BELLEVILLE – There are many high school football coaches who demonstrate tremendous passion and enthusiasm for the job they do.
Joe Fischer, undoubtedly, was one of them.
In his two stints as head coach of the Belleville High School football team, Fischer fervently brought an optimistic attitude, even though the Bucs struggled.
Fischer recently decided to step down after the Bucs finished with a 1-9 record in his second season back as head coach.
A Montclair High graduate, Fischer was the Bucs head coach for four seasons from 2004 to 2007. In 2005, the Bucs defeated playoff-bound Paterson Eastside in Week 8 to snap a 33-game losing streak. The following week, the Bucs made it two straight wins as they defeated West Orange and went on to finish with a 2-8 record.
The Bucs improved on that record in 2006, going 3-7.
In 2007, the Bucs continued to make strides as they finished 5-5 for their first non-losing season in 17 years while qualifying for the state playoffs for the first time in 23 years. They lost to Morris Knolls in the first round in the North Jersey Section 1, Group 4 playoffs. After that season, Fischer stepped down.
The Bucs went through two coaches – Chris Strumolo from 2008 to 2010 (5-5 record in 2008, 11-19 overall), and John Dubuque from 2011 to 2013 (5-25 overall).
Fischer came back to the Bucs for the 2014 season. During that season, the Bucs went 2-8.
Fischer and his staff were instrumental in developing some fine players, most notably Maurice Jones, a speedy defensive back who went on to star at Temple University.
Though Fischer’s Bucs went 13-47 in all, the program has come a long way, and the future is quite bright.
“I feel even though it did not show in our record, my staff and I accomplished some major goals by improving the off-season commitment and expanding the program size,” said Fischer in an email to the Belleville Post. “I took over a program 18 months ago with 35 kids in the whole program and a large graduating group of seniors. We ended this season with 69 players in the program and set up the next coach with 17 returning players and 12 will be three-year starters next season, so I would like to say that I have made the program a lot better than the one I inherited 19 months ago!”
Fischer indicated he would like to further his career in educational leadership at the administration level.
Indeed, Fischer left the program in great shape. When the Bucs finally turned it around someday, Bucs fans should certainly give Fischer the credit he deserves.