TASTY TIDBITS

Secaucus native Toman signs on with Maine; Bruins blazing hot; hoop and wrestling musings; Top Fives

The Toman family, namely signee Matt (seated center), mom Cheryl and dad Brian and sister Allison (a former two-sport standout at Secaucus) join St. Mary’s head football coach Mike Coyne, Jr. as Matt Toman signed his national letter of intent to attend the University of Maine in the fall.
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The Toman family, namely signee Matt (seated center), mom Cheryl and dad Brian and sister Allison (a former two-sport standout at Secaucus) join St. Mary’s head football coach Mike Coyne, Jr. as Matt Toman signed his national letter of intent to attend the University of Maine in the fall.

When Secaucus native Matt Toman transferred two years ago from Secaucus High School to nearby St. Mary’s of Rutherford, the talented quarterback was basically making the move to better enhance his value with prospective college recruiters.

After all, Toman had the makings of being a solid college signal caller, especially having the size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and arm strength that colleges flock to.

“I’ve been training for two years straight,” Toman said. “I just needed the right fit.”

Some schools, like Rutgers, wanted Toman, but only if he would consider a position move to tight end. But that wasn’t happening.

“My main priority was playing quarterback in college,” Toman said. “I kept saying to myself, ‘Do I really want to play tight end?’ I knew that I wanted to stick with being a quarterback. It’s what I had the experience in and it’s what I’ve worked for.”

Toman realized that he lost a good portion of his junior year of football because he had to sit out the necessary 30 days mandated by the NJSIAA for all transfer student/athletes, unless there is an address change.

“I believe the transfer hurt me a little bit,” Toman said. “Some schools said that I needed another year. But the way I was performing, I thought I was in a good situation.”

Toman had a fine senior campaign for the Gaels, leading St. Mary’s to the NJSIAA state playoffs. But there wasn’t a lot of college scholarship interest.

“It was a frustrating process,” said St. Mary’s head coach Mike Coyne, Jr., a native of Hudson County. “A lot of colleges said that his senior year film was irrelevant, that he needed more film from his junior year, which he simply didn’t have. Matt had a great senior year for us, but most colleges know what they already want by now. I doubt they even looked at his size or his arm strength.”

Toman also spent countless hours working with Hudson County’s resident quarterback guru, namely Union City assistant coach Lamar McKnight, who had a great high school career at Lincoln and college career at Adams State in Colorado. McKnight has a bevy of quarterbacks throughout the area that attend the Lamar McKnight Quarterback Academy.

“I think working with Lamar really helped him a lot,” Coyne said. “And I think Matt made me a better coach.”

However, there was one school that showed considerable interest in Toman, namely the University of Maine.

“I met the recruiter [Maine offensive coordinator Andrew Dresner] and he said, ‘If you’re doing a workout with the kid, I’ll come by,’” Coyne said.

Toman then threw for Dresner and the eyes went open wide.

“He said, ‘Where did this kid come from?’” Coyne said. “He said, ‘I didn’t expect this.’ Matt seemed so unfazed by it all. He kept his head, kept his cool and kept getting better and better.”

Incredibly, Toman suffered a dislocated finger on his throwing hand while playing defensive end, but still managed to throw well enough to impress Dresner, who offered Toman a scholarship.

Toman recently visited the school, located in Orono, Maine.

“It was a great experience,” Toman said. “It’s peaceful up there. I connected right away with the guys up there. It was a great fit.”

Last week, Toman signed his national letter of intent to play football at the University of Maine in the fall.

“It’s pretty crazy,” Toman said. “Coming into high school, my dream was to play college baseball. I was a baseball player first. But after my freshman year, my dreams changed and I wanted to play football in college.”

Coyne was overjoyed that Toman selected Maine.

“I’m wearing my University of Maine T-shirt today,” Coyne said. “We’re tremendously happy. Nothing comes easy. All the credit goes to Matt. He waited it out. He’s a great young man. This is also about the St. Mary’s program. It’s been a while since we had one [a scholarship football player]. It used to be where we would have at least one every year. It’s important to tell everyone we’re still here.”

Toman, who may study sports management at Maine, knows that he may be asked to redshirt his freshman year.

“That’s fine,” Toman said. “It will give me more time to learn the playbook. I just know I wanted to stick to being a quarterback.”…

Speaking of football commitments, St. Peter’s Prep speedy receiver Jelani Mason signed his letter with Merrimack College, which means that seven members of Prep’s state championship team from last fall have made commitments to play football in college, led by Cody Simon, who is headed to Ohio State…

On the boys’ basketball front, there’s no hotter team around right now than the Bruins of North Bergen, who have won 10 of their last 11 games to improve to 14-5. Coach Kevin Bianco has the Bruins running on all cylinders right now. Included in that streak is a huge 55-52 victory over Hudson Catholic. In the Bruins’ last win, an 84-50 thrashing of Kearny, Eli Camacho had 23 points, including six 3-pointers, and DeAvion Ellis had 19.

Camacho is the son of the former Marist standout of the 1990s from Guttenberg with the same name…

While St. Peter’s Prep is the class of the county these days, posting an 18-2 record, there’s a serious logjam of other teams in the hunt for the Hudson County Tournament. Teams like Hudson Catholic (15-6), Marist (17-4), Snyder (16-4), Memorial (15-6), Lincoln (13-5), Secaucus (13-4) and aforementioned North Bergen at 14-5 are all right in the same heartbeat of each other…

On the girls’ side, Hudson Catholic has to be the clear cut favorite, especially after defeating closest rival Bayonne for the second time this season, a 61-51 win over the Bees last week. In the game, Hawks’ sensational sophomore point guard Zanai Jones scored 22 points and dished off for seven assists. The Hawks are on path for their second straight Hudson County Tournament title…

Kudos to St. Peter’s Prep’s wrestling team, for winning their 12th straight Hudson County Duals championship last week, defeating Hoboken, North Bergen and Kearny in convincing fashion. The Marauders were one of three local teams to qualify for the NJSIAA team state sectionals, with North Bergen (North Jersey Section 1, Group 5) and Secaucus (North Jersey Section 2, Group I) the others. Secaucus actually won its first round matchup, knocking off Hasbrouck Heights, 45-33, before running into the wrestling buzz saw known as Delaware Valley. Still, it was a solid performance from the local schools…

Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (18-2). 2. Hudson Catholic (15-6). 3. Snyder (16-4). 4. Marist (17-4). 5. North Bergen (14-5)…

Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (19-2) 2. Bayonne (19-3). 3. Marist (15-4) 4. Secaucus (17-2). 5. Lincoln (13-4). – Jim Hague

Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com