The Eastside football team have just won two consecutive seasons, a feat they last accomplished in 2006-07.
When was the last time the Ghosts finished above .500 three seasons in a row? Six decades ago, when they posted winning records from 1959 to 1963.
The optimism is great that they can do it again.
“We’re just going to keep working hard,” coach James Magazine said. “The children bought. I guess with the COVID restrictions, there’s not much you can do other than get into the weight room and hit those pounds.
“So we’ve had a great offseason,” he added, “the best we’ve had [so far], entering my third season here.
Despite so many breakthroughs, Eastside is still waiting to play his first playoff game in 14 years. He had the strengths to qualify for the 2019 NJSIAA playoffs, but was disqualified, and last year the coronavirus pandemic completely wiped out the playoffs.
Those who participate in the program have reason to believe the drought may end this fall.
“We had about 40 kids in the weight room” after the end of last season, Magazine noted, “just because of the kind of energy we kind of gave the city.”
While Magazine is the 20th coach in the program’s history, the Eastside 1995 graduate is only the third to start his tenure with consecutive winning records. His college coach Donald Davis led teams at 6-4 and 7-3 in 1990-91.
Ron Frederick became a coach in 1961 and guided the Ghosts to 4-3-2 and 5-3-1 scores, before the 1963 team won the North 1, Group 4 championship in the pre-play area. .
Eastside has four section titles to its credit. The other teams to win one share the record for victories in one season: 1941 (8-1, in part thanks to a running back named Larry Doby), 1954 (8-0) and 1960 (8-1).
The Ghosts’ only appearance in the section final since the start of the playoffs in 1974 came 15 years ago, when they finished 8-4 under Davis.
Now at 65, the number of preseason participants has increased dramatically. For now, however, all are participating in pre-season activities at the former Catholic Paterson Field, as the Eastside Stadium at Bauerle Field is undergoing renovations.
“It’s a challenge, but we’ll be rewarded in the end,” Magazine said. “We’re getting new turf… and we’re going to have a new sports complex, which was actually already dedicated to our late former AD, Dr. [Gerald] Glisson.
A silver lining to training on PC’s old grassy field is for the Ghosts to open their season in Passaic Valley, which plays on the grass.
As stated, expectations are high. Key leaders include wide receiver Ahsin Jacobs and defensive tackle Jahsin Jacobs – the twins have received offers from UMass – as well as running back Amir Smith and wide receiver Jair Stewart.
Defensive end Nyreek Clyburn made an instant impact as a freshman in 2020 and already has offers from Rutgers and Ole Miss.
“We only graduated five seniors, so that’s great,” Magazine said. “We have a lot of experience, a lot of feedback, so it’s great.
“If we keep a cool head and stay humble, I think we can have a pretty good race. “
PROGRAM STATUS:Inside look at every North Jersey football team
September 4: in Passaic Valley
September 9: NV / Old Tappan
September 17: to Hackensack
September 23: vs North Highlands
September 30: against Barringer
October 8: at Passaic Tech
October 14: against Clifton
October 29: vs Passaic
November 24: at Kennedy
Greg Tartaglia is a high school sports reporter for NorthJersey.com. For full access to live scores, the latest news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team, subscribe today. To get the latest news straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter and download our app.
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Twitter: @ njtags13