Joe Rondi and Bence Polgar make it official, as Wayne Hills senior captains will play D-1 football next season, at Syracuse U. and University of Buffalo respectively

With the early signing period for high school football players to sign their collegiate letters of intent in place, Wayne Hills announced the signing of two outstanding lineman to NCAA Division 1 institutions.

Senior captains Joe Rondi and Bence Polgar will play college football at Syracuse University and the University of Buffalo, respectively. Both signed their letters on Dec. 18, at Wayne Hills High, in front of family and friends.

Rondi will play on the defensive line for the Orangemen. The youngest of four children born to Jennifer and John Rondi, Joe had the opportunity to meet with a number of outstanding football schools, before deciding on Syracuse.

Joe Rondi signs his letter of intent to play at Syracuse University as his proud family looks on, at Wayne Hills, on Dec. 18. (Click on photo for larger image)

“I appreciate all the opportunities I had to visit some great schools,” said Rondi. “In the end, there was something really special about Syracuse. I had made a verbal commitment there in May. The Syracuse coaches are great. I can’t wait to play for them.”

Rondi had a marvelous senior season for the Patriots, as he led the team to the North 1, Group 4 championship, along with a bowl game victory at MetLife Stadium, over Phillipsburg, to conclude an 11-2 season. Rondi played on both the offensive and defensive lines for the Patriots. He was a 2-year, 2-way starter for the team. In 2018, he finished with 92 tackles, 19 of which were for losses and also had nine quarterback sacks while forcing two fumbles.

For his career, Rondi had 153 tackles and 11 sacks. He earned multiple post-season accolades in 2018 and was also an excellent long snapper for Wayne Hills.

“I also have to thank (Wayne Hills head coach) Wayne Demikoff,” said Rondi. “‘Without Dem, I’m not here today talking about this moment. I’m very grateful.”

Polgar, the son of Aniko and Peter Polgar, is the youngest of three siblings in his family. Like Rondi, Bence had made his verbal commitment of the University of Buffalo a while back.

Bence Polgar and his dad, Pete, enjoy the moment as Bence signed his letter of intent to play football at the University of Buffalo. (Click on photo for larger image)

“I knew all along that Buffalo was going to be my choice,” said Polgar. “I made my official visit after our (high school) season ended and loved it. I had the chance to meet with the coaches, and some of my (future) professors, too, which was really nice. It was a great overall connection.”

Bence will play on the offensive line in college, either at guard, or center.

“I’ll be working on my footwork during the off season, as well as training hard,” said Polgar, who plans to major in Political Science. “I know the hard work and commitment needed to excel at the next level, and I’m ready for that challenge. And I’ll be working hard on the mental approach to the game, as well, which is so important.”

Two outstanding players for a championship team at Wayne Hills, Joe Rondi (left) and Bence Polgar. (Click on photo for larger image)

Bence was a 3-year starter on the offensive line, which paved the way for over 12,500 yards of offense and averaged over 30 points a game, as well as winning a pair of state sectional crowns and this year’s bowl game. On defense, Polgar had 57 tackles this season and two quarterback sacks.

Polgar also set a Wayne Hills single season and career record with four blocked kicks. He was also a huge part of the 2015 undefeated Wayne Hills freshman team and booted the winning field goal against Ramapo in a battle of freshman unbeatens that season.

Wayne Hills head coach Wayne Demikoff was ecstatic for both players.

“This is a big moment for Bence and Joe,” said Demikoff. “They’ve been a big part of all our successes the past three years, and I wish them all the best in the next phase of their lives. Their accomplishments here will never be forgotten. Joe and Bence were tremendous team captains this year, along with Joseph Mongelli, Jaaron  Hayek and Anthony Puntolillo.”

 

 

 

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By mike051893

Nearly 45 years later, Abdel Anderson’s greatness has never been questioned at Belleville High

With a new basketball season on the horizon, it’s easy to reminisce about some of the glory days of the game at Belleville High.

Without question, the best player I ever saw at BHS was Abdel Anderson, who starred for the Bellboys from 1972-1975. Abdel would become the first 1,000 point scorer at Belleville, when he eclipsed the mark in a game against Orange High, on Jan. 7, 1975, as Belleville won, 78-63.

Abdel would finish with over 1,300 points in his 3-year high school varsity career. That was back before the 3-point shot was introduced to high school hoops, and was also in an era when freshmen didn’t play varsity basketball.

College scouts from throughout the country would be at Belleville games back in the ’74-75 season. Home games were complete sell outs, even the afternoon weekday contests.

