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Northern Highlands Junior Football & Cheerleading Association

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Mar, 2020

2020 NH JR Football Association State of the Union

Dear Bulldog Nation…


I am writing all of you as I enter my 10th year with the NH Junior Bulldogs and 5th year as the organization’s president.


When I started back in 2011 I signed up to be a head coach for my son Michael’s 2nd grade team.  As I walked over to the Hess shed to pick up his equipment that summer another dad told me to enjoy it, that it will be one of the best experiences I can have with my son.  I would soon realize how right he was.  I eventually joined the board and worked to make the Bulldogs a great experience for hundreds of kids over the past decade.


Over the past two years we have been in discussions regarding the future of our organization- how to keep it strong and competitive but also how to keep it safe and enjoyable.  Our “brother program”- Saddle River / HHK Youth Football has also been contemplating the same.  We began meeting to discuss the future of our respective programs both as youth programs themselves and in their respective relationships to creating a bridge to the Northern Highlands high school football program.


Considering the challenges we were facing as individual organizations and the potential huge upsides to coming together to create a unified program for the high school to work with, in January 2020- after two years of planning and discussion- we have decided to merge together to form a single youth program.  The final step to the creation of this merger took place last Thursday night when the league we play in (the NBJFL) voted to approve allowing the team to stay in the league as a merged, 4-town program.  


For the 2020 season and beyond, much like HLA Lacrosse and now Highlands Travel Baseball, we will compete as a unified 4-town program in football.  There was unanimous consensus when it came to creating our identity as a new program.  In that this was a consensus agreement to merge, it did not make sense for one program to be rolled into the other.  Instead we agreed to dissolve our respective organizations and create a new one from the ground up  We are going to retire the NH Jr. Bulldogs and the SR/HHK Indians and form a true junior program for Northern Highlands H.S. by becoming the Northern Highlands Junior Highlanders- with the goal being to model ourselves after the high school program with respect to uniform design, helmet color and design etc.


This merger brings with it more than just a name change and some new uniforms.  It represents a stronger connection to the high school program and its coaches and an opportunity for them to play a more direct role in having players come up through a system that they have a role in developing.  The helmets and jerseys are the same as the high school, but so are the names of the offensive formations for example.  Or the way we huddle up.  Through camps and clinics the youth program can benefit from the skill of high school coaches and likewise the high school program can benefit from having 8th graders coming in to high school both loving the sport of football and familiar with the coaches and the Highlanders system.


We feel strongly that this was the best thing we could do as respective organizations to make sure that there is youth football in the Saddle River Valley for decades to come.  This decision will have a program with enough players to compete at “A” levels safely year in and year out, while providing opportunities for one if not two developmental “B” teams at each level to give young players time to develop.  The goal being, as it has always been during my time as president of this organization, to have young athletes learn to play the game the safe and correct way and to come to love the sport and want to continue playing football in high school.


And lastly, in that I have served as president of our organization for a long time and am coming to the end of my youngest son’s youth football career the new organization’s inaugural president will be the current / newly elected president of the Saddler River / HHK program Jeff Fiore.  Jeff is a tremendous and energetic leader who is at the beginning of his youth football experience with his children.  Through these discussions and planning meetings he has been a tremendous force in shaping this new program.  The board will be comprised of members of both program’s board members under Jeff’s leadership.  While I am sad that my time is coming to an end as the president of our youth program I feel like we have created something special that will honor the legacy of both programs for decades to come.


Thank you for all of your support over the years… Go Bulldogs !   GO JUNIOR HIGHLANDERS !!!




Michael Betsy, M.D.

President, Northern Highlands Junior Football Association

Contact Us

NH Junior Football & Cheerleading Assoc

333 Warren Ave, C/O Recreation Dept Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus
Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey 07423

Email: [email protected]

NH Junior Football & Cheerleading Assoc

333 Warren Ave, C/O Recreation Dept Borough of Ho-Ho-Kus
Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey 07423

Email: [email protected]
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