ORANGE, NJ — By now almost everyone in the city of Orange Township has heard the shocking news of the sudden retirement of longtime Orange High School head football coach Randy Daniel.
Daniel had been the head coach for the Tornadoes since 1996 and has been coaching football for more than 30 years. He also taught woodshop at the high school until his retirement at the end of the 2020-21 school year. “I plan on continuing to coach at Orange High School,” said Daniel a few times over the summer leading into the 2021-22 school year.
Daniel led his squad through all team-related activities, including the Super Football Conference Media Day event at MetLife Stadium in late August. The event was held two weeks before Orange’s opening game against Chatham in the Zone6ix High School Football Showcase at William Paterson University.
Since their 43-7 loss to Chatham, the Tornadoes hit a snag, as their participation level hit an almost all-time low. They had graduated several players from the Class of 2021, including standout running back Montez Boswell, who is now attending Milford Academy before enrolling in college.
Daniel had a reputation for teaching his players, as well as for getting them into the colleges of their choice. He’s had some notable players over the years, including Jason Alford, a Super Bowl winner with the New York Giants. He also has led the Tornadoes to the state sectional playoffs 12 times, which is the all-time record for an OHS football coach. Daniel led OHS to the state sectional championship games in 2001 and 2009, both losses. Those championship game appearances are the only ones in program history.
“We were surprised with his decision,” said Orange Assistant Principal of Student Activities and Athletics Anthony Frantantoni.
Orange has since forfeited what would have been its second game to West Side, citing team safety and an inadequate number of eligible players. In his last acts as head coach, Daniel went to scout Nutley’s game against Belleville and made several attempts to get players to join or rejoin the team. On Tuesday, Sept. 14, Daniel made his coaching retirement official as he made the announcement to his players, coaches and parents. In an official statement, Orange Public Schools Board of Education Superintendent Gerald Fitzhugh II said, “Coach Daniel was pivotal in the lives of student-athletes for more than twenty years. His passion for the game and students was unwavering. The football program was one of great status, and that is thanks to Coach Daniel’s vision. The Orange school district salutes Coach Randy Daniel and wishes him nothing but the best in his future endeavors.”
Orange has named Khalfani Alleyne as the interim head football coach. Alleyne is an Orange High School graduate who played for Daniel. He was part of Daniel’s first consecutive playoff runs starting in 1997-2001, going to the state sectional semifinals twice and losing to West Essex in the final in 2001. “I am sad that he left, but it is also a chance for me to prove to myself as well as the Orange Tornadoes community that I am the right man for the job. We will honor coach Daniel’s legacy, as well as usher in a new system and identity for our athletes,” he said before the Nutley game. Alleyne will make his home debut with the Tornadoes against West Essex this Friday evening at Bell Stadium. “I am excited to see where we can go from here,” stated Alleyne.
Photos Courtesy of Kerry E. Porter, Joe Ragozzino, Mo Abdelaziz, and Steve Ellmore