By Jim Hague
Observer Sports Writer
Well, you think there’s still time to get out the suntan lotion, hit the beach and ride the waves, right?
Sorry to say, but if you’re a high school athlete, those days are done. Summer is officially over. It’s time to lace up the cleats, put on the helmets and pads, kick the balls and get running. The fall sports season is upon us.
Practices for the fall sports teams officially began last week. Everywhere you go in the area, you’ll find kids carrying their football equipment to their respective fields of play or others kicking soccer balls at goals.
It’s time to get ready for the fall scholastic sports season, which will begin the weekend of Sept. 5. That’s just two weeks from now. It’s astounding how the summer has flown by.
Soon, the work will be completed at Rip Collins Field in North Arlington and the athletes at North Arlington High will have a brand new place to play, complete with new locker rooms and a state-of-the-art FieldTurf playing surface. In the spring, there will be track meets there. No longer will North Arlington mothers have to worry about getting goose poop stains out of the respective uniforms.
The Vikings’ soccer team will certainly miss Observer Male Athlete of the Year Danny Cordeiro, but coach Jesse Dembowski will always find a way to win. The NA girls’ program has a new coach in Dan Farinola, who was successful as the boys’ coach at Secaucus. Farinola will do a good job as the Viking girls’ head coach.
The Vikings’ football coach is veteran Anthony Marck and we know he’s excited about the new field, maybe more than his team’s prospects.
There are new soccer coaches at Queen of Peace, both on the boys’ and girls’ sides. There’s also a new athletic director in former All-State tight end Joe Torchia, who almost made the Washington Redskins’ roster a few years ago. We would like to know who the new soccer coaches are, but Torchia has not returned several phone calls. Maybe Torchia doesn’t regularly check his school voicemail, but we’re still waiting to hear from the coaches. So if either of you ––namely the boys’ or girls’ soccer coach at QP – read this column, please take the time to write me via e-mail (at the address listed above) and tell me what’s the best time to reach you by phone.
The football team at QP is in capable hands with veteran Bob Kearns, but the Golden Griffins are certainly going to miss the 2,000 yards and 30- plus touchdowns that standout Kevin Momnohin brought to the table last fall. That’s not easy to replace.
The Harrison boys’ soccer team is returning several players from last year’s team that won the championship in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group II bracket.
It should be interesting to see how the Blue Tide and veteran coach Mike Rusek will move on after losing such talented players like All-State defender and do-everything Modou Sowe, clearly one of the best soccer players to ever grace Harrison High _ and there certainly have been plenty of dandies over the years.
The boys’ soccer program at Harrison never rebuilds. It’s always a case of reloading. That should be the case again this season.
The Harrison girls’ program is now headed by former boys’ standout goalie Raphael Viana. There was never a nicer kid to ever come through the halls of Harrison High than Raphael when he was a player. Let’s see how that personality transcends into being a high school coach at his alma mater, working with the girls.
The Blue Tide football program will begin the second season under coach Matt Gallo, who made strides a year ago making the Blue Tide much more respected and competitive. That’s all a coach could ask for in his first year at the helm. Now that he’s in his second year, it’s safe to say that Gallo wants to raise the bar just a little bit.
Lyndhurst has a new football coach in Rich Tuero, who is another guy taking over a program at his alma mater. Tuero was a standout lineman during his playing days, so he’s going to demand solid play up front from the Golden Bears.
The boys’ soccer program is in the capable hands of Rob Kost, who has worked diligently in trying to make the Golden Bears more competitive each year.
The Lyndhurst girls’ soccer team is perennially one of the best around and this year should be no exception for head coach Kim Hykey. The Golden Bears might have lost a lot of firepower with the graduations of Amanda Nowak and Grace Tomko, but center midfielder Giana DiTonto, who had 20-plus assists last fall, should be able to carry the slack and emerge as one of the players to watch in the NJIC.
Speaking of girls’ soccer, there should be no local team better than the Maroon Raiders of Nutley.
Coach Mike DiPiano has worked wonders, turning a destitute program that could barely win a single game into a state-ranked power. The Maroon Raiders went 18-2- 1 and won their division of the Super Essex Conference last year and should do more damage again this year, thanks to the efforts of 30-goal scorers like Victoria Kealy and Zoe Steck.
Kealy had an astounding 31 goals and 14 assists last season. Most soccer players don’t reach that number in a career.
The Maroon Raiders’ boys program is under the careful guidance of veteran head coach Marcelino Marra, who is one of the best tactical coaches around.
The Nutley football program begins its second season under coach Tom Basile, who has paid his dues in the coaching ranks for almost three decades and will look to lead the Maroon Raiders back to state playoff contender.
Jim Damiano has taken over the soccer program at his alma mater Belleville.
Joe Fischer has returned as the head football coach at Belleville and should lead the Buccaneers back to respectability.
All in all, it shapes up to be an interesting scholastic sports year. Sorry to say, but the summer is gone. Put away the beach chair until next Memorial Day. The summer sure flew by, didn’t it?