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New superintendent expected soon

BELLEVILLE – 

More than 40 educators have applied for the position of superintendent of schools for the Belleville public school district, according to Board of Education officials.

Board President John Rivera and board member William Freda, who chairs the search committee, said last week that no more applications are being accepted and that the consultant hired by the board to conduct the search, Strategic Educational Advantage of River Edge, was expected to develop a “short list” of candidates soon.

As advertised, candidates must have a New Jersey school administrator certificate and some experience as a central office administrator, along with “knowledge of school finance and budgets.”

Rivera and Freda said that the full board would interview the finalists, as provided by the consultant.

“I would expect that we will get through the interview process quickly so that the board could vote on an appointment in January,” Rivera said.

Whoever gets the job will be inheriting a deficit from the 2013-2014 school year which Tom Egan, the state monitor assigned to the district, has projected at around $4 million. The board is waiting for an audited statement of finances so that it can request an appropriate amount of state aid to cover that gap in next year’s budget.

In late August, the board designated School 4 Principal Ricardo Acosta as acting superintendent in place of the departed Helene Feldman, who resigned with two years remaining in her contract after receiving more than $95,000 in compensation. Last month, the board voted to grant Acosta an additional $2,000 stipend for taking on extra administrative duties.

Last month, the board also hired Robert T. Clark as an interim school business administrator/ board secretary at $500 a day with no benefits. He’ll serve through June 30. He’s a former school business administrator for the Sussex County Vocational School.

The board also appointed Henry Sinatra as interim assistant principal of Belleville Middle School, also through June 30, at $475 a day.

 – Ron Leir 

Pettigrew picked to lead Council 11

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KEARNY – 

Civil Service Council 11, the union that represents nonuniformed civilian employees and crossing guards in Kearny, has elected Bill Pettigrew as its new president.

Pettigrew, who serves as town registrar and public health investigator, defeated Ken Salinski, a public works employee, by a wide margin in balloting held Oct. 17.

Also elected was Nevier Ruiz as first vice president, replacing Shirley Manucci, who retired Dec. 1. Craig Smith retains his office as second vice president.

Pettigrew, who has served on the union’s executive board for the past decade, takes over for Mary Ann Ryan, who retired last year. She had been president for the past eight years.

Council 11, with 83 members, will see its current labor contract with the town expire Dec. 31 and Pettigrew said he’s hoping for “smooth contract negotiations” with the town.

Of late, the union and the town have struggled to maintain labor peace. Council 11 contested the economic layoffs of several of its members a few years ago but a state administrative law judge dismissed its appeal earlier this year and Pettigrew said that any further legal action has been ruled out.

– Ron Leir 

Brothers rescue robbery victim, cops say

NORTH ARLINGTON –

Two brothers, both in law enforcement, were credited with thwarting a would-be street robbery in the borough last Wednesday night.

Police Chief Louis Ghione said the episode unfolded at about 10:45 p.m. after a 29-year-old woman exited a bus at the stop at Garden Terrace and Ridge Road and, as she was walking home, noticed that a man was following her.

Ghione said the woman crossed the street a couple of times in an effort to shake her pursuer but the man persisted so she pulled out her cellular phone to call for help.

As soon as she took out the phone, the man grabbed her handbag which was laced around her shoulder, and in doing so, pulled her to the ground, prompting her to scream for help, Ghione said.

Luckily, Anthony Ferrer, an off-duty sheriff’s officer, and Nicholas Ferrer, an off-duty corrections officer, happened to be in the area, heard her and came to her aid, managing to detain the man until officers arrived, the chief said.

The suspect, Michael Fernandez, 34, of Kearny, was charged with robbery, resisting arrest and assault on a police officer. He was additionally charged with two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia after cops allegedly found a hypodermic needle and glassine pipe on him, according to Ghione.

“He’s an admitted heroin user,” the chief said.

As a result of her tussle with the suspect, the woman had bruises to her elbows and scrapes to her knees, he said. Fernandez was taken to the Bergen County Jail, pending court action, after failing to post $25,000 bail.

– Ron Leir 

Mazur’s Bakery reopens under new management

Steven Leyva, president and CEO of the Sugarflake Bakery chain, operating in Westwood, Wyckoff and Fair Lawn, has announced the grand reopening of Mazur’s Bakery on Ridge Road in Lyndhurst.

Mazur’s is a South Bergen landmark, having originally opened in 1937 and operated by the namesake family for 66 years until 2003. In September 2013, the business, acquired 10 years earlier by another proprietor, closed.

Leyva, himself a second-generation baker with extensive experience in the industry, noted: “To acquire an iconic spot like Mazur’s Bakery is a wonderful opportunity to bring the quality and product line that is synonymous with the name back to the Lyndhurst, Rutherford and North Arlington area. I truly believe that with my experience and the hard work of my staff, we can restore Mazur’s to its rightful place as one of New Jersey’s most renowned and successful bake shops.”

The store celebrated its reopening Dec. 12 with a ribbon-cutting attended by local government and business leaders.

“The timing is opportune for us as the upcoming Christmas holiday will give us the opportunity to deliver fantastic breads, cakes, pies and other dessert products for celebrations by families and businesses alike and to reintroduce Mazur’s to the local people. I welcome the challenge of serving the knowledgeable and discerning consumers of this wonderful neighborhood,” Leyva said.

A gift to make someone smile

The Smile and Implant Center, Kearny, is offering holiday gift certificates for tooth whitening, cosmetic dentistry, a professional cleaning and even Botox treatments. Gift certificates are available in any denomination.

The Center notes that this is a gift that will last long past the holidays: “A smile is your unique signature. If you or someone you know is not totally pleased with their smile, modern dentistry has much to offer that can enhance one’s natural smile.”

