Hasbrouck Heights runner Rocco Minichiello carries during the 2018 sectional final against Shabazz.                                     Now a senior, Minichiello returns as the focal point of the Aviators offense and defense.Steve Hockstein | For NJ Advance

Hasbrouck Heights Aviators

League: North Jersey Interscholastic Conference, Meadowlands Division

Coach: Brian Ille (First season)

Last year: 9-2 overall; Lost to Park Ridge in the North 2, Group 1 final (21-14); Finished second in the NJIC’s Meadlowlands Division

Key players: Steven Faussette, Sr., QB/DB; Rocco Minichiello, Sr., RB/LB; Jake Diaz, Jr., QB/DB/ATH; Chris Lorhmann, Sr., OL/DL; Peter Garifalos, Sr., OL/DL; Daniel Viola, Sr., WR/DB; Adrian Mercado, Sr., WR/LB; Hunter Freschi, Jr., RB/LB

Outlook: There may be a new pilot flying the Aviators program, but the trajectory remains the same. Brian Ille, a former Hasbrouck Heights player, returns to his alma mater to take over as only the fourth Hasbrouck Heights head coach since 1967. Ille, a former assistant as West Orange, Wayne Hills, Irvington and Livingston, will be tasked with replacing a coaching icon in Nick DelCalzo, who led Hasbrouck Heights to 270 wins in 35 seasons. That tally includes five sectional titles, 11 championship appearances and three undefeated seasons so when it comes to history, this year’s team knows what’s at stake. This year’s squad returns six starters on offense and nine on defense. Senior RB/LB Rocco Minichiello headlines a physical group on both of sides ball, and according to Ille, wants to prove he’s one of the top pound-for-pound players New Jersey has to offer.

A chance for redemption: Hasbrouck Heights won three straight sectional titles from 2016-2018 before losing in last year’s final to Park Ridge. That’s a remarkable four-year stretch with a 42-3 record. After not winning its division and coming up just short in the playoffs, this year’s team will try to get Hasbrouck Heights back to its championship expectations and oh by the way, Hasbrouck Heights opens 2020 against the two teams it lost to in 2019 (Cresskill and Park Ridge).

Schedule

*The North Jersey Interscholastic Conference has not released specific date and times for the 2020 season. The opponents and weeks below are correct, but the dates/times are still to be determined.

Oct. 2-3: vs. Cresskill

Oct. 9-10: at Park Ridge

Oct. 16-17: at Secaucus

Oct. 23-24: at North Arlington

Oct. 30-31: vs. Becton

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