Despite a tough overtime defeat, Wayne Hills found its ‘heartbeat’, at Ramapo; Patriots (4-3) return home for final 2 regular season game; Casasanta sets team record with 220 rushing yards; Daly, Imparato, Gerard, Brutofsky also excel; Massoud, Hayek and Peischl gave emotional talks about the Ramapo rivalry

The alumni had returned, because, after all, this was the week Wayne Hills would play Ramapo in varsity football.

It’s one of the best gridiron rivalries in New Jersey, and that reputation held its course on Oct. 18, when Ramapo remained undefeated with a scintillating 35-28 overtime win over Wayne Hills, in Franklin Lakes.

Wayne Hills leads the all-time series with Ramapo, which began in 1972, 30-22-1. Ramapo won at home, against Hills, for the first time since 2003. It was also the first time the Raiders had beaten the Patriots in consecutive seasons since 2003 and 2004.

Mike Casasanta had his best game in a Wayne Hills uniform, as he rushed for a team record 220 yards at quarterback, in a game at Ramapo.

Read about the rivalry here. Five Patriots and Raiders, who once starred in high school, went on the NFL.

Wayne Hills head coach Wayne Demikoff had promised his team it would find its heartbeat on the field with a hard-fought effort at Ramapo.

“You gave it your all,” Demikoff told a disappointed group of players after the game. “That’s all we, as coaches, can ask. You found your heartbeat tonight, and if you play like this the rest of the season, there’s no telling what you can do.”

Demikoff has been a part of the rivalry with Ramapo since 1999. In fact, the first game he coached in against the Raiders also went to overtime, as Hills won, 17-14. As a head coach, Demikoff is 3-3 against Ramapo, since 2014.

“Not every team has a rivalry like we have with Ramapo,” Demikoff reminded his players. “You’ll remember these games for the rest of your life. Give it all you have, and you’ll be surprised at what you can accomplish, both on the field, and in life.”

Wayne Hills captains, left to right, Michael Joyce, Jack Woodard, Christian Puntolillo and Nick Lucarello.

Early on, it looked like Ramapo (7-0) would dominate the game, as the Green Raiders opened a 14-0 lead midway through the first quarter. But Wayne Hills (4-3) got its footing in the second quarter and cut the lead to 14-6 on a 5-yard run by Chris Brutofsky.

Ramapo responded on a long touchdown run, late in the first half, to extend its lead to 21-6, but Wayne Hills started to control the game when Dan Daly recovered a fumble, setting up a 32-yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Michael Casasanta, which made it 21-13 at the half, after Jordan Thiel added the point-after.

“I thought we were starting to control the line of scrimmage late in the first half,” said Demikoff. “And when we tied it, we had some momentum. But you have to credit Ramapo, too. They’re undefeated for a reason.”

Joe Brunetti has become a big part of the Wayne Hills attack in 2019.

Hills tied it early in the third quarter on a 67-yard scoring run by Casasanta, who had a record-setting game for a Wayne Hills quarterback, rushing for 220 yards. The Patriots opted for a 2-point conversion and it was successful, as Casasanta found Daly in the end zone on a pass that tied it, 21-21.

Early in the fourth quarter, Ramapo regained the lead, 28-21, but Hills responded late in regulation and tied it with 30 seconds left, on a pass from Casasanta to Dean Imparato.

Demikoff considered going for two points and the win, but opted for the game-tying point-after, which Thiel converted, sending the contest into overtime.

Dan Gerard had another solid game for Wayne Hills in its game at Ramapo.

There, Ramapo regained the lead on the first play from scrimmage on a touchdown pass. Wayne Hills had a chance to tie it, but was unable to convert.

Casasanta’s 220 yards on the ground broke the Wayne Hills record for rushing yards by a quarterback. Jaaron Hayek had rushed for 167 in a win at Pascack Valley, in 2017. Casasanta also passed for 105 yards and Imparato accounted for 46 yards in receptions.

Brutofsky had another good game on the ground, with over 100 yards. The Patriots had over 400 yards of total offense while Ramapo exceeded 500 yards of offense.

On defense, Daly and Dan Gerard had 10 tackles each while Imparato had eight tackles.

A number of former Wayne Hills players had stopped by practice during the week and were in the pre-game lockerroom to encourage the current team. Hayek, a 2019 graduate, who is now playing at Villanova, reminded the players of the importance of playing Ramapo. He also recalled the late Lou Brandt, a former Hills player, who died shortly after last year’s Ramapo game, and Brandt’s love of Wayne Hills football.

Hayek’s teammate at Hills, Gabe Dellechiaie, was also on hand. Gabe is now playing at Montclair State.

Other former players also reminded the team of what it means to play in a rivalry of this magnitude, including Mike Massoud, a fullback and linebacker on the 2004, 2005 and 2006 Hills championship teams.

Assistant coach Mike Peischl, who quarterbacked the 2005 Patriots to an undefeated championship season, reminded the team that assistant coach, Anthony Giampapa, had just become a dad, earlier in the day, and that Anthony would be watching the game, from the hospital, on live stream, with his new son, also named Anthony, in tow.

“No one loves Wayne Hills football and this game more than Anthony,” said Peischl. “His son will be about 5 hours old, and Anthony will be explaining to him how big a game this is. That’s what this rivalry is all about.”

