A.J. Dobson made his mark as an outside linebacker at St. Peter’s Prep, graduating in 2010. A native of Jersey City’s Greenville section, Dobson played college football at Kean University and eventually became a physical education teacher in Newark.
Dobson returned back home to Jersey City to serve as an assistant coach at Snyder under Ray Marshall a few years ago, then had a stint as being an assistant at Shabazz in Newark for two years.
When Matt Gallo mutually decided with athletic director Sean Fallon not to return as head football coach at Snyder for the 2021 season after two seasons, posting a 5-12 record, the 28-year-old Dobson looked at the chance to return home once again and applied for the job.
“I felt like I had some unfinished business at Snyder,” Dobson said after getting named the program’s new head coach last week. “It was a good opportunity for me. Both of my parents graduated from Snyder [Classes of 1983 and 1984]. I’m from Greenville and want to be able to build something stable here at home. We have kids from Greenville playing at every other school in the county other than Snyder. We have to find a way to keep those kids at home.”
Dobson said that he has a good relationship with Fallon, the former head football coach at St. Anthony and Dickinson before becoming an administrator.
“We work well together,” Dobson said. “We both want the same thing, to make Snyder football relevant again.”
Dobson said that he’s excited for the chance to become a head coach at such a young age.
“I want to hit the ground running,” Dobson said. “I want to get to know all the youth football head coaches in Jersey City. I want to open the door and establish relationships. I’ve already been talking to people and we want to be able to keep Greenville kids in Greenville.”
Dobson knows that there’s a huge challenge that comes with taking over a program that has not had a winning season in 31 years and made only one trip to the NJSIAA state playoffs (2016 in North Jersey Section 2, Group III) in all that time.
“I think the challenge is building a sustainable culture,” Dobson said. “We want to build something that people want to be part of, that people are proud of. We want to have a community feeling with our program.”
Dobson was asked if he has reached out to his former head coach Rich Hansen, especially since Hansen has now since retired as the head coach at Grand and Warren, leaving the program to his son Richie.
Maybe the elder Hansen might want to be part of Dobson’s coaching staff?
“I have to call Coach and see if we can work something out,” Dobson said. “Coach Hansen taught me all the basics, all the details of being a successful head coach. I used to watch hours of film to learn all the different schemes. I knew back then that I wanted to be a coach one day. I had an accountability at a young age. I made it my business to learn all about football from him and I became a better young man after playing for him. I hope I can give maybe half of his pre-game speeches that he gave.”
Dobson said that he also learned from former Prep assistant coach Billy Fitzgerald, now the head coach at Seton Hall Prep.
And when he found out that Dobson got the job, Richie Hansen reached out to Dobson to offer congratulations.
“Richie was one of the first ones to congratulate me,” Dobson said. “Those are all guys I could lean on. Richie told me that the door is always open at Prep for me.”
As long as Dobson is smart enough to keep the Marauders off his upcoming schedule. The Tigers will face Tenafly Sept. 10 to open the 2021 season.
“It was always my goal to be a head coach,” Dobson said. “I was always studying and learning the game. I was always texting other coaches. I still have a lot of learning to do, but I’m really excited for this challenge.”
Dobson is still getting to know his new players. It’s not easy having to rely upon Zoom calls…
There’s a brewery located in downtown Jersey City (62 Monitor Street) called 902 Brewing. It is brewing a host of homemade beers with Jersey City themes and names.
Well, last week, it was learned that one of their latest creations is a traditional amber lager that is called “Hurley, Hoops & Hops,” named after the legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley from St. Anthony fame.
It comes in cans complete with maroon and gold colors much like St. Anthony. Apparently, it’s on sale at the 902 Brewing by six-pack and the case.
Although I was once the biggest beer drinker known to man (I kept Heineken in business for almost 40 years), I haven’t been able to enjoy a beer since I had the gastric sleeve surgery more than three years ago.
But we asked two famous Friars, namely former point guard and retired Jersey City deputy police chief Bob Kilduff and Hurley himself, if they approved of the creation. They both gave it a resounding thumb’s up. Personally, I’m extremely jealous…
The Secaucus boys’ basketball team improved to 8-1 with a big win over Harrison, thanks to 35 points from senior guard Jamling Lama, who now has 1,266 career points for the Patriots…
Former Hudson Reporter Athlete of the Week Toriano Munford kept his late season explosion going, scoring 43 points in a win over Ferris and adding 36 points with 12 rebounds and seven steals in a win over Sinai Christian, which played so many local schools this shortened season that it can apply for status with the HCIAL.
Munford also scored the 1,000th point of his career in a loss to Plainfield…
Speaking about 1,000-point scorers, Bayonne’s Eniya Scott scored the 1,000th point of her career last week as well. Scott is only a junior, so she’ll get a chance to expand on that total next season…
Hudson Reporter Boys’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Union City (5-0). 2. St. Peter’s Prep (9-1). 3. Hudson Catholic (8-3). 4. Lincoln (8-4). 5. Secaucus (8-1)…
Hudson Reporter Girls’ High School Basketball Top Five: 1. Hudson Catholic (11-3) 2. Secaucus (11-0). 3. Union City (6-1). 4. Lincoln (9-2). 5. Snyder (7-5). – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com