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Columbia looks to continue major progress on the football pitch – Essex News Daily

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MAPLEWOOD / SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Columbia High School’s football program has improved since Gary Mobley became head coach in 2016.

Mobley, who was a high performing head coach at Rahway before coming to Columbia, guided the Cougars to a 5-5 record in 2019 and a 4-3 record in 2020, after the team struggled mightily during its first three seasons.

The Cougars were happy to have a season at all last year during the pandemic.

“We were grateful to be able to play in 2020,” Mobley said in an interview with the News-Record. “We have had a decent season. We were over .500 and happy to be able to play. We were incident-free, COVID-free. We had a delayed game with Belleville, but we had to make up for it. We were just thankful for the opportunity and for our guys to have the chance to play.

We were heavy seniors, but some youngsters had some playing time. What was really good last year was that our underclassmen had a good season when it comes to freshmen and JVs, so they had a good experience. These guys getting a little bit of experience really helped.

This year’s Cougars have some promising talent, looking to put on another great season and advance to the playoffs in the Northern Group 5.

Offensively, the ground attack will be led by four-year-old letter winner Stephen Henry who was a county-wide performer last year, Mobley said.

Henry thinks it’s Columbia’s best team in four years.

“From being here for the first year until now, the improvement has been crazy,” Henry said in an interview with the News-Record. “We went from 1 to 9 years of freshman, and we only built from here. I think this team is the best I have had in four years. I think this team has a very good chance of going to the state championship. “

Other notable talented players are junior quarterback Tarik Huff, second running back Yassan Fields and second wide receivers Zhamir Rowan and Steven Memo.

Huff said the team has shown great focus.

“We’re a young team and we’re trying to be good this year and make a difference,” Huff said in an interview with the News-Record.. “We’re all good people and we’re good at what we do. We have to do what we have to do and improve ourselves. “

Huff also believes Columbia football is on the rise with Mobley providing advice.

“It’s a good program. Coach Mobe is a great coach and he disciplines us too, ”said Huff.

Fields is thrilled to have the chance to see some major playing time.

“I am excited,” he said. “Last year I played in JV and first year, so it was just a bit here and there. Now I play with the older guys. Not many sophomores play in college, so I’m just excited.

The best linemen will be David Fadael, 6-foot-2, 250-pound main goaltender / defensive end; 6-3, 305-pound senior offensive / defensive tackle Dylan Dalambert; and 6-3, 275-pound senior offensive / defensive tackle David Darius.

Second-year security Max Gigante will also play a key role.

In an interview with the News-Record, Dalambert and Fadael said they were very optimistic about the team’s chances of succeeding another season.

“I feel like I can be 100 percent more efficient with my team this season,” said Dalambert, a two-year-old starter. “Last year I was very effective in tackling for my teammates, and this year I hope to get better stats, do better and better help my team.”

Fadael, in his fourth year on the team, said the Cougars, especially younger players, have a good attitude.

“I like our determination,” said Fadael. “I like driving. I like the behavior. A lot of these underclassmen, they’re actually listening. In fact, they are doing certain things that they should be doing, and they are motivated. “

Mobley loves the team chemistry. He and his staff are excited to help the team improve.

“I like their behavior,” Mobley said of his team. “I like the way they compete. I love that they have a brotherhood and I love their potential. Becoming a coach in high school is part of the development of children, of the development of your team. We are totally immersed in the development part, and we appreciate it.

Mobley and his team want to take the program to new heights.

“When we first took over the program, our goal was to make ourselves respectable after Columbia’s reputation, to lose footage and things of that nature,” Mobley said. “I know they had a successful season in 2010, but we’re just trying to be consistent in our level of success, trying to be more consistent in our level of competition, so that we can go out and win games. . It’s been a long way to try to get everyone up to speed on the competition, but we think we’re headed in the right direction. We enjoy the process of developing and building the program almost from scratch. We feel good about the outlook. We feel good about the work we are doing and hope that we can succeed in 2021. ”

Columbia was 8-2 in 2009 and 9-1 in 2010 under the late head coach Dave Curtin. The team made the North 2, Group 4 playoffs both years, but lost in the first round to Westfield and Bridgewater-Raritan, respectively.

In Mobley’s first year at Columbia in 2016, the team advanced to the North 2, Group 5 playoffs despite a win. They lost to Bridgewater-Raritan in the first round.

The Cougars will travel to Morristown to kick off the season on September 4.

Columbia joined the Freedom Red division of the Super Football Conference after being in the Freedom White division last season.

The other teams in the Freedom Red division are Bloomfield, East Orange Campus, Livingston, Montclair, Newark East Side and West Orange.


September 2: in Morristown, 4 p.m.

Sep 10: c. Livingston, 7 p.m.

Sept. 17: vs. Campus East Orange, 7 p.m.

Sep 24: at Barringer, 7 p.m.

October 1: vs West Orange, 7 p.m.

Oct. 9: at Montclair, 1 p.m.

Oct. 15: at Bloomfield, 7 p.m.

October 22: at Newark East Side, 7 p.m.

October 29: vs. Passaic County Tech, 7 p.m.

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