Who’s been naughty and who’s been nice? Santa Hague knows

Well, believe it or not, it’s that time of year.

It’s time for the jingling of bells and the wishing of good cheer. It’s time for caroling and joyous celebrations. It’s time for Michael Buble to pretend like he has friends so he can have a special on television. It’s time for at least one Kardashian sister to file for divorce.

Yes, it’s once again Christmas time, boys and girls. It’s time to judge who’s been naughty and who’s been nice. It’s time for Santa Hague to reach into his giant bag and give presents to deserving local sports figures.

So without further ado, here’s the Santa Hague Gift Column for 2016. Ho, ho, hardy ho ho.

We will start geographically south and work our way with the sleigh northward.

For our friends in Harrison, let’s start with athletic director Kim McDonough Huaranga, who had a bit of a tough time with Santa Hague this year.

Because Santa Hague was just doing his job, addressing the tough and sticky situations, and the boss lady was not too pleased.

Sometimes, the news isn’t always pleasurable in Harrison. There are controversies from time to time and those subjects can get in the way of the fine times, the wonderful times.

If the football coach drives drunk and plows a city van into parked cars, a van that he was unauthorized to drive, then that has to be addressed. It’s not simply going to go away. If and when the accused stands trial, there will be more controversial and sad tales. It’s unavoidable _ especially when the accused has been a long-time close friend.

So Santa Hague is offering Huaranga a clean slate for Christmas. An absolutely clean slate and a start-over, do-over, whatever you want to call it. Everyone seemed to recover pretty well from the bombshell _ until the best boys’ basketball player all of a sudden wanted to transfer. Such is life with the Blue Tide.

Other than that, it was a relatively good year for the entire program, although the girls’ basketball program lost a hard working coach in Al Ruiz.

For miracle worker Mike Hinchcliffe, who also doubles as the head football coach at the school, continued success this year. Just do what you did last year, just a little more. Take the program from five wins to say seven this year. Win a playoff game or two. Just keep doing great things.

Same for baseball coach Jairo Mendez, who had a great spring and fell just a few outs shy of playing for a state championship. With a good majority of that team coming back and some additions, the Blue Tide might contend for a state title this year _  if, of course, Santa helps.

For boys’ soccer coach Mike Rusek, just a few more kicks in the net come state playoff time, so the Blue Tide doesn’t have to worry about penalty kicks. In fact, Santa is going to give the Blue Tide another state title of their very own, a shiny new Group II trophy next November.

For boys’ assistant coach Mickey Rusek, even more grandkids to stroll around the parks with. A grandchild per year for the next few years ought to do it.

For retired AD and current boys’ assistant basketball coach Jack Rodgers, a brain scan to see if there is life going on up there. To come out of retirement to work with the current team, man, you have to be nuts.

For retired school official Alan Doffont, continued good health and happiness. He worries about everyone else and doesn’t focus on himself.

For Bobby Gerris, your buddy may be gone for four years now, but we will never ever forget how wonderful of a friend you were to him. We could never begin to thank you enough.

That goes ditto for Kearny soccer legend Hugh O’Neill, who treated Jay Costello more than “just a regular guy.”

For Harrison softball coach Carmine Ronga, memories of his days as the Hoboken softball coach and how much easier life was then.

In Kearny, for athletic director John Millar, a great retirement, filled with days upon days of playing golf. And a new baseball cap to take away that faded thing he’s worn for years.

For girls’ basketball coach Jody Hill, the same wish as last year: Air conditioning in the Kearny gym so her basketball camp in July isn’t held in stifling conditions. It’s really, really hot in there. People should check it out,

For boys’ basketball coach Bob McDonnell, a ton of recognition for doing a spectacular job in not the easiest of situations. Just the idea that the team is competitive is amazing, never mind winning their share of the HCIAL championship. Unfortunately, it was a one-year gig, as the league took away the Kards’ chance of contending for another league crown, making the league a completely one-division unit. Ugh!

For boys’ soccer coach Bill Galka, a road map that will lead Galka and his team out of the state playoffs.

For girls’ soccer coach Vin Almeida, congrats on getting the Athletic Director job and the cojones to hire the right person to replace him as head coach.

For football coach John Kryzanowski, patience. Pure, unadulterated, uncut patience, the kind you find in the second hand store.

For softball coach Jimmy Pickel, a state sectional title to go along with the county crown.

