By Dick Engelhardt
Fair Lawn High School opened September 13, 1943. This history covers the years ending in “3.”
1943 – Marty Fischbein’s brand new team began action with 3 JV games to get started. In the 3rd game the Cutters got their name! Before the Leonia game, team co-captain Jack Van Olden led Tony DiNegri, Art Jaeggi, Jack Knowles, Al Livingstone and Bill Perkins on a sneak trip to the Rivoli Theater in Paterson to see “Holy Matrimony” and “The Seventh Victim” during school hours. The miscreants were caught and coach Fischbein kept those “cutters” out of the game. With the Lions up 12-0, he put our heroes in and Fair Lawn roared back to win 13-12. Livingstone, who passed away, in 2008, took a pass from Van Olden, who passed away in 1992, and ran it 43 yards for a TD. In the 4th quarter, he ran 20 yards for a TD and plunged for the extra point winning the game. The student body, having chosen Crimson and Gray as the school colors, said “The Cutters won the game!” They insisted that the athletic teams be known as “The Cutters of Fair Lawn High.” And so it still is! The “original” 1943 Cutters were inducted into the Fair Lawn High School Athletic Hall of Fame in 2009 along with this writer. Van Olden had been inducted individually in 2007.
1953 – Frank Bennett’s Bergen-Passaic Interscholastic League (B-PIL) and co-State champion Cutters shutout the Passaic Valley Conference (PVC) Wildcats of East Rutherford (Now Becton Regional) 13-0 in independent action. Fair Lawn coach Frank Devens (1965-71) played for East Rutherford 1945-47. In independent action 1950-53 the Wildcats went 2-1-1 (.667) against our Cutters.
1963 – Ed Sheehy’s Cutters were shutout 26-0 by the Comets of Hackensack in Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL) action. During 1959-82 in the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL) the Comets went 16-7-1 (.696) over our Cutters. In 1959, Fair Lawn’s maiden season in the league, our Cutters won 27-6 and yet saw Hackensack take the title by half a game. Frank Bennett’s 1953 B-PIL champs shared the North Jersey, Section 1, Group III State title with the Comets. Mike Alberque’s 2000 Cutters put up a whale of a battle before losing 14-6 to the nationally ranked Comets in the States. The 4-0 Hackensack lead in Big North Conference (BNC) crossover action in 2010 – 13 has the Comets’ record against our Cutters 21-7-1 (.750).
1973 – Al Reinoso’s Cutters beat the Boilermakes of Garfield 20-7 in NNJIL action. During 1971-75 Fair Lawn went 5-0 (1.000) over Garfield in the NNJIL. The record went to 6–0 (1.000) in 2005 when Greg Tanzer’s Cutters trounced the Boilermakes 47–7 in a State Consolation game.
1983 – Pete Natale’s Cutters were beaten 27-19 by the Maroon Raiders of Nutley in NNJIL Division 3 action I the only game ever played between the schools.
1993 – Alberque’s Cutters were beaten 21-17 by the Braves of Indian Hills in NBIL interdivisional action. Our Cutters took the 1984-97 and 2000-2008 rivalry against the Braves 13-10 (.565).
2003 – Alberque’s Cutters beat the Rams of Ramsey 28-21 in NBIL interdivisional action. Fair Lawn took the 1945-58, 1984-99 and 2002-06 rivalry against the Rams by an astounding 28 games to 7 (.800) in B-PIL and NBIL action!