Sayreville Cancels the Season
Sayreville High School has fielded one of the top public school football programs in the state over the last couple of decades.
Under head coach George Najjar the Bombers won three consecutive Central Jersey Group 4 titles between 2010-12, and it was just two years ago Najjar was named the state coach of the year following a perfect 12-0 season. Things are not quite so perfect in Sayreville these days.
Last night the Superintendent of Schools announced that Sayreville was cancelling the remainder of its season while a criminal investigation continues into hazing allegations that could violate anti-bullying statutes.
From all appearances we are talking about serious accusations and violations. The superintendent himself used words like "harassment" and "intimidation" and said the behavior was pervasive, on a wide-scale level and players knew and generally accepted it. There have also been reports the incidents might have also been sexual in nature and the Middlesex County Prosecutor's Office is handling the investigation, which could lead to criminal charges.
Superintendent Richard Labbe made the announcement last night that the season was being cancelled on the varsity, JV and freshman levels following a meeting with parents.
Football is rather important in Sayreville, a blue-collar town that was one of many impacted by Superstorm Sandy two years ago. It’s a sport that helped unite the community at a time when they needed it the most. When the story was first reported last week many parents were angered when the superintendent forfeited the upcoming game against South Brunswick. At that time there were more rumors than facts, but as days have gone on it seems the rumors are turning out to be closer to fact than fiction.
Cancelling the season is not only the right thing to do, it’s the only thing to do even though the innocent are being penalized. Football is a team sport, which at its best does teach life-long lessons, and all those associated with the program at Sayreville are learning that the hard way.
The safety of all players is the priority and it appears in this case that safety might have been threatened by the actions of others. How many and who they are will be sorted out over the time, but for now the lights have been dimmed on a program, school and community.