The team and individual aspect of wrestling was never more obvious than with Jordan Botero’s win to clinch a state title for Wayne Valley

For Jordan Botero, the pressure of wrestling in the final bout, with a state sectional final on the line, in a 4-overtime match, in front of a hostile crowd, was never a problem.

It was all about his teammates.

“I’m out there for them,” Botero said, after he escaped with 2.8 seconds left in the final overtime to win his heavyweight bout and provide second-seeded Wayne Valley the North 1, Group 4 championship, with a scintillating 33-31 win at top-seeded Roxbury.

Jordan Botero celebrates the match of his life, winning the North 1, Group 4 final to clinch the state championship for Wayne Valley, on Feb. 8. (Photo courtesy of Christine Colella. Click on photo for larger image)

And for Botero, the moment was never too much. It was business as usual, as he witnessed teammates Nick Trani, Dan Murphy, Reid Colella, Elijah Lugo, Matt Jimenez, Ryan Hammer and Sean Hammer pick up big wins to set the stage for that final match.

“Jordan never let the moment get too big,” said Wayne Valley head coach Todd Schroeder. “He knew what was on the line, but kept his composure. He escaped with less than 3 seconds left in the match. How crazy was that?”



By mike051893

A seventh straight Passaic County Tournament championship for DePaul is keyed by Ricky Cabanillas, Nicky Cabanillas, Connor O’Neil, Luke McFadden and Eddie Bierals; Spartans now looking to another state championship and eventual trip to Boardwalk Hall

Bonus points were key for DePaul, as the Spartans captured a seventh straight Passaic County Tournament championship, winning by 34 points over second place Wayne Valley, in a field of 13, on Jan. 26, at West Milford High.

Coach Keith Karsen’s team was scheduled to close out the regular season with a match against Watchung Hills, on Feb. 2. DePaul was then scheduled to face Bishop Ahr in the semifinals of the North Non-Public B sectional tournament, on Feb. 6, at home. A win there would move the team into the finals, most likely at defending champion Pope John, on Feb. 8.

DePaul was dominant once again at the Passaic County Tournament. (Click on photo for larger image) 

If DePaul wins the North B crown, it would travel to Toms River, on Feb. 10, for the Non-Public B state championship, against the South B winner. Camden Catholic is the top seed in the south. DePaul had won eight straight North B titles and four consecutive Non-Public B state crowns before losing to Pope John last season.

Karsen was pleased with his team’s effort at the counties.

“We went in feeling we had a good chance, but we also knew there were some good teams competing,” said Karsen. “Wayne Valley is always strong and Passaic Tech has a very good team, especially in the lower weights. We had to work hard, but we got the job done.”

The Spartans took control with a dominant effort in the quarterfinals.

“We had 10 wins, by pin, in the quarterfinals, with another of our guys winning by major decision,” said Karsen. “That really put us in control.”

With 11 Spartans heading to the semifinals, DePaul ended the tournament with five champions, along with two finalists and one third place finisher.

State champion Ricky Cabanillas won the 145-pound title while twin brother Nicky Cabanillas captured gold at 126. Connor O’Neil continued his dominant season with a 160-pound crown, Luke McFadden repeated as a champion at 152 pounds and heavyweight Eddie Bierals also won his weight class.

Finishing second for DePaul was Nick Bottazzi at 113 pounds and Stephen Barone at 170.

“I felt our kids would do well, with the kind of competition they’ve faced all season long,” said Karsen. ‘I wasn’t worried so much about individual records. Derek Russell ended up defeating the top seed at 120 pounds and our 220 pounder, David Drouet, defeated the second seed, in the quarterfinals. We were without our 138 pounder, David Ferrandiz, and Michael Esposito, at 132, had an injury default in the counties. We’re hoping to be healthy heading into the sectional tournament.

“And then, it’s time to focus on getting to Atlantic City and winning a state championship.”


By mike051893

Wayne Valley and Passaic Tech wrestling have a good county tournament, will now look to win state sectional championships

With the second season approaching, both the Wayne Valley and Passaic Tech wrestling teams turned in solid efforts at the Passaic County Tournament, on Jan. 26, at West Milford High.

