Peter Haas was pretty sure his high school football career was over. After all, the Queen of Peace senior was a lineman on a team that went 1-9 last fall. Most players that are picked for postseason All- Star games don’t come from small schools that struggle.
“I had no idea I had a chance,” Haas said. “I felt like it would be a good opportunity for me to show what I can do.”
Haas needed chances to keep playing, because his college plans are completely up in the air.
Vin Nisivoccia of Nutley played high school football for Seton Hall Prep. He was recruited by several colleges and ended up receiving a scholarship from Bryant University, after getting help in the recruiting process from outside people like Montclair High School head coach and local kicking and punting coach Pat Sempier.
So Nisivoccia had an idea he might get picked for one All- Star game.
“Coach (John) Finnegan told me that he that he was going to nominate me for the (Phil Simms New Jersey Scholastic Football Coaches Association North-South All-Star Classic), so I thought I had a good chance,” Nisivoccia said. “I had a lot of confidence I would get picked.”
Both local products received the chance to extend their high school careers.
Haas was selected to play for the New Jersey team in the NUC New York vs. New Jersey All-Star Classic that was held last Sunday night at Winton White Stadium in Englewood, a game that New Jersey won 14-12.
Nisivoccia was picked to play for the North squad in the Phil Simms Classic that will take place Monday, June 29 at Kean University.
Haas was overjoyed to be picked for the New Jersey All- Stars last week.
“I appreciate this group of coaches giving me the chance to play again,” said Haas, who saw time at defensive end in the game. “I get a chance to show what I can do. This game could lead to more colleges looking at me. Maybe they’ll become interested in me. I’m really proud in everything I do. This is a great opportunity for me. I know that players like me don’t get chances like this.”
Nisivoccia had an emotional decision to attend either hometown Nutley High or Seton Hall. He had an older brother, Michael, who played football at Seton Hall Prep who told him how great it was to go to Seton Hall.
“It was very tough, because some of my best friends play football at Nutley, guys like Peter Russo and Frank Malanga,” Nisivoccia said. “But I felt it was my best choice.”
Nisivoccia was present when the North-South All- Stars were introduced at a press conference at Piscataway High School two weeks ago.
“It’s a huge honor for me,” Nisivoccia said. “I’m getting a chance to play with all these great athletes. It’s a big accomplishment for me and will help me get ready for college and focus on football.”
Nisivoccia will play slot receiver at Bryant University, a program that features a spread passing offense.
“I’m very excited about it,” Nisivoccia said. “I’m going to get a great education and play good football. I’m getting a workout to follow so I’ll be ready for Bryant, working on my speed while weight lifting as well. I’ve been working for so long for this.”
Nisivoccia will get the chance to room at Kean for the weekend prior to the game, participating in a host of pre-game practices.
“That’s going to be exciting,” Nisivoccia said. “It will be like a college feeling. I’m going to be so prepared for it.”
Haas had to do double-duty to get ready for his big game. He’s currently playing baseball for the Golden Griffins, so Haas had to juggle both sports for a week or so.
“I had to get right back into football,” Haas said. “This is the first year I’m playing baseball, so it was a little different for me.”
Haas is playing the outfield for the Golden Griffins.
“It’s been a bit of a hectic time for me, but it feels amazing,” Haas said. “Just being around all these talented players, guys with great futures in football, has been an amazing experience. These guys will be playing at bigtime colleges.”
Maybe Haas will get a chance like Nisivoccia and play college football in the fall. It was definitely a great start.
Nisivoccia will get his All- Star chance later this summer. Still, it was great that both local products are getting recognized at the state level and were selected as All-Stars for the games.
Learn more about the writer ...
Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer
Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.
It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.
In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.
In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.
He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.
During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.
Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.
Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”