Abdel Anderson (far right) here with former teammates (left to right) Rich Baker, Don Roll and John Megna, along with head coach Dan Grasso (second from right) in a 2010 photo. (Click on photo for larger image)

The 6’7″ Anderson opened that season on Dec. 13, 1974, leading the Bellboys to a 68-44 win over Garfield before a packed (and I mean packed) house in Belleville. Abdel was 16-for-17 shooting that night and 4-for-4 from the foul line for 36 points. He fouled out late in the game, to a standing ovation.

Anywhere Abdel went that season, a crowd seemed to follow. And if you knew the typical Belleville kid back then, the average height was 5’7″ while Abdel stood a foot taller. He was the most popular man in the school, and despite the fame, he never let it go to his head. He’d be nice to everyone, especially when just about every kid just wanted to shake his hand and congratulate him on a nice game.

Belleville accomplished a lot that season, including the first winning record in a decade, as head coach Dan Grasso’s team finished 13-10. The team also qualified for the Essex County Tournament, which back then was by invitation only, with just 16 teams in the tourney.

Abdel, here in this February, 1975 photo, during a game at Belleville, against Nutley. (Click on photo for larger image)

Abdel’s last game that season would be in the state tournament, on March 7, 1975. Belleville lost that night, to Montclair, in a state tournament game, at Linden High.

While the season was completed, the accolades continued for quite some time. Anderson would receive All-American accolades a month later, and again, this was before All-American honors were awarded by numerous periodicals.

After a lot of contemplating, Anderson chose Rutgers to continue his basketball career and a year later, he was a part of the Scarlet Knights squad which made the Final Four, en route to a 31-0 start. Rutgers lost in the national semifinals to Michigan that year and were 31-2.

Abdel had a great career at Rutgers, where he’s still a part of the record books some 40 years later. He would go on to a successful professional career in the Union County prosecutors office.

And finally, in 2011, Abdel’s number 15 was officially retired by Belleville High.

So, as a new season begins, a look back at Abdel Anderson’s greatness, on and off the court.

 

By mike051893

New team color, same intensity defines Rob Carcich, as he begins a new coaching challenge at Wayne Hills

There was a time that Rob Carcich would have never thought of himself as the head boys basketball coach at Wayne Hills.

After all, the one-time Passaic Valley head coach, who had more than his share of tremendous games against Hills, had built a tremendous program with the Hornets for over a decade.

But times change, and when Carcich, who was in an administrative role the past two years, found the opportunity to coach again too tempting, Wayne Hills was the ideal spot.

Practice began with three days of tryouts before the Thanksgiving holiday. The team then began regular practices on Nov. 26, and will begin a busy pre-season with scrimmages, starting on Dec. 4, when the Patriots host East Orange Campus, at 4 p.m. Scrimmages follow at DePaul, on Dec. 6 and at home against Ridgewood, on Dec. 8, at 11 a.m. The final scrimmage is set for Dec. 11, when Nutley visits.

The regular season begins on Dec. 14, when Teaneck comes to town for a 7 p.m. game.

Carcich is well known as a defensive coach, employing his stingy 2-3 defense built around speed and intelligence.

“We’re gradually working the 2-3 into our practices,” said Carcich. “You have to remember, I came onto the job (in October), so there was no summer time to get the kids acclimated. Right now, I want them to get comfortable with my defensive philosophy, and eventually, we’ll get the 2-3 rolling.

“I’ll tell you what, these are absolutely great kids to work with. And they’re talented. I like the speed, the size and effort in practice, as well as how smart these kids are, on and off the court. I couldn’t be happier. We had an excellent turnout of players, including a lot of freshmen, and there’s the possibility that a few freshmen will get the chance to play JV and varsity right away.”

Wayne Hills head boys basketball coach Rob Carcich gives instruction, as assistants Matt Aquno (standing, left) and Mike “Moose” Moussab listen in. (Click on photo for larger image)

When Carcich took over at Passaic Valley in 2004, the program had struggled, winning just six times in its last 69 games. In his first season in Little Falls, he guided PV to a 9-12 mark, and then followed with 11 straight winning seasons, including a state sectional title in 2007. There were also dominant teams in 2010, 2011 and 2012.

At Hills, he takes over a team that has won 20 games the past three seasons, including a Passaic County Tournament crown last season. But this is a new team for Carcich, and a new style.

“The kids are picking it up pretty well,” said Carcich. “They work hard in practice. I make corrections and they seem to pick up on it.”

While the team is getting established, a few new players should make their way to the hardwood on Dec. 3, as football season was set to conclude on Nov. 30.

“I wouldn’t expect them to come in a day after playing a (Bowl Game) against Phillipsburg, at MetLife Stadium,” said Carcich, with a chuckle. “I’m sure they could use the weekend off, but we’re expecting the football kids to be in practice in early December. And they will be a big help, as well.”