Wayne Valley took second place in the counties while Passaic Tech was right behind, finishing third, in a field of 13 schools. The Indians and Bulldogs also garnered high seeds for the upcoming state sectional championships, as well.

PCT is the top seed in North 1, Group 5 and was scheduled to host eighth seeded Morristown, on Feb. 2. A win there would move the team into the semifinals, on Feb. 4, against either West Orange, or North Bergen. The championship round is set for Feb. 6, and if PCT wins out, it would host the final, as well.

Wayne Valley wrestling team had a good day at the Passaic County Tournament. (Click on photo for larger image)

Wayne Valley was seeded second in North 1, Group 4, and was slated to host Morris Hills, on Feb. 2, in the first round. If the Indians won, it would stay home to host the semifinals, on Feb. 4, versus either Kearny, or Fair Lawn. The sectional finals are on Feb. 6. Roxbury is the top seed in the section and would host the final, assuming it won out.

The group championships will be held on Feb. 8, in Toms River, where all the sectional champs from throughout the state, will convene.

Valley and PCT had three champions at the Passaic County Tournament. Winning gold for the Bulldogs were Alex Vertedor (106 pounds), Laith Hamdeh (113) and Ryan Khumthanom-Perez (120).

Wayne Valley’s county champions were Elijah Lugo (138), Reid Colella (170) and Nick Trani, who remained undefeated by winning the 220 pound championship.

DePaul won the team championship for the seventh straight year.

“I thought it was a good tournament,” said Wayne Valley head coach Todd Schroeder. “We got some good work in, as a team, and I think we’re ready for the state sectionals.”

After the sections, PCT and Wayne Valley will prepare for the district championships, which are set for Feb. 16. Wayne Valley will wrestle at District 7, which will be hosted by powerful Bergen Catholic. PCT will head to Kittatinny High, in Newton, as part of District 3. The top three wrestlers in each weight class at the districts will advance to the regional championships, on Feb. 20. The regions continue on Feb. 22 and conclude a day later.

Passaic Tech will compete in Region 1, at West Milford High, and Wayne Valley, at Region 2, at Mount Olive, in Flanders. The top four wrestlers in each weight class at the regions will earn a trip to Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, for the state championships, from Feb. 28-March 2.

By mike051893

Reid Colella will wrestle at The College of New Jersey beginning this fall, as Wayne Valley senior’s work ethic on, and off the mat, speaks volumes

For Wayne Valley’s Reid Colella, the decision to continue wrestling on the collegiate level came down to a love of the sport as well as some lofty academic goals.

Colella, a captain on this year’s wrestling team, made it official on Feb. 5 that he will attend the College of New Jersey, beginning in the fall of 2019.

“I’m really happy with my decision,” said Colella, the eldest of two sons born to Christine and Tom Colella. “TCNJ is a tremendous school, academically, and has an excellent wrestling program.”

Colella’s high school teammate, Connor Murphy, a 2017 Valley graduate, is currently attending TCNJ.

With his family, coach and Wayne Valley administrators on hand, Reid Colella made official on Feb. 6, his decision to attend The College of New Jersey and wrestle for the Pride this coming fall. (Click on photo for larger image)

“Connor was a big help to me,” said Colella. “He’s really doing well there and that helped in my decision.”

Murphy was a standout wrestler for the Indians. He was having a good collegiate career before a series of injuries curtailed his wrestling. Murphy is thriving academically at TCNJ and earned Dean’s List this past fall

Colella is having an excellent season at Valley this winter, with a 30-1 record, at 170 and 182 pounds, as the Indians were 16-4 heading into the sectional semifinals on Feb. 6. His work ethic heading into this season impressed head coach Todd Schroeder.

“Reid put a lot of time into wrestling during the off season,” said Schroeder. “And it’s paying off in a big way. He’s a leader on and off the mat for us.”

Colella, an excellent student at Wayne Valley, hopes to major in Health and Exercise Science at TCNJ, with the ultimate goal of being a Physical Therapist.

In college, Colella figures to wrestle at 165 or 174 pounds. The Pride are having a tremendous season this winter, with a 14-1 record through matches of Feb. 1. Among the standout wrestlers on the team this season is Dan Kilroy, a 2-time state medal winner at Wayne Hills, who is currently a junior.










