Heart of a Champion
Hudson Catholic off to 2-0 grid start; same for Lincoln
Sep 23, 2012 | 4643 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A TRUE CHAMPION – Hudson Catholic senior running back Champion Smith has helped his team get off to a 2-0 start this season, after rushing for more than 200 yards in the Hawks’ win over Bergen Tech last weekend.
A TRUE CHAMPION – Hudson Catholic senior running back Champion Smith has helped his team get off to a 2-0 start this season, after rushing for more than 200 yards in the Hawks’ win over Bergen Tech last weekend.

Hudson Catholic didn’t have a new football coach until July, the program’s fifth head coach in five years. The Hawks didn’t have a true offseason training regimen and things were in the state of flux.

But the school administration brought in an alumnus in Lou Zampella to be the new head coach and so far, the early results are positive.

The Hawks are 2-0 under the tutelage of the Hoboken native and town firefighter.

“I’m a little surprised with the record,” said Zampella, whose team has defeated Newark Academy and Bergen Tech in the first two games this season. “I’m happy with their hard work. It’s paid off. The kids wanted to win and put the work and time in. It’s gratifying to see them get rewarded for their hard work.”

One of the major stars in the win over Bergen Tech was senior running back Champion Smith, which is such a great name for an athlete.

Smith had a sensational all-around game in the victory. He rushed for 201 yards on 18 carries and scored a touchdown. He also returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and made 11 tackles on defense.

“I’m very happy that Champion had a good second game, a good bounce back game for him,” Zampella said. “He’s done everything we ask of him and more. We also had others step up and that definitely helps.”

The Hawks now get to face a local foe, when they take on St. Anthony this weekend. The Friars are also 2-0 after wins over Glen Ridge and Belleville…

Another team off to a somewhat surprising start is Lincoln, which has also exploded out of the gate to a 2-0 record with wins over a perennially strong Group IV school in Livingston and then Dover.

The Lions lost most of their skilled position players from last year to graduation, but they have not missed a beat, much to the delight of head coach Robert Hampton, still recovering from recent Achilles tendon surgery.

“We had a good win against Livingston,” Hampton said. “I thought we matched up well against Dover. I don’t know if I could have expected 2-0. I was thinking 1-1, so being 2-0 is a blessing.”

Hampton made a basketball reference in talking about his team.

“You know, the Boston Celtics’ great teams weren’t all about Hall of Famers like Larry Bird and Kevin McHale,” Hampton said. “But those teams had a bunch of role players like M.L. Carr, Gerald Henderson and Cedric Maxwell. That’s what we have on this team. We have a bunch of good role players.

Added Hampton, “We’ve had kids like Tarik Darby, Darious Wade, Eli Terry and Devell Jones [191 yards and two touchdowns against Lincoln] who have stepped in and played well for us in the skilled position. Getting that kind of production is nothing to sneeze at.”

Not to mention that quarterback Isiah Roberts has passed for more than 110 yards in each win and already has three touchdown passes, two to Steven Jones.

“All the role players have come in and done a great job,” Hampton said. “They’re already battle tested. I think we were all extremely angry we didn’t make the playoffs last year. This team is now built to make the playoffs. It’s very well built and put together. They understand the mission. Winning definitely makes my foot feel better. It makes the whole program feel better.” …

There were other great individual performances last week, like Travis Laurie of Ferris, who rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns, and Jonathan Hilliman of St. Peter’s Prep, who had 204 yards and three touchdowns in just three carries in a 77-7 Prep win over Memorial. Say what? Is that score right? No team should beat another by that much of a lopsided score on any level. If that’s not proof that Prep belongs in a different league, playing tougher competition, then nothing is….

Sybil Lynch, last year’s Hudson Reporter Female Athlete of the Year, is off to a roaring start in college. Lynch, the former Hoboken three-sport standout, is now playing collegiate soccer at Pine Manor College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.

Last week, Lynch was named as the Great South Athletic Conference Women’s Soccer Player of the Week, after scoring three goals in Pine Manor’s win over Daniel Webster. They were the first three goals of Lynch’s career. She now has four goals in six games….

While the high school football season was kicking off with the litany of previews, the high school soccer season opened as well. While defending county champion St. Peter’s Prep appears strong again, the surprise of the early season has been Union City, which has posted a 5-1-1 record thus far.

One of the major reasons for the Soaring Eagles’ early success has been forward Mateo Restrepo, who has already scored eight goals in Union City’s six games….

St. Anthony basketball prospects Josh Brown (Temple) and Hallice Cooke (Oregon State) gave their respective verbal commitments over the last few weeks. Brown originally committed to Temple, then went back into the recruiting game, only to decide he wanted to go to Temple anyway. Cooke will head to Oregon State, where Craig Robinson is the head coach. Robinson just happens to be the brother-in-law to President Barack Obama

Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (2-0). 2. Union City (1-1). 3. Lincoln (2-0). 4. St. Anthony (2-0). 5. Secaucus (2-0)…

Hudson Reporter H.S. Soccer Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-1). 2. Union City (5-1-1). 3. Memorial (3-1-1). 4. North Bergen (1-4). 5. Dickinson (1-3)… -- Jim Hague.

Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.

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