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Benjie Wimberly, the Hackensack head football coach and State Assemblyman (35th District) has been dligently pushing for state bill to support coaches who are going through tough times with school administrators who may not be renewing annual contracts. If passed, the bill would provide 3-year contracts for head coaches and two years for assistants. (photo courtesy of MSN sports)

Bill To Protect Coaches Nears
As SFC Gears Up For New Start

By Steve Tober

WAYNE- A more fair-minded process to protect coaches from being fired by overzealous superintendents and boards of education negatively influenced by overbearing parents could be in the near future if a bill that has already been approved in the state Assembly is passed in the state Senate in September and then signed by Gov. Phil Murphy to take effect in the 2020-2021 school year.

Taking time out to talk about an important subject while at the recent Super Football Conference Media Day, Hackensack coach and state Assemblyman (35th District) Benjie Wimberly was sounding confident about some much-needed help to keep coaches from not being renewed without proper channels and procedures first being exhausted.  

“We’re just waiting for the state Senate to come back in session and then I feel we’ll get this done,” said Wimberly, who also coached at Paterson Catholic back in the 1990s when Victor Cruz was a star receiver at the Silk City school. “We have a strong sponsor with us (Troy Singleton- D senator- Burlington) and from what I understand the Governor is very interested in looking at how the whole (HIB) bullying has not been applied in the proper way when it comes to coaches.

As far as the bill's provisions for extended protection, for those who are tenured employees in the same high school district where they coach there would be 3-year contracts for head coaches and two years for assistants.

At present coaches cna be retained or dismissed on an annual basis.

“We don’t want to see dismissals or non-renewal of coaches contracts done for arbitrary reasons and only when there is just cause. They must also have notice for any basis of action and definitely an opportunity to be heard.

“If you do something unbecoming or outright illegal this bill will not protect you, but when the board of education member’s grandson does not start at quarterback and your fired we’re intending to be there for you.

“We want to protect good coaches in all sports and provide them with due process if termination is the decision of the superintendent or board.”

Wimberly’s 35th District includes Paterson North Haledon, Haledon, Elmwood Park and Prospect Park.

Glen Ridge Florida Trip Nice Precursor For A New Season

Steve Trivino coached for more than 20 years on a highly-successful Caldwell staff before becoming a head coach at both Newark Academy and Dayton and then helping to orchestrate the very effective offense for a highly-successful 9-3 Chatham squad in 2015.

Now, in his 35th year of coaching, the veteran mentor enters season No. 2 guiding Glen Ridge, which has a rich football tradition dating back to fine coaches such as Bill Horey, Rich SanFilippo and – most recently – Duke Mendez, with numerous playoff appearances through the years, including most recently in 2017 when Mendez guided the Ridgers to a 6-4 mark.

Last fall was a struggle for an undermanned Ridgers squad which went 1-9 while facing an arduous schedule, and now looking ahead to next year, the Essex County Group 1 school will be part of the SFC’s newly-implemented ‘Ivy League’ with other struggling North Jersey programs.

However, in speaking to Trivino, there is no evidence of any downtrodden feeling entering 2019, which is a brand-new season with an air of optimsim that begins with a unique pre-season trip to northern Florida.

“We’re headed to Titusville, Florida for a game scrimmage and it’s something I began to put together last February, our parents bought in and we fund-raised to make it happen,” said Trivino, who also remains the longtime head swimming coach at Caldwell. “We feel really good about this year’s team. We have 16 seniors, good experience, and (assistant football coach) Carl Houser brought in a few of his lacrosse kids who have crossed the line and will now help us.

“'Dukie' (Mendez) was a great coach and then we went through a little downturn last year in my first year, but I want to get this program back up to what it can be. We have a number of good eighth and seventh graders who are going to provide talent for the future and right now I’m excited about our seniors, who are a great bunch of leaders.

“The schedule is still a beast, but we’re going to be better up front with our experience on the line and I think our ground game will be a lot stronger.”

Quarterback Ben Bronstein, who missed four games last fall due to a knee injury, is back at full strength and helps lead the solid senior class which also includes wide receiver-strong safety Brendan Easter and big (6-4, 290) center Sam Auborn.

The Ridgers’ regular season begins Friday night, Sept. 6, at Shabazz.

A Tale Of Two Very Different Class Sizes For Millburn Football

Millburn coach Chris Drechsel is enthused about the fact he has 23 seniors out for football as the Millers look to build on their improved 5-5 record of last year while eying a playoff berth this fall.

With standout veteran players such as quarterback-strong safety Shane Sullivan, cornerback and wide receiver turned running back Griffin Titan and guard-middle linebacker Ryan Koplitz he has some terrific seniors to set the tone; however, on the negative side, there are only six freshmen out for the squad, certainly influenced by the fact there is only flag football in the town of Millburn.

“Millburn got rid of tackle football extending its flag program which has about 50 kids in the sixth through eighth grades, but if you want to play tackle you have to play in a league in Springfield,” said Drechsel, a former standout football and baseball player at Cranford. “I’m trying to get more involved in the flag football, but we have some work ahead of us.

“Looking ahead to this season I am fortunate to have a great senior class and to their credit there were originally about 14 or 15 guys in that class out for football but they worked hard in building the numbers these past three years, and now that I am in my fourth season as head coach it’s been great to see the progress and perseverance of their class, and their leadership is tremendous!”    
Millburn, which is a member of the SFC's Freedom White Division this fall, will open up the new season hosting Kearny, 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6.      

Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister

Second-year coach Steve Trivino's Glen Ridge Ridgers, who will travel to play pre-season game scrimmage in Titusville, Fla, will be members of the newly-formed Ivy League's White Division next year while joined by other struggling teams. (Photo by Gene

Helping to boost the fortunes of the 2019 Millburn Millers is its veteran senior class spearheaded by, from left, Shane Sullivan, Griffin Titan and Ryan Koplitz. They are joined by head coach Chris Drechsel (right), who begins fourth season at helm of grid program. (Sideline Chatter photo)

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