A look at sports, politics, A Summer Place at Margate, Montgomery Inn ribs, Rigatoni Quattro Formaggi at Patsy's, Air Force Academy football, 90210, the Cardinals and Rays, The Godfather, Jaws and Airplane! trivia, Hooters wings, the Browns first Super Bowl, or whatever else comes up….
The Wayne Hills High School cheerleading team is enjoying a tremendous competitive 2019-2020 season.
“We are in a new division year, the All Music Mega division,” said coach Amanda Mascaro. “We have 22 girls on our team.”
Mascaro and Allie Giannini are the team’s coaches.
The Patriots first competition this season was on Jan. 11, at Montville High School
“We earned first place and won grand champions for the high school session,” Mascaro said proudly. “This means we had the highest score of all the high schools, across all divisions.”
A day later, the team won gold again, at Saddle Brook High.
“We earned first place, and had the second highest score of the entire session. We missed Grand Champs by one tenth of a point,” said Mascaro.
The team has been putting in a lot of work since last summer, according to Mascaro.
“We have been working really hard this season,” she said. “We started choreographing the routine back in August. Since then we have been working on our stunts and tumbling.
“High School cheer is very competitive, and you have to keep improving and increasing your difficulty week after week. Last year we took over the team and our motto became ‘Stronger than Ever’. This year, we are ‘Pushing the Limits’.”
At the end of January, the Patriots will head to Florida for the All Out Nationals.
“We can’t wait to keep improving our routine before we go to Florida,” said Mascaro.
The team roster features seniors Samantha Facciollio, Amanda Ferguson, Delaney May and Ashley Peyser.
The juniors are Elizabeth Alechammas, Olivia Monisera and Amber Servidio while the sophomore class features Lucy Bonczek, Cassandra Contella, Amy Farias, Julianna Jaffe, Victoria Kalendowicz, Kayla Sanchez and Natalie Scanlon.
The freshmen are Ava Ablaschai, Ava Bergman, Dani Brunetti, Carli Imparato, Ava Pereira, Olivia Shultz and Roxanne Vasilopolous.
The Passaic Valley High winter track program is enjoying a lot of success this winter.
Head coach Joel Thornton has been pleased with the turnout of student-athletes, as well as the performances of the Hornets in various invitationals.
“The program is moving in the right direction,” said Thornton. “This year we have about 40 athletes returning to the program, 20 new freshmen and 18 new upperclassmen. The team is sitting around 80 student-athletes.:
The coaching staff consists of assistant coaches Al Cappello and Erick Getz while the volunteer coaches are Walter Bleuler, Brandon Rizzo, Steven Rigamonti and Ken Burke.
“It is a great staff and everyone is working together to build the winter program as well as the spring and fall,” said Thornton. “The team has been working very hard, getting ready for competition.”
In the first week of competition, at the Season Opener Invitational, the runners captured 14 individual medals and 17 relay medals.
“It was an awesome night for the team, watching them win their races and knowing that all of their hard work paid off,” said Thornton.
Finishing first for PV were Zuania Victoria and Jessier Soriano (800 meters), Leith Matari (55 hurdles) and Katherine Cottone (1600 meters). Akram Lechguar finished second while Temoc Victoria and Chris Burden finished third in their respective events.
Thornton also noted that the throwers had an excellent start, at the Wayne Valley shot put meet.
“The team captured 15 medals, including six varsity medals, four novice and five freshmen,” said Thornton.
Finishing first for PV were Kyle Kuren, Kristina Martir, Zemi Victoria and Steven Costic. Victoria Pardi, Daniel Kania, Alessia Marotta and Haifa Mustafa finished second.
The throwers had another shot put meet at Wayne Valley.
“This time, the team earned eight medals, which brings the throwers medal total up to 24,” said Thornton. “The team is really coming together and everyone is throwing their best and hitting personal records.”
On the varsity level, Pardi finished first, with a personal best throw of 36’1″.
“That throw put her on the third best girl thrower of all time (at PV),” said Thornton of Pardi.
On the novice level, Julie Garrity took fourth, with a personal best of 24′ 2 1/2″. On the freshman level Zemi Victoria and Costic placed first, Mustafa finished second and Joseph Tammasi took fifth.
