HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Usually the year following a state championship, teams stagger a little bit. State Champions normally have teams that are heavy on experience, and the task the next year is replacing all the seniors who have moved on. Some teams crater. Other teams maintain their success, as other parts of the winning formula step up.
If you look at the 2006 team, the latter occurred, as the Aviators replaced a standout back and several key offensive linemen, yet still managed to score 310 points and advance two rounds in the NJSIAA playoffs.
Having to open on the road should have been a detriment to Aviators, but it proved to be a good proving ground for the new lineup. Behind a pair of touchdowns from returning starters Dan D’Amato and Brendan Gareffa, the Aviators jumped out to an early 27-0 lead, cruising to a 34-0 win over Ridgefield. D’Amato finished the game with 110 yards rushing on five carries.
D’Amato started the scoring in the first quarter with a 50-yard run, and Gareffa scored from 15 yards out in the first quarter as the Aviators offense rolled over Ridgefield. A 60-yard punt return extended the lead to 20-0 early in the second quarter, and Gareffa punched one in from three yards to extend the lead to 27-0 at the half.
Dom D’Allesandro provided the final score with an 8-yard run, while Brandon Melchior added four of five extra points.
The trip to Park Ridge provided no more challenge for the Aviators, as they defeated the Owls. 40-7, to go to 2-0 on the season. D’Amato once again was the spark, scoring three touchdowns, while quarterback Jamie Pasqualone ran for a touchdown and tossed a 55-yard scoring toss to D’Allesandro. Gareffa added the Aviators final score.
The return to Depken brought a showdown with one of the Aviators top rivals, New Milford. Andrew Nass’ 13 yard touchdown reception from Pasqualone in the first quarter gave Hasbrouck Heights an early 7-0 lead. D’Amato scored from nine yards out to give the Aviators a second quarter to propel Hasbrouck Heights to a 14-0 lead. But New Milford scored before halftime, as the Aviators were challenged for the first time all season, led 14-7 at the half.
With the Knights driving for the tying score, Nass came with his second big play of the game, picking off a New Milford pass and returning it 90-yards, extending the lead to Aviators lead to 20-7. Pasqualone hit D’Allesandro with a 9-yard touchdown for some insurance, and New Milford scored a late touchdown as the Aviators defeated New Milford 26-14 to improve to 3-0.
An undefeated Palisades Park/Leonia team was next for the Aviators. The Hasbrouck Heights ground game pounded the Tigers defense as the Aviators racked up a 34-8 victory. D’Alessandro started the scoring for the Aviators, scoring on a 17 yard run. D’Amato, who would finish with 114 yards, scored next, scoring from five yards out. D’Alessandro had his second score of the game, this time hooking up with Pasqualone on 34 yard scoring strike to give the Aviators a 21-0 lead at the half.
Hasbrouck Heights put the game away in third quarter, as Sean Mansfield and Pasqualone connected on a 16 yard pass. D’Amato’ second touchdown of the game made the score 34-0. D’Amato finished with 114 and Gareffa 130 yards as the Aviators dominated the game on the ground.
Pascack Hills was favored coming in, and the Aviators were playing without D’Allesandro (broken hand) and offensive tackle Michael Renna. When Pascack Hills jumped out to a 6-0 lead after recovering Gareffa’s fumble on the opening kickoff, it looked like the Aviators could be in for a long night.
But Gareffa more than made up for his miscue, rushing for 211 yards on 19 carries to lead the Aviators ground game, as the Aviators upset the Cowboys. 28-6. D’Amato carried 16 times for 81 yards as the Aviators exceeded the 300-yard mark on the ground. D’Amato scored once ont the ground along with Mansfield, while Pasqualone scored twice on the ground to move to 5-0 and into the top half of the North 1, Group 1 rankings.
Cresskill, however, ruined the Hasbrouck Heights perfect season with 14-12 victory in Cresskill. A missed extra point wound up coming back to bite the Aviators.
Hasbrouck Heights scored first as D’Amato scored from 51 yards out to give the Aviators a 6-0 lead. The kick failed. Cresskill scored the next two touchdowns, and heading into the second half, trailed 14-6. Nass and Pasqualone connected on a 46-yard scoring pass in the third quarter, to cut the lead, to 14-12. The Aviators went for two, but failed on the conversion.
Cresskill was able to shut Hasbrouck Heights down in the fourth quarter, giving the Aviators their first loss of the year.
The Aviators bounced back the next week, defeating Emerson, 21-6. D’Amato scored twice, including a 56-yard pass from Pasqualone to lead the Aviators. Gareffa ran 21 times for 166 yards, including a 60-yard scoring run in the fourth quarter.
Week 8 saw Bogota come to Hasbrouck Heights and hand the Aviators their second loss of the season, a 36-26 decision. With the win, the Bucs moved to 8-0 on the season, with the Aviators falling to 6-2.
Bogota’s Danny Brown scored the first of his four touchdowns on the day, to give the Bucs an early 7-0 lead. Jonfrery Sanchez added a two-yard run to make the score 14-0 at the end of the first quarter. The Aviators, behind a Mansfield touchdown reception (15 yards) and Gareffa’s 16-yard run tied the score at 14-14 in the second quarter. Brown scored his third of the day before halftime, as Bogota snatched back the lead at 22-14.
Brown’s third touchdown of the day gave Bogota a 28-14 lead through three quarters before the Aviators staged a comeback.
