnes and Katrell Pereira will anchor the North Brunswick defensive line. The Raiders’ secondary will be headlined by Jack Garbolino and Dawud.
North Brunswick will compete in the Big Central Football Conference-National Silver Division this fall. Alongside North Brunswick, the National Silver Division features state title contenders in Sayreville and Edison, and also includes New Brunswick and Franklin.
Two of North Brunswick’s first four games of the season are against Edison (Sept. 9) and Sayreville (Sept. 23).
Before those two big early season contests, the Raiders have their highly anticipated season opener on Sept. 1 when they host rival South Brunswick.
The Raiders have won the last two meetings between the two rivals and are looking to make it three-straight as they begin their quest for a state championship.
“It is always a competitive and close game (against South Brunswick),” Cipot said. “It’s going to be a battle. We have to keep getting prepared for it.”