HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Tucked between a pair of New Jersey High School football legends in Peter Barbieri and Nick Delcalzo, it is easy to overlook Jeff Scheetz’ tenure as the Hasbrouck Heights head coach. But you shouldn’t.
Sure it was only three years, but it went the life cycle of teams, rebuilding in 1982, snubbed from the playoffs in 1983 to playoff team in 1984, and headed towards continued improvement when Scheetz resigned after the 1984 season to become vice-principal at Hasbrouck Heights High School.
The Aviators presented their new coach with a hard fought, 9-6 win over Weehawken behind Mike Franzoi’s 120 yards rushing. Todd Wagner scored the Hasbrouck Heights touchdown, while Greg Nimmo kicked a first quarter field goal that would prove to be the difference in the game.
Next would be a home game against St. Mary (Rutherford) in which the Aviators would dominate the Gaels, 35-0. Wagner would rush for three touchdowns, and 140 yards to lead the offense. Nimmo would score on a 86-yard run, with Jim Catrillo adding a first half touchdown.
The 2-0 start came to a crashing halt in North Arlington, as the Vikings defeated the Aviators 38-6. The Aviators picked up their first road win under their new head coach, defeating Ridgefield 14-5, as Catrillo threw a touchdown pass to Ian Menne, and ran for another to give Hasbrouck Heights the victory.
Palisades Park was next, and the Aviators recorded their second shutout of the season, 21-0, over the Tigers, as Nimmo ran for two scores (1 and 21 yards). Sitting at 4-1, Scheetz had picked up right where Labarbiera had left off.
The next three games would prove to be the worst stretch in Scheetz career in Heights, as the Aviators were shut out by Wallington, 14-0, Emerson, 26-0, and Bogota, 32-0, to fall to 4-4. You had to reach back to 1937-38 for the Aviators to have been shut out in three straights games.
The Aviators offensive woes continued into Thanksgiving, but Nimmo and Catrillo were able to score fourth quarter touchdowns to lead the Aviators to a 20-6 win over Wood-Ridge, giving Hasbrouck Heights a 5-4 record on the season.
Offensive tackle John Altomare was joined by Nimmo (LB) and Wagner (RB) on the BCSL Olympic First Team. Jim Ronayne (DE) was joined by Franzoi (RB) as a Second Team choice, while Mike Trautz was named Honorable Mention. The Aviators were outscored on the season, allowing 127 points, while scoring only 105.
Whatever the problems the Aviators had in 1982, they were fixed for 1983. The defense, which had allowed only 127 points the year before, cut that total in half, allowing only 60. The offense, which struggled with 105 points, nearly tripled their output, scoring 302.
As had happened the year before, the Aviators opened with a pair of wins, this time on the road in Weehawken and Rutherford. The Aviators scored four touchdowns in the opening quarter of the season to serve notice that they straightened out their offensive problems of a season ago out. Franzoi had three touchdowns, and new quarterback Greg Kazanjian threw two touchdowns in the first quarter to lead the Aviators.
St. Mary was the victim in Rutherford, as the Aviators cruised to a 55-0 victory. Franzoi rushed for 100 on 11 carries as the Aviators spread the scoring around. The offensive explosion continued in North Arlington, with a 35-0 victory. The Aviators gained revenge for the prior year’s loss, with the defense holding the Vikings to two yards total offense in the game. Kazanjian threw for two more touchdowns, and Franzoi picked up a third to lead the offense.
Franzoi rushed for two touchdowns, and threw for a third, as Hasbrouck Heights defeated Ridgefield, 33-8. Sophomore defensive tackle Jim Brown blocked his second punt of the season, recovering for a touchdown.
Hasbrouck Heights then traveled on the road to Palisades Park and drilled the Tigers, 34-6. Franzoi continued his spectacular season with his best game of the year, rushing for 315 yards and three touchdowns in the win.
The Aviators subs got plenty of work as Wallington was crushed, 52-0 by Hasbrouck Heights. Andy Chermak scored twice for Hasbrouck Heights to lead the way. The Aviators had 300 yards total offense in the first half as they jumped out to 39-0 lead. The win set-up a matchup with 6-0 Emerson for league supremacy.