At the Tom Zaccone Invitational, the team had four individual medal winners and eight relay winners.
Matari placed second in the freshman 55 hurdles and third in the frosh 800. Zuania Victoria was third in the 55 hurdles and Soriano placed fourth in the 600.
At the Paul Schwartz Invitational, Passaic Valley had six individual winners and one relay winner. Cottone was first in the freshman 800 and second in the freshman 200. Matari was second in the freshman 55 hurdles and fourth in the 800.
Zuania Victoria was second in the varsity 55 hurdles and her brother Temoc Victoria placed fourth in the novice 55 hurdles.
Lauren Koman set a new record in the 600 meters, with a time of 1:54, eclipsing the old record by two seconds.
The 4×800 team set a new record with a time of 9:01. The team consisted of Soriano, Frank Koch, Matir and Steven Garrity and broke the old mark by an astounding 13 seconds.
The 4×200 relay team of Eddie Gonzalez, Mounier Mansoor, Javoun Bloomfield and Vincent Muoio also set a new record, with a time of 1:39.
It’s been a very good season, so far, for the Passaic Valley High wrestling team.
Second-year head coach Joe Wassel guided the Hornets to a third place finish at the Passaic County Tournament, which was held on Jan. 25, at West Milford High. Passaic County Tech won the title, ending DePaul’s seven-year championship run. Clifton finished second while Wayne Valley took fourth and Lakeland, fifth.
“I’m really proud of these kids,” said Wassel, whose team was also 10-3 in dual matches. “They give me a great effort, every day in practice, and then in the matches. They listen, they work well together and truly appreciate being a part of a team. You can see it in everything they do.
“They’re tough kids and good kids. They give it all they’ve got, and that’s all I can ask for. That’s why this season has been such an enjoyable experience for me and the coaching staff.”
Wassel has also been impressed with his team’s overall depth.
“Every weight class, we’ve got a guy who goes out there and wrestles a quality match,” the coach said. “Just about every kid in our lineup has a .500, or better record. That says a lot.”
Danny Hasbani won the 220-pound championship for PV, with a 2-1 decision over top-seeded Yosue Gomez of Passaic Tech in the title bout. Hasbani improved to 19-1 on the season.
Matt Ciarlo was Passaic Valley’s other county champ, winning the 195-pound title, by fall, over Joey Heisler of West Milford in the second period. Ciarlo’s record after the county championship match was 17-4.
Passaic Valley’s Guy Fontana (16-5) finished second at 285 pounds after dropping a close match to Wayne Valley’s Jordan Botero, 2-1, in overtime. PV’s other medal winner was Connor Kerwin (15-7), who defeated Wayne Valley’s Michael Antonuccio, 8-4, in the third place bout.
On Jan. 22, the Hornets edged a very good Fair Lawn team in a Big North Conference bout, 34-29.
“It was a big win for our team,” said Wassel. “Fair Lawn is always good and that’s a win which should help us qualify for the state sectionals.”
PV got wins from Colby Sellitto (132 pounds), Nick Vasta (145), Justin Castaneda (152), Hasbani, Fontana, Kerwin and Hunter Chiavola, who clinched the match with a 7-3 win at 113 pounds.
Of the Hornets 10-3 record, two of the losses came down to the final bout, against Nutley and Wayne Valley.
“We’re 10-3, and were close to 12-1 and winning a conference championship,” said Wassel. “But we came up short at Nutley and then against Wayne Valley. We’ve also won some close matches, so our kids are learning what it takes.
“And like I said, I’m really happy with these kids. They’re a great group.”
Coming off a state championship in the 2018-2019 season and losing a number of key wrestlers from that squad, Wayne Valley High wrestling coach Todd Schroeder knew this season would be a challenge for a young, but talented team.
The Indians turned in a good performance at the Passaic County Tournament, on Jan. 25, finishing fourth, in a strong field. Elijah Lugo and Jordan Botero captured championships at 152 and 285 pounds respectively. Lugo also won his 100th career match in the quarterfinal round of the county tournament.
Andy Roth finished second at 113 pounds, Adam Zindaki took third at 126 pounds while fourth place finishers for the Indians included Michael Antonuccio (106), Attila Valy (120) and Ryan Colella (145).
