HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Were the Aviators a program mired in mediocrity, trending downward after two .500 seasons? Were they a team on the rise, based off their strong 4-1 finish to the 2003 season? The 2003 would answer the question.
New Milford would be the Aviators' first test, and the Knights found out quickly that Hasbrouck Heights was on the way back to the top. Mike Colaianni returned the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown to get the Aviators season off to a rousing start. New Milford bounced back, scoring a touchdown in the first quarter, for a 7-6 lead, at the end of the first quarter. The second quarter was all Hasbrouck Heights, as Colaianni scored on a 23-yard run as Heights took back the lead, followed by quarterback Eric Anderson connecting with Chris Mucha for the two-point conversion. Running back Jeff Seidel powered in from 10-yard line to give the Aviators a 21-7 lead after Anderson’s extra point.
Fullback Bryan Fill and Seidel added fourth quarter touchdowns after Anderson’s interception stopped New Milford’s second half offensive surge leading to a 34-13 win over the Knights.
Game two was a trip to Ridgefield, and the Aviators came out with a dominating 25-3 victory over the Royals. Seidel had two touchdowns, including the Aviators second 90-yard kick off return in two games, while Fill pounded in another rushing score. Anderson tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to Luke Ruroede for the Aviators other score.
The return to Depken in Week 3 was not advantageous, however, as the Aviators dropped a 27-12 decision to Bogota in a battle of 2-0 teams. The Bucs jumped out to a 21-0 lead before Anderson hit Ruroede with a four-yard pass to cut the lead to 21-6. But Bogota answered on their next possession to put the game out of reach. Seidel scored from two yards out for Heights final score.
The Aviators proved to be road warriors in Week 4, bouncing back with their third straight road win, 28-27 at Cresskill. Anderson was the star of the game, hitting 10-of-17 for 125 yards, and three touchdowns. Anderson hit Ruroede for a 15-yard score, and then Brendan Gareffa with the two-point conversion to get Heights out to a 8-0 lead. Anderson later completed 30 and 20-yard scoring strikes to Ryan Zahn, and Fill ran one in from 10-yard out to round out the scoring.
Bergen Tech at Depken was next, and the Aviators took their revenge for the previous year’s loss, with a 43-7 victory over the Knights. The Aviators made some adjustment on defense to shut down the Bergen Tech offense and its three high-powered playmakers, and it worked, Seidel, who a standout on defense on the game, also stood out on offense, rushing for 163 yards on 17 carries, good for three touchdowns, including a 49-yard run on the Aviators first offensive play.
Seidel continued his standout play, rushing 11 times for 175 yards and three more touchdowns in as the Aviators ran over Emerson, 27-12. Seidel scored from 12 and 60 yards out as the Aviators took a 14-6 lead after one quarter. Seidel put the icing on the cake, scoring from eight yards away as the Aviators broke open the game in the second half. Dan D’Amato scored on a 30-yard run for the other Heights score.
Seidel continued his rampage as Heights trampled Palisades Park, 34-0. Seidel had a pair of 55-yard scoring runs, and also pounded on in from five yards out to give the Aviators a 20-0 lead in the second quarter. Anderson ran for one touchdown, and connected with Ruroede for a 40-yard scoring pass for the other. Seidel rushed for all of his 195 yards in the first half.
Colaianna’s eight-yard run jumped-started the Aviators 47-0 win over Park Ridge. D’Amato scored twice, from from 25 and 28 yards, as the Aviators dominated the Owls in every aspect of the game. Anderson hit Fill with 40 yard pass, and kicked five extra points for the Aviators on the evening. Gareffa had a 74-yard punt return for a score, while Jamie Pasqualone added a 16 yard run for Heights.
Seidel, who was kept out of the end zone by Park Ridge, finished with 114 yards on 19 carries while surpassing the 1000 yards rushing mark on the season.
Sitting at 7-1, the Aviators were seeded second in the North 2, Group 1, and were scheduled to face Verona on a Friday evening at Depken Field. But inclement weather moved the game to Saturday, and Verona was able to come in and upset the Aviators, 19 -7.
Five different Aviators rushed for touchdowns, (Seidel had two) as the Aviators blanked Wood-Ridge, 47-0 at Wood-Ridge on Thanksgiving. D’Amato kicked things off with a 50 yard rush in the first quarter for the game’s initial score. Anderson then hooked up with Zahn on a 36-yard scoring play for a 13-0 lead in the first quarter. Fill (seven yards) and Anderson (15 yards) scored before the half as the Aviators took a 27-0 lead into halftime. Seidel added a seven yard early in the third, followed by Colaianni’s 46-yard score. Seidel added a five-yard run to close out the scoring.
Tackle Joe Armeli and guard Scott Brieden were joined on the BCSL -Olympic First Team by Ruroede (TE) and Seidel (RB). Anderson was named to the Second Team at quarterback and kicker, along with Fill at linebacker and defensive lineman Anthony Yeswita. Tom DeLorezno and Jonathan Paige were Honorable Mention selections.