Carcich’s coaching staff includes assistants Mike Moussab, Kevin Milack and Matt Aquino. Milack and Aquino were on head coach Kevin Grimes’ staff last year while Moussab was an assistant to Carcich at PV a few years back and most recently coached girls basketball at Caldwell High.

‘It’s a really good staff,” said Carcich. “I’ve known Mike and Matt for a long time and it took about five minutes to realize what an energetic young coach Kevin is, and very knowledgeable, as well.

“This is a tremendous situation for me, to be back in coaching, and working with these guys. We have some good scrimmages lined up and before you know it, we’ll be playing Teaneck in the opener. It’s exciting.”

 

 

 

By mike051893

A dad’s love and pride, as Wayne Demikoff Sr. reflects on his son’s coaching accomplishments

A travel snafu made it impossible for Wayne Demikoff Sr. to attend the North Group 4 bowl game, at MetLife Stadium, on Nov. 30, between Wayne Hills and Phillipsburg.

It was especially difficult for Mr. Demikoff, who had wanted to see his son, also named Wayne, and the head coach at Wayne Hills, coach the Patriots one more time in 2018.

Wayne Demikoff and his dad, Wayne, share a moment after a big win earlier this season. (Click on photo for larger image)

Wayne Hills had already won the school’s 10th state sectional title on Nov. 16, defeating defending champion Old Tappan, at home. But with the new format of a ‘bowl game’, between the two sectional champions in the northern half of Group 4, it meant the Patriots would play one more game, at MetLife Stadium.

Wayne Demikoff, his dad and sons Tyler and Troy, before a game this season. (Click on photo for larger image)

While Wayne Sr., could not attend, he had sent a heartfelt message to his son, which was read to Wayne, by his eldest son, prior to kickoff,at MetLife. The message was clear.

“Although I am 1300 miles away, I want you to know that I will be watching your game with great pride. I am proud of you, your coaching staff, and all of your players.

“You and your staff have worked hard to prepare your team for this first ever bowl game. The team is ready. I want you to know that I am proud of you and all your efforts as I watched you grow as an outstanding coach and an outstanding individual.

“GO HILLS.”

The bond between a father and son can sometimes be difficult. But there’s no doubting the pride and respect of a dad, to his son, and even more noteworthy, when that note was read by the third generation of Demikoffs, on the biggest stage for high school football.

After a state sectional championship for Wayne Hills, on Nov. 16, Wayne Demikoff Sr. congratulates his son. (Click on photo for larger image)

By mike051893

Pines Lake Elementary School in Wayne honors one of its own, in Lou Brandt; Wayne Hills football team donates food to less fortunate at school’s ‘Turkey Trot’

The Pines Lake Elementary School in Wayne held its seventh annual Turkey Trot on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, with the purpose, once again, to donate food to those less fortunate, who reside in the Pines Lake section of Wayne, as well as raising money during the holiday season.

This year’s Trot was especially heartfelt, as one of the school’s former students, Lou Brandt, recently passed away this Oct. 22, after a battle with cancer. Brandt was just 45 years old. He had played football at Wayne Hills and later at the University of Massachusetts.

Students at the Pines Lake School in Wayne celebrate a successful Turkey Trot. (Click on photo for larger image)

Denise Scalzitti, a teacher at Pines Lake, helped organize the first Turkey Trot, seven years ago.

“At the time, one of our custodians had died suddenly, and we wanted to do something to honor him,” recalled Scalzitti. “That first year, we donated money to St. Jude, because our custodian loved that charity. Since then, we’ve tried to remember different people associated with the school, as well as donating food to families who could use it around the Thanksgiving holiday.

“This year, with Lou’s passing, and he was once a student here, it seemed only appropriate to honor him.”

Brandt was a loyal follower of Wayne Hills football, long after he played for the Patriots and was a regular at the team’s annual father-son beefsteak, held on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

Several members of this year’s state sectional champion Wayne Hills football team participated in the Turkey Trot. The team also donated turkeys to the school, to go along with the food collected. The children, teachers and football players walked and ran around a path outside the school.

Wayne Hills football players, along with head coach Wayne Demikoff (standing second from right) donated turkeys to help those less fortunate. Denise Scalzitti, who organizes the Turkey Trot, is standing far left. (Click on photo for larger image)

“It was really something special today,” said Scalzitti. “(Wayne Hills head coach) Wayne (Demikoff) and the players couldn’t have been nicer. They brought turkeys and interacted so well with the kids during the Turkey Trot. Little kids really look up to high school athletes, and the Hills players were incredible. We were all so proud of them in winning a (state sectional) championship last week, and we all wished them luck when they go play at MetLife Stadium (on Nov. 30). Coach Demikoff and those players are always supporting a cause and trying to help others.”

