Hudson County Dolphins’ 8U team places fourth at nationals; Ferris grad Dasher doing well at University of Portland; Romano joins Hudson staff

The Hudson County Dolphins finished fourth at the recent United Youth Football National Championships in Florida in the 8-and-under category. Here are, from left, Kaseem Cheatham, Mason Johnson, Kaijean Covington and David Gilliens
The Hudson County Dolphins finished fourth at the recent United Youth Football National Championships in Florida in the 8-and-under category. Here are, from left, Kaseem Cheatham, Mason Johnson, Kaijean Covington and David Gilliens

Last week, we featured the Hudson County Dolphins’ youth football program that was headed to the United Youth Football League national championships in Plant City, Florida.

This week, we’re pleased to announce that the Dolphins’ 8-and-under team placed fourth in the entire nation, with the MOT Cowboys of Florida winning the week-long event.

The Dolphins won two preliminary games to advance to the semifinals of the tournament, where they lost to the OTM Hurricanes of Florida, then fell to the Albany Seahawks of Georgia in the consolation round for third place.

The Dolphins defeated the Bolingbrook Bucs of Florida, 27-0, and knocked off the Daytona Beach Bulldogs, 12-7, in the next round to advance to the semifinals.

Team organizer Ike Williams said that he was very proud of his team’s efforts.

“The competition there was amazing,” Williams said. “I didn’t expect us to go that far. But the kids played very well.”

Williams said that he was approached by other programs about his team’s depth.

“Everyone kept asking me where was the rest of our team?” Williams said. “I told them that was it. We only had 11 kids.”

So the Dolphins’ 8U squad couldn’t come off the field or couldn’t afford an injury. There was no chance to take a breather or a play off. It was all for one and one for all. Pretty sure that was written once before somewhere.

“Our kids trained for that,” Williams said. “They were battle tested already. People asked if we were playing Ironman football or Gladiator football [two programs that encourage participation for only one team, both offense and defense]. Our kids train to go both ways on their own.”

Williams said that quarterback Evan Jackson had a very good tournament.

“He was unbelievable,” Williams said of Jackson. “You really have to pinch yourself to remember he’s only eight years old.”

Williams was especially pleased with Jackson’s poise in the pocket.

“It was all about his decision making, when to run, when to throw,” Williams said. “He really took over the Bulldogs’ game.”

Mason Johnson was also a key contributor.

“He made about four tackles behind the line of scrimmage,” Williams said. “And the character he showed. He just got on the field and went to work.”

The Dolphins’ 10-and-under team also fared pretty well, winning two games, before losing in the consolation round.

The Dolphins’ 10Us were led by Terrence Williams, Ike’s son, who is a player in his own right.

“He’s a monster on the field,” Ike Williams said. “I just wind him up and let him go.”

The younger Williams had a great week, rushing for six touchdowns. On defense, terrorizing Terrence had 20 tackles.

The team’s quarterback is Javier Smith, who is only nine years old.

“Even though he’s a year younger, a 9-year-old starting on the 10U level, he showed a lot of determination and character,” Williams said of young Smith. “He didn’t give up all week and showed me a lot.”

Ky’sir Burns has earned the nickname of “Touchdown,” and you can guess why.

“He wants to turn every play into a touchdown,” Williams said. “He’s just a good athlete. We can line him up at slot, at wide receiver, at running back. He’s just a special kid.”

And he has the nickname to boot. “Touchdown” Burns has an All-American ring to it — as long as he doesn’t start to excel in basketball.

“We have some of the best young players in the county,” Smith said.

Needless to say, Williams was very proud of his organization, the way they played and the way they behaved in Florida, some going away from home on their own for the very first time.

“We did very well playing for the first time against that level of competition,” Williams said.

And the performance gives Williams and the Dolphins a lot of hope for the future…

The University of Portland is enjoying a 5-1 start to the college basketball season, thanks in part to Jersey City native Isiah Dasher.

The former Ferris High School standout, a 1,000-point scorer at the school and two-time Hudson Reporter All-Area honoree joined the Pilots this season after spending two years at State College of Florida Junior College, where he averaged 15 points per game over two seasons.

This year with the Pilots, Dasher is averaging 10.4 points, four rebounds and four assists per game. Last week, the Pilots earned a huge upset win, taking down Oregon State, 87-86, in overtime, easily the biggest win in the program’s history. In that game, Dasher tossed in 18 points, his best game with the Pilots thus far.

The Pilots are coached by former Portland Trailblazers’ standout guard Terry Porter. Needless to say, Dasher, the son of fellow 1,000-point scorer at Ferris Andre Dasher, is making his mark on the NCAA Division I scene…

Hudson Catholic’s girls basketball team will take the floor for practice shortly and when the Hawks and veteran head coach Pete Vincent head back to the hardwood, they will be greeted by a familiar face in Hudson County basketball ranks.

Former St. Aloysius High School head coach and athletic director Tony Romano, who also had a successful stint as the head coach at Marist, will join Vincent’s staff as an assistant coach.

Romano was an assistant last year to Ben Gamble at Marist, which has since closed. Romano became a teacher at Hudson Catholic this fall, so it made sense for Romano to continue his coaching career where he teaches.

It might be a little different for Romano, coaching girls for the first time, but Romano knows the game of basketball extremely well (working for ages as a clinician at the New York Knicks’ youth camps over the years), so it shouldn’t matter what gender the players are. Tony Romano can teach the game of basketball better than most and he’s precise with his practice plans and scouting abilities. He’s an excellent get for Vincent and will fit right into the program, which should be once again one of the premier squads in the county this season. – Jim Hague

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