Smart fans don’t leave after a good high school soccer game ends.
For many of them, the show is just around the corner.
The after-game celebrations, or “cellos”, have taken on a life of their own in North Jersey. Wayne Valley football players swing axes in a wooden stump symbolizing hard work. Cresskill players kiss the grass. After the games at Park Ridge, ‘Carry on Wayward Son’ is booming.
It is pandemonium of the best kind. These moments are not rehearsed, but they are scripted. There is a form that you need to follow but you need to be on it to know your role.
While the post-game will always be special after a win where a coach congratulates his team and everyone indulges in the success, there are some who have taken it to the next level.
With the 2021 soccer playoffs starting, it’s a reminder that big football in North Jersey includes big celebrations.
Smoke them boots
Rashid Darrisaw swears he’s not that coach type.
But the DePaul defense coordinator since 2018 is the loud man in the middle of the Spartans post-game festival.
“A team I used to play for, there was a chant that we used when we beat a team by a large margin,” said Darrisaw. “They know the kids are checking out your YouTube highlights to see if you were good and they stumbled upon that chant.”
The singing? “Smoke they boots” or “smoke dem boots” or “smoke dey boots”, depending on your preference.
“I let him handle it,” laughed DePaul head coach Nick Campanile. “The kids love it. You can’t wait. I’m getting 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 chant they had seen. Now it happens after every big win.
It goes like this: Darrisaw is persuaded to get into the middle of a ring of players. Everything is said twice. Darrisaw begins with the words “We smoked the boots!” and the players repeat it. Then he says “I love it!” and the players repeat that, then it says “we are unstoppable”.
The very last line is not scripted. Darrisaw is coming up with that right now. But the scene always ends the same: a deafening cheer.
“As long as the children love it. It’s more of an energy thing, ”said Darrisaw. “As long as the energy is high and the children are there, it’s fun.”
Sing through the years
Adam Baeira had just won his first game as the Ramsey football coach at Point Pleasant Boro in 2020 and gathered his team to “sing a little”.
Then he realized they had no idea what he was talking about.
“I just said repeat after myself and they did pretty well,” said Baeira, whose team are 9-0 in 2021.
Of all the post-game celebrations in North Jersey, the “singing” ones have been around for decades. Baeira readily admits he stole it from his mentor Greg Toal at Don Bosco. Greg Tanzer also did a version of this when he was at Fair Lawn.
How did it start Who knows? It could go back to Toal’s game days at Hasbrouck Heights.
It’s basically a moment when the coach gathers his team around him and yells, “Can someone beat this team from Ramsey (or Fair Lawn or Bosco)?” three times with the team’s answer: “Hell no!” unanimously.
In the end everyone throws a fist in the air and screams.
Ramsey doesn’t “sing” after every game. Baeira said it was an organic decision that is happening right now.
“It’s for the best,” he said. “For those 10 seconds or so, it’s pretty rewarding for a coach to see the kids excited and happy after a big win.”
The last Dance
Bergen Catholic’s post-game victory celebration is the most elaborate in North Jersey.
The Crusader players traditionally run to their student department, stand nearby and sing the school’s alma mater. The team, cheerleaders, fans and parents then all run into the field to coach Vito Campanile’s final words to his team.
Toal, now assistant coach at Bergen Catholic, “sang” in the middle of the circle for the Crusaders: “Can someone beat this Bergen team?” but what almost everyone wants to see now is Vito dance.
“Now they’re kind of demanding it,” laughed Vito, whose team is # 1 in New Jersey and 9-0. “I don’t know how it started, a couple of wins and I think we were so excited it turned into dance moves. I think I can do a pretty good balancing act at 47, but I’m not going to lie, it hurts my knee. “
“He’s awful,” quipped Nick (remember, they’re brothers). “You have to see him at a wedding. He’s the worst. “
Aside from Vito’s dancing skills – I think he moves pretty well – the moment embodies what high school football is supposed to be about: fun, enthusiasm, excitement.
“Having fun is such a big part of our job,” said Vito. “If it’s not just fun, it becomes mundane. I don’t know why you don’t want to have fun with the boys. I think our changing room is fun. We laugh all the time. “
Vito and Nick are the sons of trainer Mike Campanile, and they both remember the post-game celebrations for Mike’s teams as a little quieter. But maybe if the Crusaders finish unbeaten 12-0 … could they get Mike to show a move or two?
“That would be epic,” said Vito.
Darren Cooper is a high school sports columnist for NorthJersey.com. Sign up today for full access to live scores, breaking news and analysis from our Varsity Aces team. To get the latest news straight to your inbox, Sign up for our newsletter and Download our app.