The Hoboken High School Redwings Football Team won their 10th NJSIAA State Championship on Saturday, Dec. 5. The Redwings defeated Brearley 34-12 to win the Group I North II Championship. The team, led by Coach Lou Taglieri and his staff, will be honored in a parade down Washington Street on Wednesday, Dec. 23. The parade will begin at the Elks at 10th and Washington Streets at 1 p.m. and will conclude at City Hall at 94 Washington St.
Led by a dominating rushing attack that compiled almost 350 yards on the ground and a stifling defense, the Hoboken High School team claimed victory at Kean University.
The Redwings received 177 yards and two touchdowns from senior running back Marquis Roberts and another 90 yards on the ground and a score from junior quarterback Wilden Germain to steamroll to the easy victory over a Brearley team that had won 11 games.
But the Redwings were hardly intimidated by the Bears and their gaudy record, especially after scoring a touchdown on the game’s very first snap from center.
Roberts took a handoff from Germain and raced 51 yards for a touchdown, as the Redwings grabbed the lead and never looked back.
“I definitely knew it was going to be our day,” Roberts said. “They just couldn’t stay with our speed. That was the key. They also didn’t want it as much as we did.”
‘We were not going to be stopped’
The Redwings then scored on their second possession as well, as senior Diquill Neal broke through a seam and scampered 40 yards for a touchdown that made the score 14-0 just three minutes into the game.
“After the start we had, we were not going to be stopped,” Neal said. “It means a lot because a lot of people were doubting us, saying that we weren’t going to get this one.”
Hafiz Gordonel added a touchdown and Roberts scored his second of the day, giving Hoboken (9-3) a commanding 28-6 lead at halftime.
Germain, the savvy field general, then capped the day with a 20-yard touchdown run to give Hoboken its third state championship in the last four years and the 10th in the school’s history. No other Hudson County school has won more football state championships than Hoboken.
“Just put it in the bag,” Germain said after his score. “We’ve got this done. We put our feet on their necks and weren’t going to let go.”
It marked the fourth state title for head coach Lou Taglieri, who took over for legendary coach Ed Stinson in 2005 and won a state championship in his first year, then had to wait a bit for the latest run of three in four years.
“This senior class was 10-1 in the state playoffs,” Taglieri said. “That’s pretty impressive.”
What makes this run even more impressive is that before the season, Taglieri scrapped the old standard offensive and defensive strategies, going to an up-tempo spread offense and a new fangled defensive alignment.
“You stick your neck out and go against something that had been around for a long time,” Taglieri said. “Suppose now it doesn’t work. Then what do you do? But it worked. That’s what makes this one much better.”
Most of the players on the team hail from Jersey City and decided to come to Hoboken as part of the school choice program.
“I knew how many state championships were won here,” said Roberts, one of the Jersey City residents. “It was definitely in my mind when I got here. I wanted to do the same thing. To say that I at least contributed to getting one is so unreal.”
Roberts was on the team in 2013 when the Redwings won their last state championship, but Taglieri suspended Roberts for the championship game because he got into a fight in school prior to the game against Shabazz of Newark for the state title.
Roberts certainly got his redemption last Saturday in the form of the state title.
“When I first got here, I knew that there were less than 10 players who had three rings,” Roberts said. “This is really big. I’m proud to be a part of that legacy. It was a dream to be in that category. It feels excellent.”
Hoboken won three straight state titles from 1996 through 1998, so those players earned three state championship rings like this group of graduating seniors.
“Since we won as freshmen, we wanted to go out the same way,” said wide receiver/defensive back Kyiese Lopez. “But we wanted one championship to call our own. This was ours. The seniors on the team can call this one our very own.”
Lopez had another reason why he was glad to get a state title. His cousin is Keeon Walker, who was an All-State running back during his heyday at Hoboken, winning those aforementioned three in a row. Walker went on to play at Syracuse University and is now the team’s defensive coordinator.
“I heard about him a lot growing up and looked up to him,” Lopez said. “Now, I got a chance to play for him. He pushed me through drills and practices and always wanted the best for me and the rest of the team as well.”