Nunzio Campanile Takes Pride In Leading Bergen Catholic Crusaders Football Program
Last Friday I had the opportunity to interview Nunzio Campanile, Head Football Coach of the Bergen Catholic Crusaders. Entering his sixth season as coach at Bergen Catholic with an overall record of (39-21) and so far this season the Crusaders are 3-2 after their 27-21 victory over Paramus Catholic at Crusader Stadium in Oradell.
Campanile took over the program from Fred Stengel who coached at BC for 21 years, winning 192 games and guiding the Crusaders to nine state championships.
“Taking over was a daunting task because Coach Stengel had built an unbelievable legacy and tradition,” said Campanile. “At the same time it was an honor to be a part of it and take it to the next level. Coach Stengel has been almost like a mentor to me and has done a lot with alumni support. When I took the job I knew there was a certain level of pressure and expectations but that is why I took the job. I wanted to be in a place where football is important, expect to win championships and compete at the highest level.”
Academics are another area at Bergen Catholic Campanile is most proud of.
“Our best players and leaders are often the best students,” said Campanile. “Our captains have gone on to schools such as Yale, Brown, Penn, John Hopkins and Northwestern. It sets a tone that academics are important and big fiber of the program. Jarrett (Guarantano) may be going to Tennessee but is an honor roll student. I don’t know how many kids at his level that are doing that. We are really proud of sending kids to Ivy League schools and sets a great example to the young guys that the best athletes excel in the classroom.”
Campanile gives plenty of credit to the town of Oradell and student section, especially the “Crusader Crazies” who march up Oradell Avenue before the start of every home game.
“The police officers and town understand it’s fun and they are supporting their own school,” added Campanile. “One thing at BC in any sport whether it be wrestling, lacrosse or academic endeavors everybody supports each other.”
Before Bergen Catholic, Campanile enjoyed immense success as the offensive coordinator at Don Bosco Prep for 10 years under Ironmen Head Coach Greg Toal. Don Bosco went 112-6 during that span winning four consecutive NJSIAA Non-Public Group 4 state titles and Star-Ledger Top 20 trophies. In 2009, the Ironmen were the overall number 1 team in the nation. Campanile also was the wrestling head coach and taught history and physical education.
“It was a great experience in my life and I wouldn’t be here if it’s wasn’t for the time spent there,” explained Campanile. “Coach Greg Toal was an unbelievable mentor to me, a great guy and leader. A fun 10 years and some of the kids I coached I am still close to and talk to them.”
Campanile has coached some of the best high school quarterbacks to play in Bergen County from Mike Teel to Matt Simms and Gary Nova. “Those players made me look good as a coach,” said Campanile. “When I got to Don Bosco in 2000 until now with Jarrett, all the quarterbacks have been either all-state or Division I players. They share a common trait as incredible competitors who love to compete, wanting to be challenged to be a better thrower and decision-maker.”
As Campanile said during the interview, “Football legitimately runs around in the family.” Campanile’s father, Mike, coached 10 seasons at Paramus Catholic, including his own sons Nunzio, Vito and Anthony. Camanile played two seasons as the quarterback and safety at Paramus Catholic. “Football has always been at the heart of the family. That is how my parents’ met, dated and got married. Our dad raised us on the football field and we really share the same values that now we can pass on to other kids which is a tremendous opportunity. My Mom is still driving and flying to all places to watch us coach.”
This Friday, Bergen Catholic will play at DePaul Catholic on ESPNU at 8 p.m.
“Between the coaches and kids in our area, have worked so hard and put so much into it,” said Campanile. “It’s a great opportunity to play in front of a national audience and showcase how good the football is in our own backyard.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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