Wayne Valley clinched a Big North conference title with an exciting victory over Passaic Valley, 32-30, on Jan. 15, in Little Falls. The Indians had already defeated Fair Lawn, Wayne Hills, Lakeland and West Milford in league action, heading into the PV match.
“We’re a young team,” said Schroeder. “Getting a conference title is a good thing for our program. It’s been a few years since we won one of these. I’m proud of what these kids have accomplished. We’re inconsistent at times, but that’s a young team for you.”
Among the big wins for Wayne Valley was a come-from-behind 36-35 thriller over Fair Lawn, on Dec. 23, when Dakota Delisle recorded a pin in the final bout, at 220 pounds, to give the Indians a dramatic victory.
“Dakota is an example of the kind of kids we have this year,” said Schroeder. “He works hard and is still learning the sport. We’ll continue to get better as the season progresses.”
Wayne Valley will have a busy month of February, including a possible berth in the state sectionals, and then the big run to the end of the season, at the districts and regions, leading up to a weekend at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, in early March.
Jay Tiseo has long worn the red and white of Bloomfield High, both as a student-athlete and later a coach at his alma mater.
But now, Tiseo is ready to make a change, and while he’s at a new school, he’s also home again.
Tiseo was recently named the head baseball coach at Passaic Valley, succeeding John Mazzo. He has also been hired as an educator at PV.
“I’m very excited about coming to Passaic Valley,” said Tiseo, who resides in Woodland Park with his wife, Christine, and daughters, Isabel and Patricia. “Bloomfield has obviously been a big part of my life, but this is going to be a nice move for me, since I live in the community now.”
Tiseo, 40, played football and baseball at Bloomfield High for the legendary coach Mike Carter. He then went on to play baseball at William Paterson University. Tiseo later coached baseball at his college alma mater.
In addition, Tiseo was also an assistant football coach at Bloomfield High, where Carter continues to hold the head job.
“I learned a lot from Coach Carter,” said Tiseo. “I’m ready for this opportunity. I already know there are some excellent coaches and educators at Passaic Valley. It’s a really nice community.”
Tiseo was scheduled to meet with the 2020 Hornets on Jan. 15.
“The season will be here before you know it,” he said. “We have a trip to Florida (April 9-14) and a busy schedule leading up to that.”
Passaic Valley begins practice in early March. The team opens the regular season, at home, on April 1, against Clifton.
Tiseo is excited about the three communities which lead into Passaic Valley.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the younger kids in Woodland Park, Little Falls and Totowa play and I want them to be excited about coming to PV and playing varsity baseball eventually.”
The youth program in town for his daughters, in softball, has already been a big hit.
“My kids love playing for the Sting,” said Tiseo. “And (PV varsity softball coach) Kathy (Hill) is as good as they get. She’s such a great coach and a better person.”
Meeting the baseball players was something Tiseo was looking forward to.
“I already know what quality kids they are,” the coach said. “They’ve had success here over the years and I want to continue building on that.”
Passaic Valley athletic director Joe Benvenuti is very happy with Tiseo’s appointment.
“I really believe Jay will do a great job here,” said Benvenuti. “He’s a young, aggressive coach and a good educator. We’re happy to have him as part of our community and wish him the very best.”
With an eye toward her future, as well as recognizing the past, Nutley High’s Abby Scheidel joined an exclusive club, by scoring her 1,000th career point, in a game on Jan. 13, at Payne Tech, in Newark.
Scheidel, a senior who will play play Muhlenberg College this fall, converted a 3-point basket to put her over the 1,000 point plateau for her career. She is just the seventh female in school history to score 1,000, or more. Tracy Dixon, Sarah Clarke, Kim DiVincenzo, Gina Pollitt, Blair Watson and Courtney Wilde eclipsed the mark.
Dixon was the first to do it, in 1981, and Wilde the most recent, having accomplished it last winter for the Raiders.
“It means a lot,” said a smiling Scheidel after her team defeated Newark Academy, at home, on Jan. 14, 55-38. “I played on the same team with Courtney Wilde and I know the history of the program and the players who scored 1,000. I remember watching Blair Watson play. She was tremendous. To be a part of that is really special.”