By mike051893

Tom Sharkey headed to Kutztown University after a memorable season quarterbacking Wayne Hills to a state title and Bowl Game win

Tom Sharkey had just won his first game as a Wayne Hills quarterback, on Sept. 7, 2018, as the Patriots rallied past Wayne Valley, 14-3, in a hard-fought game.

Twelve hours later, Sharkey and offensive coordinator John Jacob were sitting in a classroom, going over good points, and mistakes, of the senior’s first varsity home game at Wayne Hills.

Tom Sharkey and Wayne Hills offensive coordinator John Jacob doing classroom work on Sept. 8, 2018, a day after a win over Wayne Valley. (Click on photo for larger image)

“I’ve been around a lot of good players, but Tom Sharkey is really special,” recalled Jacob of that meeting in the early morning hours of Sept. 8. “He wanted to know what he needed to do to get better. It was a burning desire. You could see it in his eyes. The grit, toughness, determination and intensity. He has it all.”

Sharkey, the son of Debbie and Tom Sharkey, Sr., had transferred to Wayne Hills late in his junior year and would go on to a marvelous senior campaign. He threw for 2,413 yards and 33 touchdown passes, as well as a 125.6 quarterback rating, as the Patriots went on to a tenth state sectional championship and eventual Bowl game victory, at MetLife Stadium, and an 11-2 record. In his final high school game at MetLife, Sharkey completed 14 of 21 passes for 207 yards and three touchdowns.

Sharkey’s 2,413 yards passing last fall eclipsed Brendan DeVera’s team-record 2,221 yards, which was set in 2016.

The 6’1″, 185-pound Sharkey, also a top student, announced his college choice on Feb. 1 and signed his letter of intent at Wayne Hills on the morning of Feb. 6.

“I’ve committed to Kutztown University,” said Sharkey. “I was honored to receive eight offers over a 10-day period, and in the end, Kutztown was perfect. I fell in love with the program when I took my official visit. The coaches, the players, the campus, everything was right.”

Located in Kutztown, Pa., Kutztown University is an NCAA Division 2 school. In 2018, the Golden Bears finished 9-2 and qualified for the NCAA tournament.

Jacob, Hills’ offensive coordinator, feels Kutztown is an excellent choice for Sharkey.

“That will be an equitable partnership,” said Jacob. “Tom will thrive there. Kutztown has an outstanding program and plays a tremendous schedule. Tom’s work ethic and diligence will go a long way. This is a kid that took every drill in practice and made it his passion to get better, each day. Believe me, that says a lot.”

Sharkey appreciated his work with the Wayne Hills coaching staff.

Tom, with his parents Debbie and Tom Sr. He’s keeping the same colors in college. (Click on photos for larger image)

“A quarterback and coordinator have to work well together, and I can’t thank Coach Jakes enough,” said Sharkey. “He taught me so much, in one year. And that goes for the entire staff at Hills. I transferred here as a junior and had (head coach Wayne) Dem (Demikoff) as a teacher when I got here. And then I had the chance to play for him and I am so grateful. I wish I had more than one year with them, but I’m so glad it turned out the way it did. Being a part of a state championship team and then winning that bowl game at MetLife was unbelievable.

“It’s amazing how this team came together as the season continued. We really became a close-knit unit, and by the time playoffs began, we really felt no one could beat us. That’s because everyone bought in to the team concept. What a great group of guys to be around.”

Sharkey noted how quickly he was taken in by the players at Hills.

Sharkey was always a ‘heads up’ player at Hills. (Click on photo for larger image) 

“From the first day I got to Wayne Hills, the players embraced me and made me feel at home,” he said. “I got the chance to play for a top program and this is why I’m moving on to play at Kutztown. Being a part of this program will make me a better player in college, too.”

Tom’s close family bond is also special.

Sharkey and Wayne Hills head coach Wayne Demikoff at the signing ceremonies, on Feb. 6. (Click on photo for larger image) 

“My mom and dad are incredible,” said Sharkey, who plans to major in business management, or finance. “They’ve always been there for me. I know they’re excited about my choice, too. I’d like to get up to about 195 to 200 pounds when I play in college, so I’m sure my mother will enjoy helping me with that.”

