Belleville, Kearny ready to give new football league a chance

The new-fangled Super Football Conference that Nutley’s Joe Piro will head will also feature two other local schools, namely Belleville and Kearny.

And apparently both schools are emphatically in favor of the new football formation.

“From a Belleville standpoint, I like it,” said Belleville’s second-year athletic director Dan Sanacore. “We really want to interest more players coming out for football, so we had to make some adjustments to the original plan.”

The original configuration had Belleville facing Passaic County powers Wayne Valley and Wayne Hills and Sanacore didn’t see the value of facing those schools in terms of competition.

“We had to make adjustments,” Sanacore said. “We had to do a little running around and get other games for those schools. So we got Roselle for Wayne Valley and Newark West Side in place of Wayne Hills. It’s all about building a program at Belleville. We want to make it better.”

Sanacore was asked about losing the rivalry with Nutley.

“I can understand it from their point, because we’re a Group IV school and they’re Group III,” Sanacore said. “I’m sure there’s disappointment there for now. Maybe the time will come when we can pick them up independently.”

Belleville will play Newark East Side, Newark West Side, Roselle, Irvington, Passaic Valley, Snyder of Jersey City, Millburn, Fort Lee and Kearny.

“The timing is quite perfect for this,” Sanacore said. “We have a new schedule and a new coach.”

The Buccaneers welcome Mario Cuniglio as the new head coach this fall.

“I’m interested to see how it goes,” Sanacore said. “I see the way the kids have bought into Coach Cuniglio and his staff. They’re working hard. I think it’s going to be an exciting season. In my opinion, I think we can win the first five games. I’m looking at 5-0 to start the season and I really think we can get off to that strong start.”

Sanacore likes the new coaching staff and philosophy, which should go along well with the new league.

“We put in a new system with the new staff,” Sanacore said. “We have a new attitude. I am 100 percent behind this move. As the conference continues to redefine itself, I think it’s good for the SEC (Super Essex Conference) and the Newark schools. In the end, it makes more sense for Belleville.”

Kearny is playing a similar schedule that the Kardinals played for the last few years in the Hudson County Interscholastic Athletic League.

The Kards, under second-year head coach John Kryzanowski, will face Hudson County foes Bayonne, Union City, North Bergen, Memorial and Dickinson, as well as Fair Lawn, Newark Collegiate, Newark East Side and Belleville.

“From a competition standpoint, I think it’s a better schedule,” said Kearny athletic director John Millar. “Fair Lawn and Belleville are very similar to us. We now have schools that are more competitive with us and I think we can have some success.”

The Kardinals have never reached the NJSIAA state playoffs since the playoffs were initiated in 1976.

“I think the league has been very fair in giving us at least a chance to be competitive in every game,” Millar said. “Now, we should be in every game. Everyone always asks ‘Can we get into the playoffs?’ It’s always a goal, but we never made it. At least now we have a chance.”

Millar thinks the Kardinals have a lot of team speed.

“It’s the one attribute we have,” Millar said. “If we can get our players into the open field, they can make things happen. I’m excited about it. The kids feel pretty good. They’re working hard. That’s all you can ask for.”

As for the league?

“I think we’re okay,” Millar said. “I like it. I think it’s fair for everyone.”

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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.”