By Dick Engelhardt
The Cutters of Fair Lawn High played valiantly in losing 44-3 to the Comets of Hackensack last Friday at Tom DellaTore Field in Big North Conference crossover action.
Captains Richard Marchese, Mike Nieman, Nick Perez, and Dillon Rinaldo went out for the coin toss. The Comets won the toss and received. A 71-yard TD run on 3rd and 1 had them up 7-0.
With Hackensack up 13-0, Carlos Corlone raced to the 13 yard line off with blocks by Marchese and Nieman. When the drive stalled, with Nieman snapping and Ryan Milnes holding, sure-footed Ari Moslavi kicked a 25-yard field goal. The Cutters trailed only 16-3 at the half.
In the second half, Hackensack’s depth and size showed with the Comets adding 28 more points. There were some bright spots with the running of Carlone and the passing of QB Rinaldo. Nierman sacked the QB for a big loss and Jake Schwartz alertly recovered a Hackensack fumble on a punt. Milnes blocked an extra point kick.
Between 1959-82 in the Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League, the Comets went 16-7-1 (.696) over our Cutters. In 1959, Fair Lawn’s maiden season in the league, we beat the Comets 27-6 and yet saw Hackensack take the title by half a game. That historic and poignant ‘59 team is being inducted in the Fair Lawn High School Athletic Hall of Fame Saturday.
Frank Bennett’s 1953 Bergen-Passaic Interscholastic 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 BNC crossover action in 2010-13 has the Comets’ record against our Cutters 21-7-1 (.750). Ironically, because they scored quickly in their first ever game against the Rams of Lodi, some called the brand new Fair Lawn team the Comets. The saga of the Cutters would come two games later.
On Wednesday night I saw the Green Raiders of Ramapo sting the Hornets of Passaic Valley 36-35. Ramapo Coach Drew Gibbs is a class act and he notched his 100th win! His son, Brian, is an assistant at Fair Lawn. I enjoyed reminiscing with Pascack Valley Coach Craig Nielsen who was scouting both teams. Craig was a star running back at Bergenfield in the ‘70s and an assistant under Pete Natale at Fair Lawn 1980-85. Former Fair Lawn star Craig Buckley is on his staff.
Fair Lawn’s BNC Liberty Division went 1-2 (.333) against outside opposition. In addition to Fair Lawn’s loss, the Fighting Mustangs of Clifton High were shut out 26-0 by those Indians of Pascack Valley while the defending champion Bulldogs of Passaic County Technical Institute walloped the Indians of Passaic 46-12. The Division is 2-3 (.400) against outside opposition.
Fair Lawn’s home opener Saturday at 1 p.m. will be an exciting affair. I’ll be happy to begin my 17th season as “The Voice of the Cutters on The Gridiron” along with my spotter, now Bergen Community College student, Shawn Kerestes. For 30 seasons before that, my twin brother, Bill, and I were spotters for popular Fair Lawn announcer Joe Hausmann. The new turf at Sasso Field will be unveiled and the 2013 inductees to the FLHS Athletic Hall of Fame will be introduced at halftime. Our Cutters face the Fighting Mustangs of Clifton High for the 15th time. Clifton leads the 1972-81 and 2010-12 rivalry 10-3-1 (.769) including a playoff victory in 1979.
Our Cutters will make an all out effort and I think they can win this one. From here it looks like Fair Lawn 17 (Let’s have another Moslavi field goal) - Clifton 13. Go Cutters Go!