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***One of the talent-laden teams yearning for 2020 football season is West Side which returns a share of FBS recruits guided by its head coach and motivator Marion Bell!

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***One of Essex County's longest standing summer basketball loops could be another victim of virus. Read more in "Feature Articles"

***One of the more unsung but vital cogs from Montclair's great 1964 football team has now gone to Mounties' own 'Blue Heaven.' Learn much more in "The Buzz"

Montclair's Tour'e Weaver (right) is just one of the Essex County boys soccer coaches hoping to continue to be pointing toward the 2020 fall high school season as warmer temperatures and the sun will hopefully coincide with a lessening of the threat of the spread of caronavirus as players get back out on playing fields. (Photo by Richard Morris/SHP)

Essex Soccer Coaches Preparing As Per Usual
With Hopes Of A 2020 Season On The Horizon

By Steve Tober

Montclair’s Tour’e Weaver likes the fact that his current group of very talented juniors continue to bond with the rest of the underclassmen via Zoom video conferencing workout sessions as the promise is there for a talented Mountie side simply getting set to hit the field for the start of practice in mid-August.

“We’re waiting for the word on what’s next from our school district but at the same time we are preparing like we always do, as if it’s another season on the way,” said Montclair’s fifth-year head coach. “I’m still hopeful we can be out there together in August and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.”

While the news flash in April regarding the sport surrounded the news that U.S. Soccer was ending the operation of its Developmental Academy, the reality appears to be that with Major League Soccer (MLS) beginning its own elite-level youth circuit that not a lot will change for the better high school teams in the Garden State whenever the 2020 season does commence.

“I think it will remain very much the same and a lot will depend on how each individual club team decides to deal with the question of whether or not they want their kids to play high school as well,” said Rob Leather, the Montclair Kimberley Academy head coach and a longtime club coach as well. “We’ve been fortunate the past couple of years in that we’ve been able to work it out that our two or three kids involved with Cedar Stars have been able to play with their MKA team in the fall.

“As far as the high school season is concerned, if you asked me two weeks ago, I may have said, ‘No,’ I don’t think there will be one; however, a lot has changed and there is a lot more positive news coming out and I’m actually hoping that perhaps they can start the season even earlier, condense the pre-season, eliminate most of the scrimmages and out-of-conference games and get in as much as we can while the weather is warm and they say the virus is not as likely to be as dangerous.

“Plus, I’m big on championing the importance for kids to have more normalcy in their lives where it’s possible and sports can be a big part of that if we maintain the safety guidelines.”

Doug Nevins, the veteran West Orange coach, also believes that there will probably not be much of a change as far as many of the elite-level players being involved with the MLS developmental program, although he thinks that trend during the past decade has actually made high school soccer more competitive.

“If you look at the last 10 years, I believe there has actually been more parity in New Jersey high school soccer,” he said. “While I’d like to have those elite-level kids with us, they’ve been exposed to some really good soccer with the Academy teams and we’ve still been able to produce 16 Division I players.

“Meanwhile, instead of just the Kearnys and Scotch Plains of the world dominating on the public school level, you’ve seen recent seasons where teams such as Clifton, Ridgewood, Randolph, Hunterdon Central, Bridgewater-Raritan, Westfield and Montclair have all risen up on the scene, and if you love good competition we’ve had a lot of that.

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