SAYREVILLE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The football team at Sayreville War Memorial High School in New Jersey returned to the field Friday night, after a season was sacked by controversy.
As CBS2’s Matt Kozar reported, the Friday night lights were back on as the Bombers battled on the gridiron. Fighter jets were seen passing overhead – in what might have been a good omen for a team that could use some luck.
“Having football back is nice,” said former student Ryan Reed. “It’s going to get put to use.”
The team has a new scoreboard thanks to Reed and former student Brian Miksiewicz, who raised the money in honor of Matthew M. Welna, a classmate who passed away.
“We’re a big football town, and we’ve been through a lot over, like, a year already,” said student Dylan Taillefer.
The Sayreville Bombers’ 2014 season was canceled, and head coach George Najjar lost his coaching job, days before a total of seven players were accused criminally of hazing and sexually assaulting four teammates inside the locker room.
Four of the teens were sentenced to 50 hours of community service and two years’ probation late last month after pleading guilty to charges of hazing and endangering the welfare of their younger football teammates, according to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s office.
Two more were adjudicated delinquent after trial in Family Court and will serve one year’s probation, prosecutors said. A seventh defendant is still awaiting trial.
And Sayreville Schools Supt. Richard Labbe said the past is the past, and it’s time to move forward.
“We’ve got a fantastic football coach in Christopher Beagan. We got a great new athletic director, who have set the tone,” he said. “They take great care of our children, and that’s what we want first and foremost.”
With the resounding 35-7 victory over J.P. Stevens from Edison Friday night, Sayreville changed the conversation back to football. Quarterback Jayson DeMild led the aerial assault.
“Words can’t explain how it felt to be on the football field, playing football,” he said.
“They’ve been able to move forward, and that was a big thing for us,” added head coach Beagan. “Preaching to the kids that you had an army behind you, and you saw the army here tonight, and I thought that was part of the fuel that fueled our kids to victory tonight.”