Demikoff found the experience especially fruitful with the holiday approaching.

Wayne Hills won its 10th state sectional football championship on Nov. 16. 

“It’s very important that our players understand all the great things they have in life, and that there people struggling, in our own backyard,” said Demikoff. “Winning championships is what we strive for as a program, but that would mean nothing if our kids weren’t giving back to their community and representing themselves in a class manner. A championship character is what will help make these young men successful as fathers and husbands later on.

“It meant a great deal to be here today and I can’t thank Pines Lake School enough for donating money to a fund set up for Lou Brandt. Lou was a special guy.”

Wayne Hills won the North 1, Group 4 state sectional title on Nov. 16, defeating NV/Old Tappan, 20-13. It was the 10th state title for the program since 2002. The Patriots will play a North Group 4 Bowl Game, at MetLife, on Nov. 30, against Phillipsburg, at 8 p.m.

In addition to collecting food, the children raised nearly $400 toward the Lou Brand fund.

 

 

 

 

By mike051893

Annual George Zanfini Memorial Scholarship Fund Dinner, on Thanksgiving Eve, could have some extra juice to it this year, after an exciting ‘return’ of the Belleville-Nutley football game

 

The fourth annual George Zanfini Memorial Scholarship Fund Dinner will be held Thanksgiving Eve, Nov. 21, at the Chandelier in Belleville, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Phil Agosta, a Belleville High graduate, has worked hard to keep the dinner’s theme alive and thriving, with the focus always on the fabled Belleville-Nutley football rivalry. The dinner has had many formats, and has always been held on Thanksgiving Eve. The Fiorente Club hosted it for many years. When the Belleville-Nutley game was played on Columbus Day weekend, the dinner looked back on that year’s game.

Former Belleville High football coach John Senesky (right) was a guest speaker at a recent dinner. He was also a regular back when he was the team’s head coach. Senesky is joined in photo by Phil Agosta. (Click on photo for larger image)

In 1984, the football rivalry was moved to Thanksgiving Day, so the dinner on the night before had extra significance, as former Belleville and Nutley players would reminisce, and the current coaches would speak on the game’s importance.

The rivalry was moved back to Opening Day, in 2012 and discontinued after the 2015 game. However, the dinner has continued to thrive and this year, with the teams meeting on the gridiron on Nov. 3, there should be some extra energy, as Nutley won an exciting game, 20-13.

George Zanfini was a special man in Belleville and is missed today.  (Click on photo for larger image)

Zanfini was always a popular figure at the dinner, and never missed the event. Sadly in August 2015, the Township of Belleville was stunned by the passing of Zanfini, himself a coaching legend and a Belleville High graduate.

The varsity baseball field had been named after Zanfini since 2008. Zanfini was also a tremendous football coach. He and John Senesky had some tremendous freshman teams at Belleville for six years.

A collage of photos during Zanfini’s days as head baseball coach at BHS. (Click on photo for larger image)

After Zanfini’s passing, at the age of 72, the dinner was renamed in his memory.

“We started a scholarship fund in George’s name, which benefits students from Nutley and Belleville High,” said Agosta. “Mr. Zanfini was a teacher and coach at Belleville for 40 years. He always loved this dinner and was a regular on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

When George retired as a teacher in 2007, I wrote a long feature on his career. When he died in 2015, his family presented me with that article, which George had framed and kept in his Belleville home. (Click on photo for larger image)

“We’re hoping for another good turnout. The George Zanfini Scholarship is something we’re all very proud of.”

Tickets for the event are $50 per person, which includes a full buffet dinner, with beer, wine, soda and dessert. Tickets can be purchased on the night of the event.

Full tables of 10 can be reserved in advance by contacting Agosta at 973-980-5190.

 

 

By mike051893

76th Belleville-Nutley football game is set for Nov. 3, at the Oval; Here are plenty of facts and figures to get you ready for the game

Belleville and Nutley will meet for a 76th time on the gridiron on Nov. 3, at the Oval, in Nutley, starting at 1:30 p.m.

As with any series, there are plenty of key statistics and nostalgia which comes with the game itself. Here are some interesting tidbits for the fans, as they prepare for this years’ renewal.

Nutley leads the series, which began in 1924 and was  played continuously from 1944-2015, 52-19-4. The Raiders are 26-4-2 against Belleville since 1984, including 18 wins in the last 19 games and  an 11-game winning streak (1997-2007), the longest in the series.

For nearly 40 years, the game was played on, or around Columbus Day. In 1983, it was moved to Opening Day and the following year, the Belleville-Nutley game was moved to Thanksgiving, where it stood for the next 28 seasons. In 2012, it was moved to opening day and was Nutley’s season opener through 2015.

