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Don Bosco Prep will be seeking its first win of 2019 when it plays host to West Orange this week after starting the season 0-2 with a bye last week. The Ironmen are battle-tested after taking on two of the top programs in the country in its first two games, St. John Bosco (Calif.) and Gonzaga (D.C.), and showed improvement their last time out. After West Orange, Don Bosco’s league schedule will begin, beginning with a home showdown against Bergen Catholic on Sept. 27....

9/16/2019

College Athletic Recruiting: Everyone wants to give advice and everyone believes they know all the answers! Finally, a program that does just that! It gives the answers in a straightforward, no nonsense, entertaining 50-minute presentation. We have made an investment as a community to provide our student-athletes and parents with information about playing college athletics. This event is designed for every high school parent and their student-athlete. If your son or daughter truly has aspirations to play at the college level, this is a "can't miss" event. "The Realities of College Athletic Recruiting" Presented by Jack Renkens Don Bosco Prep - Auditorium Tuesday, October 08, 2019 at 7:00 p.m. Former college coach and recruiting expert, Jack Renkens has helped thousands of families around the country head down the right path of finding scholarships. Often it's down a path they didn't know existed. Any doubts or reservations about attending? Simply check the Recruiting Realities website at www.recruitingrealities.com. ...

9/12/2019

Programs that have won as many state titles as Don Bosco Prep has -- not to mention two of the national variety, too -- simply don’t do moral victories. And, certainly, neither does Dan Sabella. The fiery, intense coach arrived at the Ramsey non-public school this off-season with two state championships on his resume, including one just three years ago at nearby Paramus Catholic. Moral victories aren’t in his DNA. So while Friday night's 35-21 defeat at the hands of Washington D.C. power Gonzaga might look better than the 56-21 demolition it suffered last week out on the west coast against St. John Bosco (Calif.), the Ironmen still enter their bye week 0-2. "I feel like that was a winnable game," Sabella said following the loss to MaxPreps' 11th-ranked team nationally in its XCellent 25 poll. "And we let it get away from us." For the second straight week, the Don Bosco defense was up against a quarterback that you'll be seeing playing major Division I college football in the near future. Last week, it was St. John Bosco’s Clemson-bound senior DJ Uiagalelei erupting for a 5-touchdown performance This week, it was Gonzaga’s junior standout Caleb Williams, a four-star prospect who holds offers from Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, LSU and Penn State, among others. “Those guys, man, they’re just really talented players,” said Sabella, who made it a point to seek out Williams and congratulate him himself following the game. “But going up against these guys, that’s how you get better. We haven’t ducked anyone and we’re going to be better for it in the end. ... Tonight, that kid was the difference-maker in the game.” Williams had a hand in all five Gonzaga touchdowns, and essentially single-handedly erased an early 14-0 deficit himself in the first half. Following two first-half touchdown runs from Don Bosco’s Jalen Berger, of 17 and 9 yards, which put the Ironmen up two scores, Williams and Co. outscored Don Bosco Prep, 35-7, the rest of the way. Don Bosco’s lone points following the fast start came courtesy of a blocked punt by Timmy Hinspeter which was recovered by Jahmir Greene in the end zone, which broke a 14-all halftime tie. The Ironmen offense wasn’t helped out by the fact Berger missed various points of the second half battling leg cramps, including being off the field on a key 3rd-and-1 that went for a loss of 4 with Bosco trailing, 28-21, in the fourth quarter. “Whether he was going to get that carry or not, when he’s out there, it’s another guy they’ve got to worry about,” Sabella said. Trailing, 14-0, Gonzaga’s Williams unleashed an 81-yard touchdown run with 9:25 left in the first half to put Gonzaga on the board. His first completion didn’t come until there was 7:20 left in the first half, but moments later, Williams delivered a 19-yard touchdown pass to tie it at 14. Both teams threatened before half for go-ahead scores, with Don Bosco reaching the Gonzaga 34 but failing to convert a 4th-and-inches following a high snap on a Wildcat that lost 16 yards. Starting at the 50, Gonzaga reached the Don Bosco 10 with just seconds left before half. Bosco defensive back Arsheen Jiles, though, came through with a key interception in the end zone with five seconds before the break to keep it tied at 14. The Ironmen went ahead, 21-14, on the blocked punt recovered in the end zone, but a winded Don Bosco defense forced to stay on the field for two consecutive drives allowed a 12-play, 80-yard game-tying touchdown drive, capped by WIlliams’ second TD pass, from 9 yards out, to Justin Ennis with 4:39 left in the third. Don Bosco’s offense had yet to see the field in the second half at that point. "That's just gut check time," Sabella said. "You've got to find a way to dig deep and get a stop somewhere there. Their offense was on the field the same amount of time as our defense was. You've just got to find a way." The killer on that drive was a 30-yard completion on a 3rd-and-20 near midfield. On Gonzaga’s ensuing possession, Williams broke a 40-yard touchdown run with 10:55 left in the fourth to give the Eagles their first lead of the night at 28-21, a lead they would not relinquish. Williams added a 35-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Turner with 5:51 left for the final points of the night. “We definitely battled and we did some real good things in that first half,” Sabella said. “But in the second half, we had them in some tough situations in third-and-longs, had them backed up a few times and if we just could get a stop, we’d have some good field position and maybe have a chance to go up two scores. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get those stops when we needed them. But I definitely believe we made a jump from last week.” Don Bosco Prep won’t return to action until Sept. 20, when they play host to West Orange. After that? Bergen Catholic comes to town on Sept. 27. “There were a couple plays tonight that if they go your way, it’s a different game,” Sabella said. “We’re going to make those plays as the season goes on. I believe in this group. There’s a lot of football ahead of us. We’ve just got to keep getting better and better.”...

