Petruccelli, Brunetti, Gerard, Casasanta, Puntilillo and team captain Brandon Petronzi key Wayne Hills past Fair Lawn, 42-12; Patriots (2-2) gear for Oct. 4 home game against West Milford

Michael Petruccelli and Dan Gerard paced a solid running game and MIke Casasanta threw three touchdown passes, two to Christian Puntilillo, to lead Wayne Hills to a 42-12 victory over Fair Lawn, on Sept. 27, in Wayne.

The Patriots improved to 2-2 and will host West Milford, on Oct. 4, at 7 p.m.

Petruccelli, a senior running back and defensive back, led the Patriots with 69 yards on 12 carries and also scored his first varsity touchdown, in the second quarter.

Michael Petruccelli heads upfield.

Casasanta threw three touchdown passes, all in the first half, with two going to Puntolillo and one to Joe Brunetti and Dan Gerard was also outstanding, rushing for 60 yards and scoring twice.

Wayne Hills was a prohibitive favorite in the game, but Patriots head coach Wayne Demikoff wasn’t buying into it.


“This wasn’t about defeating Fair Lawn, it was how our team would play,” said Demikoff. “We needed to play mistake-free football, make good decisions and be physical at the point of attack. After the Old Tappan game (a 17-7 loss), I really felt like our team could have answered the challenge better. We needed to play Wayne HIlls-type football, and I think, for the first half, we did that.”

The Patriots led, 42-0, at halftime. After a scoreless third quarter, Fair Lawn came back to score twice in the fourth.

“We wanted to get a lot of our kids into the game,” said Demikoff. “We have a big game coming up on Friday, against West Milford. We need a good week of practice and have to go after it. We’re almost halfway through the season, already. I told the kids, we’re guaranteed 10 games, that’s it. If course, we want to play more, but 10 is the minimum.

Brandon Petronzi on the field during the pre-game coin toss.

“And after this Friday, we’re through five already.”

Dan Daiy, Gerard, Chad Sente and Nick Lucarello had five tackles each to pace the Hills defense.

The Patriots also had an honorary captain for the game. Brandon Petronzi, a Wayne Hills student, was named honorary captain and was with the team captains for the coin toss.

After the game, Brandon, who has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, received the game ball, and had a photo taken with the team.

Brandon Petronzi (3rd row, center) is joined by Wayne Hills teammates after a win over Fair Lawn.

More importantly, there was plenty of love from his teammates. Brandon wore a Wayne Hills jersey, with numer 28 on it.

“It was great having Brandon at the game,” said Demikoff. “He’s a part of our school and loves the game. We were honored to have him there.”

By mike051893

Disappointment aside, Passaic Valley football team looks ahead, while Parlavecchio stresses need to cut back on mental errors and penalties in 28-7 loss to Wayne Valley; PV’s Colletti rushes for 107 yards, Timothy returns another kick for a TD

Sitting inside a quiet coaches room, Passaic Valley head coach Chet Parlavecchio looked at the stat sheet, looked up and said, on multiple occasions, ‘you can’t give them a short field. You can’t give them a short field. You can’t give them a short field.”

Each time Parlavecchio reiterated those seven words, the pitch of his voice became louder.

Passaic Valley coach Chet Parlavecchio talks to quarterback Nick Vasta during game with Wayne Valley.

The coach was referring to his Hornets allowing the go-ahead Wayne Valley touchdown after a turnover gave the Indians real good field position deep in PV territory, late in the second quarter.

“We’re tied (7-7), there’s about 2:30 left in the half, and we’re trying to run the clock out,” said Parlavecchio. “And, instead, we turn it over. You can’t make those kind of mistakes, against a good team, and expect to win. We didn’t rush the passer as well as we could have, we gave their receivers too much time to get open on routes, and there were too many penalties on our part.”

Wayne Valley went on to dominate the second half, en route to a 28-7 victory over PV. The Indians improved to 3-1 on the season while the Hornets fell to 2-2.

“We’re at a crossroad,” Parlavecchio told his team in the post-game lockerroom. “Where do you want this season to go? We can still do some good things this season, but we have to cut back on the mental errors. You can’t make these mistakes. Mental mistakes will cost you, every time.”