Pasqualone’s one-yard run made the score 28-20, and Gareffa’s cut the lead to 28-26, but the two-point conversion fell short.
Brown put the game in ice with his fourth touchdown run, to make the score 34-26. Jimmy Lynch caught a pass from Ray Carrasco to make it a 10-point lead.
The loss to Bogota dropped the Aviators into the four slot, and a rematch with Pascack Hills, this time at Depken Field.
Alessandro scored the game’s only touchdown, as the Aviators won a defensive battle, 9-3 over the Cowboys. D’ Alesandro scored on an inside handoff from 22 yards out, finishing off an 11-play, 70 yard drive on the opening possession. The conversion failed, which would add to the drama later in the game.
Melchior kicked a 31-yard field goal for the Aviators in the second quarter to put the Aviators up 9-0. Pascack Hills kicked a field goal in the second quarter, to make the score 9-3 at the half But that was all the scoring for the game.
Not that the team’s didn't have chances, especially in the fourth quarter. Hasbrouck Heights attempt to ice the game with a field goal in the fourth was no good when a bad snap could not be handled by holder Bobby Kistner, whose pass fell incomplete. Afterwards, Coach Nick Decalzo said it was not a fake - although he did tell the media afterwards, “If it had worked, I would have told you it was.”
The Cowboys final drive reached into Hasbrouck Heights territory, but the Aviators stopped a fourth and two run to take over on downs and run out the clock.
The victory put the Aviators into their second rematch of the playoffs, against Bogota. The Aviators jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on Pasqualone’s one-yard run in the first quarter, and extended it to 10-0 on a Melchior 27 yard field goal. But Bogota bounced back, cutting the lead to 10-8 at the half. D’Amato once again extended the Aviators lead to 17-8. But Bogota scored to cut the lead to 17-16, and then recovered a Hasbrouck Heights fumble at the Aviators 13. They converted for a 24-17 lead, and then survived a last-gasp Aviator rally, sending the 10-0 Bucs to the final.
Hasbrouck Heights ended the season on the Saturday after Thanksgiving with a 63-0 win over the Blue Devils. Pasqualone hit Mansfield for three touchdowns, (42,45,33) to lead the offense. Gareffa scored from 38, D’Amato from 30 in their final games as Aviators. Sean Zahn had two touchdown runs (12, 1) while Kevin Delcalzo (18) and John Cambridge also ran for touchdowns.
Gareffa was named to the First Team All County team as a linebacker, while Mansfield was named Second Team at defensive back. Tackle Mike DeSimone and Melchior (center) were named to the Third Team All-County squad. D’Amato (RB) and Pasqualone (QB) were First Team BCSL-Olympic selections. Defensive lineman Eric Gaal and tight end Zach Ketcho were Second Team selections.
D'Alessandro and Joe Olivo were Honorable Mention selections.
|2||Dom D'Alessandro||WB, CB||Sr.|
|3||Joe Delcalzo||TE, DE||Sr.|
|4||Tenzin Kongpo||WR, S||Jr.|
|5||Kevin Delcalzo||HB, CB||So.|
|7||Sean Mansfield||WR, CB||Sr.|
|9||Dan D'Amato||HB, S||Sr.|
|11||Jamie Pasqualone||QB, S||Sr.|
|12||Joe Lalko||QB, DE||So.|
|13||Angel Oliveras||HB, MLB||Sr.|
|15||Bobby Kistner||QB, S||So.|
|19||Nick Guzman||WR, CB||Jr.|
|20||Shawn Zahn||WB, OLB||So.|
|21||Brendan Gareffa||FB, MLB||Sr.|
|23||Andrew Nass||WB, OLB||Jr.|
|27||Adam Giblin||WR, CB||Jr.|
|28||Julian Roman||WR, CB||Jr.|
|29||Jimmy Ryan||WR, CB||Jr.|
|30||Dave Palmieri||HB, OLB||Jr.|
|31||Zach Ketcho||TE, OLB||Jr.|
|32||Anthony Delcalzo||FB, OLB||So.|
|34||Mac Sakchutchawan||WR, CB||Jr.|
|35||Junaid Ahmed||WR, CB||Jr.|
|47||Jordan Paige||FB, DL||Jr.|
|50||Travis Malave||G, MLB||Sr.|
|53||John Halpin||C, DT||Jr.|
|54||Eric Gaal||OT, DT||Sr.|
|55||Lorenzo Tattoli||TE, OLB||So.|
|56||Mike Desimone||T, MLB||Sr.|
|57||Mike Denicholo||T, DE||Jr.|
|58||Christian Alcantara||T, DT||Sr.|
|62||Michael Renna||T, DE||Jr.|
|63||A.j. Abdelaziz||G, DT||So.|
|64||Joe Bruno||OG, DT||Sr.|
|66||Vin Romano||T, DT||Jr.|
|68||Joe Olivo||OG, MLB||Jr.|
|69||Nick Pagano||G, DT||Jr.|
|70||Jim Ronayne||T, DT||So.|
|72||Chris Cristodoulou||T, DT||Jr.|
|74||James McKnight||C, CB||So.|
|76||Brandon Melchior||C, DE||Sr.|
|77||Tyler Blake||OG, DT||Jr.|
|79||Dave Stedman||OG, DT||Jr.|
|81||Mike Tamimi||WR, CB||Jr.|
|88||Libardo Torres||T, DE||So.|
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