The news came down late Wednesday night that local football great and coaching legend Jackie Moore had passed away at the age of 81.
Moore first gained notoriety as a player at the old St. Michael’s of Union City, where he was paired with his good friend Lou Cordileone, who went on to play at Clemson and later with the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers, among others, of the NFL.
In fact, Moore and Cordileone remained close friends through the years.
After his playing days were over and after a stint in the United States Army, Moore became a football coach, first as a dutiful assistant, then as the head coach at Marist for two stints and Don Bosco Prep for one.
Moore remains the all-time leader in coaching victories at Marist and guided the Royal Knights to their first-ever victory in the NJSIAA playoffs. Moore also led Don Bosco to wins in the state playoffs as well.
In recent years, Moore was the right-hand man and assistant coach to the late Vince Ascolese at North Bergen, staying with his buddy in North Bergen for more than 10 years. In fact, the two coaching legends were on the sidelines together for Ascolese’s final game in 2011, a game the Bruins defeated Montclair in the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state championship game in MetLife Stadium.
That game was affectionately called “The Miracle of the Meadowlands,” because the Bruins won the game on the final play of the game on a Hail Mary pass.
From a personal standpoint, Moore was always a jovial friendly man with a strong handshake and a bright smile. He called me by my baptismal name every time we met.
“James,” he would say. “How’s things?”
I would give him the best compliment given to man. I called him Coach.
He was a great football mind with very few peers. I could spend hours just talking football with him, picking his mind about things, reminiscing about past times, past players that he either coached or coached against.
Moore was also someone I frequently socialized with after Marist football games at places like McHugh’s in Bayonne and Brazicki’s in Jersey City, hanging out with coaches like Bob Cole, Tom Paglione and Gene Pagnozzi.
In speaking with Coach Moore’s good friend and protégé John O’Donnell about Moore’s passing, we realized that Moore, Cole, Pagnozzi and Paglione are all now gone. That’s extremely sad.
I last saw Coach Moore at Ascolese’s wake and funeral almost two years ago.
Last year, Moore was inducted into the Marist Hall of Fame and the night turned into a reunion of former players and coaches. It’s great that Moore got the honor he deserved from Marist. It’s a shame that Moore was never honored by the Hudson County Sports Hall of Fame. Maybe there will be a posthumous induction in the future…
As we head into the final two weeks of the regular high school football season, 10 local teams remain in contention for a possible playoff berth.
In North Jersey Section 1, Group V, Union City is sitting pretty at 6-1 and third place in the power point rankings that determine the NJSIAA state playoffs. The Soaring Eagles are behind Ridgewood and Passaic County Tech, but those two teams face each other this weekend, so it’s expected that the Soaring Eagles would move into second place and a home game in the state tournament.
That is, provided they defeat North Bergen this weekend, which is sitting in ninth place in the bracket and desperately needs the win over their neighboring rival to get into the playoffs. The Bruins own a 4-3 record after winning the last two games.
In North 2, Group I, Hoboken owns a 4-3 record, but has enough power points right now to sit in fourth place, which would mean a home game and Friday Night Lights for the Redwings, provided they win this week. The Redwings earned a forfeit over Dumont last weekend when Dumont didn’t have enough healthy players.
Secaucus owns a 2-4 record and sits in eighth place in the standings, but the Patriots need a win to get in.
In North 2, Group III, Snyder appears headed to the postseason for the first time since 1990. The 4-3 Tigers are in fifth place and could even get a home game if they win this weekend. That is a testament to how far coach Ray Marshall has taken that program.
In North 2, Group V, Bayonne owns a 4-3 record and is in sixth place in the standings, which means a playoff berth for head coach Jason Acerra in his first year with the Bees.
In Central Jersey Group 2, Lincoln has a 4-2 record and they currently sit fourth, which means they would get a home game.
In Non-Public Group 2, Hudson Catholic has a 5-2 record and sitting second right now, so the Hawks appear ready for a home game. St. Anthony is also 5-2 and seventh. If the standings stay the way they are, then the two local teams will meet in the state playoffs.
In Non-Public Group 4, St. Peter’s Prep has a 5-2 record and is currently the fourth seed, which would also mean a first round home game in the playoffs. It means that Caven Point Cochrane Stadium would be a very busy place next weekend, with Snyder, Lincoln, St. Anthony, Hudson Catholic and Prep all still in contention for a playoff berth…
As we wind down the Top 25 Characters over the last 25 years in Hudson County sports, we’re now at No. 3, namely late sportswriter Mike Rowan of Jersey City.
The lovable Rowan, affectionately called “Scoop” for his reporting prowess, was a fixture at Hudson County sporting events, covering anything and everything, but especially track and field, cross country and St. Peter’s College and New Jersey City University sports.
Rowan was known for his dark framed glasses and plaid shirts. He even had a pocket pen protector that added to his wardrobe. But he was always around and was a well respected fixture at events. The Jersey Journal’s sports coverage has suffered tremendously after Mike passed away 10 years ago after a fierce battle with cancer.
Rowan was not only a rival reporter, but he was also someone I considered as a very close friend. He is definitely missed on a daily basis and deserves his place here among the Top 25 characters…
Hudson Reporter H.S. Football Top Five: 1. St. Peter’s Prep (5-2). 2. Union City (6-1). 3. Hoboken (4-3). 4. Lincoln (4-2). 5. North Bergen (4-3)…-Jim Hague
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at OGSMAR@aol.com