He’s almost been the head coach of the Edison Eagles for 20 years. He an even 80 wins. He has an even 100 losses.
And he has a championship. And that’s where it comes to an end.
Edison head football coach Matt Fulham is stepping aside, after a an-18-year tenure, an 80-100-1 coaching record, and a state championship that brought the entire community such immense pride this fall.
Fulham informed the team of his decision Tuesday, and sat down with Central Jersey Sports Radio to talk about it; scroll down to listen to Mike Pavlichko’s interview with him.
The pinnacle of his tenure was this past season’s 2023 state championship, one that was pretty much a full four years in the making.
It began in 2019 with a core of young players who were starters as freshmen: defensive end Adekunle Shittu, offensive tackle/tight end Israel Rodriguez, wide receiver/cornerback Malcolm Stansbury, and quarterback Matt Yascko.
The run picked up in 2020 when Yascko’s father, Matt – then the head coach for Carteret for 14 seasons – left the Ramblers to become Fulham’s offensive coordinator, but more importantly, to come back to his alma mater and coach his son in the process.
In their third year together, the Eagles brought home their first state title in 31 years, but it wasn’t the easiest path. They were a No. 6 seed in Central Jersey Group 5, and in the semifinals – in a rematch of a regular season loss to North Brunswick – stunned the Raiders on the road when they rallied from a two touchdown deficit to score, convert an onside kick, score again, and again convert an onside kick, then go ahead on a field goal, and hang on to win and advance to the finals.
It was there they beat top-seed Lenape on the road in the leftover wind and rain from Hurricane Nicole to win their first state title since 1991. And they would do it against the same team that knocked them out of the playoffs in the first round three years prior by 33 points, bringing it all full circle.
Fulham helped rebuild a program that had been dominated by in-town rival JP Stevens for years, and only scored four touchdowns the entire season before his arrival in 2005, which he says the Eagles began riding a 31-game losing streak. That would extend to 39 before beating Spotswood in a consolation game in double overtime, 26-20.
By 2007, the program would go 6-4 for its first winning season under Fulahm, and first for the program since 2000. It was also only its third since 1991, when they won the Central Jersey Group 4 title.
Fulham is a Sayreville graduate, then played at Juniata College before picking up his first assistant coaching job at his alma mater. After a few more stops, in 1992 he landed the job at Edison, where he’s also been a special education mathematics teacher.
And though the Sayreville head coaching job is now open, with Chris Beagan announcing he was stepping down from the Bombers’ program last week, Fulham says he has no plans to apply for the job.
The Eagles’ football program has a number of alums on staff, including Yascko and wide receivers’ coach Brian Calantoni. Yascko would be a natural fit as the program’s next head coach, should the administration choose to go that route. He was 82-67 at Carteret, making three state finals and winning two, in 2007 and 2012.
But he’s not the only former head coach on the staff. Runningbacks coach Bob Molarz had Yascko on his staff when he was head coach at Carteret. Molarz also began the football program at St. Joseph-Metuchen and coached their first two varsity seasons in 2011 and 2012 before going to East Brunswick for six seasons.
And Mike Ryan was the head coach at in-town rival JP Stevens from 2010 through 2012.
Click below to hear Central Jersey Sports Radio’s Mike Pavlichko talk with longtime Edison head coach Matt Fulham: