HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Having lost starting quarterback Jamie Pasqualone, running backs Dan D’Amato and Brendan Gareffa and receiver Sean Mansfield, many observers dismissed the Aviators chances in 2007. Conventional wisdom that the Aviators would not win the BCSL-Olympic, and would struggle to even make the NJSIAA playoffs.
2007 also introduced Hasbrouck Heights to a new era in Aviators football - astroturf. The days of playing in the mud at Depken were gone.
Andrew Nass scored three times, from 2, 3 and 25 yards out to lead the offense as the Aviators started off with a 28-12 win in the season opener in Emerson. Junior quarterback Bobby Kistner scored on a one-yard run for the Aviators other score. Nass finished with 160 yards rushing on 20 carries in the win.
Behind a strong defense which shut down New Milford’s dominating offensive game, and Jimmy Ryan’s interception, the Aviators advanced to 2-0 with a 15-12 win at New Milford. Kistner got the Aviators on the board first with a one-yard run for a 7-0 lead following Dave Tarabacchia’s extra point.
New Milford cut the lead on AJ Scoppa’s 33-yard run, but the kick failed, keeping the Aviators in the lead at 7-6. A 50 yard fumble return in the third quarter gave the Knights the lead 12-7. The conversion failed. The Aviators though bounced right back, marching down the field, and scoring on Shawn Zahn’s five yard touchdown run, to take back the lead at 13-12. The conversion pass, from Kistner to Zach Ketcho, extended the lead to 15-12.
A return to Depken was next, as the Aviators hosted Cresskill in a match-up of 2-0 teams. Cresskill opened the scoring as a 31-yard field goal gave the Cougars are 3-0 lead in the second quarter. Hasbrouck Heights responded, with Kistner connecting with wide receiver Kevin Delcalzo on a 20-yard scoring play and a 7-3 Hasbrouck Heights lead with 36 seconds remaining in the half.
Nass, who was the leading rusher in the game with 91 yards on 13 carries, broke a 30-yard run with 6:52 remaining, giving the Aviators a 14-3 lead. Cresskill responded, capping off an 11 play drive in just 3:23, with a 7-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion was successful, and the Aviators led 14-11.
Running out the clock behind a pair of first down runs from Kistner, the Aviators were 3-0, and suddenly the favorites in the BCSL Olympic.
Park Ridge was next, and the Aviators finally got their offense completely on-track, nearly doubling their season-to-date output with a 56 - 18 win. Nass scored three times, from 16, 74 and 47 yards, as the Aviators ground game chewed up the Park Ridge defense. John Cambridge scored twice, (nine and 17 yards) while Kistner threw one (to Ketcho) and ran for one for the Aviators. Delcalzo also ran one in for the Aviators.
North Arlington was next, and offered little resistance as Hasbrouck Heights won, 40-0, moving the Aviators to 5-0 on the season. Kistner opened the scoring with a 49-yard run to give Heights a 6-0 lead after one quarter. He then hooked up with Ketcho on one of their two touchdown passes on the day, for a 14-0 lead following Kistner and Ketcho combining on the two-point conversion.
Zahn recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a touchdown, with Tarabaccia’s extra point making the score 21-0. Ketcho’s second touchdown reception increased the lead to 27-0 in the third quarter. Nass scored from 21, and Jordan Paige added a one yard run to complete the scoring.
The final game of the Aviators four-game home stand saw Palisades Park/Leonia show up at Depken Field. When Heights jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind scoring runs from Zahn and Nass, it looked like it was another easy win for the Aviators. But Pal Park/Leonia responded with a 70-yard scoring run late in the first quarter, and it was a 14-7 ballgame.
Nass scored two more times in the second quarter for the Aviators, but the Tigers added a score of their own to keep the game a contest at 28-14 at the half.
Nass’ fourth touchdown of the day pushed the score to 34-14, before another late score by Palisades Park made the scored 34-22. The win moved the Aviators record to 6-0, and facing the final two games before the state playoff cutoff on the road.
A trip to Bogota had more than just staying undefeated on the line. Even though the Bucs were 3-3 on the season, there was the matter of the two 2006 losses to keep in mind. When the Aviators jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead behind two more rushing touchdowns from Nass (3, 50 yards) it looked like payback was going to be sweet. But Bogota had other plans, rallying to 14-12 with the game-tying two point conversion upcoming.
But the conversion failed, and when middle linebacker Lorenzo Tattoli sacked Bogota quarterback on a fourth and 10 with 1:10 remaining, the Bucs rally was finally put to bed.
The trip to Ridgefield was a little smoother, as the Aviators defeated the Royals by a score of 46-20. Kistnter ran for two scores, and threw for two more as the Aviators improved to 8-0. Kistner was 8-of-10 for 194 yards, hitting Ketcho (50 yards) and Decalzo (35 yards) for touchdowns. Nass ran for 173 yards on 23 carries, scoring once. Zahn (2 yards) and Cambridge (70 yards) also rushed for touchdowns for Heights.
The number one seed in North 1, Group 1, the Aviators opened at home against Pompton Lakes in the NJSIAA playoffs. Kistner passed for 100 yards, ran for 65 and Zahn scored on two touchdown runs as the Aviators dominated Pompton Lakes, 35-7.
Heights opened the scoring when Kistner found Nass for a 16-yard scoring reception for a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Zahn made the score 14-0 on a five-yard run and Delcalzo returned a punt 72 yards for a score to give the Aviators a 21-0 lead at the half.
Nass scored his second of the day, a one-yard run in the fourth quarter, before Zahn scored from 15 to put the game out of reach. Tabaraccia was a perfect 5-for-5 on point after conversion kicks for Heights.
