HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Hasbrouck Heights entered a brave new world of high school football in 2016. The New Jersey Interscholastic Conference had decided not to join the Football Super Conference (FSC), was rolling out its new six games in seven weeks schedule, followed by the cross-over games against teams from different division which finished in the same spot you did in the standings.
Not that things were all that calm in the FSC, as everyone was trying to make heads or tails out of the new divisional alignments and schedules.
The only thing that did not change was the goal was the same as it was every year, a state championship.
One of the things that had made the NJIC different from the FSC is that is decided to include Catholic schools St. Mary (Rutherford) and Queen of Peace in the league, rather force them into their own leagues
Placed in the NJIC Meadowlands Division, the Aviators would open their season at St. Mary (Rutherford). The Aviators made short work of the Gaels, jumping out to a 41-0 halftime lead behind quarterback Frank Quatrone and sophomore receiver Jasiah Purdie’s huge first half efforts.
Quatrone, who finished the day with 84 yards rushing and was a perfect 5-for-5 passing for 192 yards, connected four times with Purdie, three for touchdowns. Quatrone’s seven-yard run started the scoring for the Aviators, giving the Avaitors an early 7-0 lead. Johnny Iurato powered in from one-yard out to make the score 14-0 at the end of the first quarter behind Joey Giancaspro’s extra point.
Quatrone hit Purdie with an 80-yard scoring pass early in the second quarter to make the score 21-0. The duo teamed up again for a 15-yard scoring pass, before Quatrone broke a 59-yard run to make the score 34-0, as the extra point failed. Purdie hauled in a 45-yard scoring pass to finish the scoring for the day before halftime at 41-0.
The Aviators bye week was week 2, and the Aviators returned to field Week 3, against Secaucus. Hasbrouck Heights used the week off as well, as they rolled over Secaucus, 53-6, to go 2-0 on the season. Quatrone continued his hot start, connecting on five-of-six passes for 91 yards, including a 52-yard toss to Purdie, while running for 94 yards and three touchdowns. The Aviators led 20-0 at the end of one quarter, and 32-0 at halftime.
Nick Monahan scored twice for the Aviators, on a 70-yard punt return and a 44-yard run. Iurato (3 yards) and James Klenk (13 yards) also scored for Hasbrouck Heights.
Next up was Cresskill at Depken Field. Quatrone kicked off the scoring with a 79-yard run for a 6-0 lead in the first quarter. He added an 8-yard run which pushed the lead to 13-0 following Joey Giancaspro’s extra point.
The defenses took over the rest of the half, with three interceptions between the two teams. It looked like the Aviators would get out of the first half with a 13-0 lead following a goal line defensive stand, when Cresskill picked off a pass in the final minute and returned it inside the five-yard line, and scored on a two-yard run to cut the lead to 13-6 at the half.
The second half was all Hasbrouck Heights, with Quatrone scoring twice on runs, from 3 and 35 yards, to open the lead for the Aviators to 27-6 after three quarters. Iurato rushed one in from five yards out for the game’s final score.
The Aviators traveled to Saddle Brook next, and improved to 4-0, with a 48-14 win over the Falcons. Quatrone bounced back from throwing two interceptions against Cresskill, throwing three touchdowns in the first quarter as the Aviators jumped out to a 20-0 lead.
Quatrone connected with Purdie on a 49-yard scoring pass to start the scoring. Phil Miller (4 yards) and Phil Viola (69 yards) also caught touchdown passes for the Aviators in the first quarter. The second quarter was more of the same, as Quatrone scored on a 98-yard run and a 40-yard run, while Iurato scored from the one, as Hasbrouck Heights led 41-0 at the half.
Quatrone added a three-yard run for the Aviators final score in the third quarter.
The Aviators continued their romp through the Meadowlands with a 48-0 win over North Arlington. Quatrone ran for two touchdowns (11 and 17 yards) and threw a 19 yard scoring pass to Purdie, as the Aviators jumped out to a 28-0 lead after one quarter. Iurato, who scored the other touchdown in the first quarter on a six-yard run, added a 17-yard scoring run in the second quarter, while Matt DiChiara had a four-yard run as the Aviators increased their lead to 42-0 at the half.
