The calendar year of 2012 was a year of crowning champions in Hudson County sports. Several schools and teams grabbed headlines for reaching the pinnacles of their respective sports. Some were familiar winners, and others reached back into their history to claim the top spot.
Let’s take a look at the Top 10 Sports Stories for 2012.
1-St. Anthony caps undefeated season with second straight T of C title
It was another dream season for the fabulous Friars, who won all 32 games they played and culminated their sensational season by capturing their second straight NJSIAA Tournament of Champions title, defeating Plainfield in the IZOD Center in March. The Friars were led by All-American Kyle Anderson, who earned a scholarship to UCLA, and Jerome Frink, who went on to play at Florida International. The Friars ended the season with an astounding 65-game win streak that has carried on into the new season.
2-Hoboken wins North 2, Group I football crown, first since 2005
It used to be a given that Hoboken would play for an NJSIAA state championship every single year, but the Red Wings fell on some tough times in recent years, having not reached a title game since 2008 or won a crown since 2005. But in December, All-State running back Donte Carter and the cast of other speedy Red Wings put an end to the drought, soundly defeating Roselle Park, 39-9, to capture the North Jersey Section 2, Group I state title. It marks the eighth state title in the school’s history, setting a new Hudson County record for state championships won.
3-Hudson Catholic wins Hudson County Tournament boys’ basketball crown, first since 1975
Hudson Catholic had not won a Hudson County boys’ basketball championship since 1975, back to the days of Jim Spanarkel and b>Mike O’Koren, both of whom went on to the NBA. But thanks to the prowess of Georgetown-bound Reggie Cameron and the slick ball handling of Kavon Stewart, the Hawks managed to rid 37 years of demons and defeat four-time defending champion St. Peter’s Prep in the county in February. It’s a remarkable story, considering that just four years ago, there was a plan in place to shut the school down.
4-Marist baseball team wins the NJSIAA Non-Public B crown
In perhaps one of the most amazing turnarounds in recent high school baseball memory, the Marist Royal Knights went from a middle-of-the-pack team to capturing the Hudson County Tournament title. Then, in June, the amazing comeback kids staved off elimination twice and rallied from six runs down in the title game, scoring four in the bottom of the seventh inning to defeat Newark Academy, 11-10, in the NJSIAA Non-Public B state championship game, the school’s first state championship in baseball since 1991. It was a dream run for head coach Ron Hayward, a Marist alumnus, who was named Coach of the Year and was elevated to the role of athletic director as well at the school.
5-North Bergen stripped of NJSIAA Group IV state football title
In an unprecedented move in May, the NJSIAA’s Executive Committee unanimously voted to overturn a decision originally rendered by the association’s Controversies Committee and remove the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state football championship that North Bergen won in thrilling fashion in December of 2011. The Controversies Committee had first ruled that North Bergen would be able to keep the championship it won at MetLife Stadium. They had defeated Montclair, 14-13, on the final play of the game. The original ruling said that the Controversies Committee could find no concrete proof that legendary football coach Vince Ascolese had illegally recruited two players, but the Executive Committee overturned the original ruling and said that North Bergen would not be considered the state champions for that season. The matter is currently under appeal with the state Commissioner of Education.
6-Local products Rodriguez, Hill earn spots on NFL rosters
It had been almost 20 years since two Hudson County products made the NFL at the same time, but it took place again in September of 2012, when North Bergen product Evan Rodriguez became a fourth round draft pick of the Chicago Bears and former St. Peter’s Prep standout Will Hill worked his way onto the roster of the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants as a free agent signee. Both Rodriguez and Hill worked hard to get regular playing time with their respective clubs, although Hill had to sit out a four-game suspension for allegedly using a banned substance (Adderall). However, it appears as if both Rodriguez and Hill will be around the league for many years to come.
7-Hoboken resident Taylor selected by Brooklyn Nets
When the NBA draft took place in June, it was not known whether former St. Anthony and University of Kansas guard Tyshawn Taylor would get selected. But to everyone’s surprise, the Hoboken resident was selected by the local Brooklyn Nets in the second round of the draft and earned a spot on the Nets’ roster, becoming the first of the talented players who won the 2008 National Championship at St. Anthony to reach the pinnacle of professional basketball. Taylor’s playing time has been limited, but he has dressed for most of the Nets’ games thus far this season.
8-Prep’s Richardson wins state wrestling crown
The St. Peter’s Prep wrestling program had never crowned a state champion before 2010, but former Reporter Male Athlete of the Year Kevin Innis came close, losing in overtime in the title bout. A year later, James Fox became the first Marauder wrestler to ever win a state championship, and in March of 2012, Lenny Richardson became the second and only the fourth ever from Hudson County to win a state crown. Richardson won the 145-pound state title in convincing fashion, knocking off three of the top seeds in order to do so.
9-Hurricane Sandy disrupts athletic season, damages Prep, Hoboken facilities
At the end of October, the entire East Coast was ravaged by the power of Hurricane Sandy, destroying many parts of the area. Hudson County was hurt by the effects of the super storm, with the entire athletic schedule being put on hold for over a week, with several postponements and cancellations. The athletic facilities at both St. Peter’s Prep and Hoboken were severely damaged by the massive flooding that enveloped both downtown Jersey City and all of Hoboken.
10-Jackie Robinson Little League RBI wins national championship
In August, a team comprised of local products and representing the Jackie Robinson Little League in Jersey City went to Minneapolis and won the national championship at Major League Baseball’s RBI (Rebuilding Baseball in the Inner-City), with the World Series title game being held in Target Field, the home of the Minnesota Twins. Jersey City has been participating in the RBI program for several years, but this was the first time that the locals won the World Series title.
Just missed list
There were other sports stories that just missed making the year-end Top 10. St. Anthony coach Bob Hurley was inducted into the New Jersey Hall of Fame at the NJPAC Center in June. Jason Pineda of Weehawken and Sybil Lynch of Hoboken were presented with the Hudson Reporter Male and Female Athlete of the Year awards respectively in June. North Bergen hired a football coach named Jimmy Crane in February to replace the retiring Vince Ascolese, then quickly changed their minds a month later. In February, the New York Giants won the Super Bowl and many locals paid visits throughout the county, including Antrel Rolle in Guttenberg, where he resides. In February, the Lincoln High School girls’ basketball team won its first county title since 1981. In June, the Caven Point Athletic Complex was renamed in the honor of the late sportswriter/coach Ed “The Faa” Ford. The North Bergen softball team won the Hudson County Tournament title in May. In November, Marist and Hudson Catholic returned to the NJSIAA football playoffs after some down seasons. The Rutgers University football team had a tremendous season thanks to the exploits of four Hudson County players. In July, former St. Peter’s Prep baseball standout Mike Lang signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. In November, Weehawken capped its best football season in recent memory, thanks to the efforts of all-everything back Damien Corredor, who re-wrote the school’s record books.