Skylanders finish with 8-2 record

NEWTON. Sussex County Community College narrowly misses an invitation to a bowl game, coach says.

Newton /
| 06 Dec 2023 | 09:17

Sussex County Community College (SCCC) defeated Monroe College, 47-27, in its last regular-season game Saturday, Nov. 18.

The Sussex Skylanders ended the season with a 8-2 record. It was the first winning season for the team, which was established three years ago.

The team’s only losses were to Lackawanna College and Georgia Military College. Both of those teams won spots in the playoffs of the NJCAA Division I.

James Robertson, who was promoted to head football coach during the off-season after serving as defensive coordinator last year, considers the season a success.

”Back in December of last year, sitting in the office with the AD (athletic director) and administration, I said we would go 8-2. I know there were some raised eyebrows after the season we had just completed and a lot of uncertainties surrounding coaches and staff, but I truly believed that the players we had in the building could get it done,” he said recently.

“I knew with the plans we had in place for the off-season and the recruiting of a couple key positions, things were going to fall right into place.”

He pointed out that a lot of work, frustration, and trial and error went into the season “but in the end, it was all worth it.”

”“I am so proud of the progress this team has made in such a short amount of time, but we’re not done. This year was a glimpse of what this program can be.”

There were rumors that the Skylanders were being considered for a bowl game before their last game, Robertson said.

After they defeated Monroe on Nov. 18, the SCCC athletic director said the committee awarding playoff slots was deciding between the Skylanders and Snow College of Utah.

“At that time, knowing Snow was nationally ranked and had beaten the two teams that we had lost to, I felt we weren’t going to make it,” Robertson said

He heard early the next morning that SCCC was not chosen.

“It hurts; it’s also a true testament to this program. To come from a 2022 season record of 4-6 to now 8-2 and to miss a bowl game by one vote when we were going up against nationally ranked Snow College, I couldn’t be prouder of what we had accomplished.”

He said it was difficult not to break down at the team meeting after that decision.

“I didn’t care about a bowl or anything, I just wanted to see my guys play one more time. In 2022, when I was the defensive coordinator, I never felt like the team came together, like a family. This year I felt that, and I just wanted to see my family go out one more time.”

Hard off-season

He expects this off-season to be grueling for returning players and transfers. “I am not content with what we did this season and I don’t believe our players are either.”

Big losses to Georgia Military (73-6) and Lackawanna (59-24) “still haunts me and will continue to motivate me until we get to strap it against them next season.”

Nevertheless, “As a first-year head coach, having a winning season and being able to celebrate with guys that I had been around now for two years, it was really special. I love every one of them and want to thank them for all their efforts and buy-in this past season.”

Robertson praised the coaches, players and support staff for working hard every day.

“It takes so much work to have a football program and so much more work to be successful. The coaching staff as a whole has stepped up in a big way this year. There was a lot more being asked of them to help right the ship and they all came in with great attitudes willing to put the work in to see this thing succeed.

“Coach Sachary Sallee, our offensive coordinator/associate head coach, has done a phenomenal job of getting our offense back on track and putting up some big numbers. He continues to be a great mentor and leader for our team, and I am eager to have a full off-season with him and all the coaches.”

The coaches already are preparing for next season, the coach said.

“Coaches will be on the recruiting trail looking for the next wave of players to come and help lead this team. We have some really talented players coming back next season, but we need to fill the holes left by graduating sophomores.”

The Skylanders are the only Division I JUCO (junior college) football program in New Jersey.

To come from a 2022 season record of 4-6 to now 8-2 and to miss a bowl game by one vote when we were going up against nationally ranked Snow College, I couldn’t be prouder of what we had accomplished.”
- James Robertson,
head football coach,
Sussex County Community College