Nick Monahan scored in the third quarter for the game’s final score, while Giancaspro was six-of-seven on extra points.
It was more of the same as the Aviators traveled to Ridgefield and handed the Royals a 48-6 loss. Quatrone scored twice, on 29 and 70 yard runs, and the defense scored twice, all in the first quarter, as the Aviators led 34-0 at the end of one quarter. Miller went 30 yards with a fumble recovery, while Purdie ran an interception back 20 yards for a score. Iurato added a six-yard for the other first quarter score.
Monahan would handle the rest of the scoring for the Aviators, rushing in from 58 yards to give lead at the half. He added a 30-yard scoring run in the third quarter for the Aviators final score.
With a perfect 6-0 record, the Aviators hosted Becton in the first NJIC playoff game. The Wildcats had won the Patriot Division with a perfect 6-0 record.
The Aviators defense, which had two shutouts in six games, and had the backup defense allow 26 of the 32 points allowed during the first six games, made the game’s first impactful play, as Jordan Wexler sacked Becton quarterback Michael Bolwell knocking the ball loose just five plays into the game. Miller recovered, and the Aviators were in business. Quatrone cashed in on the turnover, scoring from five yards out, with Giancaspro’s extra point, took an early 7-0 lead.
The Aviators defense continued to shut down the Becton attack in the second quarter, while the Hasbrouck Heights ground game picked up two more scores, as Quatrone rushed for a 10-yard touchdown, and Iurato scored from two yards out for a 21-0 lead at the half.
Quatrone threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Miller for the Avaitors final score in the third quarter. The defense, led by interceptions by Purdie, Travis Culkin and Dylan Auriemma, recorded its third shutout of the season, as the Aviators captured a 28-0 victory to move to the initial NJIC Championship game against a 7-0 Pompton Lakes team, which knocked off Rutherford, 14-6 to advance to the final.
In front of a standing room only crowd on a Saturday afternoon in Pompton Lakes, the Aviators and Cardinals played the championship game that will set a high bar for any NJIC Championship game in the future. Behind Quatrone’s two touchdown runs, and a stout second half defense, the Aviators edged Pompton Lakes, 14-13 to capture the first NJIC Championship.
Pompton Lakes jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 22 yard scoring pass from quarterback Kevin Cotter to Nick Possimato, with Heri Herrera’s adding the extra point.
Hasbrouck Heights responded in the second quarter, with Quatrone scoring on a 13-yard run. But the extra point was no good, and the Cardinals remained in front, 7-6. Pompton Lakes extended the lead to 13-6, when Cotter hooked up with Chris Grecco for a 31 yard scoring play. But Herrera’s kick was no good, and the Cardinals took a 13-6 lead into the half.
Quatrone, who finished the day with 145 yards rushing, scored his second touchdown of the game in the third quarter, dashing from in from nine yards to cut the lead to 13-12. Hasbrouck Heights coach Nick Delcalzo decided to go for two, and the lead, and was successful as Quotrone hit Matt DiChiaro in the corner of the end zone for a 14-13 lead.
It was a battle of the defenses in the fourth quarter. With 4:47 remaining in the game, Pompton Lakes took over at Heights 29 yard line following a fumble by Iurato. But the Aviators defense held the fort, with Iurato stopping a second down run for a one yard gain, and sacking Cotter on third down, setting up a fourth and 18. Cotter’s desperation pass was broken up by DiChiara inside the five, and Hasbrouck Heights was able to run out the clock, and come away with the first-ever NJIC Championship.
A perfect 8-0 regular season also gave the Aviators the top seed in the NJSIAA playoffs, which meant home games in the first two rounds, against teams they had already faced during the regular season.
In the opening round the Aviators hosted Saddle Brook, who they defeated in Week 5, 48-14. The Aviators defense stepped up once again, shutting out the Falcons, while Iurato scored three times as Heights rolled to a 42-0 victory.
