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  • Writer's pictureThis Is Rutherford

RHS Football Team's Amazing Season

By Jennifer Ersalesi

The Rutherford High School Football team has proven time and time again that they truly understand what it means to be part of a team. Their tenacity and resilience led them through another very successful season. This is Rutherford interviewed Coach Steve Dunn about the team and their season.

TIR: Your football team had an incredible season this year, once again.  For the third straight year, your team won the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference (NJIC) title.  To what do you attribute the success of the team?

Steve Dunn: It takes a village to run a successful football program and I am a very fortunate man to have the best people around me.  First, and most importantly, we have incredible kids who are coachable and want to be the best versions of themselves.  These players work hard in practice every day and it makes our jobs so much easier.  Then we have parents who raise these boys the right way and support this program every step of the journey.  We also have an amazing coaching staff that, in my opinion, is the best you will find anywhere in NJ.  In addition to the coaches at the high school, our boys are lucky to have the RJF experience they do.  Our junior football program is the lifeblood of the high school program and I am extremely lucky to have men down there who do a great job.  Finally, we have a supportive administration in our school district, which is extremely helpful.

TIR: Is there one particular game that stands out for you?

SD: When we lost our starting Quarterback, Chris Gioia, in week 6 (due to an injury) our team had a lot of uncertainty around it.  Our week 7 NJIC semifinal game against Hawthorne is one I will always remember and told a lot about the resiliency of the kids we have in our program.  We went down 14-0 in the first couple of minutes and we were going backward offensively.  Our defense played well enough to allow us to figure out what adjustments to make offensively.  In the second half, we went to our freshman QB, Myles Balchan, who, on two days of practice, orchestrated a come-from-behind 28-20 victory and sent us to the championship game.  From there Myles was our QB and did an outstanding job leading our team to the NJIC title and 2 state playoff wins.

TIR: Were there any big surprises this season?

SD: I knew this team had a lot of talent coming back but this group faced more adversity than any other squad we have coached in the past 17 years.  I don't want to use the word surprised, but I was proud of the way our boys rallied around the freshman QB.

TIR: What can you tell us about Cole Goumas, who earned the title “Athlete of the Week” this past season?

SD: Cole is a great kid who has played football his whole life.  His parents support us and also had their older twins, Christian and Erik class of 2021, go through the football program.  Cole has earned every accolade that comes his way through his hard work and dedication to his teammates.  Cole will be playing baseball next year at Rutgers, Newark. 

TIR: Coach Saleh, NY Jets Coach, gave you and the Rutherford Football team a shout-out during a press conference while wearing a Rutherford Bulldogs shirt.  How did that feel?

SD: Getting individual recognition is nice, but I truly look at this as a team award.  I am not in the position I am without our kids, coaches, and parents.  

TIR: The RHS Football season ended with a Sectional Final game in Westwood.  Although disappointed by the loss, it must feel wonderful to have had such a great season. What are you looking forward to as you prepare for next year’s season?

SD: In this program, we hold ourselves to a very high standard. Although we have done a lot of winning in the past three years it does not happen automatically. I am looking forward to the challenges that every new season brings. We must be able to work hard and build trust with one another.  During the course of a season you have to find out what works and, just as importantly, what doesn't work for that particular group of kids. Losing the last three sectional title games has been difficult but we hope to get over the hump in 2024. All that I can guarantee is that our boys will work as hard as they can and try to represent this great community of Rutherford the right way.

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