With the college decision completed, Sharkey can enjoy the remainder of high school.

“No doubt, I’m glad it’s wrapped up,” he said. “This has been the best year of my life, and I couldn’t be happier.”



By mike051893

Belleville High’s Matt LaTorre headed to Caldwell University to play sprint football

Matt LaTorre hadn’t thought about playing football on the collegiate level a few months ago. But the Belleville High senior learned a great deal about the game under new head coach Jermain Johnson last fall, and now, he’s ready to continue playing sprint football, at Caldwell University, beginning this autumn.

LaTorre helped the Bucs to respectability in 2018, guiding the team to a 4-5 record as the starting quarterback.

“I’m looking forward to the next phase of my life,” said LaTorre, the son of Judith Valdez and the late Alfredo LaTorre. “This past season was very special for me. I got a chance to play for coach Johnson, as well as coach (Eric) Magrini (Belleville’s offensive coordinator). They both taught me a lot, and now I feel like I can play at the next level.”

Matt LaTorre is joined by his mother, Judith Valdez and head coach Jermain Johnson. (Click on photo for larger image)

Caldwell University introduced sprint football two years ago to its list of athletic programs. The Cougars are coached by former Nutley High head coach Jim Kelly. Sprint football requires a player weigh 178 pounds, or less. The game is fast-paced and has a number of prestigious schools which participate, including the United States Military Academy, at West Point, the Naval Academy, the University of Pennsylvania and Cornell.

Johnson feels the opportunity is perfect for LaTorre.

“Matt came a long way in making reads and working with Eric Magrini on technique” said Johnson. “I wish I had the chance to coach him more than a year. Matt is a hard-working kid and I think he’ll really thrive in playing sprint football. He’s going to play against some really good teams, that’s for sure.”

LaTorre plans to major in Health Science and Physical Therapy, with the hope of being a physical therapist after a six-year program, which would result in a PhD.

“Caldwell has a very good program in my major,” said LaTorre. “It all worked out well. I had the chance to meet coach Kelly. He seems like a good guy. I’m looking forward to learning from him over the next four years.”

LaTorre could also see time on defense, perhaps at corner back, since he played some defense in high school.

“I’ll be working in the gym, doing cardio and getting stronger,” said LaTorre. “Getting ready for the fall means putting the work in now. I’m excited about the opportunity.”



By mike051893

Wayne Valley cheerleaders add to its legacy with a tremendous performance at NCA championships, in Dallas; Coach Daniella Coffaro looks to the rest of the competition season, with a fourth straight national title in sight

The Wayne Valley High cheerleading squad has put together quite the resume. Head coach Daniella Coffaro’s team has won a trio of national titles at competitions in Orlando, Florida from 2016-2018. Last fall, the team performed at MetLife Stadium prior to a New York Jets game.

In late December, the Indians teamed up with their friends at Wayne Hills to donate toys to sick children at Hackensack University Medical Center.

In between competing at the Kaye Bailey Convention Center, in Dallas, the team got a tour of AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys. (Click on photo for larger image) 

On Jan. 26-27, the team traveled to Dallas, Texas, to take part in one of the most intense cheerleading competitions in the country. And the results were outstanding, as Wayne Valley earned a fourth place trophy.

“For the first time in school history, the Wayne Valley Competition Cheerleaders took part in one of the largest, most prestigious venues in the country,” said Coffaro. “The team competed at the NCA High School Cheerleading Championships, at the Kay Bailey Convention Center, in Dallas, and had the experience of a lifetime.”

The team earned a fourth place medal at the NCA High School Cheerleading Championships, in Dallas. (Click on photos for larger images) 

According to Coffaro, there were over 242 high schools represented, and Wayne Valley was the only public New Jersey high school to cheer in the advanced division of the competition.

“Our team held its own and brought home a fourth place trophy, in the advanced small coed division,” the coach said. “We are all so proud of this outstanding accomplishment. Our team is fired up and ready for the Big North championships, the state championships and the Reach the Beach Nationals, in Ocean City Maryland.”

While the Indians were in Texas to compete, they also got the opportunity to check out a popular venue.

“We had the chance to visit the AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, for a tour,” said Coffaro. “It was an enjoyable time.”

