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Wayne Valley Football Players Fight for Coach to Return

Brian O'Connor will probably not be back with the team next year. Some of his players think he is being treated unfairly.

Brian O'Connor, left, shakes hands with Wayne Demikoff on the night Demikoff was hired to be the new head football coach at Wayne Hills. / Patch file photo
Brian O'Connor, left, shakes hands with Wayne Demikoff on the night Demikoff was hired to be the new head football coach at Wayne Hills. / Patch file photo

Brian O’Connor has taught his football players to fight and try their best on the field. Now, they are fighting for more than a victory on the field.

They're trying to save O'Connor's job.

Several of O’Connor’s players are trying to make sure the 13-year Wayne Valley head coach keeps his job.

“We want to make sure we play for someone we trust,” said Kevin Hughes, a junior wide receiver who has played for O’Connor for two years. “We want to play for coach O’Connor.”

O’Connor appears to be all but out as football coach. The district began advertising for O’Connor’s replacement Jan. 6.

Several of his players attended a Board of Education meeting last month and have tried to get officials to reconsider their decision. They hold O’Connor in high regard.

“He’s always asking all the players, whether they’re starters or not, how they’re doing in their classes,” Hughes said. “He has taken an active interest in our lives.”

No one knows this better than Joey DeFlippis. His father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April 2012 and died in June 2013.

“He was one of the first 10 people to call me after my father died and was one of the first people to show up at my father’s wake,” said DeFlippis, a senior linebacker. “It goes to show how great he really is. He reached out to my mom and I during the holidays after my dad died. He wanted to make sure we were doing okay. He doesn’t produce football teams. He produces families.”

After Valley beat Hills for the first time in nearly 20 years in 2012 O'Connor cut up the game ball and gave a piece to each player. He praised the entire team for their collective effort.

The players said that O’Connor keeps his kids accountable for their actions both on and off the field.

“You never hear about major problems with players at our school,” DeFlippis said. “You never hear about players from our team in the news.”

Although O’Connor has beaten cross-town powerhouse Wayne Hills and been to a sectional final the last few years haven’t been too great. Valley went 4-6 in 2013 and 2012 and 3-7 in 2011. O’Connor now works with the players in the weight room three days a week.

O’Connor had a meeting with then district Athletic Director Mike Miello before Christmas. He thought he was going to keep his job, NorthJersey.com reported, but was informed that he would not be retained after Miello and Superintendent Ray Gonzalez had a meeting. Brad Smith is now the interim district athletic director.

O’Connor told the website that while his team’s recent records might not be that impressive what he does for the community and the school is.

“The job is about building character and preaching academics,” O’Connor told the website. 

The players said that politics and a few subpar seasons might be to blame for O’Connor being out.

“If we went 5-5 there wouldn’t be any discussion about a coaching change,” Hughes said.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

I don't think so January 25, 2014 at 12:57 PM
This decision is not made by the Board of Education. The overpaid and underachieving Athletic Director makes a recommendation to the Superintendent. The board can only vote on who is presented. While I think the board has made a lot of bad decisions including the hiring of the Superintendent, this isn't there fault.
raised in wayne January 25, 2014 at 05:32 PM
What about the coach who "inadvertently" broke a NJSIAA rule in the county tournament a couple years ago (I call it cheating)? He's still coaching, but the team was disqualified from the tournament.
Its just me January 25, 2014 at 11:39 PM
Does it matter who laid him off? I'm sure there are plenty of valid reasons they let him go. And who cares? you all act like this man was part of your lives because he wanted, its his job to be the way he is. You actually think he caree about your kids? dont think so. Yes hes a nice man but except the fact that its over because if he returns and does something you dont like then fingers start pointing back to the BOE of why they kept him. You all contridict yourselves and its not even funny anylonger.
C6 January 26, 2014 at 12:43 AM
WHY is he being fired? If he's been in the district 13 years, what did he do to get fired?
Flood Plain January 26, 2014 at 10:36 AM
Doesn't he have tenure as a teacher, and is he thus only losing his coaching duties????
Pad January 26, 2014 at 01:32 PM
Politics! Just "Spender Gonzalez" making some more room for his friends. ITS JUST ME you are way out of line on this blaming the kids. Obviously he's a tenured teacher. If he is teaching them the right attitudes and values who cares about their record. Obviously for many years Olsen was like a God and look how bad he turned out to be and all his bad behavior. Glad he's gone. Yeah so he was a good coach, his kids good players but they lacked values, morals and also showed bad behavior also. So are they the role models we want our children to follow?
Jack Q January 27, 2014 at 07:35 AM
Unfortunately, coaches are measured by wins and losses. Pad, I don't think this is Gonzalez's fault. Miello let him go. Maybe he wants one of his friends in.
Pad January 28, 2014 at 02:26 PM
Maybe Miello should go. Yes, its called bring in my buddies. Its a game that's played all to often in the Wayne School District. The number 1 player "Spender Gonzalez".
Steven Rose January 28, 2014 at 03:49 PM
Miello retired at the end December....
Voice of Reason January 30, 2014 at 06:13 PM
It will be interesting to see if a WV teacher gets fired or transferred to make room for the new coach. That is if he is brought in from outside the District. Better yet maybe a teaching position will be created.

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