HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - The problem with playing for teams that win a lot is that not all the talented players get to play as much as they want to. So, when they get the chance, they had better take advantage of it.
In the 2009 season opener, Kevin Condal and Matt Galassi did just that, as Hasbrouck Heights opened with a 49-14 win over Bogota. Condal, who had handled the kicking duties in 2008, would return to that role this year. But he would also get the ball in the backfield, and get the opportunity to use his sprinter's speed.
Taking the opening kickoff for the Aviators, Condal stumbled a bit, then broke through a hole and ran 93 yards for the game’s opening touchdown. Following a turnover by Bogota on the ensuing series, Condal scored from four yards out to give the Aviators a 14-0 just two minutes into the new season.
John Cambridge would add a 41-yard run, and Nick Brunetti, sliding in at quarterback with Bobby Kistner graduated, throwing a six yard scoring pass to Steve Winka, to make the score 28-0 after the first quarter.
Bogota responded with two touchdowns in the second quarter before Galassi put the game out of reach in third quarter, scoring from 17 and 13 yards to extend the lead to 42-14. Brunetti capped off the scoring with a 50-yard run.
Ridgefield was next, and the Aviators made sure the Royals were never in the game, scoring 27 points in the first quarter, and 21 in the second, for a 48-0 lead at the half. Cambridge added three more touchdowns, from 15, 43, and 21 yards, while Galassi added two more (30, 48) touchdowns, and Condal added an 11 yard run.
Park Ridge was the Aviators first home opponent on the season, and while they kept the Aviators under 40 points, the defense came up with its first shutout of the season in a 32-0 victory.
Galassi powered in twice, scoring on four and one yard runs, while Cambridge scampered in from 23 yards. Brunetti threw for one touchdown (Condal, 14 yards) while rushing for a one-yard score. Galassi gained 117 yards on the day on the ground, while Mike Ruggiero had 105 yards receiving.
A trip up to Pascack Hills was next, and the 3-1 Cowboys gave the Aviators their toughest battle of the season, for a half. The Aviators were held to nine points in the first quarter on a Condal 29-yard field goal, and a 17-yard pass from Brunetti to Galassi for a touchdown and a 9-0 lead.
Cambridge’s 13 yard run gave Hasbrouck Heights a 15-0 lead, as the Aviators missed their second extra point on the day. But Ruggiero returned a Pascack Hills pass 60 yards for a touchdown, putting the game away. Brunetti scored on a one-yard for the game’s final score, as the Aviators recorded their second straight shutout.
Palisades Park suspended their football program, so the Aviators fifth win of a season was a forfeit.
Hasbrouck Heights quickly showed Cresskill that there was no rust, scoring 28 points in the first quarter en route to a 35-7 win. Cambridge scored twice, on runs of five and 53 yards to lead the charge. Brunetti connected with Winka for an eight yard touchdown, and Galassi ran in from 23 yards to stake the Aviators to the early 28-0 lead.
Cambridge’s third touchdown of the game, from four yards, was the Aviators final score. Cresskill scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter, snapping the Hasbrouck Heights defense scoreless streak at 11 quarters.
Zach Anderson’s 25-yard interception return reversed the momentum in a 14-10 football game, kicked off 36 straight Hasbrouck Heights points as the Aviators thrashed New Milford, 50-10. Anderson than caught a pass from Brunetti for a two-point conversion, and a 22-10 lead.
A three-yard run from Galassi gave the Aviators a 7-0 lead following Condal’s extra point. Condal followed with a 63 yard reception from Brunetti to give the Aviators a quick 14-0 lead. New Milford, which came into the game at 4-2, was not going to roll over yet, answering back with 10 unanswered points, cutting the Aviators lead to 14-10 after one quarter.
Following Anderson’s score, Galassi rushed in from three yards out, and Cambridge scored for 12 yards as the Aviators pulled away to a 36-10 halftime lead. Galassi added a 16 yard run in the third, while Cambridge followed with an 87 yard run to give Hasbrouck Heights a 50-10 lead through three quarters.
