It was definitely a year to remember.
Here's a closer look at the Hudson Reporter's Top 10 Sports Stories for 2007.
1. Emerson faces Union Hill in football for final time
For 89 years of Thanksgiving Day memories, Union City's two high schools, namely Emerson and Union Hill, met on the gridiron in one of New Jersey's longest-standing rivalries, dating all the way back to 1919.
And throughout that time, there was never a dominant team. Emerson would win one year, Union Hill the next. In fact, the standing series stood at Emerson 40, Union Hill 39 and nine ties entering the final showdown on Thanksgiving.
Administrators decided a few years ago to merge the two schools into one Union City High School, which is slated to open in September, 2008. So it meant that the 2007 Thanksgiving Day game between the two Union City rivals would be the last, called the "End of an Era."
Sure enough, it was fitting that Union Hill won the game, 20-8, to end the nine-decade long series in a dead draw, 40-40-9.
It was a day of nostalgia and remembrance, but it was also a sad day, because it meant another piece of history and tradition was going by the wayside. And the end of the Emerson-Union Hill football series tops the list of local sports stories for the year.
2. Hurley becomes finalist for Basketball Hall of Fame, wins 900th, all-time state leader
It was a year to remember for St. Anthony's resident basketball legend, Bob Hurley, who was named as a finalist for the National Basketball Hall of Fame with a host of other prestigious basketball people, and was among 15 candidates under consideration for induction.
While Hurley didn't make the final cut for induction, he did manage to reach an impressive milestone on the coaching sidelines. His fabulous Friars won the 900th game of his historic coaching career, and in the process, Hurley became New Jersey's all-time leader in coaching victories.
The only thing missing from the year to remember for the legendary coach was another state title, but perhaps he can add his 24th state championship in 2008.
3. Borowski leads Indians past Yankees in playoffs
Bayonne's native son Joe Borowski had a year to remember. The former Marist High School two-sport standout was the closer for the Cleveland Indians in 2007, leading the team to the American League Central Division title by collecting a league-best 46 saves, the top total in his career.
Then, for good measure, Borowski helped the Indians to advance in the AL playoffs by defeating the New York Yankees, three games to one, knocking off the team that Borowski loved as a youngster and once pitched for.
While the Indians ended up losing the AL Championship Series to the eventual World Champion Boston Red Sox, it was definitely a great year for Hudson County's best baseball player. Borowski has already been re-signed by the Indians for the 2008 season.
4. Six St. Anthony hoop players sign college letters
It was a collection of college basketball talent never before seen anywhere. Six members of the current St. Anthony High School basketball team all signed national letters of intent to attend major Division I colleges on the very same day. Mike Rosario (Rutgers), Tyshawn Taylor (Marquette), Travon Woodall (Pittsburgh), A.J. Rogers (St. Joseph's University) and Jio Fontan and Alberto Estwick (both Fordham) put their respective John Hancocks on scholarship letters on the same November afternoon. Never had one school anywhere in the country signed six basketball players on the same day.
5. St. Peter's Prep loses in state grid final again
For the second straight season, the Marauders of St. Peter's Prep enjoyed a brilliant football season for 11 weeks. They rolled through the HCIAA National Conference with ease, winning the league title for a record-setting eighth straight season. They extended their HCIAA winning streak to a remarkable 71 straight games. They won both of their first two NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 playoff games against Camden Catholic and Bergen Catholic in convincing fashion, setting up yet another showdown with nemesis Don Bosco Prep in Giants Stadium for the state crown and overall No. 1 ranking in the state.
However, the Marauders met similar fate when getting to the state final, as DBP rolled to a 41-14 victory in the title game, almost matching the 41-0 victory DBP earned in the 2006 state final. But thanks to local and state Player of the Year Will Hill, the Marauders had another year to remember.
6. Njoku ends brilliant track career, three Group I titles, second in Meet of Champions both McNair boys and girls win outdoor state sectional crowns
McNair Academic was blessed to have the talents of Leslie Njoku on the school's track team for four seasons, culminating in her final outdoor season last spring. Njoku, who would be named as one of the two Hudson Reporter Female Athletes of the Year, went out with a blaze of glory, winning three more NJSIAA Group I state titles and then finishing second in the NJSIAA Meet of Champions in her final New Jersey track meet before heading on to Georgia Tech. Njoku blazed a path of excellence never before seen in Hudson County track annals, and she guided her teammates to win the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I state title for both the boys' and girls' teams, which had not been done in the school's history and hadn't been done in Hudson County. It will be a long time before the area witnesses someone as talented as Njoku.
