Montclair Wins Appeal: North Bergen Stripped Of Football Title

MHS has won its appeal of a ruling allowing North Bergen High to keep its football state championship.


North Bergen High School will lose its football state championship title thanks to Montclair High School winning its appeal Wednesday before the executive committee of the agency that governs high school athletics in the state.

However, the ruling does not mean Montclair High School gets the state championship title.

"There simply is no state championship this time," said Derlys Guttierez, Montclair's attorney. "You can't award a championship to the team that lost the game.

"It's a bad situation as there are absolutely no winners here on either side," she added. "Students on both teams played their hearts out."

North Bergen defeated Montclair in the North Jersey Section 1 Group IV championship game on Dec. 3, 2011 in storied head coach Vince Ascolese's final game. The Bruins were later accused of recruiting two star players, Denzel Leitch and Eric McMullen. The recruiting, and other possible violations, were reported by Leitch after the season's end.

"Our position was that the penalty against the North Bergen High School was not severe enough," Guttierez said.

And the executive committee of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association unanimously agreed, she added.

In December, Montclair Patch reported how came to a stunning and disappointing end at MetLife Stadium. North Bergen's Sergio Rodriguez connected with Debray Tavarez on a 22-yard touchdown strike as time expired, handing Montclair its first loss of the season while winning the North I Group 4 state sectional championship, 14-13, in a shocking upset.

All season long the Mounties football team looked unbeatable but, according to the Montclair Patch report, the Bruins would not be intimidated by the state's fourth-ranked team, which came in averaging more than 44 points per game.

What do you think of the appeal? Should North Bergen have lost its title? Tell us in the comments section below.

njfan33 June 07, 2012 at 12:34 PM
Montclair not being named the winner is not a travesty. Plenty of NCAA titles have been vacated without there being a winner. In track it is easy to just move everyone up a spot because everyone has an exact time. It is impossible to say that since two players, who may or may not have contributed significantly in the game, were ineligible, then the outcome would have definitively been different.
Timothy Ramirez June 07, 2012 at 01:48 PM
Both teams played their hearts out, punish the adults involved in this controversy, not the students. Let them be state champions but all the adults pay a fine. According to the NJSIAA there is currently no proof. But don't break the students hearts. You adults need to think about the students too not just yourselves.
Stuart Weissman June 07, 2012 at 02:52 PM
They already punished the adults. The Montclair adults though. As they paid lawyers to strip North Bergen of their title.
tryintosurvive June 07, 2012 at 03:16 PM
As near I can tell there is only one adult involved (the North Bergen coach) and he is now retired.
nina June 13, 2012 at 08:24 PM
I agree with profwilliams. The completion of the lesson is awarding the title to those who played fair and by the rules. Why the adults involved in these negotiations can't plainly see this is unconscionable. All of the kids involved have been made to pay for the choices and decisions of a few North Bergen coaches, now even the Montclair kids. It wasn't any the players that did the recruiting! You say you can't award the title to a team that lost......well try it on for size. Try to imagine the kids' faces and what they learn about their hard work, justice in our society, instead of the alternative. You can award them the title, you just won't. MAN UP! Maybe Montclair needs to appeal again and again, and plan a rally in front of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, with the support of Montclair Patch, a couple of newspaper reporters, Twitter, Facebook and other social media to encourage those involved to see clearly.


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