Sentiment aside, there’s another game scheduled this Friday.

“We have a big game coming up against Passaic Tech (on Oct. 25),” said Demikoff. “They’re a very good team. I think we found out something about ourselves tonight, even in defeat. We can use this, going forward, and have a really good end of the season.”

By mike051893

Belleville girls’ soccer program honors its seniors; Football team looks to rebound, at home, against Barringer; Boys soccer (10-4) plays well in close games with Livingston and West Orange; Girls volleyball improves to 11-9 with 3 straight wins

The Belleville High girls’ soccer team celebrated its seniors on a brisk night at Doc Ellis Field. A nice turnout of parents and friends cheered on the seniors in a pre-game ceremony, then watched the Bucs play well in an eventual 2-1 loss to Newark Academy.

Coach Beth Ann Garrett’s team took a 7-11 record into a game at Montclair Kimberley Academy, on Oct. 23, in the final regular game of the regular season, starting at 4 p.m. Belleville will then prepare for the NJSIAA Tournament.

Belleville and Newark Academy players line up for pre-game meeting with referee prior to kickoff. (Photo by Janelle McCann)

The Bucs played well against a strong Newark Academy team, which improved to 10-2-2 on the season with the win. Newark Academy, which had made an impressive run in the Essex County Tournament, scored twice in the first half. Belleville cut the lead in half on a goal by Gabriela Lopez.

Seniors celebrate a special night with teammates, family and friends. (Photo by Janelle McCann)

Belleville’s goalie, Jenny Romero, turned back 10 shots in a solid performance.

Belleville played a very good game against a tough Newark Academy team. Special thanks to Janelle McCann for the girls soccer photos.

FOOTBALL: The Bucs lost its first game of the 2019 season to Newark West Side, 32-0, on Oct. 12, in Newark.

Belleville took a 5-1 record into a big game with Barringer, on Oct. 18, at Doc Ellis Field. On Oct. 25, the team plays its final regular season home game, against Orange. Both home contests commence at 7 p.m.

“West Side was really good,” said Belleville head coach Jermain Johnson. “We’re not at that level yet, but we’re getting better. Our kids battled, and I liked the effort. Now, we have to prepare for a big game with Barringer.”

BOYS SOCCER: Belleville looked to get back on the winning track when it traveled to Newark Central, on Oct. 18. The Bucs are having a good season, with a 10-4 record. The team lost two close games to strong schools in Livingston and West Orange.

On Oct. 21, Belleville hosts North Star Academy, at Doc Ellis Field, beginning at 7 p.m. The regular season finale is on Oct. 24, at Golda Och, with a 4:30 p.m. kickoff. The Bucs will then prepare for the state tournament.

VOLLEYBALL: Belleville has been on a roll, with three straight wins, heading into a home game with Nutley, on Oct. 18, at 5:30 p.m.

The Bucs improved to 11-9 by defeating Abundant Life and Orange in straight sets while defeating Garfield in three sets. The team also lost a close match to a good Passaic Valley team, in three sets. Passaic Valley will be playing for a county championship on Oct. 19.

Belleville is also competing in the Essex County Tournament and was scheduled to play Newark Academy, on Oct. 19, in an 11 a.m. game. The Bucs are seeded 11th in the ECT. The team will return to Newark Academy, on Oct. 21 for a regular season game.

By mike051893

Getting ready for a championship game: Passaic Valley’s Shaw, Rodriguez, DiPasquale and Allmendinger reflect on ‘family’ approach, as team prepares for its biggest game in 5 years, in PCT volleyball final, on Oct. 19, vs. top-seeded Wayne Valley

When Passaic Valley last won a Passaic County Tournament championship in girls volleyball, the current seniors on the roster were in the seventh grade. It was 2014 when PV won a third straight county crown, defeating Clifton in the title game, in three tough sets.

The Hornets had defeated DePaul (2012), Wayne Valley (2013) and Clifton to attain a rare three-peat. But since that 2014 championship, the sledding had been difficult for the Hornets, until this year.

Passaic Valley will play in its first Passaic County Tournament volleyball final in five years on Oct. 19. (Cappello Photography)

Passaic Valley is back in the final, where the second-seeded Hornets take on top-seeded Wayne Valley, at Clifton High, on Oct. 19, starting at 5 p.m.

PV head coach Bill Robertazzi was also at the helm when the Hornets won those multiple championships. Back then, the team was led by a strong senior class in Taylor Humes, Alex Garcia, Jen Kostroski, Kendall Murphy, Tina Predojevic, Gaby Mattoon, Victoria Osorio and Edwina Alog, along with junior Carolyn Mamary and sophomore Ana Hernandez.

This year’s PV squad has put together a 14-3 record, including a 9-game winning wining streak heading into Saturday’s final. There’s a good mix of seniors and underclassmen on the ’19 squad.

Devyn DiPasquale is having a big season at Libero for the Hornets.

The players are excited about the chance to play in a championship game.

“It means a lot to be in the finals, because we have worked so hard this year as a team,” said junior middle Abigail Shaw. “Even though we were plagued by injuries, we pushed through and grew closer along the way. The bond on this team is really what kept us going and improving to get where we will be on Saturday night.”

Jadalynn Rodriguez, a senior setter, is ecstatic that she’ll play for a championship in her senior year.

