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    The 2022 Mainland Regional High School boys basketball had a lot to celebrate at its postseason banquet that spring.

    The Mustangs won the Cape-Atlantic League championship with sophomore starters Cohen Cook and Jamie Tyson.

    Jake Cook, Cohen’s dad, looked at Tyson during the banquet and noticed he looked like he was about to cry.

    “I was wondering, ‘What’s going on with Jamie? He looks sad as heck tonight,’ ” Jake said. “

    Tyson was on the verge of leaving Mainland because his father, Jamie Tyson Sr., was moving to the Tampa-area in Florida to manage a family business.

    Jamie was caught up in a swirl of emotions. A standout forward in basketball, a superb wide receiver and defensive back in football and a force in track and field, Tyson had found a home at Mainland and now he was about to be on the move again.

    “I knew it would have been hard to find new coaches, new friends,” Tyson said.

    A short time later, the Cooks offered Jamie a chance to live with them and stay at Mainland.

    “I was like, “Sheesh,’ ” Cook said. “I’ve been coaching the kid since the fourth grade. He was in here. We had just won the CAL championship in basketball. He had started (in football) as a freshman and sophomore. The best opportunity for him to excel in athletics and academics was if he could stay up here with us.”

    It couldn’t have worked out any better.

    Tyson and the rest of the 13-0 Mustangs football team will play Ramapo (12-0) for the state Group IV championship 2 p.m. Sunday at Rutgers University's SHI Stadium.

    For the first time all season, Tyson’s dad will see him play Sunday. He’s traveling up from Florida for the game.

    “I’m coming up for the win,” the father said in a phone interview Friday.

    Jamie, a Villanova recruit, is one of the state’s top all-round players. He’s intercepted 11 passes this season, returning four of them for TDs. Tyson has also caught 24 passes for 534 yards and 10 TDs.

    Tyson’s travels began when he was 6-years-old. He moved from his native  Jamaica to Florida and then to New York City. His family moved to Somers Point when he was 10-years-old.

    Tyson met the Cooks through the youth football team the Somers Point Sharks. Jake was a coach and his wife Amber was president of the organization. In addition to Cohen, the Cook’s have an older son Jake, a 2020 Mainland graduate, who was also a standout basketball and football player.

    Cohen, who is a standout running back and defensive back for the Mustangs, and Jamie are like brothers.

    “Jamie was always hanging out with Cohen,” the elder Tyson said. “If he wasn’t at school, he was playing video games with Cohen.”

    Tyson’s mom Jenice Nelson-Wisdom lives in upstate New York near Colgate University in Hamilton. She has seen Tyson play once this season. The elder Tyson said it was a hard decision to allow Jamie to stay behind in New ֱ.

    “We’re Jamaicans,” he said. “We’re used to having our kids right at our feet. When the Cooks came to us and said, ‘We’ll take care of him for you.’ I was so happy. That was a good decision we made. If he went to Florida, he would have had to start all over again.”

    There are multiple Mainland coaches in plenty of sports who are probably thrilled Tyson stayed.

    This football season he seems to have gotten better each week. In Mainland’s 41-7 state semifinal win over Winslow ֱ last Friday, he intercepted two passes, returning one for a TD, and caught two TD passes.

    “To see him grow each year, not only on the football field. He does a tremendous job in the classroom,” Mainland coach Chuck Smith said. “He’s a quiet kid, keeps to himself, but it’s an honor to watch him blossom. He’s gone against top-notch wide receivers and been able to have big games against them.”

    The elder Tyson has followed his son’s football exploits this season. He watches the live streams of the game.

    Sunday will be a memorable day for the Mustangs. It will mean even more to Jamie, who last saw his dad in the beginning of July.

    “It’s going to be very emotional,” he said.

    And the day might not have happened if the Cooks didn’t open their home to Jamie 18 months ago.

    ‘It’s been great,” Tyson said. “The Cooks are a great family. They treat me just like their own son. It’s been great living here.’

    Only two Press-area high school football Thanksgiving rivalries remain.

    Fittingly, they are the ones with the most tradition.

    Atlantic City and Holy Spirit will meet for the 95th time when they kickoff at 10 a.m. Thursday at Atlantic City. This is Atlantic County’s oldest rivalry with the teams first meeting in 1926.

    Meanwhile, Vineland and Millville will play for the 152nd time when they kickoff at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Millville’s Wheaton Field. These schools first played in 1893. They met more than one time during the season early in the rivalry.

    What follows is a preview of both games.

    Holy Spirit vs. Atlantic City

    When/where: 10 a.m. Thursday at Atlantic City

    The series: Atlantic City leads the rivalry 52-38-4, but Spirit has won five straight.

    Winner receives: The Boyd-Marczyk Trophy, which is named after the late coaches John Boyd, of Atlantic City, and Stan Marczyk, of Holy Spirit.

    Atlantic City update: The Vikings (6-4) started 6-1 but have dropped three straight. Junior wide receiver Sah’nye Degraffenreidt showed why he is one of the state’s top college prospects with 36 catches for 816 yards and 12 TDs. Senior quarterback Joe Lyons has thrown for 2,236 yards and 28 TDs. Junior linebacker Raul Cabrera leads the defense with four sacks and 11 tackles for losses.

    Holy Spirit update: The young Spartans (8-2) exceeded expectations this season and are ranked No. 9 in The Press Elite 11. Sophomore quarterback Ty Costavile has thrown for 1,424 yards and 19 TDs. Sophomore running back Emir Hicks has rushed for 758 yards. Junior linebacker Nick Medina sparks the defense with 73 tackles. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Tahmir Jones has caught 20 passes for 51 yards and six TDs and also intercepted three passes.

