Unlike the three previous head football coaches at Roselle, James Williams comes in never having coached a game at Arminio Field before.
Williams, officially hired at Tuesday night’s Roselle Board of Education meeting, is coming in as an assistant and will be a head coach for the first time – like his predecessors.
However, his previous coaching experience was not done at Roselle. It was completed on Marion Bell’s staff at East Orange Campus.
A big man – well over 6 feet – with a solid football coach presence, Williams is now taking on the challenge of being a head coach for the first time and doing so at a smaller school that’s in a different county.
NEW UNION COUNTY FOOTBALL COACHES FOR 2013:
SUMMIT – Kevin Kostibos, was assistant coach at Summit
UNION – Lou Grasso Jr., was head coach at Roselle
GOV. LIVINGSTON – Dan Guyton, was assistant coach at Johnson
ROSELLE – James Williams, was assistant coach at East Orange Campus
“Union County football is good football down there and the conference (Mid-State 38) will be hard,” Williams said. “I want to make the kids believe that they can win.”
Williams, 42, conducted his first team practice Wednesday. His offense will be led by three-year starter Tyrone Crutchfield, a senior quarterback who can throw the ball deep.
“Tyrone has a real good arm,” Williams said. “We’ll try to make him be in more of a leadership role.”
Speaking of being a leader, Williams had designs all along of becoming a head coach one day.
“I’ve had it in the back of my mind the past few years,” Williams said.
Williams spent the past 19 seasons (1994-2012) as an assistant coach, including 1994-2001 at his high school alma mater, Clifford Scott, and then at East Orange Campus since 2002, the year the two East Orange schools merged.
He goes from being the defensive coordinator at East Orange Campus to the head coach at Roselle, succeeding Lou Grasso Jr., who in April was named the new head coach at Union.
The three previous head coaches at Roselle who succeeded Lou Grasso Sr. – Chris Satterfield, Kenneth Wiggins and Grasso Jr. – were all previously assistant coaches at Roselle who then became head coaches for the first time.
Satterfield, Wiggins and Grasso Jr. each served three-season terms. Now Williams gets an opportunity to make his presence felt. The Rams are seeking to win their first playoff game in 15 years.
“I felt this was the right situation for me,” said Williams, who is a 1989 Clifford Scott graduate who played for Bill Norwood as a Scottie.
Williams, who played offensive and defensive tackle at Clifford Scott and on the offense line in college, served as the head coach of the East team in this year’s 19th annual Robeson Classic at East Orange’s Robeson Stadium. He was also involved with the North team in this week’s 35th annual North-South All-Star Football Game at Kean.
“I learned a lot as an assistant coach,” Williams said. “You learn to deal with kids and different personalities.”
Williams also served as an assistant coach under Norwood and then the late Larry Schumacher before Bell became the head coach at East Orange Campus in 2004.
“I also learned a lot playing for Coach Norwood,” Williams said. “The one thing about him was that he was always organized. You have to be organized in order to have a good practice and a good game.”
On Bell’s staff at East Orange Campus, Williams was a part of the program’s only playoff-era state championship when the Jaguars captured the North 1, Group 4 crown in 2007, beating Montclair 31-13 at the old Giants Stadium to complete an 11-1 campaign.
“Coach Bell means a lot, not only on the football side, but on a personal side,” Williams said. “He taught me a lot about football and about life.”
ROSELLE FOOTBALL COACHES
SINCE LOU GRASSO SR. (1979-2003)
2012: (2-8) Lou Grasso Jr.
2011: (6-4) Lou Grasso Jr. – made N2, G2 playoffs
2010: (7-3) Lou Grasso Jr., was assistant at Union – made CJ, G2 playoffs
Lou Grasso Jr. record (15-15, .500)
2009: (5-5) Kenneth Wiggins
2008: (5-4) Kenneth Wiggins
2007: (3-7) Kenneth Wiggins, moved up from being an assistant
Kenneth Wiggins record (13-16, .448)
2006: (3-7) Chris Satterfield
2005: (3-7) Chris Satterfield
2004: (4-6) Chris Satterfield, moved up from being an assistant
Chris Satterfield’s record (10-20, .333)
NOTES: Satterfield, a 1982 Roselle graduate, was 10-20 (.333) in his three seasons (2004-2006) as Roselle’s head coach following Lou Grasso Sr.
Satterfield played for and coached under Grasso Sr., who had a record of 124-113-3 (.523) during his 25 seasons (1979-2003) as the head coach.
Grasso Sr. led the Rams to the North Jersey, Section, 2, Group 2 crown in 1989 and to the final in North Jersey, Section 2, Group 1 in 1981 and North 2, Group 2 again in 1990.
Wiggins, who grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, N.Y. where he played linebacker for the football team at Boys High School, coached the special teams for one year at now Boys & Girls High and then spent two years as the offensive coordinator at Lafayette High, also in Brooklyn. Wiggins served as the linebackers coach at Roselle for four years before being named the head coach for the 2007 season. Wiggins was 13-16 (.448) in his three years at the helm, including leading Roselle – in 2009 – to its first winning season since 1998.
Grasso Jr. spent the 2008 and 2009 seasons as the offensive coordinator at Union under head coach Brian Sheridan. Grasso Jr. and Sheridan were roommates at Rutgers, where they both played linebacker.
Before Union, Grasso Jr. coached quarterbacks, outside linebackers and was a special teams coordinator on John Quinn’s staff at New Brunswick.
Out of Rutgers, Grasso Jr. became an assistant coach on his father’s staff at Roselle in 1997 and spent seven years there, three as offensive coordinator.
Grasso Jr. is a 1993 Colonia graduate who played fullback and linebacker for head coach Pat Barbato. Grasso was 15-15 (.500) in his three years at Roselle, including leading the Rams to the playoffs – in 2010 – for the first time since 2000.