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Caldwell's veteran coach Ken Trimmer has seen local players choose to attend nearby Seton Hall Prep through the years, but now he has lost his first player to Don Bosco Prep, one of North Jersey's "Big 5" parochial football powers. The transfer topic has become big news this week with the word that Scotch Plains HS is not signing off on one of its players who transferred to Paramus Catholic up in Bergen County. (Photos by Bill Allen-

Don Bosco Prep coach Greg Toal has gained his first transfer from Caldwell

‘Big 5’ Also Get Essex Transfers
As A Hot-Button Issue Surfaces
By Steve Tober

CALDWELL- Ken Trimmer has become accustomed through the years to losing a potential Caldwell High School player or two to Seton Hall Prep. The all-state Wujciak brothers, linebacker Alex (Maryland grad) and defensive lineman Connor (current starter at Boston College) are two that come immediately to mind.

But, when a player leaves to go to Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey - one of the so-called “Big 5” of the North Jersey Bergen and Passaic County Catholic school powers (Bosco, Bergen Catholic, St. Joe’s of Montvale, Paramus Catholic and DePaul) - then the radar goes up.

“I’ve never lost a player before to one of the Bergen County parochial powers and I don’t like the fact it has happened, but that’s the state of things right now in New Jersey high school football,” said the longtime Caldwell head coach, who has been at the Essex County school as either an assistant or head coach (now entering his 21st) for the past 51 years. “I can never blame a young man whose family wants a Catholic school education and then sends their son to Seton Hall Prep, but it just doesn’t seem the same when a player goes to one of the big North Jersey powerhouses that just seem to get transfers all the time now.”

A current hot topic in North Jersey is the news that the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association has its attorney, Steve Goodell, looking over documents related to the transfer of Scotch Plains’ highly-regarded D-lineman Rashan Gary to Paramus Catholic.

Scotch Plains refused to sign off on Gary’s transfer, indicating that they felt he was recruited by the Bergen County school, which is against NJSIAA regulations, but rarely –if ever- enforced since most schools simply sign off on the seemingly endless number of basketball and now more frequent football transfers, allowing them to move on at free will for what can be in essence for athletic advantage.

If a hearing in the Gary case is scheduled, it may not be until the second week of September after Paramus Catholic is scheduled to open its season against the Gilman School of Maryland at Towson University.

But while nationally-renowned recruits such as Gary are allegedly being courted to play football for a “Big 5” North Jersey Catholic school powerhouse, there are other players, such as Caldwell’s relatively unknown junior wide receiver-defensive back Jack Bowen (Bosco) and Weequahic's massive offensive guard Osaro Eromosele (recently moving on to DePaul), who are flying a bit more under the radar in what is quickly becoming seemingly an epidemic of transfers in the gridiron game.

Eromosele, who is 6-3, 300 pounds, began his high school career at Hillside in Union County, wound up next at Weequahic in Newark, and now is headed to DePaul in Wayne.

“Some of what’s happening with these transfers just doesn’t sit well with a lot of people, and you can understand that sentiment, plus you’re left wondering what high school sports are really all about when this continues to happen,?” pondered Trimmer. “Having never experienced something like this before at Caldwell, I’d really just like to know what (Bosco coach) Greg Toal has to say about it.”

Could An Essex-Union Football League Be Coming In 2016?

Montclair’s John Fiore is a strong proponent for an Essex-Union football league in 2016 and he’s been pushing the idea with the powers-that-be from the Super Essex Conference.

“It’s getting harder and harder for schools to fill out schedules with games that involve reasonable travel and other factors, and the SEC going to four divisions this year did not help things,” said the fifth-year Mountie head coach. “I’ve spoken to the people of the SEC and I’m going to continue to do so because I think it makes sense and would help both counties immeasurably.

“A large school division with Montclair, East Orange, Seton Hall Prep, Bloomfield, West Orange along with schools such as Elizabeth, Union and Linden would have a heck of a lot of appeal, and add some new energy to the football schedules for all the schools.”

No West Essex-Caldwell Game This Fall

With the changes in divisions, including West Essex moving up to the SEC-American and Caldwell now in the Liberty Division, one of the more attractive local rivalries on the gridiron could not find a fit for this fall as the Knights and Chiefs will not meet for the first time since the SEC was formed in 2009.

West Essex leads the recent 5-game stretch vs. Caldwell, 3-2, winning three in a row, including 24-14 last year under the lights in North Caldwell. The year before, in a thriller played at Bonnel Field in West Caldwell, the Knights won 17-14 on a late Matt Garvey field goal.

“If you look at the last two games between West Essex and Caldwell I think it gets as close as you can get to high school football in Alabama or Texas where the fans, students and players are totally involved with a great event with tremendous atmosphere,” said Trimmer. “Not to have that game this season is a real shame, but this is the schedule that the SEC has deemed we should play and we will do our best to play every game with the full intent to make it as big a game as possible.

“Still, when you have a natural, local rivalry, that seemed to be a perfect part of the whole idea behind forming the SEC, and then don’t have it because of division changes and other crossovers, well, then I think there is something wrong here.”

Caldwell coach Ken Trimmer speaks his mind on number of hot topics

Another Essex County resident (East Orange) who wound up at Paramus Catholic was all-state defensive back Jabrill Peppers (5, left), who is now a freshman at University of Michigan. (Photo by Gene Nann-nannphoto)

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