The Hornets are looking forward to playing in a county final.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know we made it this far after so many years, said Rodriguez. “As a team, we have been working very hard and we have found that trusting each other, on and off the court, is very important. The bond that we have created is something that you wouldn’t find on another team.”

Devyn DiPasquale, the Hornets’ junior Libero, recalled the program’s past successes relative to this year’s run.

“It’s really cool to be in the finals this year,” said DiPasquale. “Our coaches always tell us stories about the excitement of the big games their teams have played in, in the past, and to have the chance to play in big games like that ourselves is awesome.

“We’ve been talking about being in the finals since the beginning of the season, and I think that there were a lot of points this season that we could’ve just given up and folded. I’m super proud of the team for making it this far.”

Kayla Allmendinger, a senior outside, has battled injuries in her career. She’s healthy this season and has been a key component to PV’s tremendous run.

“It feels amazing to make it to the county finals,” said Allmendinger. “We are the underdogs who made it to the top when most people didn’t think we could make it this far.

“I’m so grateful that I can share these moments with my team and couldn’t think of any other people I’d rather be sharing the court with than my volleyball family.”

By mike051893

Nutley football Centennial celebration will have an additional theme, on Homecoming Day, as Oct. 19 will officially be ‘Coach D. Day’, in town, honoring Steve DiGregorio

The cohesiveness of Nutley, NJ has never been more evident than when it comes to helping one of its own.

And on Oct. 19, when the Nutley High football team hosts Lincoln High, of Jersey City, the Homecoming Day contest will have an extra special theme.

The Nutley Board of Commissioners has officially proclaimed Oct. 19 as ‘Coach D. Day’, in honor of the Raiders head football coach, Steve DiGregorio.

The official proclamation highlighted DiGregorio’s coaching accomplishments and contributions to the community, as well as the ‘Friends of Coach D‘ adopting the motto ‘Team Digger, We got your back,’

A number of Nutley High football players were on hand as the proclamation was read, along with team coaches.

Steve DiGregorio greets Bellevile head coach Jermain Johnson on Nov. 3, 2018, after an exciting game between the crosstown rivals.

A 1979 graduate of Nutley High, DiGregorio has been an educator at his alma mater since 2004, the same year he was named the program’s head coach.

DiGregorio served in that role from 2004-2011, then stepped down as head coach while continuing to teach at the high school. In 2017, he returned as head coach and has held the job since.

DiGregorio and Nutley athletic director Joe Piro celebrating a big win over Belleville in November, 2018.

This past summer, DiGregorio underwent surgery after not feeling well. He’s currently undergoing chemotherapy and while he’s been attending Nutley’s games, the head coaching responsibilities have gone, on an interim basis, to assistant J.D. Vick.

“Coach D and I talk every day,” said Vick, who is also an educator in the school system. “To me, he’s not Steve, but Coach D. He gets to all of our games, and I know how much that means to our coaches and most importantly, our players. He’s our coach, plain and simple.”

Nutley athletic director Joe Piro is looking forward to what will be a tremendous day in town.

Coach DiGregorio observing his team with the game officials before the season opening contest, 2019, against Bloomfield.

“We’re all very excited about it,” said Piro, himself a NHS grad, and like DiGregorio, a former football player. “It will tie in perfectly with our homecoming activities.”

According to Piro, all ticket sale proceeds will go directly to Coach D and his family. There will also be opportunities to make additional donations at the gates.

DiGregorio embraces Belleville head coach Jermain Johnson following last year’s NJSIAA cross over game, as Nutley athletic director Joe Piro and Belleville assistant coach Eric Magrini look on.

The Homecoming festivities begin at 11 a.m. on Coach D. Day, AKA, Oct. 19. The tailgate party begins at 11:45 a.m. and the on-field celebration commences at 12:30 p.m., a half hour before the kickoff of the game between Nutley and Lincoln High.

“It’s exciting to see our community rally around such a quality individual and his family,” said Piro.

Nutley High football is celebrating its 100th season this fall, and the team has worn a special deal on its helmet to commemorate the feat.

DiGregorio played for the Raiders from 1975-1978. After graduating high school, he attended Muhlenberg College, then began his coaching career. In 2010, DiGregorio guided the Raiders to the state sectional championship game, at the brand new MetLife Stadium. He also led Nutley to a 27-16 record from 2008-2011 and four straight playoff appearances.

In the fabled Belleville-Nutley rivalry, DiGregorio was 2-1-1 against the Bellboys and Bucs as a player and, so far, is 8-1 against the Bucs as a coach, including last year’s 20-13 Raiders win, in a NJSIAA crossover game, at the Oval. He trails Belleville’s John Senesky by one game for the most wins by a coach in the rivalry.

Naming Oct. 19 in DiGregorio’s honor was certainly heartfelt for Steve, who wrote this statement for the record at the Board of Commissioners meeting.

“Thank you Mayor Scarpelli, Commissioners Petracco, Evans, Tucci, and Rogers for this this proclamation.  I am confident that I am not worthy of this, but I am very grateful and humbled by your thinking of me during this time.

“I have been blessed with having been raised in Nutley by my wonderful parents, Silvio and Rose Mary, who were long-time contributors to the Nutley community.  They instilled so many values and lessons to my sister, Lynda and me that have been passed down to our own children.  I’d like to accept this very special honor in my parents’ memory. 

