Columbia HS football team excited with proven new head coach

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MAPLEWOOD/SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – Gary Mobley knows what it takes to achieve success.

At Rahway High School, he led the program to the state sectional playoffs nine times in 11 seasons, including eight semifinal appearances and one championship game in 2008. Mobley, in all, had a sparkling 77-44 record for the Union County school.

It’s no wonder Columbia is abuzz with Mobley as its new head coach.

Mobley, a 1986 graduate of Union High School where he played for the late legendary Lou Rettino, takes over a Columbia team coming off a 5-5 state North Jersey Section 2, Group 5 playoff season. It was the first time the Cougars made the playoffs since they made it back-to-back in 2009 and 2010. Their previous playoff appearance was in 1982.

Mobley is bringing his coaching credo to Columbia.

“Success is a choice. That’s an old motto we have been using for years,” said Mobley, replacing John Power, another Union High grad and Rettino disciple who was the Cougars head coach for two seasons before taking the same job at Morristown HS.  “We’re trying to empower the guys about the positive thought about choosing to do the right things, to prepare themselves for what we hope to be a successful season. We want to get back to basics, trying to change the culture a little bit, more of just being competitive, year in and year out. Columbia has had some good years, but they’ve had a lot more down years. We’re trying to get away from the down years and have more consecutive winning seasons.”

The key players for Columbia are senior tailback/outside linebacker Kiambu Jones, junior quarterback Brandon Robinson, senior receiver/cornerback Nile Garcia, senior offensive center/defensive end Jaymee Hyppolite, junior offensive tackle/defensive tackle Galileo Hetherington, junior inside linebacker Cordel Provilon, and senior fullback/linebacker C.J. Nwanonyiri.

Jones was the team’s top rusher last year. Robinson has been the starting quarterback since his freshman year. Garcia and Provilon also are experienced. Nwanonyiri is a transfer from a DePaul program that won state titles in each of the last three seasons.

Offensively, the Cougars run a multiple-eye offense with Jones leading the ground game. The team looks to attack the opposing defense’s weaknesses.

On defense, the Cougars use a 4-4 scheme.

Mobley is looking for his team to be fundamentally sound while coming up with big plays on both sides of the ball.

“We just need to be fundamentally sound, continue to play for each other, stop big plays and create big plays for ourselves,” Mobley said.

Those ingredients certainly will help win games and post another playoff campaign.

“We feel good about taking the next step, having back-to-back winning seasons and back-to-back playoffs,” Mobley said. “We’re looking to hopefully get into the playoffs and win a playoff game, something that hasn’t happened in the modern era at Columbia. We’re looking to become historic figures in a sense.”

Cougars schedule

Sept. 9, Bloomfield, 7 p.m.

Sept. 17, at East Orange Campus, 1 p.m.

Sept. 23, at West Orange, 7 p.m.

Sept. 30, Morristown, 7 p.m.

Oct. 7, at Livingston, 7 p.m.

Oct. 15, Seton Hall Prep, 1 p.m.

Oct. 21, at Randolph, 7 p.m.

Oct. 29, at Morris Knolls, 1 p.m.

Nov. 4, Montclair, 7 p.m.