St. Anthony football moves forward with new coach Gallo

At the end of the 2014 high school football season, Ed Stinson resigned as the head coach at St. Anthony, ending a two-year stint at the school — better known for basketball — for the legendary Hall of Fame grid coach.
Who better to replace Stinson than one of his former players?
Matt Gallo, a Hoboken native who played for Stinson for the Red Wings (check Tasty Tidbits for the latest bit about that nickname), was hired as Stinson’s replacement as head coach of the Friars.
Gallo, a former assistant at St. Anthony under Sean Fallon, spent the last two seasons as the head coach at Harrison High School.
When Stinson stepped down, it didn’t take long for Gallo to be in the mix with the Friar football program.
“I knew all the kids already from being an assistant there, so I expected the transition to be seamless,” Gallo said. “I knew many people in the building, so that helped with the transition.”
Gallo also brought his brother Ralph, a standout quarterback for the Red Wings during their state championship run in the late 1990s, as an assistant coach.
“We also brought in 20 freshmen into the program, getting more kids involved,” Gallo said. “We now have 40 kids in the program. We’ve been highly successful building the team’s personnel.”
Gallo said that the mood in practices have been good.
“We have made football a lot of fun,” Gallo said. “We want them to have fun while learning the game of football. Then they can toe the line and know what’s expected of them. We are taking a no-nonsense approach. We want them to have 100 percent accountability both on and off the field. We want to produce high level student-athletes on and off the field. We want to prepare them for the rigors of the real world when it comes to accountability and responsibility.”
Although the Friars lost to St. Luke’s of Connecticut 41-35 in the season opener last week, there is a lot of promise in the team, especially in the skilled positions.
Senior Jamir Carson (6-0, 175) is the quarterback. Carson had a fine day in the first game of the season, completing 15-of-26 passes for 190 yards and a touchdown.
“He’s really a dynamic athlete,” Gallo said of Carson. “He’s highly intelligent and highly skillful. He played his freshman football at Hoboken, so he knows a lot about the [Delaware] Wing-T [offense] already. Because of that, he’s already ahead of the game.”
Khalil Vance (5-6, 200) was the Friars’ leading rusher in the season-opening setback. Vance rushed for 150 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown last week.
“He’s a strong kid,” Gallo said. “He’s like a bowling ball when he runs.”
Jahlil Reynolds (6-1, 210) is another running back for the Friars with good size and speed.
“He’s another explosive kid who never played football before this year,” Gallo said. “He came out for the team and with his skills, he stood out. He has a tremendous amount of raw talent.”
Senior Isiah Williams (6-0, 190) is another member of the Friars’ deep backfield. Williams saw some action with the Friars last season.
Sophomore Mark Walker (6-0, 170) is the team’s main wide receiver.
“He’s a basketball player with tremendous leaping ability,” Gallo said of Walker. “He has tremendous hands. We’ve been lucky to have some basketball players who came out for football.”
Sophomore Tyshaun McClain (6-0, 220) is the Friars’ tight end. He also has tremendous potential.
The offensive line features Jermaine Speaks (6-2, 240) and Tahjan Barlow (6-5, 215) at tackle. Speaks’ father, Jermaine, Sr., was a tremendous three-sport star (football, basketball and baseball) athlete at Ferris during his heyday. Barlow is an intimidating factor for the Tigers’ offense
The guards are set with Elijah Chia (5-10, 200) and Fuiton Fuller (6-10, 220) with Fuller returning from last year’s squad that went to the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 1 state title game before falling, ended the longest football ride that St. Anthony football ever enjoyed a year ago.
Defensively, the Friars are playing a 5-0 defensive front.
Barlow and senior Darren Turner (6-0, 200) are the defensive ends, with Speaks and Perkins at defensive tackle.
Freshman Savion Herring (6-4, 260) is the nose guard. Needless to say, the Friars have a lot of size up front.
The linebackers are Vance and senior Shemar Allen (5-11, 170), who also fills in on some of the offensive sets.
Williams and junior Dimarco Veras (6-0, 180) are the cornerbacks, with Reynolds and Williams at the safeties.
Gallo came away with a little disgust after the first loss.
“Any time you give up that many points, there has to be concern about your defense,” Gallo said. “We need to improve our defense. But we’re working hard and we are expecting a good season. We’re moving forward.”
And Gallo has modest goals.
“We want to make the state playoffs and compete for a state championship again,” said Gallo, whose team faces Newark Central this weekend. “I think this team is very resilient and will bounce back nicely after the first loss. They have shown resiliency and that’s a good thing. I think we have an exciting team, a playoff team.”
If that’s the case, then look for the Friars to be part of the newly formatted NJSIAA Non-Public Groups 1 and 2 playoff race. It makes qualifying for the playoffs a little harder and the teams a little tougher, but the Friars, with their new coach leading the way, have a good shot to make it.

Jim Hague can be reached at
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