Steve, here with his wife, Nadia and sons, Aaron, Zack and Derek, after being inducted into the Muhlenberg College Hall of Fame.

“I love Nutley.  Everything about my childhood and adolescence was terrific and memorable. I am deeply honored to be teaching History in the same building where I learned history.  I am deeply honored to be your head football coach to a program that I was a part of that helped shape so much of my formative years.  

“Each day, I try to make a difference  – somedays I succeed  – some days I do not. Because of the lessons and experiences that the Nutley community taught me, I’ll never stop trying to have an impact on my students, my players, and my colleagues.

“I am a proud son of Nutley, and I’ll always remain one.   Thank you for this honor.”

By mike051893

Joe and Linda Pizzi: Belleville, NJ, treasures

Joe Pizzi was offiically named Belleville, NJ’s ‘Man of the Year’, for the annual Columbus Day parade, which went through Belleville and Nutley on Oct. 13, under near-perfect weather conditions.

Joe will not go anywhere without his beloved wife, Linda, and that’s been the case for the better part of nearly half a century.

And that’s the way it was meant to be.

Photo says it all. Joe and Linda enjoying a wonderful Columbus Day, at the annual parade.

I’ve known the two of them since our early days at the Belleville Junior High, around 1971. We later graduated high school together.

Joe and Linda always seemed to be the ideal couple, and that transcended into adult life.

They have remained in Belleville. They raised their family there. Younger son, Joe, Jr., is now a teacher and coach in the Belleville school system. Joe Jr., and his wife made Joe and Linda grandparents last year, for the first time.

Older daughter, Jillian, graduated Belleville High, is today enjoying a successful career, and is also married.

Joe and Linda are simply the story of two people who are staples of a community. Belleville born, bred and educated, they are the products of wonderful parents, who have gone on to be loving parents and now, grandparents, themselves.

Joe was a dedicated Belleville fire fighter, Linda ran a successful business in town and continues to give back to the township she loves.

They are indeed special people.

Wasn’t this just yesterday ????

And on Columbus Day, 2019, it was only appropriate they both be honored.

I am proud to call them my friends.

And Joe, you may be officially the Man of the Year, in Belleville, but those of us who have known you all these years always knew you are The Man.

By mike051893

5 years later, Passaic Valley girls’ volleyball team back in the county semifinals, led by DiPasquale, Rodriguez, DeLuccia and Ostolaza

For the first time since winning a third straight Passaic County Tournament championship in 2014, the Passaic Valley girls’ volleyball team will be back in the county semifinals.

Head coach Bill Robertazzi’s team was scheduled to play Clifton, in the semifinals, on Oct 16, at Lakeland High School, starting at 5 p.m. A win would move the Hornets into the finals, on Oct. 19.

Passaic Valley improved to 12-3 on the season with a straight-set win over West Mlford, on Oct. 11. It was the seventh straight victory for the Hornets.

The 2019 PV Hornets. (Cappello Photography)

“We’ve had some quality wins against Wayne Hills, Fair Lawn and Teaneck,” said Robertazzi. “It’s really been an all-around team effort. Kayla Allmendinger and Carissa Ostolaza as our outside hitters have been great. Kayla is a dynamic player on both on offensive and defense. She can take over a match at anytime. Carissa is a sophomore, and is quickly becoming a very good player. She is an outstanding defensive player, server and very powerful hitter.”

Devyn DiPasquale, a junior, has excelled at Libero.

“Devyn has grown into the position,” said Robertazzi. “She’s one our best servers and the backbone of our team.”

Jada Rodriguez, the team’s setter, has shown versatility.

Devyn DiPasquale prepares to service during a recent home match. (Courtesy, G. DiPasquale)

“Jada has battled through injuries, and has become a real leader for us on and off the court,” said Robertazzi. “Jada is an outstanding server and we score a lot of points when she serves.

Abby Shaw was moved to the middle position after a few matches and has excelled and she is one of our most important players. Our other middle, Zoe Moore, has the ability to make an impact on offense, but she’s most important for us defensively at the net.”

Versatility is also a key to Brianna DeLuccia’s game.

“Brianna plays wherever we ask, and has made a significant contribution to our success,” the coach said. “She is the consummate team player.

“Our other contributors have been Nicolette Juliano, Juianna Perro, Liz DuBois, Victoria Pardi, Kayla Price and Julia Hosri.

In the win over West Milford, the Hornets were led by DuBois, who had 14 service points, five digs and three aces, Rodriguez (12 assists, 5 digs and 5 service points), Ostolaza (17 digs, 9 kills and 5 service points) and Shaw (5 service points, 3 kills, 3 blocks and 3 digs).

In a 3-set win over Belleville, on Oct. 10, DiPasquale had a monster game, with 38 digs and 11 service points, as well as Ostolaza, Shaw, Rodriguez and DuBois.

By mike051893

Here we go again: Wayne Hills vs. Ramapo week begins, as big-time football rivals gear for 53rd meeting, on Oct. 18, in Franklin Lakes

They first met during the hey day of the Richard Nixon administration. And 47 years later, the gridiron rivalry between Wayne Hills and Ramapo has stood the test of time.

There’s so much history and memories attached to this game.

The huge crowds which accompanied the matchups in the late 1990’s.

