The sun sets at Hinchliffe Stadium during the first annual Zone6ix High School Football Classic in Paterson, New Jersey on September 1, 2023
High School Football Returns to Hinchliffe Stadium After 27 Years
September 2, 2023
PATERSON, N.J. – Hinchliffe Stadium was closed for eight years when the oldest players on the field were born.
Yesterday, the first annual Zone6ix High School Football Classic ushered in new era of high school gridiron action to Hinchliffe Stadium with a football doubleheader. The opening game featured John F. Kennedy High School hosting Orange High School, while Eastside High School faced Rancocas Valley High School in the night cap.
"It is amazing to finally bring football back to Hinchliffe Stadium after 27 years," said Justin Wimberly, CEO of Zone6ix Sports. "I always wished I had that opportunity to play at Hinchliffe. Now, I get to host these events here in my hometown of Paterson, New Jersey."
Although both games were not fruitful for the local clubs, the crowd on hand cheered on their teams to open the 2023 high school football campaign at the corner of Liberty and Maple. The opening game was a difficult one for the Kennedy Knights as they fell to the Orange Tornados by a score of 50 - 0.
The main event was a more competitive game as the Eastside Ghosts fell to the Rancocas Valley Red Devils by a score of 32-14. Rancocas Valley started their campaign to victory in the first quarter when Red Devils quarterback Nick Marco connected with sophomore Jameer Bellamy for a touchdown, and following a successful two-point conversion, gave Rancocas Valley an 8-0 lead.
Eastside's first touchdown at Hinchliffe Stadium in 27-years came at 11:46 of the second quarter when the Ghosts left-handed quarterback Nigel Jennings whipped a pass to senior Messiah McCullom and hit pay turf. Prior to this Jennings-McCullom score, the last time Eastside scored a touchdown at Hinchliffe Stadium was the 1996 Thanksgiving Day game when senior Shawn Seabrooks took a hand-off from the three-yard-line into the endzone.
The Red Devils, meanwhile, allowed Marco to let loose on offense, while their defense had two huge stops when the Ghosts threatened late in the second quarter. Eastside was still fighting to stay in the game when junior Jamar Jeter-Reynolds caught Jennings' pass at 9:33 of the third quarter to narrow the margin at 22-14, but Rancocas Valley would score 10 unanswered points en route to victory.
Regardless of the outcome for the local teams, Zone6ix certainly left an indelible mark at Hinchliffe Stadium.
"The energy at Hinchliffe Stadium was amazing," said Wimberly. "All teams represented this event well. I have never seen pyrotechnics at a high school football game in New Jersey. We are giving a collegiate/pro football feel to high school football and we want teams in New Jersey, and throughout the tri-state area, to experience Hinchliffe Stadium."
The Zone6ix High School Football Classic continues today with a quadruple header.
Saturday's slate of games are as follows:
(All game times subject to change)
10:30 a.m. - Newark Central vs. Hoboken
1:00 p.m. - Hackensack vs. Ridgewood
4:00 p.m. - Union City vs. Passaic County Technical Institute
7:00 p.m. - West Orange vs. Montclair