Wayne Valley improved its all-time record against Passaic Valley to 37-29-1, in a gridiron series that began in 1951. Wayne Valley has won 26 of the last 37 meetings, including two playoff matchups, dating back to 1984.

Read about the PV-WV rivalry here:

The first half saw 13 combined penalties, which stalled drives for both schools.

Wayne Valley opened the scoring on its first series of the game and took a 7-0 lead. Passaic Valley tied it on a 75-yard punt return by Brandon Timothy with 7:17 left in the first half, followed by Gio Giovatto’s point-after kick.

Brandon Timothy returns a punt for a touchdown. (Photo courtesy of Sorce Media)

The Hornets appeared to have the momentum when Matt Ciarlo intercepted a pass deep in PV territory, but the Hornets lost the ball on a fumble on the next play, and Wayne Valley capitalized for the go-ahead score.

Despite trailing, 13-7, PV did move the ball deep into Indians territory with seconds left in the first half, but again, penalties stalled the drive.

Wayne Valley took control of the game in the final 24 minutes. It dominated the third quarter and extended to a 21-7 lead with a powerful running game and an excellent performance on the offensive and defensive lines.

Despite Wayne Valley winning by three touchdowns, the Hornets did move the ball effectively on the ground. Vincent Colletti rushed for 107 yards on 20 carries

“We moved the ball, and I thought our defense did a pretty good job,” said Parlavecchio. “Our pass coverage was good, but we didn’t apply enough pressure on their quarterback, and their kids made plays. Give Wayne Valley credit, their guys made some good catches in key moments.”

Wayne Valley accounted for over 400 yards of total offense while PV had 185.

“I believe in these kids,” said Parlavecchio. “But it’s also time to clean up the mistakes, and I know they can do it.”

By mike051893

The 67th meeting between Passaic Valley and Wayne Valley on the gridiron will match two tough squads, each of whom are 2-1 so far this season

Passaic Valley will host Wayne Valley on Sept. 28, in Little Falls, which will mark the 67th overall varsity football meeting between the schools. Kickoff time is 1 p.m.

The Hornets won the first-ever game, in 1951, before Wayne Valley captured the next three, (Wayne Valley was actually was called Wayne High School until 1966, when Wayne Hills opened).

The series has been full of streaks, with PV winning four straight from 1955-1958 and four more, from 1961-1964. In fact, Passaic Valley had won 18 of the first 30 games (18-11-1, with the one tie coming in 1974) through 1980.

The teams did not play from 1981-1983, but when the rivalry came back in 1984, it was Wayne Valley which took control. The Indians have won 25 of the last 36 games in a series that has been played pretty continuously since ’84 and lead the series, 36-29-1. (The schools did not meet in 2014).

Chet Parlavecchio hopes to be cheering his team onto a win when Passaic Valley hosts Wayne Valley, on Sept. 28, in Little Falls. Kickoff time is 1 p.m.

The schools met twice in 2006 and 2007, once in the regular season and once in the playoffs. PV swept the series in ’06 and the Indians returned the favor a year later.

For many years, the series was played on Thanksgiving, but that ended following the 1998 season. In fact, in 1999, PV and Wayne Valley met in the season opener.

There was one overtime game, with Wayne Valley prevailing, in 2005, 24-21.

PV’s current head coach, Chet Parlavecchio, is 4-5 against Wayne Valley. Parlavecchio’s teams won three out of five against the Indians from 1994-1998 and are 1-3 since 2015, with PV snapping a 10-game losing streak to Valley, in 2017, 28-19, at Wayne Valley.

Passaic Valley coach Chet Parlavecchio’s teams are 4-5 against Wayne Valley, from 1994-1998 and 2015-2018.

Roger Kotlarz, Wayne Valley’s coach, is 3-1 against PV since 2015.

Passaic Valley last defeated Wayne Valley, at home, in 2006, 16-14.

This year’s game should be interesting and could go a long way in determining possible playoff berths in early November, in North Group 4, as well as winning a conference title in the Freedom Red Division.

Each squad is 2-1. Passaic Valley opened its season with a pair of wins, defeating High Point, 14-7, and Lakeland, 28-7, before losing at Parsippany, 31-28, last week.