Emerson stopped the Aviators win streak at six with a 16-0 win in Emerson. The Emerson defense was just too much for the Aviators, who were limited to just one first down the final three quarters. Franzoi, who had carried the Aviators load for most of the year, was limited to 20 yards on 13 carries.
The Aviators bounced back with a 26-22 victory over Bogota, and waited for the state to determine if they had made the Group I playoffs. The Aviators required a late game rally, scoring the final 20 points of the game for the win. Dan Cafaro cut the lead to 22-20 in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard touchdown reception, on a drive that was set up by Brown’s fourth punt block of the season.
Franzoi scored on a two-yard run with 45 seconds left in the game to give the Aviators the victory.
But, despite a 7-1 record, the Aviators fell short of making the state playoffs (only four teams back then) and had only Wood-Ridge remaining on the season.
The Aviators defense recorded its fourth shutout of the season, with a 32-0 blanking of the Blue Devils. Franzoi scored three touchdowns as the Aviators man-handled the 6-3 Wood-Ridge squad. The win was the 13th straight for Hasbrouck Heights over Wood-Ridge.
Four Aviators, Cafaro (LB), Franzoi (RB), Jim Thorpe (T) and Mike Trautz (DL), where First Team All BCSL-Olympic selections. Brown (DL), Chermark (DB), Kazanjian (QB) were Second Team choices, along with punter Owen Joyce. Chris Kunzmann and Jay Purcell were Honorable Mention selections.
The Aviators jumped out once again in 1984 to another quick start with a pair of shutout wins over Bogota (30-0) and Weehawken (28-0). Andy Chermark tallied four touchdowns in the first game and in the second game Brown continued his reign of terror on punters, blocking two more punts, both which rolled out of the end zones for safeties.
Wallington was next, and the Panthers fell 36-14, as the defense created four turnovers, enabling the Aviators to jump out to a 36-0 lead after three quarters. Scott Roberts scored two touchdowns, John Regan scored from 18, while Brown created two fumbles and Mike Krommenhoek and Ron Blauvelt each had interceptions.
Longtime rival Cresskill put the Aviators dreams of an undefeated season away, as the previously stingy defense gave up 27 points as the Cougars won 27-3. Cresskill led 7-3 at the half before missed opportunities by Hasbrouck Heights and big plays by the Cougars gave the Aviators the loss.
Missing out on the playoffs due to power points the year before had made an impression on the Aviators, so they met Newark Barringer for the only meeting between the schools the following week. The Aviators defeated the Group 4 school, 21-0 behind two touchdowns by Chermark and one by Blauvelt. Hasbrouck Heights signature defense showed up, holding Barringer to under 100 yards in the game.
Ridgefield fell next, 35-0, the fourth shutout of the season for Hasbrouck Heights, with Blauvelt rushing for three touchdowns to key the offense.
Revenge was on the mind of the Aviators, as they hosted Emerson. Always one of the Aviators toughest opponents, the Aviators prevailed 21-6. Dave Marzigliano broke up a scoreless tie by recovering an Emerson fumble in their end zone to give Hasbrouck Heights a lead that they never relinquished. The win also put the Aviators in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot.
A 37-7 win over Bergen Tech was the Aviators answer to make sure they did not give away their opportunity. Blauvelt ran for a pair of touchdowns, while Sean Dolan highlighted the Aviators defensive effort with a 40-yard interception return.
The Aviators run to a state title was stopped in their first playoff game, as North Arlington defeated the Aviators, 18-14 in North Arlington. The Aviators had rallied to get within four, but their comeback effort fell short when Blauvelt’s pass to Regan in the end zone fell incomplete in the final moments.
Thanksgiving was another close, physical contest between Hasbrouck Heights and Wood-Ridge, with the Aviators pulling out a 13-3 victory over the Blue Devils. Krommenhoek scored both Aviators touchdowns.
Defensive back Andy Chermark, guard Hani Khoury and Krommenhoek (linebacker) were awarded Second Team All-County honors. Brown (DT), Roberts (P), were named First Team All-BCSL Olympic while Blauvelt (DB), Roberts again at defensive line, Paul Rutkowski (T-P) were named to the Second Team. Ken Forte was Honorable Mention.
Few would have predicted that Scheetz would have stepped away from the sidelines to become a school administrator, become Vice Principal at Hasbrouck Heights. Even fewer would have foreseen it would be the last coaching search we would see until...
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