Scheidel needed 10 points to reach 1,000 in the game at Payne Tech.
“It seemed like I was stuck on nine for a while in that game,” she said with a laugh. “It was good to get that basket.”
Scheidel finished with 17 points against Payne Tech, then scored 20 in the win over Newark Academy. Heading into Nutley’s 6 p.m. game at Mount St. Dominic on Jan. 17, she had 1,027 career points, and counting.
Joining Sarah Clarke on the 1,000 point list was especially gratifying.
“Sarah went to Muhlenberg College and that’s where I’m going,” said Scheidel, who plans to play basketball on the collegiate level. “So it’s nice to have my name with her.”
Nutley improved to 6-5 on the season with the win over Newark Academy. Liana Minichini, a freshman, scored 18 points and Jaden Long finished with eight points for Nutley. The win was Raiders’ sixth in its last eight games.
‘We’re starting to come around,” said Nutley coach Larry Mitschow. “We were 0-3 out of the gate, but the kids are doing a good job and you can see the chemistry.”
Scheidel likes what she’s seeing from the team.
“I think the Verona game (a 60-40 Nutley win on Jan. 7) was a turning point for us,” said Scheidel, the daughter of Denise and David Scheidel. “We’re much more comfortable with the offense than at the beginning of the season. We had a good win against Newark Academy today and hopefully we can carry that momentum.”
Nutley will host Columbia, on Jan. 18 at 2:30 p.m. and travels to Glen Ridge on Jan. 21, at 4 p.m.
“Duty,” “Honor,” “Country”—those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points to build courage when courage seems to fail, to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith, to create hope when hope becomes forlorn.
Douglas MacArthur, 1962.
On Jan. 31, 2020, the United States Military Academy in West Point will take its wrestling team to West Orange High, for ‘Senior Night’, in a match against Lehigh University, starting at 7 p.m.
The match will also honor a former West Orange Mountaineer wrestler, Christopher Morgan, who would have been a senior at West Point this year, and was a member of the school’s wrestling team. For more information on Christopher Morgan’s life and the foundation which now bears his name, log onto https://cjmorganfoundation.org/
Christopher Morgan’s time on Earth was too short, but his legacy and passion for life continues to inspire his family, as well as countless friends and teammates.
Morgan, a 2015 graduate of West Orange High School, where he was a standout athlete, was a junior at the United States Military Academy, in West Point, NY, when he lost his life during a training exercise on June 6, 2019. He was 22 years old.
Morgan’s passing stunned thousands in the local community, as well as his classmates at West Point. Over 1,500 attended his funeral, at West Point, including former United States president William Jefferson Clinton, who spoke about Christopher, known to many as CJ.
CJ is the oldest of four children, born to April and Christopher Morgan. The couple had met while students at the University of Northern Illinois. Both April and Christopher grew up in the Chicago area.
CJ’s love of the Military started at an early age.
“My cousin graduated from West Point, in 2001, when CJ was just 5 years old,” recalled April Morgan, during a recent interview. “CJ just loved West Point, from that moment on. We had no idea what West Point was about, up until that day. I remember CJ running onto the field (at Michie Stadium), after the ceremonies, and really taking in the environment.”
Mrs. Morgan’s cousin is now a Lt. Colonel in the United States Army. The Morgan family has had other family members in the Military, including a grandfather who served in the Navy.
The Morgans continued to reside in Illinois until Mr. Morgan’s job moved the family to the Metropolitan area, in 2011.
“CJ was a freshman in high school when we moved to West Orange,” said Christopher Morgan, CJ’s dad. “We really liked the area right away.”
CJ took an interest in wrestling at West Orange, while also excelling for the football team. By his junior year, CJ was establishing himself as a standout on the wrestling mat, and in his senior year, he would advance to the state championships at Boardwalk Hall, in Atlantic City, where he earned an elusive state medal, as well as winning an Essex County, district and regional championship. Despite his size (6’0″, 175 pounds), CJ was also a standout lineman for the West Orange football team.
Morgan’s wrestling coach at West Orange, Stephan Zichella, knew he had someone special in CJ.