Wayne Valley opened with an impressive 31-12 win at Andover High, in Massachusetts, before a 14-7 setback, at home, to Wayne Hills. The Indians regrouped last week, blanking Nutley, 34-0, at home.

This is the first time Wayne Valley will play at PV since 2016, with the last two games being played in Wayne.

By mike051893

Belleville sports recap: Volleyball team, led by Cruz and Samaniego playing well; tennis battling in a tough division, as Pasuizca leads way; Leak, Cecere, Almeida and Lee excelling for unbeaten football team

The Belleville High girls’ volleyball team has played well in the early going of the 2019 season.

Head coach John Spina’s team was 3-4 heading into a match against Cedar Grove, at home, on Sept. 25. The Bucs had defeated Cedar Grove, Columbia and Montclair Kimberley while losing to West Orange, Montclair, Bloomfield and West Essex.

In a straight-set win over Cedar Grove, on Sept. 4, the Bucs were led by Alethea Cruz, who had 12 assists, six service points and five digs while Fiorella Samaniego, a team captain, finished with 10 service points and 10 digs.

Versus Columbia, Cruz finished with 21 assists and 11 digs, Samaniego registered 28 digs and nine service points and Natalie Marquez had 12 digs and three service points.

Belleville volleyball team captains, left to right, Lauryn Cook-Maisonet, Fiorella Samaniego, Alethea Cruz and Sasha Rosario.

Lauryn Cook-Maisonet finished with 13 service points and 10 kills as Belleville defeated MKA. Samaniego had 21 digs, Cruz had 20 assists and Marquez had eight digs and five service points.

GIRLS TENNIS: The team has played well, despite a 2-10 record through matches of Sept. 23.

The Bucs have defeated Bloomfield twice while losing three matches by 3-2 scores and two more by 4-1 counts.

In the first win over Bloomfield, Belleville received victories from Annette Checa, Valeria Pasuizca and Cherylle Urbano in singles play while Vivian Li and Renisha Mehta and Karla Gallardo and Priya Parmar prevailed in doubles action.

Pasuizca and Urbano won in singles play in the second match versus Bloomfield and Li and Mehta won at first doubles.

Pasuizca and the doubles team of Gallardo and Parmar came up with wins in a 3-2 setback to Golda Och.

FOOTBALL: Belleville improved to 3-0 for the second straight season when it defeated Newark East Side, 39-0, on Sept. 20.

Head coach Jermain Johnson’s team was scheduled to play at Ferris High, in Jersey City, on Sept. 28.

The last time Belleville had started 3-0 in consecutive seasons occurred in the 1981 and 1982 seasons. In at least the past 60 years, a Belleville football team had never started 4-0 until the 2018 squad accomplished the feat. This year’s team also has a chance to do that, when it plays on Sept. 28.

Derek Leigh continued his outstanding season. The junior tailback ran for over 100 yards in his third straight game. Leigh rushed for 135 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

Leigh is on track to rush for 1,000 yards, which would be the first time a Belleville player has attained that mark in nine years.

Belleville head coach Jermain Johnson (left) and star tailback Derek Leigh.

Jiustino Cecere scored a touchdown on a 79-yard punt return, Chris Freid, a team captain, recovered an East Side fumble in the end zone for a score and Ray Leak scored on a 23-yard run. Pedro Almeida continued his solid kicking, but converting four straight point-after kicks.

By mike051893

Giving back: Wayne Hills football players participate in Born to Run 5K, benefiting 7-year-old Henry Aulenbach and his family

Wayne Hills football has accomplished a great deal on the gridiron over the past 32 years.

There are 10 state championship banners hanging on the fence, as well as the first Bowl game title last fall and the second longest winning streak in New Jersey history, 55 games.

Wayne Hills head coach Wayne Demikoff joins his players at the Born to Run 5K, on Sept. 8.

The program has won 282 games since 1987, with just 73 losses and two ties.

But the team’s current head coach Wayne Demikoff will be the first to say that winning games would be diminished if the players weren’t giving back to their community.

Demikoff has been a huge part of the program’s success, first as an assistant to Chris Olsen, beginning in 1999, and since 2013 as the team’s head coach.

Hills players at the 5K.

It has been an ongoing process, with charity work for the less fortunate, the players honoring their parents with two wonderful events each year, including the Mother-Son breakfast and later, the Father-Son beefsteak and supporting other teams and programs at the school, with their endeavors.