Belleville’s longest win streak in the series was six in a row from 1978 through 1983. Belleville’s 44-7 win in 1952 was its largest margin of victory in the series while Nutley’s 62-12 victory in 2015 was its largest margin of victory.

There have been 31 shutouts in the series, with Nutley accounting for 22. Among those shutouts was a scoreless tie in 1975, despite the fact that Belleville appeared to score two touchdowns, but both were called back because of penalties in a driving rainstorm at the Oval.

Guy Albanese turns upfield for good yardage in a game against Belleville, in 1975. The game ended in a scoreless tie, at the Oval, in a driving rain. (Click on photo for larger image) 

In 2009, the scoreboard almost exploded in a game won by Nutley, 58-36. Among the marks broken in that contest were most combined points in a game (94) and most points scored by the winning and losing team in a game.

There are four ties in the series, including back-to-back stalemates in 1992 and 1993. There has also been one overtime game in the rivalry, back in 1997, which Nutley won, 20-14.

Belleville will play at the Oval this year, seeking its first win there since 1983.

Former Belleville head coach, Chris Strumolo, played football at Nutley from 1988-1991, where he was 3-1 against Belleville and coached the Bucs from 2008-2010, where he was 1-2 against his former school. Rich SanFillipo played at Belleville from 1964-1966 (he was 1-1-1 as a player) and later coached the Raiders from 1990-1997, where he was 4-2-2 against his alma mater.

Belleville’s John Senesky has the most wins in the series as a head coach from either program. Senesky was 9-9-2 against the Raiders in 20 seasons. As a player for the Bellboys from 1960-1963, Senesky was 1-3 against his rival. When Belleville beat Nutley, 33-12, in 1962, Senesky scored a touchdown. In his senior year, 1963, Senesky broke his leg in the game against Nutley, but didn’t know it was broken for two weeks and continued to play.

Nutley’s Sandy Phillips was 8-1-1 against Belleville from 1955-1964.

Jim Kelly never lost against Belleville. A former Nutley player from 1973-1976, where his teams were 3-0-1 against the Bellboys, Kelly was 6-0 as a coach against the Bucs from 1998-2003.

Mario Cocchiola was also unbeaten as a coach against Belleville, compiling a 4-0-1 mark from 1973-1977.

Steve DiGregorio, played for the Raiders from 1975-1978 (he was 2-1-1 against the Bellboys and Bucs) and was 7-1 against Belleville as a Nutley head coach from 2004-2011. DiGregorio returned as head coach in 2017 and will look to tie Phillips as the all-time winningest Nutley coach in the rivalry, this Saturday.

Tom Basile was 4-0 against Belleville as a head coach, from 2012-2015.

Belleville’s last win the series came in 2008, when Strumolo, a first-year head coach, guided the Bucs to a 22-12 victory at Doc Ellis Field.

This season, Belleville head coach Jermain Johnson will coach in his first game in the rivalry.

Here are the scores of the first 75 Belleville-Nutley games.

1924: Nutley 7, Belleville 0.

1928: Nutley 12, Belleville 7.

1930: Nutley 2, Belleville 0.

1944: Nutley 6, Belleville 0.

1945: Belleville 7, Nutley 6.

1946: Nutley 7, Belleville 0.

1947: Belleville 7, Nutley 0.

1948: Nutley 37, Belleville 13.

1949: Belleville 7, Nutley 0.

1950: Belleville 6, Nutley 0.

1951: Nutley 7, Belleville 2.

1952: Belleville 44, Nutley 7.

1953: Belleville 12, Nutley 0.

1954: Nutley 26, Belleville 0.

1955: Nutley 21, Belleville 6.

1956: Nutley 13, Belleville 0.

1957: Nutley 13, Belleville 0.

1958: Nutley 19, Belleville 7.

1959: Nutley 7, Belleville 0.

1960: Nutley 34, Belleville 0.

1961: Nutley 20, Belleville 0.

1962: Belleville 33, Nutley 12.

1963: Nutley 19, Belleville 12.

1964: Nutley 6, Belleville 6 (tie).

1965: Belleville 14, Nutley 7.

1966: Nutley 13, Belleville 7.

1967: Nutley 38, Belleville 7.

1968: Nutley 14, Belleville 0.

1969: Nutley 33, Belleville 13.

1970: Nutley 23, Belleville 8.

1971: Belleville 7, Nutley 6.

1972: Nutley 7, Belleville 0.

1973: Nutley 21, Belleville 8.

1974: Nutley 7, Belleville 3.

1975: Belleville 0, Nutley 0 (tie).

1976: Nutley 14, Belleville 0.

