By: Anthony Vecchiarello
It’s Friday night, the stadium lights are shining bright, the fans are screaming as energetic football players in Navy Blue and Silver uniforms come sprinting out of a giant inflatable Helmet. Is this a championship? No, it’s just your normal Union City High School Soaring Eagles Football Home game.
The Soaring Eagles led by a tough but highly skilled coach is home to Roosevelt Stadium, which is on the rooftop of the four-story Union City High School in an area called ‘The Nest’. In New Jersey, they are at the top of their Hudson Valley Interscholastic League just above St. Peter’s Prep with a record of 3-0 and an overall record of 5-1 in the 2014-15 Season. According to Max Preps, the Union City High football team has a National Ranking of 782 and is the 14th best team in New Jersey State.
Last night on the gridiron, they soared high above their opponent Memorial High School Tigers as they finished an Away game with a dominating shutout, winning 59 to 0.
When trying to get a hold of Coach Wilbur Valdez on the success of his team’s season this year, he failed to comment. Nothing he should not be proud about though since Valdez already has made four playoff appearances within the five years he’s been Head Coach at Union City. It states on Union City High School’s Facebook page that in 2012, they were the Hudson Valley Public School Champs. Regardless, Valdez’s imminent plan would be to bring his team to the State Sectional Title. Not counting this year’s season, Valdez already has a 63-46 career record.
That’s quite a staggering record for a young guy who capitalized on the team’s success after they got rid of Joe Rotundi. Wikipedia explains that Rotundi was automatically placed as Head Coach of Union City High School after the big merger of Union Hill High School and Emerson High School in 2008. After two unsuccessful Football seasons (5-5 in 2008 and 3-7 in 2009) Rotundi was replaced by Valdez who came off a seven-year coach string at Ferris High School.
Although Valdez was the right man for the job, we cannot discount the skill and dedication of his players. An article from highschoolsportsnj.com describing the win over Lincoln (32-8) a few weeks back shows how proud Valdez is of his players. Coach Valdez goes on to highlight three specific offensive runners, Seniors RB/S Jonathan Castellano (#1), RB/DE Tamaine Boyd (#5) and RB/CB Nawell Rojas (#23).
“They are all great backs. Tamaine is your big bruiser who gets you the tough yards, and he is very hard to get on the ground. Castellano is just a flash, I mean, he runs with great passion and he has awesome speed, and he is dangerous in the open field. Rojas is a combination of the both of them. Rojas can run through you, he can run around you, he had a very good game,” Coach Valdez explained from the story, Football: Interview with Union City coach Wilbur Valdez following win over Lincoln.
Some other player statistics show that Quarterback Renaldy Tavarez (#18) is number four on the League Leading Stat leaders with 108 passing yard, 2 touchdowns and .429 in completion percentage. Also, RB/CB Dayber Licea (#7) is number two on League Leading Stat Leaders in interceptions. Dayber also was won ‘Defensive Player of the Game’ in a win against Seton Hall Prep on Sept. 5, 2014. PF Steven Sanchez (#6) was also coined ‘Defensive Player of the Game’ in another game. Offensive lineman Junior Steven Gonzalez had already received scholarship offers from Rutgers, Louisville, South Carolina, Syracuse, Virginia and Boston College. The 6-foot-4 320 pound powerhouse is listed on ESPN as number 81 in Junior overall prospect and the fifth best offensive guard.
Valdez continues to inspire his team to aim higher each year.
“We’re all thinking big and we want to win a state title,” Valdez said in a NJ article titled, Union City High football team is thinking big, aiming for state title.
Valdez has brought more inspiration to his players by dedicating this season to former player and graduate Josue Romero, who passed away during the summer after a tragic car accident.
The Soaring Eagles use their confidence as they take on their rivals St. Peter’s Prep next Saturday Away on October 25, 2014. After, they have two more seasonal matches against Valdez’s former High School Ferris and then Kearny.