HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - With the current success of the program, it is hard to remember a time when Hasbrouck Heights was not a power in football. But during the 2002 and 2003 seasons, hard times hit the Aviators.
In 2002, while the official record reads 6-4, the scoreboard results had the Aviators record at 5-5. (A win was granted to the Aviators after it was discoverED that North Arlington used an ineligible player in their 29-26 overtime victory over Hasbrouck Heights.
2003 saw the first time that the Aviators played in the “Consolation Round” of games set up by the NJSIAA for teams that did not qualify for the playoffs. It took a win over North Arlington in that consolation game, plus the Aviators win over Wood-Ridge at Thanksgiving to get them to 5-5 on the season.
Still both teams managed to outscore their opponents, and many of the losses were tight games in which the Aviators fell short.
In 2002, the season opener at Weehawken, where the Aviators triumphed 21-7 behind Robby Delcalzo, who rushed for a pair of touchdowns (one and six yards). Frank Valente ran 85 yards with a fumble recovery for Hasbrouck Heights.
Week two saw the Aviators lose a 33-27 shoot-out with Secaucus. Delcalzo ran for one touchdown and threw for one, while kick returner Chris James returned a pair of kicks 75 yards for the Aviators.
Delcalzo continued to sparkle in the Aviators 34-6 victory over Lyndhurst. Delcalzo ripped off runs of 96 and 60 yards, both for touchdowns, en route to 222 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He also threw for 102 yards in the victory. Valente and Mike Colaianni scored the Aviators other touchdowns.
The Aviators improved to 3-1 with a 6-0 win over Wallington. Valente rushed for 48 of his 110 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter, as sloppy conditions kept the scoring down. Valente had 13 tackles to lead the Aviators defense, and was joined by Dom D’Amico, Artie Copell and Ian Brady in shutting down the Panthers.
Next was North Arlington, as the Vikings handed Heights a 29-26 loss. Delcalzo ran for two touchdowns, Valente one, in the game. The result however, was reversed the next week, as North Arlington self-reported using an ineligible player, giving Hasbrouck Heights a win. The win made the Aviators 4-1, and headed to Harrison with a chance to improve its playoff chances.
The Aviators ran roughshod over Harrison, with a 31-6 victory. Valente scored twice on the ground, while Delcalzo ran for a touchdown and threw one to Rick Fascione. Nick Timpone’s field goal opened the scoring for Hasbrouck Heights, which went to 5-1 on the season.
A home battle with St. Mary was next, and had been the case the previous few years, the Gaels and Aviators had a battle, with St. Mary coming out on top of the shootout, 41-39. A controversial call at the end of the game overshadowed what had been a wild football game, as St. Mary came from down 33-14 at halftime to take a 41-33 in the final minute.
Delcalzo hit Isaiah James with a pass that James was able to take 78 yards, eluding St. Mary defenders along the way, to cut the lead to 41-39. The officials however, flagged James for excessive celebration, pushing the conversion back to the 18 yard line. Robbie Delcalzo conversion pass was incomplete, and St. Mary came away with a 41-39 win.
Afterwards Hasbrouck Heights coach Nick Delcalzo expressed his displeasure to the officials and the media.
“The kids players their hearts out,” said Coach Delcalzo. “To end like that was terrible.”
An undefeated Becton team was next, and broke their four-game losing steak against the Aviators, with a 19-10 win, that was a battle. Valente’s touchdown run tied the score at 10-10 in the third quarter, before Becton scored a touchdown and field goal for the win. Despite the loss, the Aviators qualified for the playoffs, albeit as the 8th seed at 5-3.
Top-seed Saddle Brook defeated the Aviators 35-0 in Saddle Brook. The Falcons jumped out 21-0, and any chances of a comeback were hindered by injuries to Delcalzo (ribs) and Valente (back) during the first half.
Delcalzo had a going away party of his own against Wood-Ridge, scoring three times, on runs of 1, 15 and 65 yards as the Aviators continued their winning streak against the Blue Devils with a 27-14 victory. James had a 70 yard interception return for the Aviators to account for their other score. Copell had three sacks and Valente two as the Aviators sacked the Wood-Ridge quarterback five times.
