HASBROUCK HEIGHTS – They grew up about a mile apart. Mike Incremona and Darren Iurato, first cousins who also shared a deep love for football.They were always competing. First in the family back yard. Later, on the football fields in their towns. Yes, football brought them closer, but it also put them on the opposite sides of an intense rivalry.
“We were always going against each other,” Iurato said. “We were always battling, growing up.”
Until, one day, they weren’t.
About a year ago, the Incremonas moved from Wood-Ridge to Hasbrouck Heights. Mike transferred to Hasbrouck Heights and joined Iurato as an Aviator. For the first time ever, these first cousins were fighting for the same football cause.
“It’s different, because growing up it was a huge rivalry,” Iurato said. “I’m used to always playing on the other side of the ball from him. Now he’s in the backfield with me.”
“It’s surreal,” Incremona said, smiling.
Productive might be the best word for this partnership. Hasbrouck Heights is 6-0 this season with Iurato starting at quarterback and Incremona starting at running back.
Hasbrouck Heights has scored 34 touchdowns this season; Iurato and Incremona have combined for 23 of them. And, heading into tonight’s pivotal matchup against Waldwick/Midland Park, the duo has combined for a total of 1,581 yards – an incredible 71.6 percent of the Aviators’ total offensive output this season.
Iurato and Incremona are quick to credit their teammates – especially the offensive line – for their success. But it’s also clear their chemistry, built through years of competing against each other, has played a role in their success.
That success has come with one major side benefit: Watching football is now much easier on the Incremona and Iurato families – Incremona’s mother and Iurato’s mother are sisters.
The last time Wood-Ridge and Hasbrouck Heights played was in 2011. That game featured Iurato at quarterback for the Aviators, and Mike Incremona and his older brother P.J. Incremona starting for the Blue Devils.
“Back then, my parents would be sitting on that side and his parents would be sitting on the other side,” Mike Incremona said. “Now, the whole family comes down and sits together.”
“I got a little sack on him,” Incremona said. “It was funny, I just tapped him on his head [while he was down]. It was hilarious.”
Iurato took home a different memory.
“They actually had a pretty good team that year, a team that could finally beat us,” he said, breaking into a smile. “But that didn’t happen, obviously.”
From here on out, the memories will be shared. After a childhood of competing against each other, Iurato and Incremona are playing their final games of high school football together.
“Instead of at family parties, hearing, ‘How did you do,’ and, ‘How did you do?’ We’re together now,” Iurato said. “We’re finally undefeated, both of us together. We’re both winning, we’re both happy, and we’re on a great team.”
“This is amazing,” Incremona said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better senior year.”
It’s not about bragging rights within the family anymore. It’s about bragging rights for the family.