It might have taken seven years, which could seem like an eternity, but Hoboken can once again lay claim to a New Jersey football state championship.
The Red Wings, who once won five NJSIAA state crowns in a span of six years in the 1990s, claimed their second title in this millennium by defeating Roselle Park in impressive fashion, defeating Roselle Park, 39-9, to capture the North Jersey Section 2, Group I title last Friday night at MetLife Stadium.
It was the first state title for Hoboken since 2005 and the eighth in the school’s history, setting a new record for state championships by a Hudson County school.
Even when the Red Wings were dominant, winning three Group III titles in a row from 1994-96 and again in 1998 and 1999, they always had at least one tough game in the playoffs.
That was not the case this year, as the Red Wings steamrolled past Dayton Regional, 54-14, in the opening round, then disposed of Dunellen, 35-0, in the semifinals and finally Roselle Park in the title game.
Carter cemented his place among the all-time great Hoboken football players
The Red Wings, who finished the season 10-2, battled with Roselle Park through a scoreless first quarter, then scored twice in the second quarter to take full command of the game.
The Red Wings drew first blood by scoring a touchdown on a 5-yard pass from Dante Bass to Terrance Perry with Ramly Dassal adding the PAT kick, giving the Red Wings a 7-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter.
Roselle Park (9-3), competing in the state playoffs for the first time since 2001, then marched right down the field to tie the game. Rich Johns capped a long scoring drive with a 6-yard run, tying the game for the final time at 7-7 with 9:36 before halftime.
From that point on, the Red Wings dominated and scored again before the break on another touchdown pass from the talented Bass to senior Rahmein Herron.
Bass hit Herron with a screen pass out of the backfield and the speedy Herron outraced everyone to the goal line, some 90 yards in all.
“I waited for two years to get my chance to shine,” said Bass, who completed 4 of 7 passes for 154 yards and the two touchdowns. “Coach [Taglieri] told me that we were going to have to throw the ball more to win the game and I was going to have to make the plays. I think we did well throwing the ball.”
The Red Wings held a 13-7 lead at intermission, but had to be a little concerned that standout senior running back Donte Carter had only 18 yards on nine carries.
“We knew we had to get Carter going,” Taglieri said. “He was the key to the game. How well Carter goes is how well we go.”
In the second half, Carter certainly went.
After Roselle Park drew to within 13-9 on a safety, when a snapped punt sailed out of the end zone, Carter got going with an electrifying 81-yard punt return, pushing the lead to 20-9. Carter then gave the Red Wings some breathing room with a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter, pushing the lead to 27-9.
The Red Wings then put the game away with a 41-yard run from Herron and a dazzling 94-yard touchdown dance from Carter, who finished his Hoboken career in fine fashion.
After having just 18 yards over the first two quarters, Carter finished the game with 214 yards on 17 carries and two touchdowns, along with the 81-yard punt return for a score.
Carter cemented his place among the all-time great Hoboken football players and running backs with his performances in the state playoffs, compiling more than 700 yards in total offense and scoring 11 touchdowns in the three victories.
“It’s an honor to be considered in the same class with some of those Hoboken greats,” Carter said. “From the first playoff game, I felt like we had the type of team to win this. It really feels good to be able to do so.”
It caps a great finish to a season for a group of kids who had to survive the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Several of the Red Wings were displaced because of the flooding in the mile-square city, while the team’s home facility, JFK Stadium, was damaged by water, along with the weight room and locker room.
“These kids have been through a lot,” Taglieri said. “They deserve this.”
To read more on the Red Wings’ championship run, please read Jim Hague’s Scoreboard column inside these editions.