“I’ve been very fortunate to have some tremendous kids come through this program,” said Zichella. “But to be honest, there was no one like Christopher Morgan. What an incredible young man, both in the classroom and in athletics.”
Morgan’s prowess was also in the field of music.
“Not many knew that CJ played the trombone,” said his dad, proudly. “There would be wrestling matches where he’d compete, then head off to play the trombone in the school band. CJ started playing in the fourth grade and continued through the eighth grade. When he got to high school, he gave up the trombone, for a little while, then got back into it later in high school.”
CJ’s love of the Military in high school resulted in his being a part of the inaugural ROTC class at West Orange High. And the passion for his family spoke volumes.
“The driving force behind the ROTC program at West Orange High was Dylan Pennell, who was a year older than CJ,” said Christopher Morgan. “Dylan went on to the United States Naval Academy. Dylan and CJ were also teammates on the West Orange wrestling team. Dylan got a year in the ROTC program and CJ got two years.”
CJ was very close to his grandmother.
“When my mother passed away, CJ eulogized her at the funeral,” said Mrs. Morgan, wistfully. “He was our oldest, and he wanted to do it. He did a good job. When CJ was born, Chris and I were still getting established in our own lives. Consequently, he spent a lot of time with my mother, as we finished school. The two of them were very close.”
CJ passed away Just seven months after his grandmother’s funeral.
The bond between CJ and his siblings was tight. The Morgans’ second child, a son, Colin, is now a freshman at West Point, where he’s a member of the boxing team. Colin, a 2019 graduate of West Orange High, is named after former Secretary of State, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Colin Powell.
“CJ and Colin were different personalities,” said April Morgan. “They were very close, but just different in their approach. Colin is one of those who can show up and get an ‘A’ on a test. CJ had work a little harder. But they both had their goals and were on their way to reaching them.”
“Colin has taken a liking to boxing,” said Christopher Morgan. “He’s got a 2-0 record and is about 160 pounds. He’s enjoying his time at West Point. He has aspirations for medical school one day, but that could change. He’s just a freshman.”
When CJ, who was pursuing a career in law, was a student, Thanksgiving holidays at the Morgan household was quite an event.
“CJ must have brought home about 15 classmates,” said Mrs. Morgan, with a laugh. “We went through a lot of food during Thanksgiving. And they would stay over for a few days during the holiday weekend. Colin doesn’t bring as many home, yet, but we still have a good time.”
The couple also has two daughters, Chase, who is a freshman at West Orange High and manager of the wrestling team while the youngest, Camryn, is 10-years-old and taking an interest in dance.
“CJ and Camryn were very close,” said Mrs. Morgan. “I guess it was an oldest to youngest thing. Don’t get me wrong, all my children are close, but there was a special bond between them. Camryn was just 9 when her brother passed.”
CJ was not only a talented student, athlete and musician, but also a big movie fan, according to his mom.
“He was a movie buff,” said April. “Alfred Hitchcock and The Twilight Zone were among his favorites. When he had the time, he’d watch for hours.”
CJ Morgan’s legacy will always shine brightly.
“He was my hero,” said his dad, with a smile. “He made us look good as parents.”
“CJ’s hero was his dad,” added Mrs. Morgan. “The two of them were something special.”
“April and I were young parents when CJ was born,” recalled Mr. Morgan. “The respect factor was always there, but we could also relate well, too. CJ was a respectful young man, and that’s what made us proud, more than anything. He was good to people.”
Zichella, West Orange’s wrestling coach, remains grateful just to have coached CJ.
“Those of us who knew CJ were blessed to have been around him for 22 years,” the coach said. “I believe he’s on to a higher calling. We won’t know, now, what that is, but one day, we will.”
It was Zichella and the head wrestling coach at West Point, Kevin Ward, who put together the idea to have Senior Day, 2020, held at West Orange High, on Jan. 31.
“Stefan and Coach Ward were the ones who made it happen,” said Christopher, who is a regular at West Orange practices and also makes time to visit the West Point wrestling team. “We’re just happy be a part of it, and to have our son remembered.”
The CJ Morgan Foundation is inspired by love and character.