Read about Coach Demikoff’s 50th career win, here.

This past Sept. 8, 41 of the current players were participating in the 10th annual Born to Run 5 K, in Wayne. The 5K honors the late Bruce Eckrote, a Wayne, NJ resident, who died in 2009. Proceeds from the event help fund scholarships to students at Wayne Hills and Wayne Valley High School.

Dan Daily (second from right) and Noah Abida (far right) among the players who participated in the 5K.

This year’s race supported 7-year-old Henry Aulenbach, the son of Anthony Wayne Middle School principal David Aulenbach. Henry is battling a rare brain cancer.

“I know it means a lot to our kids to help, in any way they can,” said Demikoff. “And to be a part of this event meant a great deal to them, as it did for me, too. I have two young sons, and I know what they mean to me and my family. The support among a community like this is very important and we’re glad to be here.”

Demikoff was proud of his players.

“Forty-one of our kids, on a Sunday, took the time to come out and participate,” said Demikoff. “In practice, we demand a lot of these kids. There’s a lot of work and time that goes into what we do on the field, And I always say, it’s not for everyone.

“But those kids who play four years here, see some success as players on the field, and then help to support people in the community is what makes this job so beneficial.”

In 2016, the Patriots took part in a Wayne 5K ‘Color Run’ to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital. The team also went Christmas shopping Toys R Us to buy gifts for hospitalized children.

Read about the gift purchases here

And read about the Color Run, here. The Patriot football players were actually joined by the Wayne Valley High dance team for a post-race photo, as parents from both schools took pictures and some became emotional, in seeing the camaraderie among the students.

Wayne Hills football players and members of the Wayne Valley Dance team gathered for a photo after a 5K ‘Color Run’, in 2016, to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.

By mike051893

Passaic Valley sports recap: Girls’ tennis team off to a good start, as Coronado-Luz and Trewhella lead way; Cummings’ 7 goals lead Hornets in two field hockey wins; Gurrieri’s 2 goals guide boys soccer past Ft. Lee for second straight win; girls’ volleyball team playing well, led by Allmendinger, DiPasquale, Ostolaza, Perez and DeLuccia

The Passaic Valley girls’ tennis team has gotten off to a good start this season, led by head coach Jim Holsworth.

“We are very young, with our first two singles only sophomores, but we have a great group of girls all who care about tennis and are gaining valuable learning experience,” said Holsworth.

The team’s lineup features sophomore Ella Coronado-Luz at first singles, sophomore Lia Trewhella at second singles and playing third singles is junior Emme Nguyen-Tran.

“Ella’s record doesn’t tell the story, as she has improved greatly from last year,” said Holsworth of Coronado-Luz. “The move to first singles has been a challenging one, in that she’s faced some very good players from Wayne Hills, Passaic Tech, Wayne Valley, West Milford and Fair Lawn already this year.”

Trewhella worked very hard during the off-season.

“She’s our biggest surprise of the season, by far,” said Holsworth. “Lia went from one of the last girls to get a varsity spot (in 2018) to now playing second singles. Her progress has been fantastic. She has competed well in all of her matches and the future is extremely bright for both her and Ella.”

Nguyen-Tran has played well of late at third singles and was instrumental in a pair of recent team victories.

The first doubles team of Carolyn Rosenberg, a junior, and sophomore Cassidy Baer have impressed in the early going and the second doubles team of seniors Victoria Povolo, Ashley Povolo and Michaela Ragueso, are also working to gain consistency.

Through matches of Sept. 18, PV was 3-5, including a 4-1 win over Lakeland. The Hornets also defeated West Milford, 3-2, and Paterson Kennedy, 5-0.

FIELD HOCKEY: Sydney Cummings had huge season opener, scoring all six of her team’s goals in a 6-3 victory over Wayne Hills, on Sept. 3. Ashley Ashley Martin and Cameron Hyde had assists in the victory and goalie Kayleigh Keating finished with 15 saves for the Hornets.

Cummings also scored her team’s lone goal in PV’s second win of the season, 1-0, over Dwight Englewood, on Sept. 16. Keating turned back eight shots.

