HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The coaching carousel spun as quick as the records in the jukebox during the 1960s for the Hasbrouck Heights football team.
After a “nationwide search’ which included candidates from as far away as Canada, Jim Grantham was hired from Rutherford to take the Hasbrouck Heights job, only to be out after two seasons, and a 9-9 overall record in March of 1960.
He was replaced by Bob Thurbon after another wide-ranging search saw the former NFL player and current Edinboro State football coach to Hasbrouck Heights. Thurbon, a former All-America halfback at the University of Pittsburgh, played for the Steagles in 1943 and the Steeler/Chicago Cardinals team in 1944.* He played for Buffalo in the All America Football Football League in 1946.
(* Some NFL teams needed to combine to stay afloat during World War II.)
He was 1-6-2 in his lone season on the job, “stepping aside at the end of the year.’ in the spring of 1961.
Thurban was inducted into the Edinboro Hall of Fame in 1990 for his work as a football and basketball coach.
Freshman coach Joe Fedele took over in 1961 and showed immediate improvement, going 4-4-1 in his first season. A 8-1 state championship season followed in 1962. After sliding back to 5-4 in 1963, Fedele led the Aviators to a perfect season, capturing league and state titles, and going 9-0. But the end of the season saw Fedele take the head coaching job at Northern Highlands.
In four years, Fedele was 26-9-1 with the Aviators. The first coach at the school, he would compile a 18-15 varsity record in four seasons there.
Bob Ducatte came in from Monmouth Regional, and took over the Aviators’ program in 1965, finishing 2-6-1 in his first season. (Actually 1-7-1, but the loss to North Arlington was overturned due to forfeit.) He bounced back in 1966, going 7-2, before resigning to become an assistant coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He later became an administrator at the school, serving as the RPI athletic director from 1971 through 2001. He was inducted in the RPI Hall of Fame in 2005.
Finally in 1967, the Aviators would find a long-term coach, hiring Pete LaBarbiera, who was an assistant at Paramus. LaBarbiera would last 15 seasons at Hasbrouck Heights, winning four state titles, including two in the 60s, and three more in the 1970s. LaBarbiera compiled a record of 109-25-4 as coach of the Aviators.. He is a member of the Hasbrouck Heights Athletic Hall of Fame.
LaBarbiera then coached at Nutley, and later Paramus, finishing his career with 168-83-8 record. At Hasbrouck Heights he also coached two of the state of New Jersey’s high school football coaching legends, teammates Greg Toal and long-time, and current Hasbrouck Heights head coach Nick Delcalzo.
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