Smart fans don’t leave when a good high school football game ends.
For many of them, the show is about to begin.
Post-game celebrations or the âcellyâ have taken on a life of their own in North Jersey. Wayne Valley football players swing axes through a wooden stump as a symbol of hard work. Cresskill players kiss the grass. âCarry on Wayward Sonâ sounds after games at Park Ridge.
It’s a pandemonium of the best kind. These moments are not repeated, but scripted. There is a form to follow, but you must be there to know your role.
While the post-game huddle after a win where a coach congratulates his team and everyone revel in the success will always be special, there are some who have taken it to the next level.
As the 2021 football playoffs begin, it’s a reminder that high-profile football in North Jersey includes high-profile celebrations.
Smoking they boots
Rashid Darrisaw swears he’s not the type to scream / shout Coach.
But DePaul’s defensive coordinator since 2018 is the strongman in the middle of the Spartans post-game festival.
âA team that I was playing for, there was a chant that we used when we beat a team with a big margin,â Darrisaw said. “You know kids watch your highlights on YouTube to see if you were good and they stumbled upon this song.”
Singing ? “Smoke they boots” or “smoke dem boots” or “smoke dey boots”, according to your preferences.
“I let him handle it,” DePaul head coach Nick Campanile said with a laugh. âThe kids love it. They can’t wait. I get out of the way.
The first time DePaul smoked a boot was in 2017 when the Spartans defeated Don Bosco. The children asked Darrisaw if they could sing the song they had seen. Now that happens after every big win.
It goes like this: Darrisaw is coaxed into finding himself in the middle of a circle of players. Everything has been said twice. Darrisaw starts off by saying “we smoked their boots!” and the players repeat it. Then he says “I love him!” and the players echo it, so it’s “we can’t be stopped”.
The very last line is unscripted. This is something that Darrisaw is proposing at the time. But the scene always ends the same: a heartbreaking cheer.
âAs long as the kids like it. It’s more about energy, âsaid Darrisaw. âAs long as the energy is high and the kids are in it, it’s fun. “
Sing through the years
Adam Baeira had just won his first game as Ramsey’s football coach at Point Pleasant Boro in 2020 and rallied his team to ‘sing along’.
Then he realized they had no idea what he was talking about.
“I just said repeat after me and they got it pretty well,” said Baeira, whose side are 9-0 in 2021.
Of all the post-game celebrations in North Jersey, the one that ‘sings’ has been around for decades. Baeira readily admits that he stole it from his mentor Greg Toal in Don Bosco. Greg Tanzer also did a version of it while at Fair Lawn.
How did it start? Who knows? It can be traced back to Toal’s playing days in Hasbrouck Heights.
It’s basically a time when the coach gathers his team around him and shouts, “Can anyone beat this Ramsey (or Fair Lawn or Bosco) team?” three times with the team responding, “Hell no!” in unison.
At the end, everyone throws their fists in the air and shouts.
Ramsey doesn’t âsingâ after every game. Baeira said it was an organic decision happening in the moment.
âIt’s the best,â he said. “For those 10 seconds or so, seeing the kids get excited and happy after a big win is pretty rewarding for a coach.”
The last dance
Bergen Catholic’s post-game victory celebration is North Jersey’s most elaborate.
Crusader players traditionally run to their student section, stand nearby, and chant the school’s alma mater. The team, cheerleaders, fans and parents then rushed out onto the pitch to coach Vito Campanile’s last words to his team.
Toal, now an assistant coach at Bergen Catholic, âsangâ in the middle of the circle for the Crusaders: âCan anyone beat this Bergen team? but what almost everyone wants to see now is the Vito dance.
âNow they sort of demand it,â laughed Vito, whose team is No. 1 in New Jersey and 9-0. âI don’t know how it started, a few wins and I guess we were so excited it turned into dance moves. I think I can do a pretty good split for 47, but I’m not going to lie, it hurts my knee.
âHe’s awful,â Nick joked (remember, they’re brothers). âYou have to see it at a wedding. He is the worst.
Vito’s dancing skills aside – I think he moves quite well – the moment sums up what high school football is supposed to be: fun, excitement, excitement.
âHaving fun is such a big part of what we do,â Vito said. âIf all is not fun, it becomes commonplace. I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to have fun with guys. I think our locker room is fun. We laugh all the time.
Vito and Nick are the sons of coach Mike Campanile, and both remember the post-game celebration for Mike’s teams as a little quieter. But maybe if the Crusaders end up undefeated 12-0â¦ maybe they could get Mike to show a shot or two?
âIt would be epic,â Vito said.
Darren Cooper is a high school sports columnist 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, Subscribe to our newsletter and download our app.