For para-Olympian Steve Koziel, gold medals in every event he enters. He deserves all the credit in the world.

For my friends in North Arlington, for athletic director Dave Hutchinson, the Athletic Director of the Year award from the NJIC. No one does a better job with no staff than Dave. NJIC, Santa’s still waiting.

For boys’ basketball coach Rich Corsetto, a heaping helping of reality.

For boys’ soccer coach Jesse Dembowski, a new home field so he can emerge from the goose poop in the field on Ridge/River Road. That field that they play on is a dump and an embarrassment to everyone in North Arlington.

For girls’ soccer coach Dan Farinola, the 2017 pocket calendar so he can keep track of all the jobs he has.

For baseball coach Paul Marcantuono, stock in PSE&G because every game the Vikings play in April and May is downright frigid. The Bumble and Yukon Cornelius couldn’t survive such cold. Brrrrrrrr.

For football coach Anthony Marck, the chance to rip 2016 from the calendar and start all over again, a regular old-fashioned do-over.

For my friends in Lyndhurst, for athletic director Jeff Radigan, a less tumultuous year than his first year as the AD. Boy, was Radigan put to the test or what?

For football coach Rich Tuero, a few more players like Petey Guerriero.

For girls’ soccer coach Kim Hykey, the “How to Diaper a Baby One-Handed” survival kit. Little Jake has his mother working hard when she has to coach soccer as well. Jake should know better. He’s not yet turned two.

For boys’ soccer coach Denis Jelcic, some free time, because coaching soccer and hockey is a two-headed monster.

For retired AD Butch Servideo, the Rand McNally atlas of Florida.

For girls’ basketball coach John Cousins, the consolation in knowing that he’s really done a great job with that program and getting it back to where the Golden Bears are competitive again is nothing short of remarkable.

For boys’ basketball coach Tom McGuire, tons of patience. He’s getting there. Slowly, but surely.

For my friends at Queen of Peace _ if I have any friends left there:

For football coach/wrestling coach Scot Weaver, a complete recovery last winter’s major health scare and about 25 legitimate football players. And some good wrestlers to complement the studs he already has.

For girls’ basketball coach Jiovanny Fontan, the ability to make a return phone call. It seems like that ability went out the window as a coach. And you’ve only been at QP one season! Can’t have publicity if the lone adult in the room doesn’t return the phone calls of sportswriters.

For the powers-that-be at QP, prove this guy wrong. Go out and show the world that you truly care about athletics and about kids and not worried about what some stupid sportswriter puts in his column. Do the right thing and you’ll become a thankless anonymous entity.

For my friends in Nutley, to athletic director Joe Piro, the intestinal fortitude to see this new Super Football Conference develop and improve. It was fine in the first year, despite the critics. It can be even better.

For baseball/basketball coach Bob Harbison, some semblance of a piece of  mind and respect for being the hardest working coach in Essex County _ and beyond. Coaching is Harbison’s lifeblood.

For football coach Tom Basile, the chance to bounce back after a trying 2016 season.

For girls’ basketball coach Larry Mitschow, about two more players like Blair Watson. OK, maybe three. Watson was truly a one-of-a-kind.

For girls’ soccer/wrestling coach Mike DiPiano, a few clutch goals and another player like Zoe Steck.

For boys’ soccer coach Marcellino Marra, a true 30-goal scorer. OK, how about a 25-goal scorer? OK, maybe 20?

For my friends in Belleville, for AD Dan Sanacore, a congratulations for a great first year and good luck to keep it going.

For boys’ basketball coach Jim Stoeckel, a few more wins. Have to start somewhere.

For football coach Mario Cuniglio, a win to stop this nasty losing streak. The Bucs started off well, winning three of their first four. And then, a nasty crash. Cuniglio needs to bounce back.

For volleyball coach John Spina, more recognition for being the school’s most successful coach. Spina wins all the time with the girls in the fall and the boys in the spring. Belleville has become a volleyball powerhouse, thanks to Spina.

For all of our great people at the Observer, especially General Manager Bob Pezzolla and people like Michelle Rybeck, Ron Leir, Karen Zautyk, webmaster supreme Kevin Canessa, and Diana Crespo who runs the office. Thanks for another great year putting my words on your pages.

And for the readers of the Observer, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Holidays and thanks for reading. We need you to keep us going, so thanks again. Santa Hague is off to spread his Christmas cheer on others. You all continue to be naughty or nice. Either one. Ho, ho, ho.

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.”