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The Gridiron: State Championship Wrap-Up

"Gridiron" columnist Dick Engelhardt.
"Gridiron" columnist Dick Engelhardt.

By Dick Engelhardt

The Cutters of Fair Lawn High and their fans, especially old timers, had plenty of rooting interests in State Playoff Finals action. In North Jersey, Section 1, Group V, the Maroons of Ridgewood were shutout 33-0 by the Mounties of Montclair. Last year the Mounties shut the Maroons out 24-0. Ridgewood was Fair Lawn’s Thanksgiving foe 1944-83, taking the Annual Classic 26-11-3 (.703). The Maroons lead the 1944-83 and 2012-13 rivalry with our Cutters 28-11-3 (718).

In Group IV, the Indians of Pascack Valley beat the Spartans of Paramus 32-8. PV Coach Craig Nielsen was an assistant at Fair Lawn under Pete Natale 1980-85. He was the architect of the great Fair Lawn passing attack on the 1980 Northern New Jersey Interscholastic League (NNJIL) tri-championship team (with Clifton and Passaic Valley) that beat Passaic in the States at GIANTS STADIUM and lost to Passaic Valley in the finals. Craig’s offense led the way again in 1984 as Fair Lawn took the Northern Bergen Interscholastic League (NBIL) Division 1 title in our first season in the league, and in 1985 when the NBIL Division 1 champs lost a 36-26 thriller to Passaic in the States. Nielsen was the star running back for Bergenfield in the ‘70s. Pascack Valley took the 1955-56, 1984-85 and 1988-2008 NBIL rivalry with Fair Lawn 14-10-1 (.583). During 1962-83 and 2010-11 in NNJIL and Big North Conference (BNC) action, the Spartans of Paramus have also gone 14-10 (.583) against our Cutters.

In Group III, the Golden Hawks of River Dell were demolished 40-0 by the Spartans of Sparta. In 1958, brand new River Dell, with Bill Parcells at running back/QB, beat our Cutters 26-13 in the only game ever played between the schools before Fair Lawn left the NBIL for the NNJIL in 1959.  

  In Group II, the Cardinals of Westwood beat the Warriors of Waldwick/Midland Park 26-7. During 1943-44 independently and 1984-85 in the NBIL, our Cutters went 3-1 (.750) against the Cardinals. Westwood Coach Vito Campanile grew up in Fair Lawn and was an assistant coach here under Greg Tanzer.

In Group I, the Cardinals of Pompton Lakes brought down the Aviators of Hasbrouck Heights 20-14. During 1945-50 Charlie Benson’s CARDS and Frank Bennett’s Cutters split their fierce rivalry 3-3 (.500). One time Fair Lawn QB Dennis Arnold went on to coach at Pompton Lakes.

Next week we’ll wrap up 2013 with a look back at the season. Until then, GO Cutters GO!!!


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