The Hornets were back in action on Sept. 19, against Lakeland and will visit Pompton Lakes, on Sept. 26.

GIRLS VOLLEYBALL: The Hornets won an exciting 3-set match against Fair Lawn, on Sept. 16, to improve to 4-1 on the season. The team subsequently lost a 2-set match versus Lakeland on Sept. 18.

Versus Fair Lawn, Carissa Ostolaza finished with 26 digs and six kills while Jada Rodriguez had 13 assists and 12 digs. Kayla Allmendinger had 13 digs, six service points and four kills and Devyn DiPasquale, the team’s libero, registered 14 digs, 10 service points and three kills.

Brianna DeLuccia also had a good game, with 13 digs and three service points.

PV was scheduled to host Columbia, of Maplewood, on Sept. 20, at 4 p.m.. and will head to a tournament in Connecticut on Sept. 21. On Sept. 23, Mount St. Mary Academy comes to PV for a 4 p.m. match.

BOYS SOCCER: Mike Gurrieri scored twice as the Hornets rallied from a 1-0 deficit at halftime to defeat Ft. Lee, 4-2, on Sept. 19. Kairi Cosentino and Matt Sytsma scored once each, Patrick Lettre had a pair of assists and PV goalie Dominick Maretta registered five saves.

The victory over Ft. Lee improved the Hornets’ record to 3-3. Earlier this week, PV defeated West Milford, 3-1, as Cosentino, Gurrieri and Sytsma each scored a goal and Maretta finished with four saves.

By mike051893

Sept. 20, 2019: Happy 54th Birthday, David Mozeika; Looking back on Feb. 2, 2019, a sad day, but reflective of a loving and caring man, seen through the eyes of family and friends

David Mozieka’s 54th birthday is on Sept. 20, 2019. And while David departed this life on Feb. 2, 2019, his love of family and friends will never be forgotten. This is an article I wrote after he passed away, following a valiant battle with a serious illness .I think it speaks for itself.

Good morning yesterday, you wake up, and time has slipped away, and suddenly it’s hard to find, the memories you left behind… 

The Township of Belleville lost a beloved son in David Mozeika, on Feb. 2, 2019. He was just 53 years old, but his life was full of love, fun, compassion and friendship. Just ask his many friends and family. 

David Mozeika (bottom, right) and his extnded family.

David grew up in Belleville, along with six brothers, all of whom attended Belleville High. David lived in Nutley over the last 27 years of his life, with his wife, the former Stephanie Aiello, herself a Belleville grad and champion rower for the crew team. David and Stephanie have two sons, David Jr., and Dominic

I first got to know David when he played football at Belleville High, on some marvelous teams in the early 1980’s. David was a junior on the 1982 Bucs team which stunned Passaic, 3-2, in what I have often referred to as ‘The Game’. Belleville supposedly had no chance to win that game, on Oct. 2, 1982, against a nationally ranked team, but the Bucs were up to the challenge. 

The laughter and the tears, the shadows of misty yesteryears, the good times and the bad you’ve seen, and all the others in between… 

Often when an anniversary of The Game neared, David was the first to interject some memories and share video of that day, with me. What David never mentioned, but was recalled by good friend Steve Kimble, was it was Mozeika who blocked Craig Heyward’s punt, to set up what would be the game-winning field goal, by Robbie Cancelliere

“You know what was amazing?” David once said to me. “In a game between two relatively small towns, three guys who played in that game went on to the NFL. That’s crazy.” 

David, along with wife Stephanie, and sons. Dominic and David Jr.

The three players David was referring to was David Grant, Craig Heyward and Tyronne Stowe. Most importantly, David Mozeika would speak proudly of being a member of that team, wearing the Blue and Gold and representing his town, in front of family and friends. 

Family was a huge part of David’s life. Just ask his brother-in-law, Frank Fazzini, perhaps the best athlete I ever covered at BHS over the past 40 years.  

“I’m two years older than David,” recalled Fazzini last week. “So we didn’t hang out together that much in high school. We were teammates and friends, but our relationship took off later on. My wife (Leslie) is David’s wife’s sister.” 

What Fazzini recalls most about David was his big heart. 

