HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The 1940s saw another World War, around the clock production of supplies for the war effort; constant fundraising for the war effort, and a continuing increase in popularity of high school football. Crowds of 4,000 fans were not that unusual.
Night football also started becoming more popular in the 1940s, as Hasbrouck Heights started playing Friday night games during the decade. By the end of the decade, not only the varsity team was playing under the lights, but the second team/junior varsity was also playing under the lights. It is still the era of single platoon football.
The Aviators name finally took hold in the area newspapers as the team’s nickname. The alternate was not the Orange and Black which had been predominant the first 20+ years of the program, nor the Airmen, but the Kmetzman, in reference to head coach Andy Kmetz.
Unlike the instability of the previous decade, Kmetz was the head coach for the entire decade, and it was the most successful decade in Hasbrouck Heights football to date, well sort of. The Aviators captured five North 1 Group 1 titles, during the decade, including three in a row from 1945-47. In 1948, the Aviators came in second (more on that in a separate installment.) Going 58-28-3 during the decade, clearly Hasbrouck Heights was a dominant team.
But during that time of unprecedented success, they had only one league championship. Dumont, a Group 2 school, was the team that the Aviators could not beat, winning six league titles during that time, and tying with Hasbrouck Heights for a seventh title in 1945 (more on that in a separate installment.) The Huskies were 7-4 against Hasbrouck Heights in the 1940s.
In 1941, fullback Johnny Dzerk, was named first team All Passaic Herald News and led the Bergen County Scholastic League in scoring during league contests. The Aviators lone losses that year were to league champion Dumont, 7-0, and another of their nemesis’ of the era, Lodi, 6-0. A strong North Arlington team battled the Aviators to a 7-7 tie as the Aviators finished 6-2-1.
The NJSIAA decided that the Aviators, whose six wins were all shutouts, were the best Group 1 team in the North.
1942 saw a similar scenario, as the Aviators finished 6-3, and came out State Champions in Group 1, despite not winning the BCSL. They defeated the Huskies, 12-7, but dropped decisions to Lodi 19-6, North Arlington 25-13, and Wood-Ridge 13-6 on Thanksgiving. It was a unique year in the fact that the Aviators played Wood-Ridge twice that year, opening the season with a 12-7 win, and ending with the loss.
After a non-descript 5-4 season in 1943, the Aviators went 5-2-1 in 1944, which marks the emergence of Eugene Dinello as the Hasbrouck Heights quarterback. Diniello had a stand out year being named first team All BCSL as a junior.
What was important in 1944 was the introduction of several players who would become the basis of the 1945 team. An opening day loss to Dumont, 13-0, started the season on a down note. A win over Park Ridge, 6-2, in a muddy defensive battle righted the ship. Westwood was the next game, and another defensive struggle saw the Aviators win 13-6.
North Arlington handed the Aviators their second loss of the season,12-7, and the Aviators followed up with a scoreless tie with Wood-Ridge. The offense exploded in the next two games, wins over Park RIdge and Westwood by scores of 27-7 and 33-6.
The Aviators finished with a 6-0 win over Wood-Ridge in the Thanksgiving matchup.
|1941||6||2||1||Andy Kmetz||Group I State Champs|
|1942||6||3||Andy Kmetz||Group I State Champs|
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