HASBROUCK HEIGHTS, NJ - Like the 1960s in America, the 1970s were also a time for change, particularly in high school football. While the coach did not change during the decade, 1974 ushered in a new era of high school football, the playoff era.
But before we look at the playoff era, starting in 1974, let’s take a look at Hasbrouck Heights football from 1970 to 1974.
Entering the decade having just graduated two of the top offensive threats in school history in Mike Fanuzzi and Rich Manfredi, the Aviators struggled (relative to their norms) in 1970. Led by Greg Toal, who would be named first team All Bergen County at running back, the Aviators posted a 4-3-2 mark, scoring 145 points while giving up 96.
After starting with a tie against Westwood (12-12), the Aviators defeated Fort Lee (14-0), Emerson (14-6) and Cresskill (12-8), before suffering their first loss of the year, at Bogota (20-12). Hasbrouck Heights followed that up with a 14-14 tie at Saddle Brook. Palisades Park saw the Aviators offense flash back to prior seasons, with a 55-12 win at Depken Field.
What was still a promising season, however, ended harshly, as a pair of 12-6 losses, at Leonia and to Wood-RIdge on Thanksgiving put a downer on the season. Joining Toal on the post-season honor roll was DB Nick Delcalzo (First Team All-BCSL National), DT Bill Kittredge(First Team All-BCSL National), DE Keith Link (First Team All-BCSL National) and Bob Sanzo was named Honorable Mention.)
While that year also noted the end of the Hasbrouck Heights playing careers for two individuals, Toal and Delcalzo, both of whom would become coaching legends.
Delcalzo, after graduation from college, came back to Hasbrouck Heights, worked as an assistant to both Peter Labarbiera and Jeff Sheetz, before being named head coach in 1985. He is own book in the story of Hasbrouck Heights football. We will have a separate story about Coach Delcalzo as part of this series.
Toal compiled a 305-55-2 record before becoming offensive coordinator at Bergen Catholic. Starting his career at Saddle Brook (12-8), he moved to River Dell (53-9), Hackensack (62-9-20) before spending 17 seasons at Don Bosco (178-29) before a contentious departure. He is now the offensive coordinator at Bergen Catholic. He has nine state titles on his resume and is a member of New Jersey Football Coaches Hall of Fame.
The offense perked up in 1971, as did the record. Outscoring opponents 225-123, the Aviators finished 7-2 on the season. Opening with a shutout win over Fort Lee (20-0), the Aviators suffered a road loss at Emerson (22-14) in Week Two. A solid bounce back win came on the road, as Cresskill was on the short end a 44-24 drubbing. But the Depken Field faithful were stunned a week later as Saddle Brook handed the Aviators a 39-6 loss.
Hasbrouck Heights regrouped after the loss, winning their last four games, defeating Becton (28-0), Bogota (44-12), Leonia (7-6) before winning at Wood-Ridge 30-20 on Thanksgiving.
Link was named First Team All County at defensive tackle, while Sanzo was named Second Team All-County at running back. Defensive back Anthony Colaneri (First Team BCSL-National), End John Krommenhoek (First Team All-BCSL National), and Defensive End Guy Siraki (First Team All BCSL National) made the post-season honor roll.
An overpowering defense and a strong offense led Hasbrouck Heights to third North 1 Group 1 State Championship, as the Aviators finished 9-0, outscoring opponents by 287 to 26. The defense led by All County defensive lineman Tony Conty (First Team), Krommenhoek (First Team), and Bob Colaneri recorded seven shutouts on the season.
The team was barely challenged during the season, opening with a dominating win over Emerson (35-6.) Saddle Brook (which handed Hasbrouck Heights a stunning loss the year before) was dealt a 12-0 loss in Saddle Brook, starting a shutout streak that would reach six games.
Leonia (40-0) on the road was next, followed by a home win over Becton (13-0). Palisades Park was thumped 64-0 score, followed by Rutherford (30-0) and Bogota (40-0). Cresskill finally broke the Aviators shutout streak, scoring 20 points in a 34-20 loss to the Aviators.
The Aviators finished the season with a 19-0 win over Wood-Ridge on Thanksgiving, and were named State Champions. It would be the last State Championship under the old method of the NJSIAA declaring the team it felt was the top team as champions. Playoffs would be looming in 1976.
Running back Marc Fioravanti was named to the Second Team All County team. Back Kevin Bliss, Defensive Back Ken Mathis, End Barry Preusch were named first team BCSL National. Tony Mancine was named Honorable Mention.
The Aviators 1973 season saw the Aviators slide back offensively, scoring just 160 points. The defense was solid, giving up on 62 (less that a touchdown a game), but it was only good enough for a 6-3.
The season got off to a good start, as the Aviators won convincingly, 26-0, to start the season, and followed it up with a 12-0 shutout over Leonia, and an 8-0 win over Emerson. Three straight shutouts to start the season, after recording six the season before.
The Aviators gave up their first points of the season, a touchdown to the Owls in the second quarter, as Hasbrouck Heights edged Park Ridge, 8-6, in a defensive battle. Hasbrouck Heights scored in the first quarter to for an 8-0 lead, and held on through a scoreless second half.
The offense came to life in the Aviators annual schellacking of Palisades Park, with the Aviators putting up 38 points for the win. The score was 8-6 at the half, before the Aviators exploded for the win.
A three-game losing streak did in the season. A 12-7 loss at Becton, which saw the Aviators defense hold Becton’s high scoring offense in check, was attributed to the Wildcats being able to stop Hasbrouck Heights twice in scoring position late in the game.
Cresskill was next, another 14-8 loss, where the story was once again the same, the offense could move the ball, just not cross the goal line.
Rutherford captured the league title with its 16-14 win over Hasbrouck Heights, finishing up unbeaten in league play while the Aviators fell to 3-3 in the league and 5-3 overall.
Thanksgiving was the Aviators fourth straight road game, but they snapped their three game losing streak, with a resounding 39-8 victory over Wood-Ridge.
Defensive end Les Mulligan was Second Team All-County, while tackle Frank Bottagliei, center Bill Castiglione and linebacker George Farhat was First Team All BCSL-National. Kevin Whelan picked up a BCSL-National Honorable Mention nod.
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