First Team All BCSL National honors went to Copell (DL), D’Amico (T), Delcalzo (QB), and Valente (LB), with Isaiah James picking up Second Team honors. Fasciano and Dan Curci were named Honorable Mention.
With a young team, the 2003 season brought a new division, as the Aviators moved into the Olympic Division of the BCSL, and New Milford greeted them with a 41-22 loss at Depken Field. Hasbrouck Heights fell behind right out of the box, trailing 27-0 halftime before a mini-rally. Eric Anderson hit Nick Timpone with two touchdown passes the duo would connect on, while also completing a 66 yarder to Luke Ruroede.
The Aviators bounced back with a 35-30 win over Ridgefield. The Aviators scored in a variety of ways against the Royals, starting with Colaianni’s 70 yard kickoff return. The Aviators also received scores from Jon Zahn (interception return), Timpone (a 40-yard pass from Zahn) and a one yard run from Anderson. Jeff Seidel rushed for 117 yards.
Once again the first half blues struck Hasbrouck Heights, as the Aviators fell behind 19-0 at the half in a 25-14 loss to Bogota. Seidel scored twice, on a five yard run and 30 yard pass from Anderson to account for the Aviators scoring. The Aviators cut the lead to 19-14, before Bogota scored a late touchdown to put the game away.
Cresskill improved to 4-0, and sent the Aviators to 1-3, with a 35-28 victory over Hasbrouck Heights. Once again, the Aviators fell behind early, trailing 21-7 at the half, with Seidel’s one yard run putting the Aviators on the board. Once again, the Aviators battled back into the game, Colaianni 10 yard run and Timpone’s eight-yard reception from Anderson tied the score at 21-21. Timpone gave the Aviators the lead with a 50 yard interception return in the fourth quarter. But the defense could not hold off the Cougars offense, as Cresskill scored two touchdowns to capture the 35-28 victory.
Bergen Tech was next, and the Aviators were overmatched, falling to the Knights 41-14. Colaianni scored on a 46 yard run for Hasbrouck Heights, who fell behind 35-0 at the half. The Aviators dropped to 1-4 with the loss to Group 4 Bergen Tech,
A trip to Emerson followed, and while the Aviators played well, their losing streak grew to four games with a 13-12 loss to the Cavos. The Aviators scored when Anderson hit Timpone with a six yard score late in the fourth to cut the lead to one. Their two-point conversion was broken up when Cresskill sacked Anderson before he could get a pass off.
The Aviators' nightmare of an October ended on Halloween when the Aviators defeated Palisades Park 27-6. Seidel opened the scoring with an 8 yard touchdown run before Anderson and Ruroede combined on two touchdown passes to lead the Aviators. Zahn also scored for Heights, while Colaianni had 145 yards rushing.
Anderson threw for two scores while going 8-of-11 as Hasbrouck Heights defeated Park Ridge 27-6 to break their four game losing streak. Anderson hit Zahn from four yards away, while he completed a 45-yard scoring play with Timpone. Colaianni had 70 rushing and added the insurance score to put the game away as the Aviators improved to 3-5.
Missing the playoffs, the Aviators were assigned a consolation game for the first time in their history, and rang up a 34-12 win over North Arlington behind the power running game of Seidel. Seidel rushed 22 times for 167 yards and two touchdowns, Anderson was 7-for-10 for 157, and Bryan Fill had 11 tackles to lead the defense.
Zaun scored three touchdowns to lead Hasbrouck Heights back to .500 with a 41-13 victory over Wood-Ridge on Thanksgiving at Depken Field. The Aviators ran for 362, with Colaianni having 127 yards and two touchdowns, Seidel 101 yards with one touchdown and Zaun 87 in addition to his three scores.
Nick Timpone was selected team All-County at the Tight End position. Colaianni was Second Team All BCSL Olympic at Running Back, joined by guard Travis Melchior. Anderson and Zahn were given Honorable Mention status.
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