Charles Salame, 31, has been hired as new head football coach at Fort Lee.
Salame is no stranger to the Bridgemen program, having served as defensive coordinator for the past five years. He’s also an English teacher at the school and head girls track coach.
He inherits a program that doesn’t have much tradition of success, but he’s seen Fort Lee emerge as a contender in other sports and believes the school can rise in football as well.
“With track, we made a commitment to saying let’s focus on the kids first and see how that works,” Salame said Sunday. “It does work, because you can get kids to do things that maybe they wouldn’t have done if they know they truly care about you.”
Salame was born in Lebanon, but moved to North Jersey before his first birthday. He played football for Lodi High School and went to Ramapo College where he received his degree and education certificate.
He was lucky enough to get a job teaching at Fort Lee right out of school, and wanted to work with the football program. His first season he spent mainly with the junior varsity, but his role increased as time went on. He worked for two years under Rob Bertolini as defensive coordinator, then when Bill Straub returned as head coach, he stayed in that position for the past three years.
Salame said he learned a lot under both men, and intends to put down roots.
“I don’t want to do this for two years, this is not something I want to just try,” Salame said. “For our kids and our program and our town, continuity works best. I’m not going anywhere. I love Fort Lee. I can’t find a better place, or a better situation than I have now.”
Fort Lee has one sectional title to its credit, that in 1960, and it has made the playoffs three times in history. Salame was part of the staff in 2016 when the Bridgemen finished 7-3 and lost to Lenape Valley in the first round of the playoffs. That 7-3 record was the first winning season for Fort Lee since 1999. Last year, the Bridgemen were 2-7
Salame believes the key to revitalizing the program is building connections (yes, Salame calls it a Bridge) between the varsity players now and the players on the youth level. He said he understands some kids may leave for different opportunities, but that it’s imperative to keep the core of the young players together.
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Fort Lee opens with Bergen Tech in September.
“To me, success is knowing that you have done your best, despite the outcome,” Salame said. “If you judge yourself solely on wins and losses, you lose control of your ability to see improvement. You can play really bad in Week 1 and win; we want to be better in Week 7 and Week 8 than we were in Week 1 or 2. That’s the message we want to try to implement.”
Keith Migliorino leaves Northern Highlands
After three seasons at Northern Highlands, Keith Migliorino has resigned as football coach. The school posted the opening for the position on Friday.
Migliorino came to Northern Highlands in 2016 after a stellar high school career at Don Bosco and Montclair State. He had served as defensive coordinator at Kean for 12 years.
With the Highlanders, Migliorino was 15-15, and guided the school to three playoff berths.
In 2016, the Highlanders faced Roxbury in the first round of the North 1, Group 4 playoffs even though they were the ninth seed in the bracket. But the NJSIAA was waiting for a final ruling on the eligibility of players at top seeded Wayne Hills necessitating the first eight/nine seed playoff game in New Jersey history. Roxbury defeated the Highlanders, 45-35.