“There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for anyone he met,” said Fazzini. “I remember when I was inducted into the Florida State (University) Hall of Fame, and we had about 45 family members and friends there for the induction. There was a forecast of rain, and David went out and bought ponchos for everyone.

David loved playing football for Belleville High. He’s standing far right (#34).

“They were first for the ladies, of course, and then for everyone else. That was David. He was a protector, and always looked out for others. He treated my daughter like his own.” 

Reach out for the joy and the sorrow, put them away in your mind. The memories are time that you borrow, to spend when you get to tomorrow.  

Frank Mozeika, David’s brother, remembered a close bond. 

“Being the brother just older than David, we were very close,” said Frank last week. “He thought about, and shared with me about us being together his whole life. A couple of weeks ago, David sent me a picture of him and me, together in our Little League, Amvets, uniform. Almost monthly, David would send me a picture of he and I together. A couple of weeks before he sent the picture, he texted a song that reminded him of me. You see, David tagged along my side throughout our early lives together in many ways.  

“From playing wiffle ball in the yard, watching me lift weights in the basement, to tagging along with me in sports. David started out his sporting life as the bat boy for the Amvets team I played on. He was right there with me on the field when we won the series (in 1971). He was always thinking about me and us together. Growing up, I would often hear David say how he wanted to be like me. David had a far greater influence on me than I had on him. It was an influence that really matters. The time comes when hitting home runs ends, making tackles are over, games are no longer played and the trophies gather dust or are thrown away. But David’s influence on me, as well as others will never fade but lasts a lifetime. It is alive and moves onto the next generation. 

“There are only a few people I have met in my lifetime that can come close to David when it comes how much he devoted himself to loving, caring, helping and considering the preciousness of others, more than David. He was always there for the underdog, those who could not defend for themselves and would be the first to see the needs of others. What set David apart was that he acted on those very things. In other words he put his love for others into practice. Lord willing, I’ll pass that onto my children, and their children.” 

Mike Mozeika, another of David’s brothers, recalled a passionate man. 

“(David was) forever a son, brother, husband, father and friend,” said Mike. “Rare would you find a better example. As a young boy he grew in admiration of his brothers, devoted to our mother and father, and loyal to his friends. He never touted his accomplishments, but praised those of all he knew. David defended all of us, most of it not known to anyone, and often suffered doing so. During a very troubled time in our family, he sacrificed greatly to preserve us. At the same time he took on my sons as they were his own.

“I would often say, as his oldest brother, ‘when I grow up, I want to be like Dave.’ His final battle was one he could not win, but fought it to the end. Only God knew his limitations, and when they were met, our Lord took him home to heal and finish the fight. I’ll forever be his brother.” 

Joseph (JoJo) Cancelliere, another Belleville High graduate and a Pastor, is grateful that David is at peace. 

“I want to thank the Lord for all the precious times of counsel and special prayer that David and I had together,” said Cancelliere. “None of it was in vain. God heard every word we spoke. Thank you, Jesus. And because of this, David surrendered  to Christ and is resting in the arms of God. If David could speak to us now, he would say don’t live another day without having a personal relationship with the Lord. For He is faithful and true concerning all he promises. So follow Him always.”

Tony Sorrentino was Belleville’s defensive coordinator when David played for the Bucs. 

“Dave was another great Belleville linebacker,” recalled Sorrentino, himself a Belleville graduate and standout athlete. “We had some great linebackers, including Phil Cerza, Ricky Racioppi and Craig Mack, that I had the pleasure to coach . David had the heart of a champion, who came from the legendary Mozeika family.”  

David’s wife, Stephanie, was gracious enough to remember her husband at this difficult time. The two had grown up together in Belleville.  

“David ate, drank and slept football,’ said Stephanie. “I totally got it, because I was on the crew team. I have fond memories of David’s brothers coming to the games, his nieces and nephews would sit with me and my girlfriends. They were 5 to 10 years of age at the time. After the games, we would go back to his house. Everyone was there, eating and talking about the game. There was such support for Dave and (younger brother) Bobby from their brothers.  

“Thirty years later, those same brothers were now at my house after the games, since my son Dominic played for Nutley, and graduated in 2014.  They came to watch my son and then came to my house just like they did 30 years ago. It wasn’t easy watching Dominic in (NHS) maroon and gray, and believe me they talked about it often.

