Sussex County Sports Blog

By Dan Cleary

4/10/2014 - Delaney To Return To High Point

    When Jim Delaney’s teaching position at High Point fell victim to budget cuts in the Spring of 2011 he never thought he would teach and coach again in the district.

   A district he grew to love as an educator and as a football coach where he helped bring the Wildcats to heights they hadn’t seen since the early 2000s.
   But life sometimes has a funny way of working things out and when the opportunity to return to High Point presented itself to Delaney a couple of months ago he had a big-time decision to make after taking over Wallkill Valley’s football program a year ago.
   But a after a lot of  soul-searching and consultation Delaney made his choice and High Point couldn’t be happier.
   After a three-year hiatus Delaney will return to Pidgeon Hill Road starting this summer to retake the reins of a program he had built into a state-tournament qualifier as the new/old head football coach at High Point.
   High Point went 2-8 overall and 2-5 in the American Division last year under Delaney’s successor Bill Percey who was not brought back after three seasons.
   “Without a doubt it was the toughest decision of my professional life, “ said Delaney who was approved by the district board of education last month. 
   “I really liked Wallkill Valley and I can’t say enough about the kids, Daryl (Jones Wallkill’s AD) and the administration.  They couldn’t have been more supportive and it is very tough to leave.
   “But when I did make the decision it felt right to be back,” added Delaney who coached two years at Montville before coming to Wallkill last year.  “Again there is no bad blood with Wallkill Valley and I thought I was going to finish my career there and I was happy with that.
   “But I never wanted to leave (High Point) in the first place,” he continued.  “I’m thrilled and excited to be back and I’m looking forward to the season.”
   So how did this all go down?
   Even Delaney thought he would never teach or coach at High Point again.  And it is a very delicate situation when a coach leaves one school for another especially when those schools have close ties.
   According to High Point AD Todd Van Orden, who worked with Jones at Wallkill Valley, a teaching position was available at the school and after the school opted  not to bring back Percey the football job was open.
   “I told Daryl (Jones) right away,” said Van Orden.  “I wanted to give him a heads-up professionally and as a friend. 
   “But this was a no-brainer for us,” he added.  “When you can get a guy like Jim who is not only great with  Xs and Os but with kids and as an educator it is great for the school and the community.
   “Everyone knows the success he had here and that speaks for itself.  It is a great fit,” Van Orden added.  “Many people did not envision this but this is a shot in the arm for the program.  We are very excited.”
   In his one season at Wallkill Valley Delaney brought some enthusiasm and his “flexbone” offense.  The Rangers went 1-9 and 1-8 in the Independence Division and suffered multiple injuries throughout the season forcing Delaney to play as many as nine freshmen and sophomores.
   In fact Wallkill was down to its fourth-string quarterback after starting QB sophomore Rich Stecher got hurt.  But the youngsters really responded and Wallkill has a bright future according to Delaney.
   “Obviously we are disappointed with losing him,” said Jones.  “He gave us a heads up but we were looking forward to having him a long time.  But this happened and he had to do what he felt best for him and his family.
   “Now we have posted the position and we will do our due diligence in finding a new coach,” Jones added.   “We just have less time to do it in then we did when we hired Jim.”
   Delaney went 19-22 in his four seasons at High Point including a terrific 2010 campaign  in which the Wildcats made the states for the first time since 2001 and topped Pascack Valley 28-20 before losing to state-power Wayne Hills 49-0 in the North 1, Group 3 semifinals, finishing the season 8-3.
   But the budget ax fell the next spring and Delaney was out of a teaching job and moved onto to Montville where he replaced his former college coach Gerry Gallagher for two seasons before coming to Wallkill Valley. 
   Leaving High Point hurt because Delaney felt he had the program in the right direction and was building the team into a consistent winner, not just a program that would post sporadic winning seasons.
   The seniors he will be coaching next year were freshmen when he left so it is a brand new start for Delaney.
   “”It is all new again but the kids have been working hard in the weight room the last two weeks,” said Delaney.  “We need to get back to what we do as a program and those three things are being tough, being disciplined and finishing.”
   Delaney’s staff has not yet been approved by the board of education but don’t be surprised if you see loyal Delaney assistants Brad Wilbur and Brian Bird back at High Point.
   “They are not just great coaches but they are great with kids,” said Delaney of the duo who coached at all three stops with Delaney.
   Delaney said he was excited to be back in the new-look American Division which houses Pope John, Sparta, Vernon, Montville, Morris Hills and new members Chatham and Parsippany Hills.
   “I like our conference,” he said.  “It is well-coached and you are in for a game every week.  Our conference is what is good about high school football.”
   In my position you hear rumors all the time and I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t heard about Delaney’s return but I never thought it would happen because he seemed very happy at Wallkill, and he was, he said.
   But every coach has a school in their head that is their ultimate job.  A job that they would leave any current position, under the right circumstances, to take.
   That is what happened here and it has nothing to do with Wallkill it was all about coming back to High Point for Delaney.
   I know it is a tough pill to swallow for Wallkill Valley but the High Point job was on Delaney’s list.  And to be honest, if it wasn’t  High Point I would be raising an eyebrow.
   But it is and Delaney has some unfinished business to take care of up in Wantage.  So here is hoping he gets the job done.
   That’s it for now see you on the sidelines.
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