7. St. Peter's College drops football, this time for good
St. Peter's College pulled a stunner in late May when the school announced that it was discontinuing its football program once again. It had pulled the plug on football twice before in the 1980s, but this time, the decision was final. It marked the end of an era, as Jersey City was without a college football team since the 1960s. New Jersey City University had halted its football operations in 2003.
8. Hoboken softball team wins state sectional title; first in Hudson in 20 years
Hudson County had not crowned an NJSIAA state sectional softball champion since North Bergen won the North Jersey Section 1, Group IV title in 1987. There had been a couple of close calls, but year after year, Hudson County was shut out. However, in 2007, the area was guaranteed a state champion, when Hoboken squared off against Secaucus for the North Jersey Section 2, Group I title. In the end, Hoboken's Raquel Roder out dueled Secaucus' Samantha Schlemm and won the epic 14-inning battle to earn the school's first-ever softball state crown and the first in Hudson County in two decades.
9. Hoboken baseball wins second straight Group I sectional title, goes to Group I title game, loses heartbreaker to Middlesex
The Hoboken baseball team created a little bit of history when the Red Wings captured their second straight NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I title, thanks to the exploits of gutsy pitcher Devon Inhulsen and the hitting of the Arocho brothers, Danny and Nate. The Red Wings advanced to the overall Group I state title game and had a big lead against Middlesex and were only two outs away from winning the state crown, when Middlesex mounted a miraculous comeback. Still, two straight sectional titles after the school hadn't won one in a decade is an impressive feat nonetheless.
10. North Bergen wins third HCIAA girls hoops title in four years; Jimenez to JMU
The North Bergen girls' basketball program put the finishing pieces on a local dynasty by capturing its third HCIAA Coviello title in the last four years, a time period that can best be described as the Lauren Jimenez era. The All-State center capped her brilliant career at North Bergen by becoming the school's all-time leading scorer, winning the three county titles and securing a scholarship to James Madison University. Jimenez was named The Hudson Reporter's Player of the Year for the third time in her career.
There were other events that were certainly newsworthy, but just missed our year-end list.
Jersey City native Brandon McGowan made it to the Super Bowl with the Chicago Bears, but did not play due to injury. Hudson County Sports Hall of Famers Randy Chave and Paul Venti died, with Venti's passing coming just three weeks prior to his induction. Jeff Stabile, the most successful girls' basketball coach in the history of Hudson County, spending two decades at Bayonne High, retired. CREATE Charter, in only its fourth year of operation, won the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group I boys' basketball title.
After playing second fiddle to the school's renowned boys' basketball program, the St. Anthony girls' team captured its first state sectional crown in 25 years. North Bergen talented wrestler Bobby Dabal finished third in the state at 125 pounds, the best finish by a Bruin wrestler in a decade.
Stevens Tech's men's basketball team qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament for the first time ever and went all the way to the Sweet 16. Lincoln won the HCIAA Coviello boys' basketball title for the first time since 1980.
In the spring, rookie head coach Danny Suarez led Hudson Catholic to the HCIAA Coviello baseball championship. Suarez was hired as head coach just three weeks before the start of the season. North Bergen pitcher Damien Seguen was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in the 46th round.
In the fall, St. Peter's Prep quarterback Will Hill committed to the University of Florida. Jersey City legend Rich Glover, the former Outland and Lombardi Trophy winner while earning All-America status at the University of Nebraska, returned home to become the head football coach at Dickinson. Snyder dropped football, then brought it back when parents and kids complained, but then had an 0-10 season. Hoboken High product Duval Kamara made his presence felt immediately as a freshman wide receiver at Notre Dame.
Weehawken cut the ribbon on a new, state-of-the-art athletic facility along the waterfront, becoming perhaps the most picturesque facility in the state, with the backdrop of the Manhattan skyline. The Secaucus football team won its second straight BCSL National Division title. Hudson Catholic won its first HCIAA football title in 30 years by winning the HCIAA American Conference and also captured the school's first-ever NJSIAA playoff victory. Memorial won its second straight HCIAA soccer title. - Jim Hague