9/6/2019

Giovanni Gianella netted two goals to lead Don Bosco Prep to a 4-0 win over DePaul in Ramsey. Don Boso (1-0) scored twice in each half. Joseph Battaglia picked up the shutout. DePaul falls to 0-1 with the loss....

9/4/2019

The exchange that altered New Jersey high school football forever took place some time in the spring of 2008. Nunzio Campanile, then Don Bosco Prep’s athletic director and offensive coordinator under then-head coach Greg Toal, fielded a call from California powerhouse De La Salle, a program which won a national record 151 straight games from 1992 to 2004. At the time, the West Coast power was ranked No. 3 in the country by ESPN and Don Bosco Prep had emerged as the cream of the crop locally – winning four state titles in the previous six years. But, until then, no team from the Garden State truly had been tested by a team of De La Salle’s caliber. This was Toal’s chance to put Don Bosco Prep – and New Jersey football as a whole – on the map. “Nunzio comes to me saying, ’What’s the worst that can happen? We lose?’” Toal, now an assistant coach at Bergen Catholic recalled of the conversation more than a decade ago with Campanile, now an assistant at Rutgers. “He’s like, ‘Don’t duck these guys!’ I just go, ‘I’m with you, Nunz. I’m jumping on that plane. I’m with you.’ Nunzio was persistent about it. “He just felt like we had to go play those guys, and I was with him.” What happened five months later laid the groundwork for what was to come -- and the ripple effects can still be felt today. Don Bosco Prep, 3,000 miles from home playing before a nationally televised audience, stunned De La Salle, 23-21, with future NFL kicker Pat Murray nailing the game-winning field goal with 10 seconds left. The dramatic finish provided the final points in an upset win against a team with six national titles and decades of success. "I think people thought we had pretty good football in New Jersey before that, but I don't know if people really believed we could compete on that level,” Campanile said. “De La Salle is probably the most storied high school football program in America so to be able to go out there and beat them the way we did, it was obviously special and sent an unbelievable message for the state." The following year, it was the Ironmen garnering mythical national championship honors following a 12-0 season that started with another win over De La Salle, this time in dominant fashion, 30-6, in Ramsey. In the decade since, several other North Jersey non-public powers have followed suit, all challenging themselves against some of the best teams America has to offer. They have proven that it’s not just Don Bosco who can hang with the big boys. Since 2008, North Jersey’s Non-Public Group 4 powers – Don Bosco Prep, Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic, St. Peter’s Prep and St. Joseph (Mont.) – are a combined 84-36 against out-of-state competition from 16 different states nationwide, as well as Washington D.C. They’ve won on the road. They’ve won at home. They’ve won at neutral sites. They’ve won low-scoring games. High-scoring affairs. And, at times, in blowout fashion. They all have been, and remain, fearless in their pursuit of getting the most competitive opponents out there, wherever they might be. “The only way you learn is to go out and play, and we’re not only going out and playing games we know we’d win,” Campanile said two years ago while with Bergen Catholic, but still holds true for the United Red today. “Where is the fun in that? What’s the fun in taking on a fight you know you’ll win?” And for more than a decade, New Jersey has won plenty of fights to help continue bolstering the state’s overall football reputation. Don Bosco has played the most OOS games (31; 20-11 record) since 2008 and owns a pair of national titles in 2009 and 2011, Bergen Catholic has the most wins (22-8) and Paramus Catholic has the best winning percentage (.789; 15-4 entering Thursday). St. Joseph (13-7) and St. Peter’s Prep (14-6) are both well above .500, too. It all adds up to one of the most talented, respected and competitive divisions in the country. “Iron sharpens iron,” Campanile said. “The level of football that is being played here is really elite and the reason is because everyone is pushing each other. When I was there, that was the biggest thing. You’re constantly being challenged every week. It’s super competitive, but there’s also a tremendous level of respect among all the programs. There has to be, because they earn it from each other every week.” No team, however, has accomplished what Don Bosco Prep did in 2009 and again in 2011, but there is reason to believe this weekend might be the start of something special. St. Joseph (Mont.) and Don Bosco Prep are out in California for a pair of high-profile games against JSerra Catholic and St. John Bosco, respectively. A third marquee national game, featuring Bergen Catholic in Florida against St. Thomas Aquinas, was cancelled on Wednesday due to Hurricane Dorian nearing the coast. Only a hurricane can keep a Jersey team away from a challenge. Still, North Jersey’s Power Five will have eight games this season against out-of-state competition. Eight more opportunities. “These games are just great chances for you to measure yourself,” Toal said. “It’s fabulous for New Jersey. People have a different respect for New Jersey because of these games and how the state has performed in them. Before it was like, ‘Oh, New Jersey... do they really play football there?’ But the football here is tremendous. Going out there to California was probably the best thing we ever did. Now, no one doubts the quality of football because of what we did.” What Don Bosco did was build New Jersey’s brand, challenging the likes of high school football monopolies in states with bigger schools and richer traditions. The Ironmen did it with toughness, a reflection of their tough-guy coach and New Jersey’s underdog mentality. That same bring-it-on mindset remains in 2019 and still defines New Jersey nationally, according to Jeff Fisher, owner and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, a well-regarded website known for its rankings and national coverage. “This may be a little bit of my Northeast roots coming through, but I feel like the physicality that teams from that area bring can even the playing field,” said Fisher, an Easton, Pa. native on Wednesday during an interview NJ Advance Media. “I’m not saying St. Thomas doesn’t play physical football, but the Northeast still has that we’re-going-to-punch-you-in-the-face attitude.'" In 2009, Don Bosco punched De La Salle in the mouth and did it again a week later against Alabama’s Prattville High to open the year, knowing Passaic, Clifton, Paterson Kennedy and Passaic Tech were not capable of throwing the same haymakers in return. That season, Don Bosco overpowered its four public school opponents, 212-15. Now, Don Bosco still plays the nation’s top teams but returns to a face a conference schedule, where every game is a challenge. Then it’s onto the playoffs, where the same teams square off for the Non-Public, Group 4 title. It all adds up to one of the biggest reasons why running the table in 2019 is significantly more difficult now than it was a decade ago. "It’s funny, I heard a lot that New Jersey was down last year or struggled to compete nationally two years ago,” said St. Joseph (Mont.) coach Augie Hoffmann during a media day session last week in Montvale. “We're not down. Our league is as good as it’s ever been. "You might lose here, win one there – it doesn’t mean the league is down, it’s as strong as ever. The talent is spread out, more kids are coming in from out of Bergen County than ever before. They want to be a part of something special, and it’s our job to put the pieces together to make it work.” Those pieces are in place for it all to come together this year for Hoffmann’s team. The Green Knights, the reigning Non-Public Group 4 state champions and No. 1 team in the state, are ranked No. 6 in High School Football America’s national rankings. They return seven of New Jersey’s top 30 recruits and, on paper, might be the most talented team in St. Joseph’s rich history. There are whispers that running the table may be possible for the first time since Don Bosco did it in 2011, which would undoubtedly put the Green Knights in the national title conversation, at minimum. For the second time in three years, St. Joseph will open its season in California in the Honor Bowl, where it will take on on JSerra Catholic from the famed Trinity League -- the same league that includes Don Bosco Prep’s opponent Friday, St. John Bosco, and Mater Dei, which disposed of Bergen Catholic, 62-14, two years ago. JSerra will enter the game ranked No. 34 nationally by High School Football America, but perhaps St. Joseph’s biggest out-of-state challenge in 2019 will be in late September when St. Frances of Maryland comes to Montvale. The national power is currently ranked No. 8 nationally. For now, though, the focus is out west. For now, players said, the goal is to go 1-0 every week. That quest begins Saturday. Time will tell if Don Bosco can keep up with its sister school this weekend and land yet another monumental victory, but it’s St. Joseph (Mont.) which has all the incentive it needs to fly home with a win. “Whether it's in our algorithm poll or an opinion poll (like USA Today or MaxPreps), you like to see somebody sitting on the top with a zero in the loss column,” Fisher said. “That’s what makes this weekend so important. The bottom line is: St. Joseph is in a position to win a national title.” Doing so will be easier said than done but thanks to a phone call that happened in 2008, anything is possible. ...

8/30/2019

New coach, same high Don Bosco Prep expectations. After Mike Teel resigned from his position as head coach of the Ironmen this off-season, Don Bosco Prep went with a familiar face in Bergen County with the hiring of Dan Sabella to take over the program. Sabella, on his fifth school in North Jersey, has a proven track record of success and has won at the state’s highest level, leading Paramus Catholic to a state title as recently as 2016. Now, he’ll be looking to do the same with Don Bosco Prep....

8/22/2019

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