Fischer resigns as Belleville grid coach

Photo by Jim Hague Former Belleville head football coach Joe Fischer is shown standing above Doc Ellis Field in Belleville. Fischer resigned last week after two seasons in his second tenure as Belleville’s head coach.
Photo by Jim Hague
Former Belleville head football coach
Joe Fischer is shown standing above
Doc Ellis Field in Belleville. Fischer
resigned last week after two seasons
in his second tenure as Belleville’s
head coach.

It was the spring of 2014 when Joe Fischer proclaimed his happiness about returning once again as the head football coach at Belleville High School, a place he spent four seasons from 2004 through 2007, leading the Buccaneers from their deepest despair, a horrific 33-game losing streak, to their highest moment in decades, the NJSIAA Group IV state playoffs.

“I have a big advantage over when I took over in 2004,” Fischer said when he returned as Belleville head coach. “I know the kids already because I teach here and I coach track. It’s not the worst program around. I know my work is cut out for me, but I’m ready. I’m going to get a chance to prove that I’m a good coach. I love teaching here. I love the kids. I’m ingrained here. I might have left coaching, but I never left Belleville. I truly believe that we have talent here that we can groom. “I’m very excited about coming back to be the head coach. I wish the football season started tomorrow.”

That exuberance changed last week when Fischer submitted his letter of resignation as head coach. He cited family responsibilities, plus his desire to secure an administrative position in the district, as the main reasons why he’s stepped down for a second time, this time after two rough seasons, going a combined 3-17 over those years.

Fischer had a 10-30 record in his first four seasons as Belleville head coach.

“My wife quit her job and I have two boys in high school,” Fischer said. “They’re starting to look at colleges, so I need to make money. It’s hard to volunteer to monitor the weight room right now Monday through Friday. I need to find a better job. I have the credentials to be an administrator. I need to find a way to earn more income.”

So the Buccaneers are without a head football coach once again. Unfortunately, it has been a revolving door, a job that no one seems to want, for more than a decade.

Everyone truly believed that when the beloved Fischer returned two years ago, he would be the one to turn the program around once again. Now, that will not happen. A new coach will come in with a new philosophy. There will be transition again.

Belleville athletic director Dan Sanacore said that the process has already begun to find Fischer’s replacement. Interviews will begin to take place once the position is officially posted this week. Sanacore said that he hopes to have a new coach in place before the next Board of Education meeting in the middle of next month.

By then, many of the Buccaneers’ opponents will be six weeks into their off-season weight training.

Fischer seems to believe that he’s not leaving the cupboard bare.

“We have 17 players with varsity experience that should be a part of the new coach’s program,” Fischer said.

Fischer said that he met with his returning players last week to tell them of his decision.

“I thought the kids took it well and understood,” Fischer said. “Everything was very positive and I wanted it to be that way.”

Unfortunately, a program that has nine head coaches in the last 13 seasons isn’t exactly a positive thing.

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.”