No one could console the Lincoln High School football team after the Lions dropped a 28-26 decision to Raritan on a touchdown with just 10 seconds left in the Central Jersey Group II championship game at Kean University last Saturday.
There are no words. If the Lions stopped Raritan on that fateful final play, it would have capped a perfect undefeated season, certainly the best in the school’s history and perhaps the greatest year by any Jersey City public high school. The Lions would have had a 26-21 victory and the celebration would have been theirs.
Instead, it’s a gut wrenching loss, but head coach Robert Hampton was able to turn the negative into a positive soon after the game – and drew some solace from the late Hall of Fame basketball coach Dean Smith from the University of North Carolina.
“I didn’t know that he didn’t win the national championship until that year that [Michael] Jordan hit the shot [in 1982],” Hampton said. “I mean, he was there so many times and didn’t win. I can draw strength from Dean Smith. In that game, John Thompson coached Georgetown. They lost because Freddie Brown threw the ball to the wrong guy on the final play. But John Thompson came back and won.”
Hampton is already looking toward the future.
“We have 48 kids coming back,” Hampton said. “I thought of all the kids coming back and said, ‘Wow, we got another shot.’ The sun came out today [Sunday] and it’s a great day. I can’t wait to get back at it. I’m not sure if the kids know who Dean Smith is, but they will later. We’ll be back and be raring to go. It is what it is.”
Hampton was asked if the loss still hurt.
“Hell yeah, it still hurts,” Hampton said. “We were within 10 seconds of winning the ring. Sure, I’m disappointed, but I wouldn’t be human if I wasn’t disappointed. But it’s not the end of the world. We won the county title three years in a row. That’s not bad.”
The Lions have great players like running back Kamani Addison and stud defensive end Jalen Scott coming back.
“This year was a great story, but next year will be a great story, too,” Hampton said…
Hudson Catholic also lost its state sectional championship game last weekend, giving St. Joseph of Hammonton a tough fight before falling, 19-6, at Rowan University.
St. Joseph was just bigger and stronger and more experienced than the Hawks, who will also be back next year, especially with running backs Syhiem Simmons and Khashawn Decker returning.
The ending of the game was so totally bizarre. St. Joseph had the ball as the game apparently ended, but then the officials convened to say that five seconds still remained on the clock.
Now, the good sportsmanship move would be for the quarterback to take a knee and end the game and shake hands.
But for some reason, St. Joseph ran a power sweep and tried to score again. Luckily, one of the Hudson Catholic defenders was paying attention and tackled the runner before he reached the goal.
Two Catholic schools in a game that was already decided and they’re trying to score again? Something seriously wrong with that picture. It’s something to keep in the memory bank….
The Great Hagueini goes back into hibernation until next fall, but leaves with going 1-2 in state finals, dropping his record to 11-3 for this year’s edition of playoff prognostications. How dare Hagueini pick against Hoboken? Hasn’t he learned his lesson after all these years?
It’s remindful of more than 25 years ago, when Hagueini made picks for the now-defunct Hudson Dispatch and he selected Marist to beat Hoboken, only to have Hoboken win by 50. An avid reader called out my name at the game while I stood on the sidelines. He then turned and dropped his drawers to reach for his hind quarters and bellowed, “Hey, Hague, nice pick.”…
One season ends, another quickly begins. We’ll have some basketball previews next week, looking at some of the top area teams before next weekend’s season tipoff…
Final 2015 Hudson Reporter High School Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (8-3). 2. Lincoln (11-1). 3. Hudson Catholic (10-2). 4. Hoboken (9-3). 5. Union City (6-4)…
In closing, please keep my good friend and spiritual inspiration Father Anthony Azzarto, S.J. in your prayers.
Father A, which is how he is affectionately known, fell ill last weekend and needed a little procedure to get the blood flowing through his amazing ticker. He never once before even took an aspirin in his 77 years on the planet, so this is all uncharted waters for him.
But Father A is a gift from God. He has no peers when it comes to caring for so many. He’s truly the best reason why I am affiliated with my alma mater of St. Peter’s Prep some 40 years after I first strolled through the doors at Grand and Warren and was one of the first faces I got to meet when I got there.
I remember thinking, “Who is this geek?” I now think he’s one of the most important human beings in my life. I personally need him around for a long time – and I know there are thousands of others who feel exactly the same way. So to Father A, rest up, get well and be strong. I still think it was the Mets beating his Dodgers in the playoffs that set him off. – Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached at OGSMAR@aol.com.