The state sectional championship games between the two, not to mention a bunch of playoff games, in general, before the schools moved to different groups.

Because both programs have been tremendously successful, there haven’t been many head coaches at Ramapo or Hills. The Patriots and Green Raiders have had two coaches, each, over the last 33 years.

There have been improbable comebacks, by both teams. There was also a championship game played in a blizzard, 10 years ago, at the old Giants Stadium.

A few offensive explosions also accompanied this game. Future NFL players have competed in it. But through it all, it’s been a series filled with intensity, but a lot of respect, too.

Both schools have had some great kickers. Ramapo’s Ross Krautman held the state record for consecutive point-after kicks made, with 84, before Erik Martinez of Wayne Hills broke that record, in 2013, by converting 105 straight.

Here are some fun facts, to get you ready for the next meeting, when Hills travels to Ramapo, on Oct. 18, in a 6:30 p.m. start.

1-Wayne Hills leads the all-time series, 30-22-1.

2-Ramapo won the first-ever meeting between the schools, 13-8, in 1972.

3-The lone tie was a scoreless game, in 1976.

4-Since the rivalry started in 1972, Ramapo has put together a record of 325-157-5, which includes this year’s 6-0 start. The Green Raiders haven’t lost a game since the 2017 state championship game, against River Dell.

The team has currently won 19 straight games. Included in Ramapo’s overall record are 11 state championships, the first coming in the initial season of playoff football, 1974, with a 46-14 victory over Dumont, at Convention Hall, in Atlantic City.

And in that ’74 campaign, Wayne Hills defeated Ramapo in the regular season, 19-7, for Ramapo’s only loss.

There have been four undefeated seasons for the Green Raiders.

5-Since 1972, Wayne Hills has a record of 347-145-6. which includes this year’s 4-2 start. The program has won 10 state titles, with the first coming in 2002. Hills has the states’s second longest winning streak, 55 games, from 2004-2009. (And in a perfect irony, that 55-game winning streak began after a loss to Ramapo, in 2004, and later that season, the Patriots avenged the loss to the Green Raiders in the sectional semifinal).

Wayne Hills’ first playoff appearance came in 1975, where it lost in the first round to the eventual champion, Passaic Valley. The program has six undefeated seaons to its credit.

6-Since 1972, Ramapo has had four head coaches in Mike Moran, Mike Miello, Paul Granatell and, since 2000, Drew Gibbs.

7-Since 1972, Hills has had five head coaches in Ray McCrann, Ralph Polito, Ray Riker, Chris Olsen and Wayne Demikoff, who was an assistant, beginning in 1999 before being promoted to head coach in 2013, when Olsen retired.

8-Since the inception of the state playoffs, in 1974, Hills has qualified for the playoffs in 29 seasons while Ramapo has been to the post-season in 26 seasons.

9-Wayne Hills and Ramapo have met eight times in the playoffs, with the first matchup in the 1993 final, which Ramapo won, 23-17. They next met in the 2000 finals, which was the first season with Drew Gibbs as head coach, as Ramapo won, 14-7, after the Patriots won the regular season game, 27-24. Ramapo also defeated Hills in the 2001 final, 14-10, after winning the regular season contest, 31-21. Wayne Hills defeated Ramapo in the 2002 final, 19-0.

In the playoffs, Ramapo leads the series with Hills, 5-3, including four wins in state sectional finals.

10- The teams met regularly, from 1972-2008. In 2009, there wasn’t a regular season game, but they met in a blizzard at Giants Stadium, in the sectional final, with the Green Raiders winning, 16-8. There are just two seasons, 2012 and 2013, when the teams didn’t meet, in the regular, or post-season, since ’72.

11-In a 2005 regular season game, at Ramapo, the Patriots trailed, 26-7, at the half, as Ramapo’s Chris Hogan, a future Super Bowl champion, ironically with the Patriots, dominated the first two quarters.

Chris Hogan was part of a Super Bowl championship team with the New England Patriots. At Ramapo High, he was a tremendous football player, as well as an outstanding lacrosse athlete. Many Hills players who competed against him on the gridiron called Hogan the best they had ever played against.

But Wayne Hills made some adjustments at the half, Hogan was hurt in the second half, and the Patriots rallied back to win, 27-26. Former Wayne Hills coach Chris Olsen called it one of the top five victories of his career.

Another big comeback for Wayne Hills came in 2017. The Patriots, at one point, trailed, 21-0, late in the first half, but rallied to win, 29-24, in Franklin Lakes.

12-Beginning with the 2004 playoffs, Hills has won 11 of the last 14 games in the rivalry.

13-Most of the games have been pretty close. The biggest margin of victory for Ramapo was a 42-0 win, in the 2003 regular season while Wayne HIlls won a 41-7 contest, in 2007.

14-Ramapo’s highest point total was 56 in a home victory, in 1997, while Hills put up 49 in a 1994 victory.

15-Ramapo last defeated Wayne Hills, at home, in 2003, when the Green Raiders won a regular season and post-season game against the Patriots.

16-In the first year of the NJSIAA ‘Bowl Game’ concept, both Wayne Hills and Ramapo won their games, at MetLife Stadium, in 2018, after winning state sectional titles in Group 4 and 3, respectively.