“But they came for Dave.” 

Here comes the setting sun. The seasons are passing one by one. So gather moments while you may, collect the dreams you dream today. Remember, will you remember, the times of your life.

By mike051893

Off to a 4-1 start, Nutley High girls volleyball led by captains Bella Swann and Julia Ciccone; Raiders young core also excelling, paced by sophomores Geraghty and Garner

The Nutley High girls’ volleyball team improved its season record to 4-1 with a hard-fought three-set victory over East Orange Campus, on Sept. 17.
Head coach Jenna Rubino’s team was scheduled to play at Payne Tech, in Newark, on Sept. 19 and will visit West Caldwell Tech, on Sept. 23.

Nutley opened the season with a loss in straight sets to West Essex, on Sept. 5, but have since rallied back to defeat Barringer, Orange and Golda Och, all in straight sets, before defeating East Orange Campus.

“Our team chemistry is awesome this year and that has really helped us win some games,” said Rubino, herself a Nutley High alum. “Bella Swann and  Julia Ciccone are our team captains, and they have been doing well in their leadership roles.”

Nutley’s team captains for 2019, Julia Ciccone (left) and Bella Swann.

Swann and Ciccone are also Nutley’s outside hitters.

“We actually have two starting sophomores, too, in Mia Geraghty, our setter and Jenna Garner is our middle hitter,” the coach said. “Both girls have been contributing big time for us. Brianna Cruz is our only other senior, and she is our starting opposite hitter. She is an athlete and a great server.

Sofia Caruso is our libero, and she has been making some great defensive plays for us this year.  I’m really happy with how we have been playing so far. The team’s chemistry is unlike anything I’ve seen, and that has helped us overcome some tough game situations.”

The varsity roster consists of Swann, Cruz, Ciccone, Olivia Barylski, Jenna Garner, Geraghty, Lacie Tuosto, Jade Giron, Caruso, Naomi Franco and Samantha Daly,

In the win over Barringer, Geraghty had 11 service points and eight assists, Cruz finished with six service points and two digs and Cruz had six service points, two aces and a pair of digs.

Swann had 18 service points, five aces, three kills and two digs in the win over Orange and Garner had nine service points in the victory over Golda Och.

Versus East Orange Campus, the Raiders defeated a previously unbeaten team as Geraghty finished with 13 assists, Swann had eight service points and Cruz had five service points and five digs. 

By mike051893

Nutley High football team splits its first 2 home games, and will head to Wayne Valley for a key contest on Sept. 20; Kruse, Longobardi, Iaccarino, Contella, Coppola, Searle, Jaworski and Jennings excel

The Nutley High football team split its first two games of the 2019 season, both at home, defeating arch rival Bloomfield, then losing to Montclair.

Interim head coach J.D. Vick will take his team to Passaic County on Friday night, Sept. 20, to play Wayne Valley, in a 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The Raiders return home on Sept. 28 to take on Newark Central, on ‘Senior Day’, in a 1 p.m. start.

Nutley head coach Steve DiGregorio (left) confers with Rutgers head coach Chris Ash during halftime of the Sept. 14 contest between Montclair and Nutley.

The Raiders opened its season on Sept. 7, defeating Bloomfield, 15-8. All of the scoring came in the first half, as Nutley took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 5-yard run by John Coppola. Bloomfield responded on a 47-yard run by Xavier Antigua, followed by a 2-point conversion which gave the Bengals an 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

Late in the first half, Nutley regained the lead for good when Dan Jennings caught a 45-yard scoring pass from Justin Lucia and Lucia then ran in for a 2-point conversion, which made it 15-8, with less than 30 seconds remaining in the half.

Nutley’s Daniel Jennings (34) rushes in the quarterback in season-opening win against Bloomfield, on Sept. 7. (Photo by Jerry Simon)

The last two quarters were a defensive struggle, and the Raiders held on to its lead for the team’s first victory over Bloomfield in six years. It was also Nutley’s first season-opening victory in four years.

“I thought our experience up front helped us today,” said Nutley lineman Billy Searle. “Last year, Bloomfield was more experienced, and it helped them defeat us. This time, we felt more confident. Bloomfield is tough, we knew we had to play well.”

