Sports Spotlight: North Bergen Bruins standout keeping Ascolese legacy alive

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Michael Santini had an outstanding junior season for the North Bergen Bruins football team and he sat down with us to detail his skills on the gridiron, his family legacy, life beyond football and much more. 

Michael Santini, number 11, is a standout fullback and middle linebacker for the North Bergen Bruins.

By Ruben Candelaria/Hudson County View

In the case of Santini, he knew at an early age what sport suited him best.

Michael, a 218-pound high school student that’s been playing football since he was six years old, comes from a lineage of football players and coaches. From legendary High School football coach Vincent Ascolese, his grandfather, down to his uncle and cousin.

The youngster said he doesn’t feel the pressure of living up to such a lineage.

“I just set it aside, I play what I can do. I workout as hard as I can, and I keep playing ’til that’s it,” he said.

Santini’s motivations come from his family who push him to do well in school. Santini emphasizes how important school is while speaking about his motivation, the determination in his eyes clear as he explained how his family preaches school first, football second.

“School actually comes first because you need the grades in order to get into good colleges. Football comes second, so, if you do good in school like my parents push me to do, then I can get into a really good school with or without football. However, with football I can get into a greater school,” he rationalized.

Like just about everyone else who puts on shoulder pads and a helmet, he loves the competition amongst his peers.

“The best part about competing is hitting. Just getting all your anger out on the field. If you have a bad day and you have a football game that same day you can take your anger out and you don’t have to stress after school. You just take your anger out on that field, competition is awesome,” he exclaimed.

Many of his teammates describe Santini as cool, calm, collected and disciplined, the latter trait can be attributed to his year of training Judo – a martial art he has learned since he was four years old.

Santini plays both sides of the ball as a middle linebacker on defense and a fullback on offense.

On November 2nd, he contributed to North Bergen’s victory over Hackensack in a first round playoff match up. Santini scored two touchdowns one of which, was a 50-yard run.

While the Bruins get routed by Montclair on Saturday, losing 47-12, it was still an undeniably great statistical season for Santini: amassing 487 rushing yards on 77 carries and finding the end zone 10 times.

Off the field, Santini has aspirations to study business in college. Eventually, Michael
would like to run his father’s animal control business.