17-Among the players in the rivalry who went on to play in the NFL were Chris Hogan, Blake Costanzo and Chris Simms of Ramapo and Greg Olsen and Ryan Neill, of Wayne Hills. Hogan and Olsen are now teammates with the NFL’s Carolina Panthers.

Wayne Hills celebrated its first state championship in 2002, as Greg Olsen, here with his dad and Hills head coach, Chris Olsen, led the way. The ’02 Patriots defeated Ramapo in the sectional championship game, 19-0. Greg Olsen, of course, played at the University of Miami and is a star in the NFL, playing tight end with the Carolina Panthers. He’s in his 13th NFL season in 2019.
Ryan Neill had a tremendous career at Wayne Hills, then played at Rutgers before an NFL career with the Buffalo Bills, St. Louis Rams and San Diego Chargers.
Blake Costanzo led Ramapo to a pair of state championships. He played his college ball at Lafayette College before a 9-year NFL career with five different teams, including a pair of stints with the San Francisco 49ers.
Chris Simms had a marvelous career at Ramapo and went on to play well at the University of Texas. He was a third round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2003 and went on to play eight years in the NFL.

18-Talk about domination. In the 1990s, Hills was 81-23-1, and then, in the first 10 years of the new century, the Patriots were 108-11, with six state championships and four unbeaten seasons.

19-In that same span, Ramapo was 75-26 in the 1990s, with two state titles and a pair of undefeated seasons and then 88-24 in the first 10 years of the 2000s, with four state championships and an undefeated season.

20-From 2010-2019, Hills is 81-28, with four more state championships and an unbeaten season in 2016. Patriots also won a Bowl Game crown in 2018. Ramapo’s success from ’10-19 includes an 83-25 mark, three more state titles and unbeaten season in 2018, as well as a 6-0 record so far this year.

21-Ramapo coach Drew Gibbs has a career record of 172-49, with seven state championships and a Bowl Game title.

22-Wayne Hills’ current coach, Wayne Demikoff, is 53-22 with two state titles and a Bowl Game victory.

23-In 26 seasons at Hills, Chris Olsen put together a 232-53-2 record along with eight state titles and was the architect of the 55-game winning streak .

24-There’s been two overtime games in the series, in 1999, as Hills won, 17-14 and 20 years later, in 2019, as Ramapo prevailed, 35-28.

25-Here are the scores of all 53 games.

1972- Ramapo 13, Wayne Hills 8.

1973- Wayne Hills 20, Ramapo 14.

1974- Wayne Hills 19, Ramapo 7.

1975- Wayne Hills 15, Ramapo 10.

1976- Wayne Hills 0, Ramapo 0. (Tie)

1977- Wayne Hills 21, Ramapo 0.

1978- Wayne Hills 14, Ramapo 6.

1979- Ramapo 21, Wayne Hills 0.

1980- Wayne Hills 7, Ramapo 0.

1981- Ramapo 19, Wayne Hills 14.

1982- Wayne Hills 21, Ramapo 13.

1983- Ramapo 14, Wayne Hills 0.

1984- Ramapo 38, Wayne Hills 6.

1985- Wayne Hills 18, Ramapo 6.

1986- Ramapo 31, Wayne Hills 0.

1987- Wayne Hills 14, Ramapo 6.

1988- Ramapo 20, Wayne Hills 17.

1989- Wayne Hills 13, Ramapo 0.

1990- Wayne Hills 27, Ramapo 14.

1991- Wayne Hills 14, Ramapo 0.

1992- Ramapo 21, Wayne Hills 7.

1993- Ramapo 43, Wayne Hills 6.

1993- Ramapo 23, Wayne Hills 17. (Sectional final)

1994- Wayne Hills 49, Ramapo 20.

1995- Wayne Hills 24, Ramapo 7.

1996- Ramapo 20, Wayne Hills 19.

1997- Ramapo 56, Wayne Hills 21.

1998- Wayne Hills 21, Ramapo 9.

1999- Wayne Hills 17, Ramapo 14 (OT).

2000- Wayne Hills 27, Ramapo 24.

2000- Ramapo 14, Wayne Hills 7. (Sectional final)

2001- Ramapo 31, Wayne Hills 21.

2001- Ramapo 14, Wayne Hills 10 (Sectional final)

2002- Wayne Hills 23, Ramapo 12.

2002- Wayne Hills 19, Ramapo 0. (Sectional final)

2003- Ramapo 42, Wayne Hills 0.

2003- Ramapo 35, Wayne Hills 12 (Sectional semifinal)

2004- Ramapo 24, Wayne Hills 20.

2004- Wayne Hills 38, Ramapo 20. (Sectional semifinal)

2005- Wayne Hills 27, Ramapo 26.

2005- Wayne Hills 41, Ramapo 13. (Sectional semifinal)

2006- Wayne Hills 28, Ramapo 7.

2007- Wayne Hills 41, Ramapo 7.

2008- Wayne Hills 31, Ramapo 21.

2009- Ramapo 16, Wayne Hills 8. (Sectional final)

2010- Wayne Hills 36, Ramapo 14.

2011- Wayne Hills 31, Ramapo 24.

2012- No Game.

2013- No Game.

2014- Wayne Hills 22, Ramapo 21.

2015- Ramapo 34, Wayne Hills 7.

2016- Wayne Hills 14, Ramapo 7.

2017- Wayne Hills 29, Ramapo 24.

