Marck father, son become opponents on football field

Photoo courtesy Anthony Marck North Arlington head football coach Anthony Marck (l.) found himself opposing his son Zack (r.) recently at Rip Collins Field, a game won by the father and his Vikings, 36-8.
Photoo courtesy Anthony Marck
North Arlington head football coach Anthony Marck (l.) found himself opposing his son Zack (r.) recently at Rip Collins Field, a game won by the father and his Vikings, 36-8.

Anthony Marck said that his oldest son, Zack, took a liking to football when he was just a toddler.

“He started drawing up plays on paper,” said Anthony Marck, the head football coach at North Arlington for the past 10 years. “He must have been 3 or 4 years old. We would be putting plans together for the next game and Zack would watch me, then take out his crayons and draw plays. His plays might have had only five or six players in them, but they were plays. He’s an extremely intelligent young man.”

Marck said that he would constantly engage in football conversations with his son.

“We would talk football all the time in the house,” the elder Marck said. “He just took to it right away.”

Zack Marck was about six years old when he first officially started playing flag football in North Arlington. When the family moved to Emerson Borough, he continued his football prowess. But Zack was mindful of one fact – his father was never to coach him.

“He didn’t come to practices,” Zack Marck said. “He liked being the Dad who separated himself from football. I thought it would have been very different if he was there all the time.”

“I always kind of stayed away,” Anthony Marck said. “I watched as a father, not as a football coach. I might have given him some pointers now and then, but for the most part, I stayed away. I think that helped the relationship we built together. We both like it like that. My 8-year-old Mason always wants me to coach him. Zack, it’s better to stay away, watch from the outside and let him do his own thing.”

Anthony Marck admits that it’s hard not to be a father to his son.

“It is tough at times, because I want to be involved,” Anthony Marck said. “But Zack appreciates that I stay on the outside.”

Zack went on to play football throughout grade school. When it came time for high school, Marck, an aspiring tight end and linebacker, was good enough to make the varsity team at Emerson Borough High School as a freshman.

“Growing up, he was a lineman all the way,” the elder Marck said. “He was a center and a defensive tackle. But as he got older, he was moved to inside linebacker and tight end. And he made the varsity right away.”

There was only one problem. There on Emerson’s schedule, in the final regular season game of the year, was a matchup that jumped off the page.

Emerson vs. North Arlington at Rip Collins Field: It was the Marck Bowl, father against son.

“My dad saw it before me,” Zack Marck said. “At first, I didn’t give it much thought, but as it got closer, there was some talk here and there.”

Yes, some trash talking – and it was usually father to son.

“He was saying that he was going to kick the ball right to me, then his players would come down and hit me hard,” Zack said. “Stuff like that.”

“He’s not a big talker,” Anthony said. “He just shows up and does his job. He’s going to give you everything he has.”

As the game was getting ready to kick off Nov. 6, both Marcks felt a twinge of uncertainty.

“It was very different at first, seeing him on the other sideline,” Zack said. “I wasn’t used to it, not being on the same side.”

“It was awkward, I have to admit,” Anthony said. “I didn’t think it would be, but it was once I saw him on the field.”

Needless to say, the feelings ran deep in the Marck family.

“You can’t ask my wife who she rooted for,” Marck said.

Marck’s wife, Kim, was a great athlete during her heyday at North Arlington High School, playing basketball and softball. She is a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.

“The emotions were mixed in the whole family, except Mason, who wore his North Arlington sweatshirt,” Anthony said. “My daughter really isn’t a sports girl, so it didn’t matter to her. As I walked onto the field, I probably knew every kid on the Emerson team.”

“Once the game started,” Zack said, “it became like a normal football game.”

It wasn’t so normal for Zack and his Cavo teammates, as they lost to North Arlington, 36-8. Dad got the family bragging rights for a while.

“As we were walking down the line after the game, I shook everyone’s hand,” Anthony said. “When I got to Zack, I gave him a big old bear hug. He just smiled. Things worked out in our favor.”

Zack said he would like to get his revenge before his high school days are through. After all, Zack is just a freshman. There should be other opportunities, right?

Well, not exactly. The game was a crossover game between two teams in the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference, so there’s no guarantee that the two schools would meet again. It’s all up to a twist of fate – and seeing whether athletic directors would manage another Marck Bowl in the near future.

“I would like to play his team again sometime soon,” Zack said. “But it was a lot of fun.”

Anthony did sing his son’s praises. He mentioned that Zack is president of his class and owns a 3.86 grade point average.

“He’s a step above other freshman athletically because he is so much stronger than most,” Marck said of his son, who also plans to wrestle this season. “He’s also still diagramming plays on his own. He has a good knowledge of the game and he’s a good student.”

And Zack was good enough to break away from his father – except for the family dining room table – at a very young age. The products of coaches don’t get that opportunity often.

“It’s all for the best,” Zack said. “I think we’re better together because of it.”

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.”