1977: Nutley 7, Belleville 0.

1978: Belleville 31, Nutley 0.

1979: Belleville 7, Nutley 0.

1980: Belleville 13, Nutley 7.

1981: Belleville 26, Nutley 0.

1982: Belleville 10, Nutley 3.

1983: Belleville 12, Nutley 6.

1984: Nutley 19, Belleville 6.

1985: Nutley 14, Belleville 0.

1986: Belleville 27, Nutley 16.

1987: Nutley 14, Belleville 0.

1988: Nutley 38, Belleville 13.

1989: Nutley 6, Belleville 0.

1990: Belleville 21, Nutley 6.

1991: Nutley 28, Belleville 6.

1992: Nutley 7, Belleville 7 (tie).

1993: Belleville 14, Nutley 14 (tie).

1994: Nuitley 14, Belleville 6.

1995: Nutley 34, Belleville 0.

1996: Belleville 20, Nutley 0.

1997: Nutley 20, Belleville 14 (OT).

1998: Nutley 28, Belleville 0.

1999: Nutley, 17, Belleville 3.

2000: Nutley 28, Belleville 13.

2001: Nutley 14, Belleville 12.

2002: Nutley 41, Belleville 6.

2003: Nutley 34, Belleville 9.

2004: Nutley 27, Belleville 0.

2005: Nutley 44, Belleville 9.

2006: Nutley 28, Belleville 13.

2007: Nutley 15, Belleville 10.

2008: Belleville 22, Nutley 12.

2009: Nutley 58, Belleville 36.

2010: Nutley 29, Belleville 22. 
2011: Nutley 49, Belleville 14.
2012: Nutley 17, Belleville 12. 
2013: Nutley 45, Belleville 0. 
2014: Nutley 42, Belleville 0.

2015: Nutley 62, Belleville 12.

 

TOP 10 WINS BY BELLEVILLE, IN THE RIVALRY

No. 10-1971, Belleville 7, Nutley 6: Joe Lotriglio scored the Bellboys’ only touchdown in the first half and Belleville hung on for a 7-6 victory at the Nutley Oval.

No. 9-1983. Belleville 12, Nutley 6: After a generation of playing this rivalry on the third week of the season, it shifted to week five of the 1982 campaign, then on to opening weekend in 1983. The Bucs were in the midst of a dominant run in the rivalry. having won five straight from 1978-1982. In this game, Belleville opened a 12-0 lead into the fourth quarter before the Raiders cut the lead in half. Belleville went to a 12-6 victory.  Nutley would actually have a better overall season in ’83, qualifying for the playoffs for the first time in school history, under second year head coach Pete LaBarbiera. The Bucs had a solid season, finishing 6-3, but missed the playoffs.

This win by Belleville in ’83 marked the last time, to date, that the Bucs have beaten the Raiders at the Oval.

No. 8-1980, Belleville 13, Nutley 7: The Bucs were the heavy favorites in the first-ever night game between the two rivals, but the Raiders played really well in this week three contest. The game was tied at seven in the fourth quarter before Belleville quarterback John Melillo ran 45 yards for the winning score. The ’80 Bucs actually started slowly that season, but ended up with a nine game winning streak and a berth in the state sectional final at Giants Stadium. Many fans will recall that this game actually got the Bucs off and running.

No. 7-1975, Belleville 0, Nutley 0 (tie): A tremendous week three game in a steady downpour at the Oval ended up in a scoreless tie. Belleville had the better scoring opportunities, including what appeared to be a punt return for a touchdown by Anthony ‘Chipper’ Biafore, but the score was called back because of a clipping penalty. Nutley had a late chance to score, but the Bellboys defense held. This would be the only scoreless tie in the series’ history.

No. 6-1990. Belleville 21, Nutley 6: The Bucs’ offensive line would dominate this game, as Belleville snapped a three game losing streak to Nutley, at Doc Ellis Field. Carmen Spina was named Belleville’s MVP. The big play occurred in the first quarter, when Belleville blocked a punt and Billy Salvatore returned it for a touchdown. The ’90 Bucs would finish the season at 6-3. No Belleville team has won six games since.

No. 5-1996, Belleville 20, Nutley 0: In John Senesky’s final game as head coach after a record 20 seasons at the helm, Belleville played a solid game and beat Nutley for the first time in six years. The number 20 had a lot of meaning here, in that it was Senesky’s 20th season, with 20 seniors, in a 20-0 win.

No. 4-1986, Belleville 27, Nutley 16: The Bucs beat Nutley for the first time, ever, on Thanksgiving, as Jeff Spilsbury and Jim Dunphy paced the way to an impressive win. The Bucs led 27-0 at one point before Nutley scored two fourth quarter touchdowns. The win put a nice finish on a 6-3 season, that included six wins in the team’s last seven games. The Bucs also won an NNJIL title that season, the program’s last conference crown, to date.

