The football was in the air, up for grabs.

Same goes for the championship trophy.

Stanley King reached up and grabbed one.

Two hours later, the Woodrow Wilson senior held the other.

"Now our names go up in the legacy," King said after leading visiting Woodrow Wilson to a 22-14 victory over Burlington Township Saturday in the South Jersey Group 3 championship game.

King caught seven passes for 110 yards and a touchdown, and senior quarterback Nick Kargman was 20-for-40 passing for 199 yards and three scores as third-seeded Woodrow Wilson (9-2) won the school's second sectional title and first since 2001.

Woodrow Wilson coach Preston Brown and his brother, Melik, a Tigers' assistant, were standout players for the 2001 team.

Woodrow Wilson head coach Preston Brown was a player the last time the Tigers won a football title in 2001.
Elizabeth Robertson/Staff photographer
Woodrow Wilson head coach Preston Brown was a player the last time the Tigers won a football title in 2001.

"Unbelievable," Preston Brown, smiling and soaked from a Gatorade bath, said as the celebrating Tigers milled around the Falcons' muddy field, hugging fans and posing for pictures family and friends. "It was an amazing feeling to win as a player. To win as a coach, it's even better."

The victory sent the Tigers into the NJSIAA's new super-sectional, or Bowl Game, which will be held the weekend of Nov. 30-Dec. 1 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford.

Woodrow Wilson will play the Central Jersey champion, either Somerville or Rumson. Those teams will play Sunday.

First, the Tigers will play cross-town rival Camden on Thanksgiving in the first clash of 9-2 teams in the 85-year history of the city series.

"Two more games, and we have to ball out in both of them," King said.

Senior quarterback Danny Grozozski threw a pair of touchdown passes to senior wide receiver Tyrese Ware for top-seeded Burlington Township, which finished its best season in 41 years with a 10-1 mark.

Ware also returned the opening kickoff for an apparent touchdown that was nullified by a penalty.

"They are a great team, but we were able to limit their big plays," Brown said of Burlington Township.

Brown said it was fitting that King led the way to the title-clinching victory.

When Brown took over the struggling program four seasons ago, the coach had one freshman on the varsity: A tall, skinny wide receiver who use to tag along with his year-older brother, Travon.

"People told me I was crazy to take this job," Brown said. "They said we couldn't win here. My first year, the only player I had that is still with me is Stanley King. I can't say enough about what he's meant to this program."

King got the Tigers out to a 6-0 lead by stretching his 6-foot-5 frame and using his long arms to reach up and snatch a Kargman pass for a 36-yard touchdown on the team's first possession.

"He set the tone," Brown said.

Of King's seven receptions, five went for first downs. Another went for the game's first touchdown.

"Coach calls him 'Mr. Get it Done,' " Kargman said of King.

With three touchdown passes, Kargman broke David Goree's school record for career scoring passes of 63, set in 1995. Kargman has 65, with two games to play.

"I've been dreaming about this every day during the season," Kargman said.

Kargman fired touchdown passes of 17 yards to Naziq Murray and 10 yards to Fadil Diggs. The Tigers also got a strong game from Muheem McCargo, whose hard running kept the Falcons from completely keying on the visitors' passing game.

But in a continuation of a postseason trend, Woodrow Wilson's defense played a major role in the victory. Diggs had a sack and consistent pass-rush pressure. Marquay Graves lifted an interception, and McCargo made a thunderous hit to force a fumble that Chase Little recovered, setting up the eventual winning touchdown in the third quarter.

"Defense wins championships," Brown said. "I'll say that until I'm blue in the face."

King said he's heard Preston Brown and Melik Brown talk again and again about the rich tradition of Woodrow Wilson football and about the 2001 championship team.

He said the best part of Saturday's victory was that his teammates now are linked to their coaches as champions from East Camden.

"Now our names go up on the wall, too," King said.

Woodrow Wilson             14    0    8     0  –  22

Burlington Township        0    7     0    7   –  14

WW: Stanley King 36 pass from Nick Kargman (kick fail)

WW: Naziq Murray 14 pass from Kargman (Muheem McCargo run)

BT: Tyrese Ware 14 pass from Dan Grozozski (Kaerlton Byrd kick)

WW: Fadil Diggs 10 pass from Kargman (King pass from Kargman)

BT: Ware 45 pass from Grozozski (Byrd kick)