SALEM (N.J) - The Salem High School football team offset a regular season loss to Paulsboro with a 33-14 victory in the Central Jersey Group 1 final on Saturday afternoon.
It marked the second time in as many seasons that the Rams prevailed against the Red Raiders in the sectional final.
A 13-12 triumph in last year's C.J. Group 1 final handed Salem its first win over the Red Raiders since 1921.
Salem quarterback Jahki Coates (10) scored four touchdowns in a 33-14 win over Paulsboro on Saturday, November 12, 2022. Collin Conway/D2 Sports Network
Jahki Coates led the offense with three passing touchdowns and a rushing score. Omarion Pierce snagged two touchdowns from Coates and Ramaji Bundy took a shovel pass 41 yards to pay dirt. A 28-yard Randy Sayers' field goal sealed the victory for Salem in the fourth quarter.
"It means everything to these kids. I'm happy for the city, I'm happy for my players, and I'm happy for the school," Salem coach Montrey Wright said. "It's been a long time coming for this community to finally win a championship on Walnut Street."
The victory helped alleviate a large portion of pressure for the Rams after coming into this season as defending regional champions.
"There's a lot of weight on their back," Wright said. "We go out and win a championship last year and now we're expected to do the same thing this year."
Coates credited his matchup preparation for a successful outcome on Saturday.
"I watched film as much as I could all week," Coates said. "I want to say it was about 39 hours total of film I watched just to prepare for this one game."
The Rams will play South Jersey Group 1 champion, Woodbury, in the NJSIAA Group 1 state semifinals at Cherokee High School next weekend. Salem earned a 21-20 over the Thundering Herd on October 22.