There’s no hiding the fact that the Ferris High School football program has been the most downtrodden Hudson County team for a while now.
In fact, the Bulldogs have been an incredible 5-52 over the last seven seasons. That’s almost too unbelievable for words.
But the Bulldogs have a dedicated, hard-working head coach in Juan Garcia. This is Garcia’s third season as the head coach at his alma mater and the Jersey City firefighter is doing his best to put out the fires involved with his program.
Needless to say, it has not been easy. The Bulldogs have dropped their first two games of the 2019 season to Cliffside Park and Newark Collegiate by a combined score of 93-13.
“Our offseason wasn’t great,” Garcia said. “Our kids played other sports. I thought our senior class would step up. If we want different results, we have to do it all differently. As a senior, you should want to be able to turn things around. It’s a disservice to everyone. Right now, we’re just not used to winning. We need to get a win to get the monkey off our backs.”
So the Bulldogs march on, hoping the seniors see the light and the underclassmen continue to improve.
Leading the way is senior quarterback Cameron Scott (6-1, 190), who started most of the season last year and helped to guide the Bulldogs to their lone win of the season against Marist in the final game of the year.
“He started as a sophomore and was our starter for most of the year last year,” Garcia said. “He has a really great arm. When he’s on, he’s on.”
Senior Esau Jameson (5-8, 160) is a four-year starter at running back.
“He’s the fastest kid on the team,” Garcia said. “He had a 100-yard game against Dickinson last year. He catches the ball real well coming out of the backfield.”
Sophomore Keowon Muldrow (6-0, 180) is the team’s fullback. Muldrow will be able to get the tough yards inside.
The Bulldogs have some talent among their receiving corps with senior Mordecai Gathers (6-1, 165), senior Jamar Best (5-10, 160) and junior Rafael Victoria (5-11, 160).
“Gathers is a good target and has good hands,” Garcia said. “Best is coming off an ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] injury, but he’s recovered well. Victoria has promise.”
The tight end is senior Corlique Reed (5-10, 190), who is probably the team’s best two-way performer.
The Bulldogs’ offensive line is very young and inexperienced.
Only senior tackle Alex Santiago (6-4, 300), a three-year starter, is a returning starter. The other tackle is freshman Zaymir Bordeaux (6-3, 275), who has shown a lot of promise already.
“He’s been around the game,” Garcia said of Bordeaux. “He’s very athletic for his size.”
The guards are senior Jason Burgos (5-10, 270) and junior Nahjiwuan Pearson (5-10, 210) and the center is sophomore Alejandro Perez (5-10, 245).
The defense features a lot of the same personnel.
The defensive ends are Santiago and Bordeaux. The defensive tackles are Burgos and senior Kamar Smith (5-11, 280).
The outside linebackers are Muldrow, junior Ethan Merced (5-10, 190) and freshman Niquan Thompson (5-7, 155).
The middle linebacker and player to watch is Reed.
“He led the team in tackles last year,” Garcia said of Reed.
The cornerbacks are Gathers and senior Italo Nurse (5-10, 170). The safeties are Jameson and Victoria.
The Bulldogs have games against Orange, a 27-0 winner over Snyder last weekend, and Belleville upcoming.
Things will get much better next season when the Bulldogs will be part of the Super Football Conference’s new Ivy League, established for struggling programs to gain a little bit of solidity and for them to be more competitive.
“We’re just trying to get the foundation strong,” Garcia said. “I can’t wait until next year with the Ivy League. I like the idea a lot. We just have to try to stay healthy and teach as much as we can.”
Knowing Garcia, he will teach until he’s blue in the face and his whistle doesn’t work anymore. He’s a good football coach. He needs a chance to build the program and be competitive. Here’s to hoping that the powers-that-be realize that and show some patience with Garcia…
NJ.com and in particular reporter Matthew Stanmyre did a good job putting together the exhaustive list of the Top 99 High School Coaches of all-time. From someone who knows what it’s like to put together a list like that one, it’s never easy.
Despite Bob Hurley being listed as the No. 1 coach of all-time and volleyball queen Maria Nolan, formerly of Secaucus and currently at Immaculate Heart Academy, earning the No. 6 slot, Hudson County was almost totally overlooked.
The late Tony Ferrainolo, the long-time Memorial football and baseball coach who retired as the all-time leader in New Jersey baseball victories, was listed at No. 83.
Just in the sport of football alone, there are some Hudson County legends who were not included in the list. How can that list be compiled without the late Joe Coviello, the legendary Memorial and North Bergen coach? Coviello is the one that so many other coaches emulated and idolized. Leaving Coviello off the list is a travesty.
And what about North Bergen’s Vince Ascolese? The late Ascolese only won 367 games as the heart of the Bruins, capturing seven NJSIAA state sectional titles. Regardless of the recruiting disaster that broke after Ascolese retired, no one can overlook the legacy of greatness that Ascolese produced.
And then there are Ed Stinson and Rich Hansen. Stinson, the long-time Hoboken coach, was the engineer of the greatest streak in New Jersey football history, leading the Redwings to a mark of 67-1 over a six-year span, winning five NJSIAA state titles in that stretch. Hansen has been the architect of the St. Peter’s Prep program, leading the Marauders to four state championships while competing in the toughest bracket in state history. No question, those four football coaches belong on the list.
Let’s face facts. Seven field hockey coaches were on the list. Field hockey? Oh, brother…
Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (2-0). 2. Union City (1-1). 3. North Bergen (1-0). 4. Bayonne (2-0). 5. Lincoln (1-1)…
Hudson Reporter High School Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-1). 2. Union City (4-2). 3. Ferris (3-1). 4. Hudson Catholic (4-1). 5. Hoboken (3-2). – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com