HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - For most of America, the 1930s was one of the worst decades ever. The Great Depression saw much of America struggle, some caused by the effects of the Stock Market Crash of 1929, some due to the Dust Bowl in the American Plains. Tensions overseas simmered as well, and by the end of the decade World War II had begun.
Prohibition ran through the 1920’s until its repeal in 1933. College and high school football’s popularity far exceeded that of the NFL. It was not uncommon for several thousand people to show up at a major high school game in the area. Football helmets were leather, and did not have a face mask, and were designed to protect the back the head when striking the ground.
The 1930s was also the worst decade for Hasbrouck Heights in terms of high school football, as the Orange and Black were held to a single league title, in 1934, and suffered its only winless season on record (0-9) in 1938.
The Hasbrouck Heights program, once proud and well-respected, fell into disrepair. Jonas A. Schreffler, who had built the football program and been head coach since 1921, stepped down in 1933 after recording three losing records in four seasons.
The decade began with a 2-4-1 record, as the Orange and Black struggled down the stretch, losing their final three games, including a 22-7 decision to East Rutherford.
In 1931, led by future NFL star Joe Maniaci at left end and fullback, Hasbrouck Heights bounced back with a 6-3 record. Included in that 6-3 season was a win over the hated rivals, East Rutherford, 19-7, the first one since 1920 (59-0). There had been a pair of scoreless ties in the 1920’s. Quarterback Mark Raff was billed as the game’s hero.
But 1932 turned ugly, as the Orange and Black lost their final three games to finish 2-5-1. In 1933, Scheffler’s squad through another tough season, finished a 3-5 year, losing its final two games by a combined score of 66-0. Scheffler, decided to step down as coach at the end of the season.
From 1921 to 1933, consistency on the sidelines, was a trademark of Hasbrouck Heights. The rest of the decade would see a lot of changes on the sidelines.
In 1934, Arthur Freitag took over the program, leading the Orange and Black to a 5-3-2 record, which was good enough to win the league title. But a 27-0 loss to East Rutherford to end the season was a portent of things to come. 1934 is also odd for the schedule, as the Orange and Black played Spring Valley, Good Council, Lodi (which had just opened its doors), St. Mary (Rutherford), and St. Agnes (Sparkill, NY) joined the list of opponents.
The Orange and Black also played traditional foes of the time, Glen Ridge, Westwood, Ramsey, and East Rutherford.
1935 saw the Orange and Black go 2-5-2 in Freitag’s second, and final season at the helm of Heights.
William Lawrence took over in 1936, and Hasbrouck Heights went 3-5. But they received whippings from Bogota, Lodi, and Dumont to start the season, and wins over Hawthorne and Ramsey were not enough. East Rutherford pounded Hasbrouck Heights once again, 32-6. on Thanksgiving.
The 1937 season saw Heights get yet another new coach in Lou Ingenito, who was brought in to change the fortunes. Which he did. Things went from bad to worse. A 1-7 season, with a probable win over North Arlington called off due to the weather, was not what the Heights faithful had in mind. Many of the games were close, as the Orange and Black lost to Spring Valley 27-20, Bogota, 19-0, Lodi 6-0, Dumont 12-7 before recording their first win over Hawthorne, 19-0. But losses to Tenafly and Ramsey, both by shutout, and the cancellation of the North Arlington game, led to the traditional matchup with East Rutherford.
A 7-0 loss sent everyone home unhappy. (This game will be covered in the next story.)
The 1938 team (now being referred to as the Airmen in "The Observer") was an inexperienced team heading into the season. Sometimes when seniors go 1-7, it is a good thing that the team will have a different look the next season. This season, however, was not one of those seasons.
Ingenito ‘s team went 0-9, did not score a point the entire season. The rivalry with East Rutherford had ended after the game in 1937. New Thanksgiving Day rival Lodi, manhandled the Airmen 44-0, to end a dismal season. The Orange and Black were outscored 252-0 during the year.
1939 saw the decade’s fifth coach, as Andrew Kmetz took over the reigns.
An opening game loss to Dumont, 33-0, surely had the locals wondering if the Airmen were ever going to score again. A 14-0 win over Park Ridge week two eased some minds. A 25-0 loss to Weehawken in week three had Hasbrouck Heights back on the losing side of things.
A narrow 13-7 loss to Hawthorne was followed by a 20-14 victory over North Arlington. A loss to Ramsey, 13-0, to was followed by a meeting with Wood-Ridge, for the first time at a varsity level. The two neighbors had played what would now be called sub-varsity games in the past, but never when it counted in the standings. Hasbrouck Heights would prevail the Saturday before Thanksgiving, 20-0.
Lodi was once again the opponent on Thanksgiving, and once again, defeated the Orange and Black, 18-6.
After a decade of establishing itself as a top program in small school Bergen County football, the Orange and Black staggered through the 1930s, 27-49-7. One of the reasons could have been the opening of Lodi High School earlier in the decade. Prior to Lodi opening its own high school, students came to Hasbrouck Heights High School. Among them was, Joe Maniaci, who would later star at Fordham and for the Chicago Bears, and was inducted in the Hasbrouck Heights Hall of Fame, last fall.
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