The defense came up big for the Aviators in their 13-6, second round win over Cresskill. Two fumble recoveries, an interception and a big fourth down stop late in the game secured the victory over the Cougars.
Kistner scored both touchdowns, a pair of one yarders, for the Aviators, while Nass was the workhorse on the ground, rushing 25 times for a 130 yards, and coming up with one of the two fumble recoveries on defense. Tyler Blake had the other recovery for the Aviators, while Ryan picked off a Cresskill pass to end the first half.
Kistner’s first touchdown gave the Aviators the lead with a one-yard run with 8.24 remaining in the first quarter. Cresskill cut the lead to 7-6 on a 47-yard run in the third quarter, but the Aviators retained the lead when New Milford missed the extra point. With 10:24 Kistner extended the lead with his second touchdown run of the day.
A trip to Giants Stadium awaited, as did New Milford. The sixth-seed Knights had already upset third seeded Westwood, 45-7, in the opening round, and then knocked off second seed, Hawthorne, 33-31, to advance to the final.
But first, Wood-Ridge was waiting for the annual Thanksgiving game. Not only was it for bragging rights, but the BCSL Olympic regular season championship. It still was the ultimate trap game, with the State Championship game coming up in another week. Wood-Ridge was a formidable foe, having finished 6-3 and having beaten New Milford during the season. They had not given up more than two touchdowns in any game all season. .
Kistner threw for three touchdowns, leading the Aviators to a 21-0 win over Wood-Ridge. After a scoreless first quarter, Kistner connected with Ketcho for a 32-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead. Later in the quarter, it was Delcalzo, on the scoring end of a Kistner bomb, this time, combining for a 50-yard touchdown.
In the fourth quarter, Kistner hit Mac Sakchutchawan for an 18-yard score for the game’s final points. Not only did the Aviators come away with another victory over Wood-Ridge, but came out of it without any major injuries. Giants Stadium awaited.
New Milford had a short but storied history with the Aviators. Twice they had knocked off the Aviators in the state playoffs, both times in overtime during head coach Nick Delcalzo's first two seasons as head coach. The Aviators had come in on a win-streak, having won the last four, including a 15-12 battle at New Milford earlier in the year.
Hasbrouck Heights got on the board first, as Andrew Nass scored from 30-yards out, giving the Aviators a 7-0 lead. The Knights, however, answered back in the second quarter, as receiver Pat Mitchell and quarterback Rob Hackett connected on an 83-yard pass play to tie the game at 7-7. A New Milford field goal gave the Knights the lead at the half, 10-7.
Kistner hit Kevin Delcalzo with a 20-yard scoring strike in the third quarter, to put the Aviators back ahead 14-10. Once again, the Knights answered, as Mitchell and Hackett connected, this time from 32 yards. The New Milford kick failed, but the Knights led 16-14 entering the fourth.
The fourth quarter, was all Heights, as Zahn scored from five-yard out to give the Aviators a 20-16 lead. The two-point conversion failed, but Nass put the game away with a 21- yard score for a 26-16 lead. Nass finished with 160 yards rushing, and was a member of the defense that limited Knights running back AJ Scoppa to 65 yards in the game, leaving him 29 short of 2000 on the season.
The accolades were abundant, as Ketcho (TE), and offensive lineman Michael Renna were named First Team All-County, Ryan (DB) and Defensive Lineman Dave Stedman were named to the Second Team, while Nass and offensive lineman Joe Olivo were named to the Third Team.
Kistner was named First Team All BCSL-Olympic at quarterback, guard Travis Malave, defensive back Adrian Roman and Tarabacchia (K) were named Second Team, while John Halpin and Dave Palmieri were Honorable Mention choices.
2007 Hasbrouck Heights Football Roster
|2||Brian Duran||WR, DB|
|3||Michael Ruggiero||WB, CB|
|4||Tenzi Kongpo||WR, CB|
|5||Kevin Delcalzo||HB, CB|
|7||Junaid Ahmed||WR, CB|
|9||Nick Brunetti||QB, S|
|12||Steve Winka||WR, DB|
|13||Mike Eccleston||WR, DB|
|15||Bobby Kistner||QB, S|
|19||Chris Mercado||WR, DB|
|20||Nick Stellato||TE, SS|
|21||John Cambridge||HB, OLB|
|22||Shawn Zahn||FB, OLB|
|23||Andrew Nass||WB, LB|
|28||Adrian Roman||WR, CB|
|29||Jimmy Ryan||WR, S|
|30||Dave Palmieri||HB, OLB|
|31||Zach Ketcho||TE, LB|
|32||Zach Anderson||WR, CB|
|34||Mac Sakchutchawan||WR, CB|
|35||Tyler Blake||G, DT|
|40||Rocco Mangeri||FB, LB|
|47||Jordan Paige||TB, DE|
|50||Travis Malave||G, MLB|
|52||Nick Curci||G, DT|
|53||John Halpin||C, DT|
|54||Shoab Ahmed||G, DT|
|55||Lorenzo Tattoli||C, LB|
|56||Dave Stedman||G, DE|
|57||Mike Denichilo||G, DT|
|58||Kyle Latorre||C, DE|
|62||Michael Renna||T, DE|
|63||Aj Abdelaziz||G, DT|
|65||Joe Romano||T, DT|
|66||Vin Romano||T, DT|
|68||Joe Olivo||G, DE|
|69||Nick Pagano||G, DT|
|72||Chris Christodoulou||T, DT|
|74||James McKnight||C, CB|
|79||Wilson Battle||T, DT|
|80||David Tarabacchia||TE, OLB|
|81||Mike Tamimi||WR, CB|
|84||Michael Messeri||TE, DE|
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