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North Jersey Super Football Conference President Joe Piro addresses the audience of coaches and sportswriters during the first NJSFC Media Day this past Tuesday night (Aug. 23) at Clifton Football Stadium. The new league kicks off Sept. 2-3 with week Zero and then everyone will be in action in week one Sept. 9-10 as 2016 campaign takes off. (Photos by Gene Nann-nannphoto)
Newark Collegiate, represented by senior standout two-way lineman Kamar Moore and head coach Darrin Davis (right), was an independent program its first two seasons but now welcomes its entry into the new North Jersey Super Football Conference with a full schedule in the loop.
Rutgers first-year coach Chris Ash addresses the coaches assembled for NJSFC's Media Day
Cedar Grove has a first-year head coach in Rob Gogerty (left) and only five seniors, including standout two-way lineman Eric Kriegsman; however, the Panthers welcome the challenges in what will be a rigorous schedule in the new North Jersey Super Football Conference in 2016.
West Side's second-year head man Jerome "Coach Ox" LaDuna (left) and his standout senior fullback-linebacker Trayvon Riley look forward to season in NJSFC American Blue Division.
The senior represenatives for many of the North Jersey Super Football Conference get together on the field inside Clifton Football Stadium on a big evening to unveil many of the personalities among 113 schools that are now part of the new league that has brought together teams from the SEC, HCIAL, NJAC and Big North into a gigantic North Jersey conference starting this fall.
NJSFC Welcomes A Special Guest
CLIFTON- Joe Piro wore a wide smile as the players and coaches who are part of the first-year North Jersey Super Football Conference filtered into historic Clifton Football Stadium Tuesday night for the new loop’s first ‘Media Day,’ which in essence was on a gorgeous early evening featuring a special guest from the state university’s gridiron program.
When apprised of just how fantastic a weather night it was for such an outdoor event with Rutgers first-year coach Chris Ash on his way to speak to the NJSFC’s coaches, the conference’s president couldn’t hold back his enthusiasm in the sun-lit setting.
“We don’t mess around with anything in this new conference, and that includes the weather for a night like this,” said a beaming Piro, whose day job is as athletic director at Nutley. “The formation of this conference has been a lot of hard work by a number of dedicated people and we’re thrilled with the fact that our season openers are right around the corner now.”
With week ‘Zero’ (Sept. 2-3) just about a week away, some teams are already well into their formal pre-season work, including a couple scrimmages already in the bank, which means the intriguing NJSFC is soon to be unveiled.
“I know for a team like us, in just our third year of varsity football, to go from being an independent looking for games to now be in a great, new conference like this is a dream come true for our program,” said Darrin Davis, the head coach at Newark Collegiate, who was on hand for the evening along with many of the 113 coaches with a selected senior standout player. “For us, our division (United Blue) is a great fit and we should have some very competitive games with teams like Hudson Catholic and Morris Catholic.
“The athletic directors and coaches who helped get this new conference off the ground and running have done a terrific job!
For Ash, the new Rutgers Scarlet Knights coach with an impressive background that includes stints with both Urban Meyer at Ohio State and Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, having the opportunity to wish the NJSFC coaches well in their inaugural campaign was something he definitely wanted to be a part of.
“It is an honor and privilege to be here for the start of a new era for New Jersey high school football,” the rookie Rutgers head mentor told the audience of coaches inside Clifton Football Stadium. “You are forming the biggest and one of the best and most competitive conferences in America and it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch you guys compete week in and week out.
“It’s really going to be like the Big 10 in high school football out here with energy and excitement and enthusiasm of all the coaches who are hungry to get going with their first game.”
For Newark West Side second-year coach Jerome “Coach Ox” LaDuna, the opportunity to build back his program in the Brick City while competing in an exciting, new division (American-Blue) is truly invigorating as his Roughriders look forward to their early opener at Belleville on Friday night, Sept. 2.
“We feel that the North Jersey Super Football Conference is going to be a tremendous experience for our coaching staff, and especially our kids who are dedicated to being a better football team this season against a very challenging schedule,” said LaDuna, whose West Side squad was 0-9 last fall. “We’re a team looking to improve and play against some of the best teams and we’ll be doing that in our division.”
The Roughriders are joined in the American Blue with week 1 (Sept. 9th) opponent Caldwell along with Lincoln, Mountain Lakes, Whippany Park and Parsippany.
While the powers-that-be in the NJSFC have done their very best to try and put together equitable divisions and schedules across the board, there will be some schools, including a couple of the smaller ones such as Cedar Grove and Glen Ridge, which will have even tougher schedules than they had in the Super Essex Conference.
Cedar Grove, which is in the National Red, will take on the likes of Hanover Park, Hoboken and Verona to start the new season, while Glen Ridge, which is also in the National Red, has a 4-game stretch at mid-season vs. Cedar Grove, Verona, Weequahic and Shabazz followed at the end of the regular campaign with Hoboken.
“It’s a tough schedule, and some people tell me it’s one of the hardest Cedar Grove will ever face, but we look forward to the challenges each week,” said Eric Kriegsman, a senior two-way lineman for first-year coach Rob Gogerty’s young Panthers who have just five seniors on the 40-man roster. “We’re rebuilding, but we still have a lot of good players who are putting their minds to making this a solid season and giving all they have.
“We’re excited about the new conference and I think it’s a great, new frontier in many ways for the players.”
Follow Steve Tober on Twitter @Chattermeister
NJSFC treasurer John Porcelli (right), who is also the retired vice principal in charge of athletics at Montclair High School, gets together with Mounties head coach John Fiore and senior safety Chris McCoy during the first-ever NJSFC Media Day Aug. 23.
Rutgers coach Chris Ash (center) gets together with two of the top North Jersey coaches on hand Tuesday night at Clifton Football Stadium in Wayne Valley's Roger Kotlarz (left) and Seton Hall Prep's Vito Campanile. The Scarlet Knights' new program leader had a chance to address and also meet with a number of coaches in first-year NJSFC.
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