Basile steps down as Nutley grid coach

When Tom Basile left the head coaching position at Barringer High School in 2004 to join his friend Steve DiGregorio on the Nutley High School football coaching staff, he never dreamed he would remain in Nutley for 13 years.

“With Steve, I was just doing him a favor at the time,” Basile said. “I never realized I’d get so emotionally involved in the program. One year became three and three became six and so on. I also never envisioned becoming the head coach.”

When DiGregorio left the head coaching position at Nutley five years ago, Basile stepped in and filled in admirably for DiGregorio, taking the Maroon Raiders to the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III playoffs three times.

But Basile has decided to step down as the head coach of the Maroon Raiders, citing family reasons and travel obligations from his northern Bergen County home. Basile has a 5-year-old daughter that needs to be taken to and from school and other extracurricular activities.

“I want to be around my family as much as possible,” said Basile, who posted a 26-24 record with the Maroon Raiders, including a 3-7 record in 2016. “Raising our daughter has become a tremendous burden on my wife, picking our daughter up from school, dance classes, what have you. It was a family motivated decision. I’m leaving the Nutley program in great shape.”

Many of the key personnel, including running back Nick Mainiero and quarterback Josh O’Neill, return in the fall, so the new head coach will get a good head start.

“Seven starters are coming back,” Basile said. “We started a couple of sophomores last season. That team is going to be fine.”

Basile said that he leaves Nutley with his head held high.

“I have no regrets,” Basile said. “We had a good run. I met some great people in Nutley, some wonderful parents raising good young men. Some great families are in Nutley. I cherish my 13 years there and always will.”

Basile led the Maroon Raiders to an 8-2 record in 2015 with the highest scoring offense in school history.

“Making the states three times is something I’m very proud of,” Basile said. “I also have the great memory of going to the Meadowlands (MetLife Stadium in 2009) and the state final then (against Morristown). For the last two seasons, we won divisional championships and I’ll certainly hold them dear.”

Basile thanked Nutley High School Principal Denis Williams and Athletic Director Joe Piro for their support over the years.

“Denis was a good adviser to us,” Basile said. “Joe had a lot of vision and no one bleeds Maroon and White more than him.”

Piro was saddened by Basile’s departure.

“Tommy is a family guy and you have to respect that,” Piro said. “He gave us 13 good years. I hate to see him go, but I understand his motives. He needs to be closer to home. I understand his motivation. He’s a good coach and was a good member our athletic department. He’s also a good friend and will remain that way.”

Piro did not want to speculate about Basile’s replacement, although some very interesting candidates have already applied for the position.

As for Basile, he will see if there are other opportunities for him closer to his home.

“I’ll take a look,” Basile said. “I think I have some more coaching in me.”

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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.”