WEST ORANGE, NJ - Although yesterday's snow day for West Orange Public Schools delayed National Signing Day for four of West Orange High School's star athletes, the players, coaches and parents were all smiles as they officially signed their National Letters of Intent in the Library Media Center after school on Feb. 6. Feb. 5 was National Signing Day, when athletes receiving scholarships and grants sign their National Letters of Intent with their college.
Ian Faloye, the breakout star of the State Championship West Orange High School Soccer team, will be attending Lafayette College in Easton, Pa. where he plans to major in Economics and Engineering. Faloye said he liked Lafayette because it was a good academic school as well as an up-and-coming competitor with its soccer program which won several conferences and has, what he describes as, a "strong future".
"Ian is the best defender we ever had," said West Orange High School boys soccer coach, Doug Nevins.
"He started varsity as a sophomore, then junior, then senior," said Nevins. In the beginning of his senior season, I think Ian put too much pressure on himself...maybe it was a little immaturity. But he focused, and really developed as a team player, and his season play was outstanding. You know you have a leader when you're a team player that makes everyone on your team better. He's going to be one of our "legends" here at West Orange High School."
In addition to Faloye, three West Orange High School football players: Isaiah Scott, Justin Osuji, and Eugene Charles signed National Letters of Intent with their respective schools.
Scott, who plays safety, will be attending California University of Pennsylvania. Scott explained that a smaller school was the right fit for him, and will be close enough to home to see his family. In addition to football, Scott is also a star player on the West Orange High School Boys Basketball team. When asked if he planned on playing basketball as well, he smiled and said "I was thinking about it. They (Cal U. of Pa.) said I could if I wanted to."
"Isaiah was one of my best players," said West Orange High School coach, Jim Matsakis. "He was unselfish. He grew in leaps and bounds during the season."
Charles, also a safety, will be attending Bethany College in Kansas. Bethany is a small college, but they are offering him a full scholarship with additional grant opportunities. According to Matsakis, five other players from New Jersey were also recruited by Bethany, which should make the adjustment for Charles easier.
Osuji, a linebacker, will be attending Wagner College on Staten Island. Matsakis coached at Wagner for several years and felt that the environment of a small college would be a perfect fit for him.
Matsakis noted, "Justin has only been at West Orange High School for two years. He had to work hard to catch up academically, and he did. He is one of the hardest working kids I know."
When asked about the changes in the football program after long-time Head Coach John Jacobs was replaced by Matsakis at the end of the 2012-2013 season, the three agreed that they appreciated Coach Jacobs as well as Matsakis, who led the football team to a very solid 7-3 season this year.
"It was a huge transition in the beginning, but I learned a lot about being a player and being a man from Coach," said Osuji.
"You have to be able to adjust to changes in your life," added Charles. "With Coach's help we did well this year. It shocked a lot of people."
Matsakis was proud of all three athletes and said "they're role models on and off the field, and that says a lot about their character."
West Orange High School principal, Hayden Moore seemed to be at an unusual loss for words. "I am so proud of every one of these kids," he said as each photograph was snapped.