2018- Ramapo 38, Wayne Hills 22.

2019- Ramapo 35, Wayne Hills 28 (OT).

By mike051893

Passaic Valley drops a heartbreaker to Wayne Hills, 13-6, as Gio Giovato boots a pair of field goals and Nick Vasta plays well at QB; Hornets (3-3) now gear for final 3 games of season

Passaic Valley football coach Chet Parlavecchio has been around the game long enough to know a tough loss when he sees it. But Parlavecchio also knows his team gave a good effort, in a 13-6 loss to Wayne Hills, in Little Falls, on Oct. 12.

“The better team didn’t win today,” said Parlavecchio afterward, in the coach’s room. “But it comes back to the thing we keep telling these guys week after week. You can’t turn the ball over and you cannot commit these penalties.”

Losing the turnover battle was the story of the game.

Passaic Valley head coach Chet Parlavecchio catches up with a good friend in Walt Johnson, the one-time Wayne Hills ‘Czar’ of the special teams.

“Here’s the difference,” said Parlavechio. “We turned it over three times. How many turnovers did Hills have? The answer is none. And that’s where you have to give Wayne Hills all the credit. They didn’t hurt themselves.”

Parlavecchio had felt his team outplayed the Patriots.

“I thought our coaches did a great job in preparing for them,” said Parlavecchio. “We controlled the clock, we had all the momentum in the second half, and that game was ours.”

Passaic Valley (3-3) trailed, 13-6, late in the fourth quarter, when it drove to the Hills 1 yard line, with a chance to tie, or perhaps win it with a 2-point conversion.

But on first and goal at the 1, PV fumbled and Wayne Hills’ Noah Abida recovered. The Patriots then ran out the clock to secure the victory.

Wayne Hills (4-2) won its third straight game, but its head coach, Wayne Demikoff, wasn’t pleased with his team’s performance.

“Passaic Valley outplayed us,” said Demikoff. “No other way to put it. We have to play better. PV’s kids went after it, and they had us on the ropes. We got the win, but our kids know we need to improve.”

Passaic Valley turned the ball over twice in the first quarter, but were able to avoid serious damage by holding Wayne Hills to one field goal, a 37-yarder by Jordan Thiel.

Wayne Hills coach Wayne Demikoff addresses his team after a 13-6 win over Passaic Valley, in Little Falls, on Oct. 12.

In the second quarter, Wayne Hills extended its lead to 10-0, on a touchdown run by quarterback Nick Casasanta and the point-after by Thiel. A key helmet-to-helmet penalty on Passaic Valley kept the scoring drive alive, after it appeared the Hornets forced a punt.

Passaic Valley finally got its offense in gear late in the second quarter, setting up a 29-yard field goal by Gio Giovatto, but Hills used the last 40 seconds of the half to extend its lead to 13-3 on a 35-yard field goal by Thiel, with 3 seconds left.

The PV coaches questioned the clock not running in the final seconds, which gave Hills additional time.

“There’s no way only four seconds came off that clock on that last play before the field goal,” said Parlavecchio. “I don’t get it.”

With a 13-3 lead, Hills was hoping to open the game up in the third quarter, but Passaic Valley’s defense was up to the challenge, and a scoreless third quarter led to a big fourth for the Hornets.

Giovatto would kick his second field goal to cut the lead to 13-6. Then, with time running down, PV got as close as the Hills 1, with a first and goal. But the third turnover proved to be the difference, as Abida recovered a fumble on Hills 4 and the Patriots were able to run the clock out.

Passaic Valley played a dominant fourth quarter without its key player, Brandon Timothy, who suffered a knee injury in the third quarter which could keep him out for a few weeks. Timothy had caught a team-leading four passes before the injury.

PV quarterback Nick Vasta played his best game of the season. He rushed for 58 yards and completed 14 passes for 92 yards. He was charged with an interception in the first quarter on a pass that drew an early whistle while the ball was still in play.

“Nick ran the ball well and made some good throws,” said Parlavecchio. “He had some nice long throws which our receivers didn’t hold on to. We have to make those plays.”

Despite falling to 3-3, Parlavecchio sees the next three games, at home to Indian Hills on Oct. 19, then road games at Paterson Eastside on Oct. 25 and West Milford, on Nov. 1, as games his team can win.

“We have to win the next three, if we have any chance of making the playoffs,” said Parlavecchio. “That’s our goal, to finish 6-3 and get in. I think we can do it, but we have to get to work and, again, cut back on the penalties and the turnovers. I think our kids have seen that now.

“I really think we could be a 6-0 football team at this point, but we’re not. In all three of our losses, we hurt ourselves. That has to stop.”

With the win, Wayne Hills improved to 9-3 in the all-times series with Passaic Valley. Hills has won five straight games against the Hornets. PV’s last win came in 2014, a 35-14 decision, in Little Falls.

By mike051893

500 !!! On the day he wins his 100th game with Nutley girls soccer program, Mike DiPiano also records career coaching victory No. 500

It’s an impressive number, for sure.

Mike DiPiano’s coaching career reached a new level on Oct. 11, when his Nutley High girls’ soccer team defeated Mendham, 3-2, in Nutley, for DiPiano’s 100th win with the program.

But the victory also signified a bigger milestone, as DiPiano also won his 500th career game as a high school coach.

