HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The 1990 season saw the departure of one of the most accomplished players in the history of Hasbrouck Heights athletics, tight end/linebacker Scott Slutzker. Slutzker was a second team All-BSCL Olympic choice as a sophomore, followed by two All County selections at tight end for the Aviators. He was also a standout on the basketball court and baseball field, and is the school’s second leading boys scorer with 1,439 points.
Slutzker, who went on to play at Iowa and later spent four seasons in the NFL, was truly one of top players in Hasbrouck Heights history, entered his senior season with one final goal in mind, the state playoffs and a state championship.
The season started with a bit of surprising news, as Wood-Ridge, the Aviators traditional Thanksgiving rival, was not able to field a varsity team for 1990 due to a lack of players. The Aviators were 1-0 without even taking the field
The Aviators got off to a good start, with a 43-0 win over Bogota. Running back Keith Messery scored three times, and Slutzker picked off a Bogota pass and returned it 98 yards for a pick six touchdown to lead the Aviators to an easy opening day win. The Aviators out-gained Bogota 307 to 43 on offense.
Next was a hard fought, 14-6 win over St. Mary, as Messery scored twice to lead the Aviators to a 2-0 mark. Quarterback Sean Ring hit Slutzker with a 54-yard bomb to set up Messery’s second touchdown late in the first half.
A tough loss to Wallington, however, put a huge dent in the Aviators playoff chances. Despite two more touchdowns from Messery, the Aviators could not hold a halftime lead and were done in by a 78-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter by the Panther duo of Paul Magrini and Manual Tejada, their second of the game.
Needing a win at Emerson, the Aviators came up short, 26-12 to the Cavos. Ring hit Slutzker for one touchdown and Messery picked up his eighth touchdown of his career for the Aviators’ points. Emerson’s Keith Yehle rushed for 164 yards to lead the Emerson offense.
Messery scored his ninth and tenth touchdowns of the year as the Aviators went back above the 500 mark with a 22-16 win over Bergen Tech. Slutzker caught a touchdown pass from senior quarterback Matt Riordan, who replaced Ring behind the center, after Ring suffered a fractured wrist.
Riordan was the hero against Park Ridge, scoring the Aviators only touchdown in a 6-0 win at home to improve to 4-2. Riordan’s touchdown capped off an 11-play drive late in the fourth quarter. The win kept the Aviators slim playoff hopes alive.
But those hopes were dashed the following week in a 19-7 loss to Cresskill. The defending North 1, Group 1 champions stopped the Aviators with a clutch goal line stand with six minutes left in the game, and Hasbrouck Heights looking to take the lead, down 13-7. But the Aviators were stopped four times from the one, and the Cougars then added an insurance touchdown for the 19-7 win.
The Aviators finished their season with a 39-6 with over Ridgefield. Riordan was 5-of-6 on the day throwing the ball, for two touchdowns, including a 55-yarder to Slutzker to lead the way. The Aviators defense allowed the Royals only 30 yards offense on the day.
With Wood-Ridge not fielding a varsity team due to a decline in participation in the upper grades, the Aviators season was over, finishing at 6-3, outscoring opponents by a score of 158 to 92.
Slutzker was named First Team All-County for the second straight year at tight end. Linebacker Frank Milano, Riordan, and defensive lineman Jason Wester were First Team All BCSL Olympic. Messery was a Second Team All BCSL-Olympic choice at running back along with punter Bob Walsh. Len Masucci was named Honorable Mention.
The Aviators needed a late season rally to finish above the .500 mark in 1991, despite outscoring the opponents. Although fittingly, the team had scored and allowed the exact same amount of points heading in the last game of the year against Wood-Ridge.
An 18-0 shutout over Bogota was the Aviators start to the season, and things looked good. Ring, recovered from his wrist injury, was back under center, completing 8-of-12 passes. He connected with Jason Wester on a 35-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter to put the Aviators on the board, and connected with Walsh on a 25-yard pass for the another touchdown.
But things turned sour quickly, as St. Mary (Rutherford) dealt Hasbrouck Heights a 27-0 defeat. The Gaels defense held the Aviators to just 25 yards rushing in the defeat. Next, the Aviators lost to Wallington 28-14. Walsh had two touchdowns, a 25-yard pass from Ring and a 95-yard run to give the Aviators a 14-6 lead in the first quarter. But the Panthers shut the Aviators down the rest of the way, while scoring the last three touchdowns of the game as the Aviators fell to 1-2.
The Aviators got back on the long end of the score, as Ring ran for a six-yards for the go ahead score in the fourth quarter. He threw to Wester for the two point conversion to make the score 17-14. Ring threw for the first touchdown to Sean Ike.
It was the Walsh show as the Aviators pounded Bergen Tech 40-0 at Depken. Walsh scored five touchdowns to lead the way. Walsh opened the scoring with an eight-yard run in the first quarter to give the Aviators the lead. He then added a 95-yard pick six, turning away Bergen Tech’s attempt to take the lead. Walsh had his second touchdown run, this time from a yard away. Next came a 49-yard pass from Ring, and he finished his day with a 15-yard scoring run. Jason Seals' 68-yard run was the final score for the Aviators.
Back over .500, the Aviators traveled to Park Ridge, where the Owls dumped Hasbrouck Heights, 27-0. Park Ridge’ s Lou Tibolla scored four touchdowns, and Doug LaMere sacked Ring four times as the Owls improved to 6-0 with the victory.
Cresskill took advantage of four Hasbrouck Heights turnovers as they defeated the Aviators 28-6, keeping the Cougars playoff hopes alive.
Walsh had his second TD bonanza of the season, scoring four times in a 53-34 win over Ridgefield. Walsh scored on runs of 8, 29, 1 and 5 yards to lead the Aviators to a 40-0 halftime lead. Walsh was efficient on the day, scoring on just eight carries, good for 78-yards. The win brought the Aviators back to .500 on the season at 4-4.
Wood-Ridge, back at the varsity level after a year’s absence, was next. The Aviators took full advantage, defeating the Blue Devils, 60-0. Ron Geynes scored a defensive touchdown and Walsh finished strong, scoring four times, while rushing 13 times for 142 yards. He finished the season with 94 points scored.
Walsh was named Third Team All-County as a punter, (First Team All BCSL-Olympic.) Wester was once again a First Team selection at defensive line, while Kevin Dinallo was Second Team at defensive back, along with Masucci, who was a choice at guard in 1990. Ring, was named to the Second Team at quarterback coming off the wrist injury. Geynes and Mike Thacker were chosen Honorable Mention.
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