NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—At a time when the the struggling New Brunswick High School football team needs all the help it can get, some say they finally have something to be happy about: a new head coach.
Don Sofilkanich will replace Castor Losada as the team's head coach in the 2014 season. A graduate of East Brunswick High School, Sofilkanich spent many years as an assistant coach under NBHS' John Quinn.
Some seven years after leaving the program for a head coaching job in Monmouth County, Sofilkanich was approved by the New Brunswick Board of Education to return to the Zebras earlier this month. He met with the team the following day to discuss the goals for the upcoming football season.
"My goal is to put New Brunswick back on the map,'' Sofilkanich told the Star-Ledger. “This is a great opportunity for me. I want to win our first game, I want to have a winning season, I want to win the division. I eventually want to win a state championship here.''
Sofilkanich has his work cut out for him. He's the fourth head football coach in the past six years at NBHS, taking over a team with a record of just 2-36-1 over the last five years, including an embarrasing 26-game losing streak.
The Zebras appeared in the playoffs during many of Sofilkanich's years with the program, and went undefeated in 2003 for the second time in school history, and the first time since 1926.
After leaving NBHS in 2006, Sofilkanich took over as the head coach at Asbury Park High School He took a team that had a 1-9 record and went on to post a 33-3 record and claim three consecutive Central Group I championships there.
Sofilkanich then took over as head coach of the Neptune Fliers in 2010 and guided them to a 6-4 record and a Central Group II playoff berth. He also led Holmdel to an identical mark and a share of the Shore Conference Class C South title in 2006 as well.
Three years ago, Sofilkanich took the job coaching the team at Bishop Ahr, a Catholic school in Edison.
Unlike his three previous coaching stops, where his teams never finished below .500, Sofilkanich never had a winning record while coaching Bishop Ahr, but they only lost seven games by a total of 21 points during his time there.
Known for building a strong defense at just about every program he has coached, Sofilkanich is now back where he once was part of a coaching staff that helped the Zebras win several championships at NBHS.
Sofilkanich was part of the coaching staff that helped develop talented players like Dwayne Jarrett who would go on to win a national championship at the University of Southern California.
Jonathan Casillas, an outstanding defensive player for the Zebras, would go on to become captain of the University of Wisconsin's defensive unit, and eventually win a Super Bowl with the New Orleans Saints.
As reported last week, Casillas' pro career continues as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Editor's Note: The author of this article played football for the Zebras during Coach Sofilkanich's tenure as an assistant.