When Ed Stinson resigned as the head football coach at Hoboken High School in 2005, it marked the end of an era.
In the 1990s, Hoboken dominated the Hudson County football scene. In that time span, the Red Wings enjoyed two lengthy winning streaks. There was one of 38 games (the second longest in Hudson County history, trailing only Memorial’s win streak of the 1940s), and another of 29 straight games.
It meant that over a six-year period, Hoboken had a record of 67 victories and just one loss.
“We were called ‘The Team of the Decade,’ and I liked that honor,” Stinson said at that time. “That’s just a tribute to the great football players who came out of Hoboken, the coaching staff that had great success and in turn, many of whom became head coaches themselves. We had 20 Division I scholarship players during that time, and I’m very proud of that. We had inner-city kids enjoy tremendous success and went on to college to play football.”
During the decade of the 1990s, no New Jersey high school enjoyed the success that the Red Wings had, winning five NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group III titles over a six-year span (1994, 1995, 1996, then 1998 and 1999).
The Red Wings were named the No. 1 team in New Jersey by the Associated Press in 1995 and earned the No. 1 team in the state from the Newark Star-Ledger in 1996. They finished No. 2 in the state in 1999.
During Stinson’s tenure as head coach, Hoboken captured 14 HCIAA championships, including a record of seven straight at one stretch. He resigned at the time with 224 career victories, which ranked him third on the all-time Hudson County coaching list, trailing only his high school coach, Vince Ascolese (358), who started at the old Demarest High School and was a fixture at North Bergen, and the late Joe Coviello (254), who coached at Memorial and North Bergen.
Stinson, who also had a three-year stint as head coach at Queen of Peace in North Arlington, could have easily walked into the sunset with such an impressive ledger.
But when former colleague Charlie Tortorella, the principal at St. Anthony, called Stinson a few weeks ago and asked of his availability, the 66-year-old Stinson, who coached the last two years as an assistant at Bergen Catholic, had to listen.
“My relationship with Charlie goes back to high school,” said Stinson, who was the vice-principal under Tortorella at Hoboken during most of his coaching tenure. “Charlie ran the idea by me to see what I thought and to be honest, I wasn’t exactly enamored by it.”
Stinson had already told Bergen Catholic that he was not returning as the defensive coordinator there, so he was definitely available.
“I separated from Bergen Catholic in January, so I was actually bored to tears,” Stinson said.
With that, Tortorella offered Stinson the head coaching position at St. Anthony and Stinson agreed to take it.
“His record speaks for itself,” Tortorella said. “It was a no-brainer to surround myself with good people like Eddie Stinson and [St. Anthony athletic director] Buddy Matthews [another Hoboken product].” Eddie is very demanding of himself and of others. Our kids deserve the best and he is going to provide the best opportunity in being there. I’m thrilled and we’re fortunate he was available to do it.”
After Sean Fallon resigned at the end of last season, Fallon’s assistant Tony Rossillo, was elevated to the head coaching spot. But there were many football players who were leaving the school to transfer elsewhere and the entire football program was in jeopardy.
“Absolutely, we were concerned about dropping the program,” Tortorella said. “That’s why we reached out to Eddie.”
“This is not a career move,” Stinson said. “There’s not a lot in it for me. I’m doing it out of the loyalty and friendship to people like Charlie Tortorella and Buddy Matthews. My perspective is that I have an opportunity to contribute to St. Anthony, to the administration, to the school and the football program. It’s a difficult circumstance. The practice field is a mile-and-a-half away from the school. The weight room is in an old storage room. I have trepidations.
Added Stinson, “But after meeting with everyone and talking with the players, it all came back naturally. I’m passionate about it. All the feelings came out. I can’t look at the difficulty of it. It’s crazy, the circumstances and all, but in a sense, it somehow made it all an attraction.”
So now the school has two Hall of Fame coaches. The other, meaning the basketball coach, welcomed the addition of Stinson.
“I think it’s going to help, bringing Eddie’s experience in,” St. Anthony legendary Hall of Fame basketball coach Bob Hurley said. “He’s as good of a local football coach we’ve had in Hudson County. Anyone who has followed football locally knows that Eddie never had huge numbers to deal with, but he always had great teams.”
“Bob Hurley is a legend, not only in Hudson County and New Jersey, but throughout the country and is in the [Naismith] National Basketball Hall of Fame,” Stinson said. “His status is far greater than mine. Why wouldn’t I want the opportunity to work with him?”
Circle this date on the calendar right now: Friday, October 18, when the Stinson takes his Friars and travel to Hoboken and JFK Stadium for a dose of “Friday Night Lights” against the defending state champs, against his former player and assistant Lou Taglieri. Doesn’t that sound appealing? – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.