    Vineland at Millville

    When/where: 10:30 a.m. at Millville’s Wheaton Field

    The series: Vineland leads 67-65-19. Millville has won three straight with Vineland’s last win coming in 2019.

    Winner receives: The Daily Journal Victory Cup

    Millville update: The Thunderbolts (9-2) are ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11. They lost to Mainland Regional 35-13 in the South ֱ Group IV final Nov. 10.

    Millville junior wide receiver Lotzeir Brooks can make history Thursday. He needs 65 receiving yards to break the South ֱ career record of 3,264 set by JoJo Bermudez of Cedar Creek in 2021. Brooks needs two TD catches to break the South ֱ career mark of 47 set by Terrance Holmes of Glassboro in 2001.

    Brooks has caught 54 passes for 1,140 yards and 17 TDs this season. Millville quarterback Jacob Zamot has thrown for 2,031 yards and 21 TDs.

    The Millville defense is one of the best in the state with nine defensive scores. Brooks has returned three interceptions for TDs. Kyon Conyers has returned two picks for scores. Joseph Zamot has returned a fumble and an interception for a TD.

    Vineland update: The Fighting Clan (5-6) has won four of its last five games.

    Senior quarterback Tyrell Powell has thrown for 443 yards and seven TDs and run for 442 yards and five scores.

    Vineland relies on a stingy defense that has three shutouts this season. Junior linebacker Noah Cruz has made 70 tackles. Senior linebacker Ryan Mavent has made 61 tackles and returned an interception for a TD. Junior defensive back Mason Afanador has three interceptions.

    Only two Press-area high school football Thanksgiving rivalries remain.

    Fittingly, they are the ones with the most tradition.

    Atlantic City and Holy Spirit will meet for the 95th time when they kickoff at 10 a.m. Thursday at Atlantic City. This is Atlantic County’s oldest rivalry with the teams first meeting in 1926.

    Meanwhile, Vineland and Millville will play for the 152nd time when they kickoff at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Millville’s Wheaton Field. These schools first played in 1893. They met more than one time during the season early in the rivalry.

    What follows is a preview of both games.

    Holy Spirit vs. Atlantic City

    When/where: 10 a.m. Thursday at Atlantic City

    The series: Atlantic City leads the rivalry 52-38-4, but Spirit has won five straight.

    Winner receives: The Boyd-Marczyk Trophy, which is named after the late coaches John Boyd, of Atlantic City, and Stan Marczyk, of Holy Spirit.

    Atlantic City update: The Vikings (6-4) started 6-1 but have dropped three straight. Junior wide receiver Sah’nye Degraffenreidt showed why he is one of the state’s top college prospects with 36 catches for 816 yards and 12 TDs. Senior quarterback Joe Lyons has thrown for 2,236 yards and 28 TDs. Junior linebacker Raul Cabrera leads the defense with four sacks and 11 tackles for losses.

    Holy Spirit update: The young Spartans (8-2) exceeded expectations this season and are ranked No. 9 in The Press Elite 11. Sophomore quarterback Ty Costavile has thrown for 1,424 yards and 19 TDs. Sophomore running back Emir Hicks has rushed for 758 yards. Junior linebacker Nick Medina sparks the defense with 73 tackles. Senior wide receiver/defensive back Tahmir Jones has caught 20 passes for 51 yards and six TDs and also intercepted three passes.

    Vineland at Millville

    When/where: 10:30 a.m. at Millville’s Wheaton Field

    The series: Vineland leads 67-65-19. Millville has won three straight with Vineland’s last win coming in 2019.

    Winner receives: The Daily Journal Victory Cup

    Millville update: The Thunderbolts (9-2) are ranked No. 4 in The Press Elite 11. They lost to Mainland Regional 35-13 in the South ֱ Group IV final Nov. 10.

    Millville junior wide receiver Lotzeir Brooks can make history Thursday. He needs 65 receiving yards to break the South ֱ career record of 3,264 set by JoJo Bermudez of Cedar Creek in 2021. Brooks needs two TD catches to break the South ֱ career mark of 47 set by Terrance Holmes of Glassboro in 2001.

    Brooks has caught 54 passes for 1,140 yards and 17 TDs this season. Millville quarterback Jacob Zamot has thrown for 2,031 yards and 21 TDs.

    The Millville defense is one of the best in the state with nine defensive scores. Brooks has returned three interceptions for TDs. Kyon Conyers has returned two picks for scores. Joseph Zamot has returned a fumble and an interception for a TD.

    Vineland update: The Fighting Clan (5-6) has won four of its last five games.

    Senior quarterback Tyrell Powell has thrown for 443 yards and seven TDs and run for 442 yards and five scores.

    Vineland relies on a stingy defense that has three shutouts this season. Junior linebacker Noah Cruz has made 70 tackles. Senior linebacker Ryan Mavent has made 61 tackles and returned an interception for a TD. Junior defensive back Mason Afanador has three interceptions.

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    Middle ֱ High School football coach Frank Riggitano announced his retirement Thursday. Last month, Riggitano completed his 22nd season between two stints with the Panthers. He initially coached from 1989 to 2000 before stepping down to be the school's athletic director. He then became the coach again in 2012. Riggitano also served as Middle’s principal for five years in between that, while also being coach.

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