Golden Griffins green, head to toe, from coach on down


Nick Edwards knew exactly what he was in for when he took over the Queen of Peace baseball program last year.

“We’re young, very young,” said Edwards, the North Arlington native who was the head football coach at Kearny before last season. “They’re really not mature enough to compete at a varsity level. But they’ve been good. Everyone is trying to find their roles and finding to learn my way of coaching.”

So how does Edwards think the Golden Griffins will fare this season?

“They have their moments,” said Edwards, who was once an assistant baseball coach at St. Peter’s Prep, his high school alma mater. “They’re starting to see if they want to be where other teams are, that they need to work a little harder. Then, all the experience they’re going to gain as freshmen and sophomores will pay off.”

And Edwards likes the potential of the team.

“That’s what makes me so hungry,” Edwards said. “I can see what we have in store for the future. These kids have to come in and play right away because we have no freshman team and no JV (junior varsity). They have to step in and for now, they’re being thrown to the wolves. But in two years, I think they’re going to be pretty good.”

The Golden Griffins have only one senior who is a returning starter. Donovan Arroyo is the team’s shortstop and No. 1 pitcher.

“He’s the senior captain,” Edwards said of Arroyo, who has already committed to Corning Community College in upstate New York. “He has to lead the team. It’s like having another coach out there. He’s helping the young guys and is giving the team some sort of leadership.”

Freshman Bryan Henderson, Jr. is a promising right-hander.

“He keeps the ball down and he’s not all over the place,” Edwards said. “He throws strikes and that’s the first step. He has not given up a lot of walks.”

Another freshman Jeuri Morel is part of the Griffins’ staff as well.

“He has a great body,” Edwards said. “He has big legs and uses them well. He has to use his strength as a pitcher. He has a strong arm. He’s grasping slowly what he needs to do, but I like his desire. He wants to be great.”

Left-hander Will Onder is the third Griffins’ pitcher.

“He has potential,” Edwards said. “We’re still developing him, whether he’s going to be a starter or a reliever.”

Sophomore Aaron Russo is the team’s catcher.

“He knows the game,” Edwards said. “He’s very positive. He is great with the pitchers. He’s an excellent leader, even though he’s only a sophomore. He doesn’t play like a sophomore. He also has a good stick.”

Senior Christopher Lepore is the team’s first baseman.

“He didn’t play baseball last year, but he’s come back and made an impact,” Edwards said. “He’s the vice-president of his class, so he’s a good leader. He’s also a good bunter.”

Freshman Billy McMann is the second baseman.

“He’s a tough, scrappy guy,” Edwards said. “We’re also working on him being a relief pitcher. He throws strikes as a pitcher. I just have to let him develop.”

Arroyo and Henderson, Jr. are sharing the shortstop duties, depending upon who is pitching.

Morel is the third baseman and a very slick fielder there. Morel has a tremendous upside and is definitely a player to watch.

Sophomore Michael Mejia is the team’s other third baseman and will play there when Morel is on the mound.

Keyon Means-Bowman, who is also a member of the QP football team in the fall and wrestling team in the winter, is the team’s left fielder.

“He has some good speed and can hit the ball,” Edwards said of the versatile sophomore.

Mark Peteya is the team’s centerfielder and another senior.

“He has good speed,” Edwards said. “Right now, he’s our leadoff hitter.”

Sophomore Brandon Burgos is the right fielder. Senior Brian Lee has been seeing time in right field, with sophomore Ryan Villa serving as the team’s utility player.

The Golden Griffins open the season with games against St. Anthony and Hoboken and will face a test from Harrison on April 4.

Edwards has only one goal: To improve on last year’s win total, which was three.

“If we win 10 games this year, then that’s a hell of a year,” Edwards said. “We have to come to play and we have to be hungry.”

One thing the Griffins don’t have to be is young. They already have that down pat.


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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.”