HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Coming into 1976, the Aviators were replacing a two-time First Time All County End, the First Team All Quarterback and A First Team All County Guard. Add to that a Second Team All County defensive linemen and five All BCSL players and you have a rebuilding job to do.
Hasbrouck Heights head coach Peter LaBarbiera though just reloaded. Led by Second Team All Bergen County selections Jeff Carty (QB), Bob Fioravanti (RB) and Kurt Spindler (E), the Aviators put 376 points on the scoreboard, while becoming back-to-back State Champions and the first team in Hasbrouck Heights history to win 11 games.
The Aviators served notice early, drilling Ridgefield 68-16 behind four touchdowns from Fioravanti. Dave Musto and Russ Bischoff each scored twice for the Aviators. The 16 points that Ridgefield scored would be the most the Aviators gave up all year.
Next was Rutherford and a come-from behind 34-15 victory. Spindler was all over the score sheet for the Aviators, scoring on a 4 yard pass, a 24 yard fumble recovery and two catches for points after conversions to lead the Aviator back from an early deficit.
Traveling to Leonia, the Aviators had to overcome an injury to Fioravanti and wet fields which postponed the game to Sunday afternoon, to beat the Lions 21-14. Spindler and Carty opened the scoring with a 48 yard scoring play, with the combo repeating the trick for the extra point. Glen Prisco, in for Fioravanti scored one touchdown, while Bill Bischoff scored from 49 as the Aviators had their second straight come from behind victory.
Prisco and Bischoff teamed up once again, as the Aviators had to come from behind for the third straight game, beating Emerson, 14-8 to move to 4-0. Hasbrouck Heights had to pull another come from behind victory out, as Prisco returned a kickoff 95 yards following East Rutherford’s only touchdown for a 14-8 victory. The Aviators defense picked off three passes from East Rutherford’s Tom Sienkiewicz in holding the Wildcats in check.
Three touchdowns apiece from Russ Bischoff and Dave Musto combined with six Palisades Park turnovers led to an easy 70-6 victory over the Tigers. The Aviators had 390 yards of total offense, and limited Pal Park to just 67.
Fioravanti ran for three touchdowns as the Aviators clinched the BCSL-National with a 30-12 win over Cresskill. A trip to Park Ridge produced a 32-6 win, allowing the Aviators win streak to reach 21 games. The Aviators, who at the cutoff point were 8-0, were tied with Mahwah, for the best record of the three teams the state qualified for the North 1, Group 1 playoffs. Bogota, at 6-2 was third.
That bred the first ratings controversy that Hasbrouck Heights would be in as Ramsey was given the bye, as it was determined that since they played more Group II schools than Hasbrouck Heights, the would be the one seed.
Fiovoranti, Prisco and Spindler each scored two touchdowns, as Hasbrouck Heights rolled over Bogota 42-0 to advance to the final.
Mahwah, as the one seed, would be the home team in the game, which was not yet played at a neutral site. But before Mahwah, was the Thanksgiving matchup with Wood-Ridge. It would not do the Aviators any good to win a state championship if they lost their matchup with Wood-Ridge on Thanksgiving.
A balanced offense with four players scoring touchdowns and defense that shutdown an already battered Wood-Ridge offense made sure that the Aviators went into the championship game unbeaten, with a 29-0 win.
The state final was the Bob Fiovaranti show, as the Aviators fullback scored three first touchdowns, and ran for two conversions in staking the Aviators a 24-6 lead which they never relinquished in capturing their second straight title. It was a physical game that saw two-way starters Tom Mariani and Tom Kort leave the game with injuries.
The post-season honors list was deep for the Aviators. While Musto at defensive back was the only First Team All-County selection, Carty (QB), Fiovaranti (RB) and Spindler (E) were Second Team choices. Frank Briganti (T) and Henry Maisch (DT) were Third Team choices.
First Team All BCSL choices included both kicker Bill Pouch and punter Dave Musto, in addition to his defensive back honors. Bob Wilk was also First Team at linebacker. Second team was Bill (linebacker) and Russ (running back) Bischoff, with Bill King (DL) and George Scvalone (Guard) joining them. Greg Mathis was given Honorable Mention nods.
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