“CJ Morgan made it his business to live a life of example through living his faith and encouraging others,” it is written on the Foundation’s site. “Keep his vision of uplifting leadership alive by making a difference in a student’s life, by donating to the Christopher “CJ” Morgan Memorial Scholarship Fund.”
“We’re doing okay,” said Christopher Morgan. “The holidays were tough, but our family is strong. We’re so grateful to so many people, including the West Orange High wrestling and football families and so many people in town.”
Duty, Honor and Country, along with a strong Faith, love of family and commitment to a higher purpose will continue to define CJ Morgan. And that love will carry on, to CJ’s parents, siblings, classmates and countless friends.
It’s been a dream for Max Wassel to be a high school head football coach, and the soon-to-be 28-year-old will realize that vision as he was named the new coach at his alma mater, Passaic Valley High School.
Wassel succeeds Chet Parlavecchio, who held the job for 10 seasons, spanning two different tenures. Parlavecchio stepped down as coach following the 2019 season.
Wassel’s appointment to head coach was made official on Jan. 7 by the Board of Education.
“I’m really excited,” said Wassel, who played football and earned his undergraduate degree at Wagner College, in Staten Island, NY.
He then went on to be a graduate assistant football coach, at Wagner. and attained an MBA. “I’ve learned so much from Coach Parlavecchio the past three years, as a part of his staff. I’m looking forward to meeting with the kids later this week, and then building my own coaching staff for what should be an exciting season.”
Being a head football coach has been a long-time aspiration for Wassel.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted,” said Max. “I’m a defensive-minded guy, first, which means I’m looking forward to building a staff that will have some strong offensive minds, too.”
Wassel was the freshman football coach at PV in 2017, then was a varsity assistant the past two seasons.
“When Coach Parlavecchio approached me about being a freshman coach, I jumped on it,” Wassel recalled. “You won’t find a more knowledgeable coach than Chet. I’m grateful to him for everything I’ve learned.”
Wassel, an educator, is a big advocate for weight training.
“Our time in the weight room will be important,” he said. “We’ll be getting started soon. I know it’s just January, but you know how quickly the time goes by. Coach Parlavecchio put a lot of time into the weight room and it really helped the team get better.”
Passaic Valley’s 2020 varsity schedule will have a decided new look. While Wayne Valley, Lakeland and West Milford will be back on the slate, there are a bunch of new schools in Vernon, Jefferson, Sparta, Northern Highlands and Randolph. The Hornets are scheduled to open the 2020 season, at Vernon, on the weekend of Sept. 11 and will compete in the Patriot White Division.
“There are some new opponents, for sure,” said Wassel. “And a little more travel, but that’s fine. We’ll work hard and prepare. We have some talented kids coming back. Next year’s seniors were freshmen on my first team here, so it’s been good watching them grow up and be leaders for next season.”
Wassel’s older brother, Joe, is the head wrestling coach and an educator at Passaic Valley.
A 2010 PV graduate, Max Wassel played varsity football and baseball for the Hornets. He was a fullback and linebacker for the Hornets and helped the 2009 team advance to the sectional championship game at Giants Stadium. Wassel played three seasons of football at PV for coach Angelo DeSalvo and in his senior year for Al Cappello.
Now, a little over 10 years later, Max Wassel is the head football coach at PV.
“That’s pretty crazy when you think about it,” said Wassel. “You’re right, 10 years I was playing here, and now, I’m the team’s head coach. It’s really something special.”
Wassel’s time at Wagner College was special.
“I didn’t get many offers to play college football,” he recalled. “When I got to Wagner, I felt like I could play at that level, and it worked out good for me. I went from a partial scholarship to a full scholarship, was voted captain, and was part of a conference championship team. I also came back from a torn ACL to play a fifth year.
“My message to to our players is hard work goes a long way in playing this game. Good effort, athletic ability and a strong attitude go a long way.”
Passaic Valley athletic director Joe Benvenuti was pleased that Wassel is the team’s new coach.
“We’re very excited to have Max as our new head football coach,” said Benvenuti. “He’s a hard-working young man who will relate well to our players. He’s been a part of the staff the past three years, so the kids know him well. Max’s energy and knowledge of the game will go a long way.”