Mike and his players celebrate win number 100. Little did his team know that he also won his 500th game as a high school coach.

The 42-year-old has won 293 wrestling matches as a head coach at St. Benedict’s Prep, his high school alma mater, as well as Demarest High and Nutley High. He recorded 107 wins as the baseball coach at St. Benedict’s and now has 100 more victories as Nutley’s soccer coach.

DiPiano and Nutley head softball coach Luann Zullo, here with Belleville coach Chris Cantarella.

DiPiano has also served as an assistant softball coach at Nutley since 2010 and has helped that program to a pair of state sectional titles, an appearance in the Group 3 championship game and an Essex County championship.

Mike has always taken pride in his student-athletes moving on to complete in college.

“One hundred wins in soccer is a big accomplishment,” said DiPiano. “We are having a tough fall, we didn’t expect to be 4-8, but we are the best 4-8 team in New Jersey. Hopefully this win and celebration will jump start us for the final third of the season.”

Both Mike and his younger brother, Frank, became coaches thanks to the guidance of their legendary dad, Mike Sr.

DiPiano is a graduate of the College of New Jersey, where he wrestled for the legendary David Icenhower, who continues to have a big influence on Mike’s coaching life.

And, of course, Mike’s dad, Mike Sr., himself a legendary wrestling coach and high school administrator, along with Mike’s brother, Frank and sister, Michelle, are all high school coaches. The family matriarch is the sibling’s mom, Karen DiPiano.

Mike Sr., Mike Jr. and Frank are all induced in the St. Benedict’s Hall of Fame.

Mike was pleased that so many former players reached out to him.

“So many of my former girls have texted me, it means so much the relationships that we have made over the years,” the coach said. “Vic Kealy is my assistant this year, she was involved in so many of those 100 wins. It is pretty cool she was by my side today for this milestone.”

Always the attentive dad, Mike takes great joy in coaching his daughter, Mia. (Far right)

While DiPiano preferred to downplay 500 wins, he realized the moment was special.

“Yes, it means a great deal,” he said. “I really didn’t want to talk much about the 500 wins, but it is special. I’m just happy for these kids, today.”

But then quickly, he was thinking about the rest of the 2019 soccer season.

“We can cause damage in the states,” he said with enthusiasm, as the state tournament draws closer. “Our goal is to get better each day before then. I don’t think any higher seed wants to see us on the line against them in the bracket.”

Mike was very proud when two of his wrestlers, Frank DeMaio (left) and Frank Gabriele qualified for the state championships, in Atlantic City, in 2018.

Naming team captains is always important for Coach DiPiano.
By mike051893

Belleville football coach Jermain Johnson is named the Lou Rettino Coach of the Week by the New York Giants and Gatorade; BHS football program to receive a $2,000 grant

In a season where accomplishments continue to highlight an improving football program, Belleville High head coach Jermain Johnson received a tremendous accolade.

Johnson was named the Lou Rettino Coach of the Week for the fifth week of the high school football season. He was chosen by the New York Giants and Gatorade.

In his second season coaching the Bucs, Johnson has put together a 9-5 record, including a 5-0 mark so far this season. Belleville has a big game on Oct. 12, at Newark West Side, in a battle of 5-0 teams.

Jermain Johnson, here with his high school football coach Chet Parlavecchio (right, with back turned) in 2017.

The Lou Rettino High School Football Coach of the Week Award is part of the Giants’ continuing effort to support local youth football programs. The Giants elected to name the award in memory of former Union High School (NJ) coach, Lou Rettino, for his fine commitment to the game of football, his community and the betterment of his athletes’ lives.

Each week during the high school football season, the Giants selected one area high school head coach as the Coach of the Week winner.  The selection is based on the coach’s continuing commitment towards promoting youth football, developing motivated student-athletes and his overall community involvement.   

Jermain shares a light moment with Bloomfield coach and close friend, Mike Carter.

In recognition of Coach Johnson’s selection as Coach of the Week, a $2,000 check will be granted to the school’s football program from The Giants Foundation and Gatorade. He will also receive a certificate of recognition signed by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Giants head coach Pat Shurmur, and will be acknowledged with an in-stadium announcement when the Giants host Dallas on November 4.

All 2019 Coach of the Week honorees and the 2019 Coach of the Year will also be invited to attend a dinner hosted by the Giants at MetLife Stadium in the Spring, and will be invited with their teams to a Giants preseason game in 2020.

Johnson was also the head coach at Paterson Eastside High, and before coming to Belleville, was the defensive coordinator at Wayne Hills, where he helped that team win a state sectional championship, in 2016.

Jermain played his high school football at Bloomfield for coach Chet Parlavecchio and then went on to a tremendous collegiate career at Montclair State. He later played professional football for the New Jersey Red Dogs of the Arena Football League.

Johnson is a very popular coach, among his peers, within the Essex County and North Jersey area.

Jermain and one-time Belleville football star David Grant, who later played in Super Bowl XXIII.

 “I would like to thank the Giants Foundation and Gatorade for such a prestigious honor,” said Johnson. “I am proud to represent the New Jersey Super Football Conference, the Belleville School District, the Belleville community, and the football program. I am lucky to work with such a supportive Board of Education, community members and teaching staff.

“I am honored to work with such a great group of coaches and players, and they all share in this recognition. Thank you all.”


By mike051893