TASTY TIDBITS 1-17-2010 Rotondi out as Union City grid coachMeeney steps down at Memorial; Prep loses two standout hoop players

After three weeks without Tidbits, there is so much going on in local sports, so it’s time to catch up.
Joe Rotondi was the long-time head football coach at Union Hill before taking over the new and unified Union City grid program when the two schools merged two seasons ago. But he was informed by the Union City Board of Education last week that he would not be rehired for another season and will have to re-apply for his position if he wanted to.
Which means one thing in layman’s terms: Rotondi is out.
Apparently, school officials had thought that the Soaring Eagles would be more competitive than they have been over the two years, considering that the district was merging two programs, namely Emerson and Union Hill, who were winning teams on their own. The officials believed that a unified team would have to be stronger, but that hasn’t been the case, as the Soaring Eagles went 5-5 in 2008 and 3-7 last year.
Rotondi was successful at Union Hill, dealing with a smaller roster. But apparently, the veteran coach had some difficulty handling an expanded roster of approximately 70 players.
Some members of the Board of Education also believed that the head football coach should be bilingual, considering that most of the players on the roster are of Hispanic descent.
However, those who play football are generally Americanized already. They already speak English fluently and are used to American customs and ways. The immigrated students who come to Union City from a Hispanic country directly to high school don’t normally play football, because they don’t learn the sport in their native lands. Those students usually play soccer, baseball or another sport. They’re not football players.
The ones who play football have learned the sport here and have been here for a while, so the dire need for a bilingual coach doesn’t seem essential.
So where does Union City go for a replacement for Rotondi? There are a host of possibilities. Former Hoboken coach Ed Stinson, who recently resigned as the coach at Queen of Peace in North Arlington, could be a candidate. The same can be said for former Hudson Catholic coach and athletic director Rob Stern. Former Emerson head coach Eddie Marinez might deserve consideration. After all, Marinez is still in the Union City district as a vice-principal. Maybe current Ferris head coach Wilbur Valdez might get an interview.
It’s definitely a desirable position, considering that the Soaring Eagles have an assortment of talented players and the numbers will always be there with a Group IV enrollment school.
If the powers-that-be are sticking to their guns to have a bilingual coach, then Marinez and Valdez, both of whom are Hispanic and bilingual, go to the head of the list.
It should be interesting to see what transpires over the next few months…
There is another football coaching vacancy as well. Brian Meeney, who spent the last two seasons as Memorial’s head coach, has decided to step down to pursue coaching opportunities closer to his home in central Jersey. Meeney posted a 10-30 record at Memorial over the last four seasons. It should also be interesting to see who emerges as the top candidate to replace Meeney, but rumor has it that Oscar Guerrero, the current head coach at Kearny and a Memorial alumnus, is among the leading candidates…
St. Peter’s Prep’s basketball team remains one of the top teams in the state, currently ranked No. 4 in both the MSG Network Tri-State poll and the Star-Ledger Top 20.
However, the Marauders’ chances took a severe hit over the holidays. Standout junior guard Myles Davis suffered a concussion that knocked him out of action indefinitely, and talented sophomore forward Dallas Anglin left the squad, apparently wanting to transfer to Seton Hall Prep.
Without Davis and Anglin, the Marauders’ chances of toppling mighty St. Anthony in this weekend’s Dan Finn Classic at the Jersey City Armory have dropped dramatically. It should be interesting to see how the Marauders move on without Davis and Anglin…
Speaking of transfers, former St. Anthony point guard Jio Fontan has left Fordham University’s basketball team and has transferred to the University of Southern California.
Fontan, who was the Atlantic 10 Rookie of the Year last year, averaging 15.8 points per game for Fordham, will become eligible at USC after the first semester next year…
Rumor has it that another former Friar great, Mike Rosario, the leading scorer at Rutgers, is considering transferring out of Piscataway, now that center Greg Echenrique has already left the program…
It’s disturbing to see that there are two Hudson County basketball players with serious criminal charges hanging over their heads still playing for their respective teams. We know the old “innocent until proven guilty” adage, but these two bastions of society should not be permitted to play high school basketball until their charges are either dropped or they have been found not guilty of their crimes.
But with the charges still pending and both men – yes, the proper word here – awaiting trial, they should not allowed to participate in high school athletics. At the last check, high school athletics is still a privilege and not a right. They have a right to be educated, not to play basketball.
Here’s to hoping that the two coaches do the right thing and remove them from their respective rosters, because as it appears now, they can lose with or without these players, both of whom are charged with serious crimes, like armed robbery and assault….
It might have flew under the radar a little last week, but North Bergen’s fine senior forward Noel Allen exploded for 34 points and 15 rebounds in a big win last week against Old Tappan in the Randy Chave Memorial Tournament at Ramapo College. Allen then added 28 in a win over Lincoln. Allen is clearly one of the top all-around performers in the county…
And Dickinson’s Chaquan Scott had a triple-double, scoring 23 points, grabbing 11 rebounds and having 10 assists in the Rams’ win over County Prep. Both Allen and Scott are players to watch…
Secaucus native Janelle Biamonte is enjoying a fine start to the college basketball season at Felician College. The former Marist All-Area standout was named the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Student-Athlete of the Month for December. Biamonte owns a 3.99 GPA at Felician, where she is a senior majoring in elementary education.
Biamonte is currently averaging 15.7 points and eight rebounds per game for Felician, which has a 7-2 record. She is also active with her charity work, where she has volunteered to travel to Nicaragua to offer assistance at orphanages, nursing homes and housing developments…
And former Memorial girls’ basketball player Cynthia Carralero is already making an impact at Alvernia University. Carralero, who was a fine student/athlete at Memorial, graduating among the top students in her class last June, is a reserve point guard at Alvernia…
Former St. Mary’s of Jersey City guard Josh Lopez, now playing for New Jersey City University, had a sizzling second half in a recent win against Lehman College, scoring all 27 of his points after halftime. Three days later, senior guard Lopez had another second-half explosion, scoring 22 of his 27 in a win over Montclair State. Lopez is one of the deadliest shooters in the New Jersey Athletic Conference…
In closing, condolences to the Legregin family of Jersey City, on the passing of Lou Sr., who was a long-time Jersey City employee. Lou Legregin Sr. died Wednesday after a long illness.
Lou Legregin Sr. overcame a serious physical handicap to be a wonderful husband to wife Joan, a loving father of three sons, two of whom, Louie and Rob, became Jersey City firefighters. His third son, Mike, also known by his childhood nickname as “Lum” and a close childhood friend of mine, became a success in the investment industry. Lou Sr. was also a sensational grandfather as well.
But more importantly, Lou Legregin was perhaps the most generous man I’ve ever known. He would give the shirt off his back if he knew someone else needed it. He was continuously helping the less fortunate in the St. Paul’s of Greenville parish. I was amazed with his endless generosity.
When my father died in 1971, the Legregin family graciously opened their doors to me in my time of need, allowing me to stay with them for some of the time while my father was being waked. That generosity has never been forgotten and never will be. Rest in peace, Mr. L. and thanks so much. You were one of a kind. – Jim Hague

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