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West Orange High School Names Darnell Grant Head Varsity Football Coach


West Orange High School Names Darnell Grant
Head Varsity Football Coach


Former NJ Coach of the Year and 2x State Champion to transform High School Football program
and work with town youth program to build strong feeder system.


March 11, 2019 -- (West Orange, NJ) -- Today, the West Orange Public Schools announced the appointment of Darnell Grant as the new Head Coach of the West Orange Varsity Football Team. Grant, 46, joins West Orange after nine years as head coach at Shabazz High School where he was named NJ Coach of the Year in 2014, inducted into the Essex County Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2015, named NAACP’s 2017 Sportsman of the Year, and was named one of NJ’s 50 winningest active head coaches in 2018. He lead Shabazz to outscore opponents 500-69, delivered their first undefeated season in more than five decades, and delivered two State Championship crowns and three State Championship appearances in five years.


In announcing Grant’s appointment, West Orange Director of Athletics Ron Bligh said, “Our High School sports programs have experienced a complete overhaul over the past 5 years and the results are showing in our county and sectional accomplishments. Darnell brings new dynamic leadership to our Football program and I'm excited to see how he transforms the program to put West Orange football on the map.”


“I can't wait for Fall!” said West Orange High School Principal and community leader Hayden Moore. “I couldn't be happier to welcome Coach Grant to our Mountaineer family at this pivotal time in our evolution. Our campus and community is so welcoming and forward-thinking, I couldn't think of a better leader to join our team with all the right qualities to keep us moving in the right direction and take us to the next level. Welcome to the family, Coach Grant!”


“A good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life.”  


Darnell Grant will undoubtedly bring new and unique experiences for players and coaches on the field. Off the field, he will partner with the elite West Orange PAL program to mentor and continue developing players into the next generation of scholar athletes that will raise the bar for the entire community.


“We’re looking forward to partnering with Coach Grant,” said Joe DePasquale, President of West Orange PAL. “Adding a strong mentor like Coach Grant who can deliver both on and off the field will benefit our young players and be a positive influence for the entire community.”


The West Orange Varsity Football program has experienced several transformational seasons leading up to this point. Coach Grant has a great opportunity ahead of him and is ready for the challenge.


“I believe Coach Grant will be an invaluable mentor and role model for our boys; teaching them not only how to be strong athletes, but excellent students, faithful friends, contributing citizens, and one day loving husbands and nurturing fathers.” said Acting Superintendent Eveny de Mendez.


Grant brings an immense wealth of knowledge in the field of Academic Intervention to the West Orange Public Schools. He has lead behavior modification programs and has experience in crisis management and restorative circles.


“Transformation doesn't happen overnight, slow and steady wins the race, but I'm ready to blast off with these kids and coaches,” said Grant. “I'm excited to be on this journey and look forward to delivering winning seasons, championships, and help build upon the West Orange pride that fills this community to create a whole new meaning to “Friday Night Under the Lights.” Thank you to the WO BOE, Acting Superintendent Eveny de Mendez, WOHS Principal Hayden Moore, Athletic Director Ron Bligh, and the entire community for giving me this chance.”


For interview/feature opportunities with Coach Grant, please contact:
Ron Bligh, Director of Athletics,, Tel: 973-669-5301 x31567