The Aviators unbeaten season went by the boards as Emerson came to Depken Field and shut down the high-powered Hasbrouck Heights offense, capturing an emotional 15-7 win for the Cavos. (Earlier in the day, the Emerson team had attended the wake of an assistant coach.)
Emerson’s defense got on the board first, recording a safety when Brunetti was penalized for intentional grounding in the end zone during the second quarter. Taking advantage of good field position on the following possession after a free kick, the Cavos offense scored on a two-yard run for an 8-0 lead at the half.
Kyle Latorre scored the Aviators only touchdown, running 45 yards with a blocked put for a touchdown.
Despite the loss, the Aviators were the #2 seed in North 1, Group 1, opening with Elmwood Park. And the Aviators were ready.
Cambridge rushed for 178 yards and a career high five touchdowns as the Aviators buried Elmwood Park, 49-8. Cambridge scored twice in the first quarter, on four and two-yard runs for a 14-0 lead at end of the first quarter.
Cambridge scored from 38, before Condal returned a blocked punt 15 yards for a 28-0 lead. Cambridge scored his fourth touchdown of the first half with a 7-yard run before halftime for a 35-0 lead. Condal was a perfect 5-for-5 on extra points.
The defense scored in the third quarter, with Brunetti picking up an Elmwood Park fumble and returning it 23 yards for a 42-0 lead. Cambridge finished the scoring for the Aviators with a 34 yard run in the third quarter. Elmwood Park scored in the fourth to bring the score to 49-8.
Next was Butler, the #3, who advanced by defeating Emerson, 30-7. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 14-0 lead before the Aviators cut the lead to 14-7 on a Brunetti-to-Winka three-yard scoring play just before halftime.
The Bulldogs added touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters to increase the lead to 28-7 before Ruggiero caught a 30 yard touchdown pass from Brunetti for the Aviators final score. For the second straight season, the Aviators were eliminated from the playoffs in the semi-final round.
Cambridge ran for 210 yards and three touchdowns, going over the 1000 mark on the season, as the Aviators closed the season with a 49-12 win over Wood-Ridge at Depken Field, in the final time that the two schools would meet on Thanksgiving.
Cambridge scored on a four-yard run in the first quarter to give the Aviators a 6-0 lead. Cambridge scored again in the second quarter, this time from two yards away to increase the lead to 12-0. Wood-Ridge answered, with Sean Codey hauling in a 55-yard touchdown pass from Sean Cody to cut the lead in half at 12-6.
Pat Cole scored on an 18- yard run, with Winka catching a pass from Brunetti for the two-point conversion to make the score 20-6. Condal added a 24-yard field goal before the half to make the score, 23-6.
Hasbrouck Heights put the game away in the third quarter, scoring 26 points in the quarter. Cambridge broke a 46-yard run, and Condal had two long scoring runs (71 and 45 yards) for the Aviators, while Brunetti scored on a one-yard run.
Steve Balakian scored from five yards out for Wood-Ridge’s other points.
Ruggiero was named First Team All-County at Defensive Back, Latorre was Second Team at Tackle, while Cambride (RB), Cole (DL), Rocco Mangeri (LB) and Winka (TE) were Third Team selections.
They were joined on the BCSL-Olympic Teams by Brunetti (QB), Condal (K), Galassi (RB) as First Team choices, with Anderson (LB) and Joe Romano (DL) were Second Team. Shoaib Ahmid and Mark Delcalzo were named Honorable Mention.
The off-season would see tremendous changes to Bergen County Football, as the North Jersey Interscholastic Conference would be formed by the smaller schools, primarily in Southern Bergen County, rejecting the NJSIAA plans to place them in the North Jersey Football Super Conference.
Hasbrouck Heights and Wood-Ridge’s Thanksgiving rivalry would also end.
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