HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - In 1944, the Bergen County Scholastic League, which consisted of only five teams, decided to schedule everyone for a double round-robin schedule. Why the conference decided to do that, I have not been able to uncover. It was an experiment that last only two seasons.
The 1945 season looked to be a continuation of the 1944 season, where the Aviators struggled to score points, when Hasbrouck Heights opened with a 6-0 loss to Dumont at home. Dumont scored the winning touchdown on a 47-yard interception return of a Gene Dinallo pass for a touchdown. It was one of three interceptions for the Huskies against Dinello.
Hasbrouck Heights bounced back in Week 2, with a 32-12 victory at Park Ridge, with Dinello rushing 37 times for 199 yards and three touchdowns. The Owls were coached by former Aviator head coach Lou Ingenito, who led Hasbrouck Heights in 1937-38. Tied 12-12 at the half due to three turnovers, the Aviators cleaned up their mistakes and took off in the second half. The game was played on Monday after being postponed due to rain on Saturday.
Dinallo passed to end Al Pfeiffer for one touchdown, and ran for another the following Saturday, as the Aviators defeated a tough Westwood team 14-0 in Westwood. On Friday night, the Aviators faced their only non-BCSL opponent of the season, North Arlington, under the lights at North Arlington.
The Aviators, behind kicker Vito Pugliano’s field goal, edged the Vikings 10-7. The Aviators survived, when the officials ruled an apparent go-ahead touchdown pass late in the game an incomplete pass, as the receiver had stepped out of bounds prior to corralling the pass.
Hasbrouck Heights rallied from a 0-0 halftime score to defeat Wood-Ridge, 21-0 the following Saturday. Dinallo added two touchdowns on the ground, and one through the air to Pfeiffer for the Aviators offense. The win set up the return match between Dumont and Hasbrouck Heights, in Dumont, the following week, with first place in the BCSL on the line. A Dumont win would pretty much clinch the league for the Huskies.
While the Aviators had a 77-25 scoring advantage up to date in the season, Dumont had not been scored upon, and had wrung up 151 points in six games. Dumont had not lost in 15 games, and had won 18 straight BCSL contests.
Dinallo and the Aviators defense was not having any of it, as the Aviators “thoroughly outplayed” Dumont on the way to a 19-0 victory for a share of the BCSL lead. Dinello rushed for two touchdowns, and completed a 25 yard scoring strike to Walt Mecca for the Aviators points. The Aviators had won five straight, and were now tied for the league title.
Park Ridge would not provide a challenge for the second time in the season, as the Aviators rolled, 27-7 over the Owls. Dinallo scored four touchdowns and rushed for 196 yards on 32 carries to lead the Aviator offense.
Westwood was next, as the Aviators recorded fourth shutout of the season, a 19-0 whitewashing of the Cardinals, and set up the Thanksgiving Day game with Wood-Ridge as one with deep meaning in the league. A win would guarantee the Aviators at least a co-championship in the BCSL with Dumont.
Rain would interrupt the proceeding on Thanksgiving Day, as a storm would see 10 of the 12 games scheduled for the holiday moved to Saturday.
Keifer and reserve Al Koch scored touchdowns, as Wood-Ridge kept Dinallo off the board for the Aviators. But with the Aviators defense recording its second straight shutout, and its fifth of the season, winning 13-0. Hasbrouck Heights finished the season 7-1 in the league, and 8-1 overall, Dumont, done the week before Thanksgiving, was 7-1 in league play.
Both Hasbrouck Heights coach Andy Kmetz and Dumont’s Williard Quirk quickly agreed, a playoff game was in order to break the tie. The only thing holding up the game was approval of the town Boards of Educations.
Dumont had already turned in their uniforms, with the season over, and a state playoff system was still thirty years away. But the Hasbrouck Heights Board of Education refused to sanction the game. An outbreak of colds, which included Pfeifer, Koch, halfback Charlie Realmuto and left tackle Jerry Muersdorf, was the official line of reasoning offered.
So, the Aviators had to settle for co-champions in the BCSL, but did not have to settle for recognition elsewhere, as they were named Group 1 State Champions, and were ranked 42nd in the state overall in the Dick Dunkel and the Scholastic School Institute ratings. .
Dinallo led the league with 78 points scored, while Putigliano set the league record with 14 extra points.
Dinallo was named first team All Group I by the "Newark News," as well as a first team All BCSL. He was joined by end Al Pfeifer, guard Larry Greco, center Bob Lowenstein on the first team. Fullback Pete Link was named to the second team, while tackle Herb Weisser and halfback were awarded honorable mentions.
Dinallo, Lowenstein, Weisser, and Pfeiffer are members of the Hasbrouck Heights Hall of Fame.
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