Ferriero comes home again as Harrison grid coach


The American novelist Thomas Wolfe once penned a bestselling book entitled “You Can’t Go Home Again.”

The same cannot be said for another Thomas named Ferriero.

Tom Ferriero, a three-sport athlete at Harrison High School (Class of 1983), has decided to indeed come home again. Ferriero is taking over the head football coaching position at his alma mater.

Ferriero once had the reins of being the head football coach at Harrison, spending three years with the Blue Tide from 1995 through 1997.

“It wasn’t the right time for me,” Ferriero said. “We tried. We just didn’t have enough kids.”

But now, after spending the last six years as an assistant coach at Lincoln High School in Jersey City, Ferriero is ready to return to Harrison, to give it another shot at leading the Blue Tide to a winning season.

That task will not be an easy one, considering the Blue Tide has not enjoyed a winning season since 1990.

“I’ve learned so much over the years,” said Ferriero, who was also the head football coach at Queen of Peace for a two-year stint in 2006 and 2007. “I’ve learned what to do, what not to do. I wanted to be a head coach again and this was a good opportunity to become a head coach. It just happened. It’s a good thing to step into.”

The Blue Tide finished 3-7 last season under first-year head coach Rich Glover, Jr. and won their last two games against Wood-Ridge and Lodi.

But athletic director Kim McDonough Huaranga and the school’s administration thought it would be prudent to open the position up at the end of last season. With that, Ferriero expressed his interest in returning home.

“She wants a competitive football program,” Ferriero said. “She’s very good at what she does.”

Ferriero has been all over the place in his coaching career that began as an assistant at Harrison under the legendary Ralph Borgess.

“I was 20 years old and still in college,” Ferriero said. “I had good people mentoring me back then. Larry Manning took me under his wing and taught me the ropes. Kevin Barber and Ronnie Shields were also very helpful and good mentors and good people to be around. But I got the chance to coach with Coach Borgess, who was tremendous. I learned so much about the psychology of kids from Coach Borgess.”

Ferriero was an assistant football coach under Borgess in 1990, the last season the Blue Tide recorded a winning record. Back then, the team’s quarterback was a guy by the name of Ray Lucas.

“That was his senior year,” said Ferriero, who has enlisted the assistance of the former NFL player and current New York Jets television analyst as a volunteer assistant coach. “I learned a lot back then.”

Ferriero then left Harrison for a coaching and teaching position in Weehawken, where he served as an assistant football coach and head girls’ basketball coach. Ferriero then had a stint at Wallington under Dennis Hard (who the head coach at Weehawken when Ferriero was there).

In 1995, Ferriero returned home to Harrison to be the head coach, then left to become the head coach at Lincoln High School in Jersey City. Ferriero then left to become the offensive coordinator at Bayonne, where he helped the Bees win the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state championship in 2002, the school’s lone state title.

The 50-year-old Ferriero then went to Queen of Peace for two seasons, back to Lincoln for a six-year stint and now returns to his alma mater once again.

Since his recent appointment as head football coach, Ferriero has already met with the returning players and assembled a good coaching staff, one that features former Marist head coach Juan Garcia, recent Harrison graduate Danny Hicks and long-time Harrison youth coach Mark Hanley.

“I’m all about letting assistant coaches coach,” Ferriero said. “Danny is a great young coach and he’s going to run our offense.”

One thing that Ferriero will do differently is run a triple option offensive attack to feature the running abilities of returning quarterback Mike O’Donnell and running back Dustin Huseinovic.

“It’s pretty innovative,” Ferriero said. “I think it’s going to be a positive for us. Both of those kids have the ability to run the ball 20 times a game. I’m bringing my knowledge to try to make it a simple system to run.”

Ferriero will also get the chance to coach his nephew, Mike Oeckel, who is on the team.

Ferriero, whose father, Tom, Sr. is a custodian in the school district and one of the program’s biggest supporters, says he’s very optimistic because of the fervent support he has already received from the town.

“A lot of people have responded,” Ferriero said. “The people in the town want to see the football team succeed. People prove that they care about the football team. I think we can be successful to a point. I think the Pop Warner kids have potential with players coming in that can compete. We have some good skilled players. We needed to get some good linemen. That will be the key.”

They certainly have the right guy when it comes to endless energy, because Ferriero is constantly on the go, moving from one game to the next. He still serves as the Snyder High School head girls’ basketball coaching position, so he has his thumbprint throughout Hudson County sports.

You can go home again. Tom Ferriero is living proof.

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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.”