After all, Romano, a veteran assistant grid coach at several different high schools in New Jersey, had never been a head coach before. And he was inheriting a program that had won all of three games - all against the same beleaguered school, Sacred Heart of New York - over the course of the prior three seasons. It really appeared to be a recipe for disaster.
But Romano was determined to prove that he could turn the Blue Jays into a competitive squad. The first obstacle was changing the thought process, the mentality of the players, who were almost programmed to be losers.
"Actually, when we started working out and having practices, they already looked like a beaten bunch," Romano said. "The attitude had to change. They had to believe they could win before they could do anything. I think the kids began to buy into what we were trying to sell them, that they could win, that they could be competitive."
It took some time before the Blue Jays began to believe they could win. After all, when you don't win for so long, it's hard to believe such an idea was possible.
But a win against Morris Catholic in the season opener led to a win over Sacred Heart - who else? - in Week Two. Suddenly, the Blue Jays were 2-0. After a loss to Marist, the Blue Jays then rebounded with a solid 26-14 win over Bound Brook last week.
Yes, these Blue Jays have three wins in September after having only three wins over the last three years. It's beyond remarkable. It's bordering on the miraculous.
Even Romano can't believe it.
"I think I dreamed about it, but I didn't think it was a reality," Romano said. "At best, I hoped we could be 2-2. Having a 3-1 record at this point is incredible."
Romano credited his team's defensive effort for the startling start.
"The defense has been the key," Romano said. "We haven't given up 100 yards rushing to one team yet and we're surrendering just 9.7 points per game."
Even the loss to Marist featured solid defense.
"The game was 0-0 with five minutes left before they scored," Romano said. "We held their big back (James St. Germaine) to only 14 yards. The defense is what keeps you in the game."
It also helps to have some talent and the Blue Jays are blessed to have talented junior Yessy Tejada in the fold. It seems like ages since Tejada was embroiled in the middle of a recruiting/transfer controversy, when he suddenly left Weehawken and enrolled at St. Joseph, much to the chagrin of the Weehawken hierarchy, which filed recruiting charges with the NJSIAA.
Now, Tejada is settled into his role with the Blue Jays and he's rapidly becoming a force to be reckoned with. "The coach at Bound Brook (Bob Cacchio) told me that Yessy was the best player he's seen in five years," Romano said. "He's the real deal."
Romano said that Tejada is being asked to play a little bit of everything for the Blue Jays.
"He's playing the Mike middle linebacker on defense and he's averaging 18 tackles per game," Romano said. "He plays wide receiver on offense and then moves back to play running back. He's our long snapper on punts and placekicks. The kid never comes off the field. I think he runs about 5,000 yards during the course of the game."
In the win over Bound Brook, Tejada had 133 yards on 12 carries and two touchdowns. He also had an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and was his typical nuisance on defense, collecting 14 tackles.
"I knew that Yessy was going to be good offensively," Romano said. "I had no idea how good he would be on defense."
Quarterback Mike Cafiero has also been a steady force for the Blue Jays.
"I think Mike has been one of the better quarterbacks around," Romano said. "He's only a junior, but he's about as mistake free as you can find at that position."
Cafiero completed four passes for 83 yards and a touchdown offensively, while adding an interception on defense, securing the big win over Bound Brook.
Romano also received solid contributions from Misul Lopez and Chris Soto on offense, while Danny Marte, Minh Tran and John Gephardt all had strong games defensively for the victorious Blue Jays.
And with the victory, the Blue Jays actually sit in third place in the NJSIAA Parochial (Non-Public) Group 1 power point standings, behind Paterson Catholic and St. Mary's of Rutherford. Yes, if the season ended today, the Blue Jays would be participating in the state playoffs. It's surely shaping up like the Miracle of St. Joseph.
"We're not there yet, but if we get to five wins, we feel we'll be in the playoffs," Romano said. "That's unbelievable. But without a doubt, these kids now believe that they can win every game they go into. That's the first battle. It's been won. They believe. The practices have been fantastic. When they get out of school, they can't wait to go to practice. They're ready and raring to go."
Romano said that he has been enthused by the entire attitude of the school, supporting the Blue Jays and their early season success.
"The attitude has been tremendous," Romano said. "Everyone's into it. The players are proud to wear their football jerseys in school. It's really been fantastic."
There was a time when football success was a given thing, a natural at St. Joseph, a school where legendary football names like Gargiulo, Liggio, Couch, Bellotti, Seglio, Tanner, Maarleveld, Napoleon and Minervini all became household names in West New York.
Now, Steve Romano is trying to wake up the echoes and stir up the tradition. Winning three games is a good start.
"I think it tells me that we're on the right track," Romano said. "We're not there yet. We're not even close to those glory days. But we'll get there some day. I can feel it."
Winning can sure cure a lot of ills, can't it?