No. 3-2008. Belleville 22, Nutley 12: No question, a huge win for a team that hadn’t beaten the Raiders in 12 years. A solid Belleville offense was paced by quarterback Nicky Herrmann, as Belleville won on a sloppy turf at Doc Ellis, to finish 5-4 in the regular season.

No. 2-1992. Belleville 7, Nutley 7 (tie): For a long time, this was my number one game in the series, but I’ll bump it to second here. Nutley was en route to a state championship in ’92, with a 7-1-1 record, when the teams met on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, while a hard-nosed Belleville team was 3-5, but had played much better than the record would indicate. Belleville and Nutley both had chances to win it late with a field goal, but both kicks were wide. John Alvarado and Mike Citarella stood out on defense for the Bucs.

No. 1-1978, Belleville 31, Nutley 0: There was so much symbolism in this game, as the new-look Bucs dominated from the beginning to beat Nutley for the first time in 12 years at home. Quarterback Ed Aulisi and running back Mike Nicosia paced the offense while team captains Angelo Santinelli and Joe D’Agostino paced the defense. Belleville would finish 6-3 in ’78, marking the beginning of seven straight seasons of outstanding football at BHS.

 

By mike051893

It’s Rob Carcich, for the ‘defense’, as a new era begins for Wayne Hills boys basketball program

Wayne Hills High made a tremendous choice in naming Rob Carcich its new boys basketball coach.

Carcich, who had tremendous success at Passaic Valley for over a decade, with his vaunted 2-3 defense, takes over a program which enjoyed some good seasons under Kevin Grimes, for the past five years. The 2017-2018 Patriots won the Passaic County Tournament championship and made a nice run in the NJSIAA Tournament, en route to a 21-8 season. Grimes also guided the Patriots to three straight 20-win seasons, including last winter, as well as multiple Big North Conference championships.

Defense will certainly be emphasized this winter, as Carcich’s intense, upbeat style will require 32 minutes of commitment, in every game. The man will demand no less.

Carcich, here during a PV practice years ago, will have that intensity burning at Wayne Hills this coming season. (Click on photo for larger image)

Carcich coached at Passaic Valley for a dozen years, in which he led the Hornets to 11 straight winning seasons, a state sectional championship as well as three appearances in the sectional final. It’s hard to imagine that the Patriots won’t enjoy a good deal of success this winter, and beyond. After all, when he arrived at PV, in 2004, the Hornets were 6-63 in the previous three seasons. In his first season, Carcich led Passaic Valley to nine wins, and two years later, the team won a state championship. In 12 seasons, he won over 200 games at PV and averaged a 17-9 record, per season.

Rob, along with sons Robbie (left) and Michael. (Click on photo for larger image)

Including his stops as a head coach at Palisades Park and Hasbrouck Heights, before coming to PV, Carcich is 107 games over .500 for his career.

Carcich, here with Wayne Hills athletic director Jeff DiLollo, will trade in his familiar green shirt for a maroon look this season. (Click on photo for larger image)

He’ll have an enthusiastic group of players when practice officially begins in a month. And those kids will learn the game the only way Carcich, himself a standout athlete at Hasbrouck Heights and later Pace University, knows how to administer.

When Carcich coached at Passaic Valley, one of the Hornets’ biggest conference opponents was Wayne Hills, especially when Joe Kenny (above) played for the Patriots. Now, Carcich is at Hills and he’ll coach in the same conference against his former team. (Click on photo for larger image)

Having covered basketball for the better part of 43 years, I can safely say he’s the best coach I’ve ever been around.

It should be an interesting season. All the best, Rob !

 

By mike051893

Wayne Hills football community rallies behind a favorite son in Lou Brandt

When it came to the Ramapo-Wayne Hills football rivalry, Lou Brandt was as staunch a Hills guy as there was.

A 1991 graduate of Wayne Hills, Brandt hardly missed a game between the Patriots and Green Raiders, long after he played for Hills.

But this year, he won’t be at the game.

Wayne Hills team captain Anthony Pontolillo holds his helmet, which now has a #51 decal on the back, honoring Lou Brandt, who once played for the Patriots. Brandt is battling a serious illness. (Click on photo for larger image)

The 45-year-old Brandt is battling cancer, and in true Hills fashion, he’s fighting all the way.

“We’re pulling for Lou, every day,” said Wayne Hills assistant coach Mike Kelly, one of Brandt’s closest friends. “Lou was a senior when I was in the sixth grade, but he’s the guy who made me a football player. I grew up playing soccer, but once I saw Lou and those guys playing at Hills, football was it for me.

