Ed Somick said that when he took over the head football coaching position at his alma mater North Bergen High School this season, he simply wanted to accomplish one thing.
Somick wanted to flip open the scrapbooks and take a journey back in time, back to when he was a player for the Bruins and North Bergen was known for one thing – running the football.
No need for any razzle dazzle, high-paced aerial attacks and hurling the pigskin all over the field. Nope, Somick wanted to install an offense that North Bergen almost became synonymous with, running the Delaware Wing-T offense under legendary coaches like the late great Joe Coviello and more recently, the late great Vince Ascolese.
“I didn’t see the reason to get too flashy,” Somick said. “Because it becomes too difficult on the players. I just wanted us to play mistake-free football and try to let the kids win the game. They would say that we won, we did it. I wanted us to be stronger and tougher than our opponents. It was a little difference in philosophy over the last few years, but I wanted to play old school football, old North Bergen style of football.”
Somick said that bringing back the Wing-T was welcomed with open arms by everyone involved with the program.
“I’m sure that the team and the other coaches felt the same way,” Somick said. “It was something we all agreed about. We all grew up with the same mentality, running the ball, chew up the clock. Why try to re-invent ourselves? I can only teach what I know and that’s the way I was taught by Coach Ascolese. He taught us that and preached it and that’s what I wanted to go with.”
Three weeks into the new era of Bruin football and this throw back to the future is looking pretty solid right now. The Bruins are 3-0 with three impressive victories over Bayonne, Hackensack and a 21-0 shutout of Bloomfield last weekend.
Get this: North Bergen had not defeated Hackensack since 1992. There were a lot of memorable showdowns with Hackensack, both in the regular season and especially the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV playoffs over the past 25 years – but not one victory.
It’s safe to say that the new fangled old approach is working quite well for Somick and the Bruins.
It also helps that if you want to run the football, you have the horses to do it with. Last week against Bloomfield, the Bruins ran 53 plays from scrimmage. Well, 48 of those plays were runs from either halfback David Drouet or fullback Michael Santini.
Drouet carried the ball 28 times for 171 yards and scored three touchdowns. Santini, the hero of the overtime win over Hackensack, had 20 carries for 127 yards.
It also helps that Drouet and Santini are the best of friends and take turns blocking for each other.
“David and Mike are both very special players,” Somick said. “They’ve been to my house a lot for dinners and birthday parties. I think their relationship has spread to the others. They’re very tight and that’s a major component to this team. They have a special bond and it’s now grown to the entire team. It’s one team and one dream with everyone. They all hang out together and I believe that’s what makes this team click. They don’t mind doing things for others.”
Somick said that he told Drouet that his role would dramatically increase this season. Drouet has responded with 458 yards and seven touchdowns in the three Bruin victories.
“He knew that he was going to be the guy,” Somick said.
It’s a little early to give him the nickname of “The Great Santini,” but the grandson of Coach Ascolese has scored two touchdowns and given the Bruins a powerful 1-2 punch in the backfield.
“Mike knows he’s going to get the ball as well,” Somick said. “It’s a good thing to have.”
Somick has also been gradually working fellow back Sebastian Herrera into the mix. Herrera hurt his ankle in the season opener against Bayonne and hasn’t fully recovered yet.
The good news for Somick is that all three backs are only juniors, so they’ll be back causing havoc again next season.
“They’ve all played for me before,” said Somick, who was a long-time coach in the famed North Bergen Pop Warner youth football league. “They’re always with me. The expectations here in North Bergen are not to lose and we’re trying to fill them all with a lot of winning.”
So far, so good for the new coach and his old way of thinking…
When the local cross country season began a few weeks ago, veteran St. Dominic Academy head coach John Nagel noticed something different about his team. Simply put, it was very crowded around Blue Devil practices with 31 girls on the team.
“I don’t remember even having 20,” Nagel said. “This is not a conventional team. There’s almost a whole new cast of characters that are going to grow into key veterans before too long. They gave us the best summer I can remember.”
Nagel is excited – and he has four talented freshmen who have yet to run in a varsity race yet.
Seniors Jessica Wisowaty and Nicolette Racz have shown incredible improvement over last season. Wisowaty has improved by six minutes. She finished ninth at the Hudson County Track Coaches Association championships last year. Racz has cut seven minutes off her times and is improving every time she runs.
Junior Isabel DeMari didn’t run a single cross country event last year with an ankle injury, but she’s back and healthy this season. Maya Barnes is another junior who is small in size, but big in heart. Andrea Tlacuilo is another junior who pumped out a time of 21:40 last week at the Bernie Magee Invitational at Greystone Park in Parsippany. Megan Van Alystyne is another junior who has made major strides and finished second in her class at the St. Dominic Invitational in Lincoln Park to start the season two weeks ago.
Sophomore Suhayla Johnson was the top SDA runner last year and is already in top form. Johnson ran a 20:50 at the Bernie Magee, good for eighth overall.
The freshmen really have Nagel excited. Charlotte Hennessey, Kayla Sullivan, Milani Bethel and Caroline O’Donnell are all potentially top runners. Sullivan is the niece of Hall of Famer Liane Sullivan-Rae who was a SDA superstar in her heyday in the late 1980s.
So it looks like promising days are ahead for the Blue Devils this season…
One of the biggest surprises of the young season is the slow start coming from Lincoln, who has suffered losses to Irvington, Mountain Lakes and Whippany Park thus far. The Lions will get to test the Hudson County waters this weekend when they will face undefeated Hoboken.
Because of the Presidents’ Cup taking place at Liberty National Golf Course this weekend, the Lincoln-Hoboken game will be moved to Lincoln Park, as will the Dickinson-Bayonne game on Saturday…
Speaking of the Redwings, new head coach Keeon Walker is off to a 3-0 start. The Redwings defeated Dover last week, thanks to two touchdowns from Amir Goodwin and a 92-yard kickoff return for a score by Nyjon Freeman…
Dickinson is off to a 2-1 start for the Rams’ new coach David Cruz. The Rams defeated Kearny, 34-21 last week thanks to two touchdowns from speedy back Elijah Payton…
Although a lot of people love the new North Jersey Super Football Conference because of the balanced schedules, it’s tough on local teams this weekend as Hudson Catholic is asked to tackle undefeated DePaul and Union City has its hands full with perennial power Montclair…
Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (2-1). 2. North Bergen (3-0). 3. Hoboken (3-0). 4. Union City (2-2). 5. Hudson Catholic (2-1)….
Hudson Reporter High School Soccer Top Five: 1. Union City (5-1). 2. St. Peter’s Prep (6-3). 3. Bayonne (7-2). 4. North Bergen (6-4). 5. Memorial (4-4)…– Jim Hague.
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.