Nutley High cheerleader displays her athleticism during a routine at varsity football game. (Photo by Ingrid DiPasquale)

On Sept. 14, the Raiders were defeated by Montclair, 49-21. Despite the score, Nutley had its chances, especially in the first half, when the team turned the ball over on four different occasions within the red zone. (The red zone is when a team has the ball on the opponent’s 20 yard line, or closer) 

Nutley’s Matt Jaworski. (Photo by Ingrid DiPasquale)

Montclair’s speed broke open a close game in the second half, as the Mounties outscored Nutley, 23-7, in the third quarter to open a 43-14 lead. Nevertheless, the Raiders were led by Lucia and Anthony Haines at quarterback. Lucia started, before departing with an injury and Haines played well, in the second half.

Billy Searle is a dominant player on front line for Nutley. (Photo by Ingrid DiPasquale)

Dante Contella had an excellent game running the ball, with 112 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown. Coppola also had a good game, rushing for 70 yards and a touchdown. Chris Kruse caught three passes, including one for a score.

On defense, Kruse and Mitch Iaccarino led the Raiders with nine tackles each. Contella had seven tackles and Gennaro Longobardi and Matt Jaworski had six tackles each.

Nutley cheerleaders during a halftime routine. (Photo by Ingrid DiPasquale)

Vick is serving as the team’s interim head coach until head coach Steve DiGregorio returns to work. DiGregorio is recovering from an illness and has been at the team’s first two games. Vick has been a long-time assistant with the Raiders. 

Nutley High’s special logo on the team helmets, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Raiders football.

By mike051893

Belleville football team defeats Dickinson, as Leigh stars again and Almeida continues solid kicking; Bucs will look for back-to-back 3-0 starts for first time in 37 years when it hosts Newark East Side on Sept. 20

Derek Leigh rushed for 205 yards and scored three touchdowns as the Belleville High football team defeated Dickinson, of Jersey City, 45-6, on Sept. 14, at Caven Point.

Head coach Jermain Johnson’s team improved to 2-0 on the season. The Bucs are back home on Sept. 20 to face Newark East Side, beginning at 7 p.m.

Belleville will be favored to defeat East Side, and if it does, this would mark the first time since 1982 that a Belleville football team opened consecutive seasons with a 3-0 record. The ’81 and ’82 teams both lost in week four of those respective seasons. Last year’s Belleville team opened 4-0, marking the first time in at least 60 years that happened.

Belleville High football team returns home on Sept. 20 to play Newark East Side.

Johnson was pleased with his team’s victory. The Bucs had opened the season on Sept. 6 by defeating Tenafly, 17-14.

“We’re getting there,” said Johnson. “I liked the way we won the Tenafly game. A year ago, we might lose a close game like that. This time, we competed and got the win. Against Dickinson, I thought our offense opened up more and took advantage of scoring opportunities.

“I know they’re games that we’re favored to win, but it’s also important to play well and show improvement, and that’s what I’m seeing, which is the most important thing.”

Leigh, a junior tailback, had anther monster game for Belleville. In the season opener, he rushed for 216 yards and followed that up with a second straight game of over 200 yards rushing, along with multiple touchdowns.

His performance invoked memories of Frank Fazzini and Mike Murphy, each of whom rushed for over 1,000 yards in a season (Murphy did it twice) and had multiple games in excess of 200 yards rushing for Belleville nearly 40 years ago.

Jeremy Robinson had a good game for Belleville, rushing for 37 yards and scoring a touchdown and Jiustino Cecere returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.

Belleville quarterback Arturo Berly also threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Ray Leak. Pedro Almeida also continued his solid kicking by converting all five of his point-after attempts. Almeida was also perfect in the Tenafly game, converting a pair of point after kicks and also booting what was the eventual game-wining field goal.

NOTES: Bucs improved to 2-2 against Dickinson. The Hudson County school had won the first two meetings, in 2013 and 2014, with Belleville prevailing the past two seasons.

Belleville is 7-2 against Newark East Side since the rivalry was renewed in 2008. East Side last won against the Bucs in 2017, 32-30, at Schools Stadium.

The Bucs will be on the road on Sept. 28, to play Ferris, at Caven Point, then return home on Oct. 4 to face an old rival, in Kearny, at 7 p.m.

By mike051893