The team coaches, in addition to Coffaro, are Jennifer Pulizzano and Raschel  Facciollio. The juniors are Nikki  Gromb, Liz Sirugo, Courtney White, Zachary Cicchetti and Brianna  Kulick. 

Sophomores include Marlee Gilman, Sydney Ungerleider, Mariah  Zuniga, Madison Ellis, Darla  Zisa, Jess Fedo, Tyler Gerstenschlager, Liyana Munoz, Angela Duignan and Alexa Maher.

Tiffani Panebianco, Haley Macmullan and Giana Pisciotta are the freshmen who traveled to Texas.

“This was a whole new competition, that we’ve never been to before,” said Coffaro. “We will compete the same routine we did in Dallas for the remainder of our season for Big North, states and the Reach the Beach Nationals.”




By mike051893

Devyn DiPasquale, honored at NJSIAA National Girls and Women in Sports Day luncheon, epitomizes all that’s right with a HS student-athlete; And she’s just a sophomore

She may be a 15-year-old sophomore at Passaic Valley High, but Devyn DiPasquale is learning a great deal about the tremendous strides women have taken in roles of leadership and athletics, while thinking ahead and honoring the past.

The eldest daughter of Sharon and George DiPasquale, Devyn has bled PV green and white long before she started high school. And on Feb. 3, she was among a group of talented New Jersey student-athletes, and Passaic Valley’s representative, honored at the annual NJSIAA National Girls and Women in Sports Day awards luncheon, at Seton Hall University.

Devyn is a standout student at PV, as well as a multi-talented athlete for the varsity volleyball and softball teams. Her parents are also Passaic Valley grads.

“It was a really nice event,” said the unassuming DiPasquale of her day at Seton Hall. “I really learned a lot about Title IX and the role women have played in providing me the opportunity to do what I enjoy today. It’s something I’ve learned from my parents, as well, especially my mother, who played sports at Passaic Valley.”

Devyn’s first love in sports is softball.

“I’ve been playing softball since I was in kindergarten,” she said. “When I started playing high school ball last year, I was really helped by the senior leadership, which made it easier for me to play varsity.”

in 2018, DiPasquale started at second base for head coach Kathy Hill, herself a one-time standout player for the Hornets before embarking on an All-American softball career at William Paterson University. Devyn will once again play second base this spring.

Hill, the former Kathy May, spoke glowingly of DiPasquale’s intensity as a student-athlete.

“Devyn’s Hornet pride oozes out of her and is contagious to her teammates,” said Hill. “Her athletic talent speaks for itself, as she was named an All-League and All-County player as a freshman (last spring). Devyn will continue to soar on the softball field, and I am so proud to have the opportunity to coach her.”

Proud moment for Devyn, at Seton Hall University. (Click on photo for larger image)

Devyn also excels for the PV volleyball team in the fall.

“She is the consummate teammate, selfless, hard-working and determined, with a team-first attitude,” said PV coach Bill Robertazzi. “Devyn’s intensity and durability make her a pillar of the program.”

Devyn holds a 4.4 GPA and has earned First Honors in every semester since she began high school. As softball season nears, she’s excited about the season. In 2018, the Hornets had an excellent campaign, finishing 15-7 and advancing to the county championship game.

“Right now, I’m working out, mostly with conditioning,” said Devyn. “I can’t wait for the season to begin.”

Devyn (center) joined by then-freshman teammates for Passaic Valley softball, Taylor Hill (left) and Brianna DeLuccia. (Click on photo for larger image) 

Even though she is a sophomore, Devyn is thinking ahead to her future.

“I think I’d like to be an English teacher one day,” she said with that perpetual smile.

Devyn has a younger sister, Kacey, who is 12 years old and in the sixth grade. She, too, loves athletics.

“Both of our daughters really enjoy athletics and the Passaic Valley community,” said George DiPasquale, Devyn’s dad. “My wife Sharon and I are so proud of Devyn being honored at Seton Hall last weekend. Every time we see her play for PV, it brings back so many great memories of when we went to this school. That’s what it’s all about, and I think it was important for Devyn to learn about all the strides made in athletics for females over the past 47 years.”


By mike051893