Quatrone scored first for the Aviators, on an 11-yard run for a 7-0 lead after one quarter. Iurato scored on one and five-yard runs to give the Aviators a 21-0 lead at halftime. Iurato’s third touchdown, from eight yards gave the Aviators a 27-0 lead, before Culkin intercepted a pass and returned it 25 yards for a 33-0 touchdown. James Klenk hit Phillip Viola for the two-point conversion and a 35-0 lead after three quarters.
Evan Georgatos scored from 17 yards for the final score of the game.
A rematch with Cresskill was next, as the Cougars advanced after upsetting Boonton, 26-21.
The Aviators jumped out to an early lead once again, as Purdie picked off Cresskill quarterback Jack Maltby’s pass and returned it for an early 6-0 lead. The kick was no good. Iurato increased the lead to 12-0 at the end of the first quarter, scoring on a two-yard run. The run for the conversion was stopped short of the goal line.
Maltby cut the lead to 12-7 in the third quarter, with a one-yard run. But Quatrone scored on a one-yard run, and then caught the two-point conversion pass from Purdie to make the score 20-7. Cresskill cut the lead to 20-14 when Brendan Bae connecting with Maltby on an 18-yard scoring play.
Quatrone’s two-yard run in the fourth quarter made the score 26-14. Purdie hit Miller with a pass in the end zone for the conversion for a 28-14 lead.
Cresskill scored one last time, as Ben Stein scored from one-yard out to cut the lead to 28-21. But the Aviators were able to run out the clock, advancing to MetLife to play for the North 1, Group 1 title.
They would play New Milford, who came into the game at 9-1, having lost to only Pompton Lakes (42-20) in the regular season, and having beaten Belvidere and Becton. The Knights were led by running back Christian Correa, who had rushed for over 2,000 yards in the regular season.
New Milford got on the board first, as Correa broke an 84 yard run in the second quarter to give the Knights a 6-0 lead. Both defenses shut the other down the rest the of the half, and New Milford led, 6-0 going into halftime.
The second half was all Quatrone.
Held to “just” 94 yards in the first half, Quatrone scored on an 18-yard run the third quarter to tie the game at 6-6. The kick was no good. Iurato put the Aviators into the lead for good, scoring from nine yards out to give the Aviators a 12-6 lead in the third quarter. Quatrone then hit Clites in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion and a 14-6 lead.
Correa busted a 24-yard run to bring the Knights to 14-12. New Milford went for two, but the snap sailed over the quarterback’s head and had to be covered.
Quatrone took over in the fourth quarter, scoring from 39 yards out to give the Aviators a 20-12 lead. He then hit Viola with for the two-point conversion and a 22-12 lead. Following a defensive stand, the Aviators iced the game with 1:19 left, as Quatrone broke a 51-yard run for a 28-12 lead. The Aviators ran a trick play for the two point conversion, with Klenk hitting Auriemma for a 32-12 lead and a North 1, Group 1 Championship.
Correa rushed for 246 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns, but was outdone by Quatrone, who rushed for 295 yards on 24 carries, with three touchdowns, and threw for another 55 yards. Iurato rushed for 72 yards on ten carries for Hasbrouck Heights, who were missing Purdie most of the game following a concussion in the first half.
Quatrone, who rushed for 1,416 yards on the season, and threw for 797 more, was involved in 34 touchdowns for the Aviators (26 rushing, 8 throwing), and was named First Team All-County along with Sean O’Malley (OT). Iurato was named Second Team All County at running back.
First Team All-NJIC Meadowlands selections were Giancaspro (K), Purdie (WR), center Dylan Freschi, Klenk (DB), Viola (DB), Miller (TE), Wexler (DL). Second Team selections were Auriemma (DB), Culkin (LB), Ian Harrington (OT), James Varga (DL). Clites, DiChiara and Georgatos were all NJIC-Meadowlands Honorable Mention.
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