N.J. school on verge of title had never won a playoff game

Cameron Smith

It's not particularly unusual for a high school football team to get hot and roll through the playoffs until it reaches the state finals. What is particularly rare is when the team that does so hasn't ever won a playoff game before.

Steinert quarterback Adam Reise

That's precisely what's happening in New Jersey, where Hamilton (N.J.) Steinert High will find itself in the New Jersey Central Jersey Group III state title game against Neptune (N.J.) High on Friday. Steinert could become the first Mercer County football team to earn a "state title" -- New Jersey doesn't hold title games beyond the sectional level -- since 1989 if it emerges on the positive end of Friday night's face-off.

Yet, the accomplishment is even more impressive than that in terms of the school's legacy, because Steinert had never even won a single playoff game before the 2011 season. It's not like the school is a new build, either; Steinert has been playing football for 53 years.

"I said last week was the biggest win of my life," Steinert quarterback Adam Riese told the Times of Trenton after his team's 32-27 win against Woodbridge (N.J.) High. "I don't even know ... this is even bigger."

The Spartans landed a ninth win of the season on Thanksgiving, rolling past historic cross-town rival Hamilton (N.J.) West High, 40-22, in a game that may have been even more one-sided than the final score indicated. Now, Steinert can both win a state title and finish with 10 wins for the first time in school history.

Not bad for a team that had never won a playoff game before, huh?

"We're not satisfied yet," Steinert receiver Jordan Dunn told the Times of Trenton. "Until we win the state championship, we won't be."

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