Lou Brandt, here in his college uniform at the University of Massachusetts, enjoyed a stellar football career in high school and the collegiate level. (Click on photo for larger image)

“Lou’s cousin, Ed Fernand, is one of my closest friends, which is how I got to know Lou. Over the years, Lou and I and our families have vacationed together. He’s a great guy.”

The Wayne Hills players donned Lou’s number 51 on the back of their helmets for the Oct. 12 home game, with Ramapo. Brandt was a standout offensive lineman for the Patriots and later played at the University of Massachusetts.

“For Lou, the Ramapo game is everything,” said Michael Peischl, a 2006 Hills graduate who guided the Patriots to a state title and undefeated season as the team’s quarterback in 2005. “When I was a kid, Lou was my coach with the PAL. We all looked up to those guys. They inspired all the younger kids to play and continue the championship tradition at Hills.”

Lou, here with former Wayne Hills trainer Margaret Doherty, at the North-South All-Star game at the original Giants Stadium. (Click on photo for larger image)

Brandt would never miss the traditional Wayne Hills football beefsteak, which is held around the Thanksgiving holiday. He was at last year’s event, as vibrant as ever. However, a visit to the doctor this past spring revealed he was ill.

“It’s been rough,” said Kelly. “Lou and his wife Kathleen have three young children. They’re such a nice family.”

The emotions ran high for the Patriots at its pre-game talk on Oct. 12, as Brandt’s number was handed out to the players. The team also put together a video, with the players wishing Brandt their best wishes.”

Lou and legendary Wayne Hills head coach Chris Olsen. (Thanks to Mike Kelly for the nostalgic photos)

“It’s hard to describe,” said Kelly, his emotions noticeable. “He’s one of my closest friends. And he’s always loved this football program. We’re all hoping for the best.”

 

 

By mike051893

Bloomfield High cross country team looking for another good season this fall

The excessively hot weather aside, the Bloomfield High cross country team has been getting some good work in during August.

The Bengals, boys and girls, open the regular season on Sept. 6, with a Super Essex Conference (SEC) meet, at Branch Brook Park, in Newark. The team is back at Branch Brook for SEC meets on Sept. 12 and Sept. 20. All three of those meets begin at 4 p.m.

Chris Romano is beginning his second full season as the team’s head coach. His assistant this fall will be Maureen Moore.

“Our boys team lost eight varsity runners from last year’s team (to graduation),” said Romano. “Among those graduates is La’Shan White, who was a standout on our track teams and is now at Rider University.”

Left to right, team captains Colyer Samper, Camrynn Referente, Da-Xia Colon and Louis Orellana.

 

A talented group of runners do return for the boys. The seniors are Colyer Samper, Philip Mabalatan, Loius Orellana, Adam Itzkowitz and Jordan McRae. The juniors include Rendell Amilcar and Luca Ponticello.

Romano noted that two underclassmen, Brendan Heaney and Quaid Mullane have shown marked improvement and could be major contributors at the varsity level.

The BHS girls team captured an SEC Liberty Division regular season title in 2017, finishing unbeaten. And while seven were graduated from that squad, a strong contingent of runners return this season.

“Among the girls on last year’s team who graduated were team captain Jackie Guinta, McKenzie Presume, who is attending Rutgers University for track and field, and Natasha Senatusm, who is running at Montclair State University,” said Romano.

The returning athletes include seniors Camrynn Referente and Da-Xia Colon and a strong group of juniors, paced by Sindy Casimir, Amanda Guinta, Angelina Ramos and Alanna Espinal.

Bloomfield’s team captains this year are Samper, Referente, Colon and Orellana.

Interest in cross country continues to be good at BHS.

“The turnout of novice and first time runners have been better than expected,” said Romano. “We have 21 runners signed up, and that number has been growing.  Our captains split the responsibilities and held AM and PM workouts 3 days a week. I held weight training twice a week and Fleet Feet in Montclair invited us to their free running clinic in July.  There is no excuse for a student athlete to not be involved. We do our best to work around any schedule.  All a runner needs is a pair of sneakers and they could get their work in.”

The Bengals boys and girls teams will compete this fall in the SEC’s ultra competitive American Division.

“We welcome the competition,” said Romano. “The cross country team, as a whole, has been successful winning Liberty Division titles in each of the past four years.  This is the first time that both the boys and girls teams will compete in the American Division in the same year. We will run against past successful programs like Millburn, Seton Hall Prep, Montclair, West Orange, Montclair Kimberley and Columbia on a weekly basis.

“These weekly SEC meets will help prepare us for a chance to move on past NJSIAA sectionals at Garret Mountain on November 3.’

 

 

By mike051893