BLACKWOOD – All indications suggested that transfer quarterback Nick Kargman was going to be a good fit for the Woodrow Wilson High School football program.
After transferring to the school from Pitman in April, Kargman had played with the team through summer 7-on-7 drills and throughout the preseason scrimmages.
But there was one obstacle still in the way.
There remained the question of how well he would perform under game conditions.
“You never really know until you get a guy out there with your guys,” said Wilson coach Preston Brown. “You see all the time, even on the pro level, where they sign guys to free agency or they make a trade, and you never know how they’re going to mesh.”
If so, the 6-foot-4 junior signal-caller gave a good answer to the question in the Tigers’ season opener.
Kargman completed 14 of 20 passes for 264 yards and three touchdowns Friday as the Tigers held on for a 26-20 victory over Highland in a West Jersey League Royal Division game.
If Brown was a bit concerned about Kargman before the game, he was not afterward.
“I was extremely impressed,” the coach said. “He commanded the offense. He ran no-huddle and he put the ball exactly where it needed to be. He found matchups.
“There aren’t too many quarterbacks out there that I’d be afraid to compare him to, and he’s only going to improve as we continue to develop. He’s an elite player and I feel confident going into every game with that kid at quarterback.”
Kargman did the bulk of his damage in the first half when he threw for 225 yards and all three touchdowns.
He may have seemed a little tentative throwing the ball on his first couple of attempts, but he quickly found his rhythm.
His first three attempts fell incomplete, but he set the tone for his performance by leading a touchdown drive after Highland had taken and early 7-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Naiem Furlough.
Kargman got the Tigers on the board with a 29-yard scoring pass to Stacey King late in the first quarter.
He set up a second touchdown when he competed passes of 43 yards to Hydir Moore and one of 17 yards to Jairo Ramos.
The go-ahead score came on a 15-yard pass to Ramos and that gave the Tigers the lead for good.
It didn’t surprise Kargman that it took a couple of series for the Tigers to get rolling.
“It was our first real game playing together, so obviously we’re going to have some bumps,” he said. “I was a little antsy, but I thought after that first drive we picked it up and we were pretty sharp.”
Later, Kargman credited his receivers with making some athletic plays, which enabled the Tigers to keep the Highland defense off balance.
“I’m real confident that if I can get the ball to them they’re going to catch it,” he said. “They’re great players. They come down with it all the time. They work hard in practice and I have a lot of trust in them.”
The feeling is mutual.
“He brings a lot to the team,” said King. “He finds everybody who is open. He throws good balls, and he gives us a lot of ways to score.”
Tigers added a third touchdown in the second quarter when Dian Mack returned an interception 24 yards for a score.
Highland regained some momentum in the second half, but the Tartans were unable to climb out of a 26-7 halftime hole.
They cut into the deficit midway through the fourth quarter when Johnny Martin scored on a 9-yard run.
With the help of a successful on-sides kick, Highland got to within six points when quarterback Brian Cooey scored on a 1-yard run with 53 seconds to play.
The Tartans got the ball one last time with another successful on-side kick, but this time the Wilson defense held.
Woodrow Wilson 6 20 0 0 — 26
Highland 7 0 0 13 — 20
H: Naiem Furlow 10 run (Brian Cooey kick)
WW: Stanley King 29 pass from Nick Kargman (kick fail)
WW: Jairo Ramos 15 pass from Kargman (Ramos run)
WW: Dion Mack 14 pass from Kargman (pass fail)
WW: Hydir Moore 24 interception return (run fail)
H: Johnny Moore 6 run (run fail)
H: Cooey 1 run (Cooey kick)ia