Dr. Blair Schachtel has a “multi-specialty” and fullservice office including a board-certified periodontist, board-certified oral surgeon and dental anesthesiologist all on staff.

Should you have any questions regarding the procedures offered by The Smile and Implant Center, call Alexis Vitetta at 201-991-1055 or visit www.TheSmileandImplantCenter.com and www.SedationNJ.com for more information.

KPD: Arrested in stolen Mercedes

A 2008 Mercedes-Benz parked in the lot near Applebee’s and Burger King on Passaic Ave. at 3 a.m. last Wednesday rightly caught the attention of patrol Officer Ben Wuelfing and resulted in the arrest of a Kearny man on charges of receiving stolen property, KPD Chief John Dowie reported.

After spotting the vehicle, Wuelfing checked its registration and found that it had been reported stolen in Harrison, Dowie said. When backup Officer Dean Gasser and Sgt. Pete Gleason arrived, they blocked in the car and took into custody its occupant, 34-year-old Steven Jackson, who also was allegedly in possession of a Garmin GPS unit and a Visa debit card in the name of a Harrison resident. A search of the Mercedes revealed a backpack, a duffle bag, a suitcase, a ski mask, a bag of jewelry and a receipt from a local pawn shop, police said.

Det. Lt. Anthony Gouveia is conducting a follow-up investigation.

Jackson was remanded to the Hudson County Jail.

• • •

Other recent reports from the Kearny police blotter included the following:

Dec. 4

At 11 a.m., Officers Dave Rakowski and Cesar Negron responded to a Fish House Road business on a report of men stealing scrap metal — which, police said, is exactly what they found: two men tossing items into a U-Haul truck. The suspects were ordered to unload the truck and, after they complied, the management said it would not press charges. The officers checked the men’s documents and pedigrees and sent them on their way.

However, a subsequent check by Rakowski at headquarters reportedly revealed that one man, whose name had been misspelled on his ID, had two warrants: one from North Bergen and a $20,000 one from Kearny. The suspect, Bernard Brewer, 49, of Jersey City, had been linked to an August 2012 theft of a truck and its contents from a Sanford Ave. business, police said.

On Dec. 8, Sgt. Paul Bershefski and Dets. Mike Gonzalez and John Plaugic took Brewer into custody at a Jersey City residence.

• • •

Officer Daniel Esteves responded to Walmart at 4 p.m. to take into custody Edwin Santos, 29, of Newark, who allegedly had stolen a set of headphones.

Police said a search incident to arrest found him to be in possession of a marijuana cigarette and six prescription painkillers. He was charged on all three offenses.

Dec. 5 

At 9:30 a.m., Officer T.J. Hernandez investigated a report of vandalism at the hockey rink on Passaic Ave. at Afton St. and found it had been defaced with graffiti, including a racial slur, the letters “KKK” and a phallic symbol. The KPD is viewing this as a bias crime, and Det. Marc McCaffrey is conducting an investigation. After documenting the damage, police contacted the Kearny DPW to remove it.

• • •

Officer Brian Wisely responded to the 100 block of Schuyler Ave. at 8 p.m., after a resident notified police that two men had been banging on his door and then had fled across the street into West Hudson Park.

Wisely took the report.

At 9 p.m., the cops were again called to the apartment, where Officer Philip Finch found the 32-year-old occupant “bloody and bruised.”

His assailants were apparently the same two men who had visited earlier. The victim was taken to University Hospital, Newark, for treatment of head injuries.

The KPD is working on the case with Newark police.

Dec. 7 

At 7:15 p.m., Wisely and Esteves responded to a report of a dispute on the 600 block of Elm St., where the male party had allegedly thrown a knife at the female. She was not injured. But Neyrhi Pezez, 22, of Kearny, was charged with aggravated assault, possession of a weapon for unlawful purposes and unlawful possession of a weapon.

Dec. 8 

At 1:30 p.m., after a DPW employee reported a “large amount of graffiti” at the Windsor St. playground, Officer Sean Kelly found it defaced with profanities and sexually explicit references. Unlike the bias-related hockey rink vandalism, police said this appeared to be directed specifically at someone who frequents the park. The Juvenile Bureau is investigating.

Dec. 10 

Officer John Travelino arrested Augustin Camacho, 39, of Newark, at Walmart at 6 p.m. for allegedly attempting to steal a cell phone. Camacho was additionally charged on three outstanding warrants: two from Elizabeth and one from Newark.

• • •

At 7:40 p.m., a woman reported that, after she entered her car on the 600 block of Kearny Ave. –and, fortunately, immediately locked it — she had been threatened by a knife-wielding man who had banged on the driver’s-side window and demanded she open the door. She refused and was able to drive away unharmed. The man was described only as heavy-set. He was said to be wearing a hat and had his face partially covered. Police said there were no similar reports in the area.

• • •

Officer Jay Ward responded to an 8:15 p.m. report of an accident at King and Elm Sts. and found that a 2013 Hyundai, operated by Thomas Rowland, 60, of Kearny, had hit a parked Volkswagen. Police said Rowland appeared too intoxicated to perform field sobriety tests. He was subsequently charged with DWI, reckless driving and refusal to submit to an Alcotest, and his car was impounded.

– Karen Zautyk 

around town

Belleville 

Belleville Elks Lodge 1123, 254 Washington Ave., holds its monthly breakfast Sunday, Dec. 21, 9 a.m. to noon. Cost is $6 for adults; $3 for children under age 10; and free for children under age 3.

Kearny

Presbyterian Boys and Girls Club, 663 Kearny Ave., hosts its annual Christmas dance for teenagers only on Friday, Dec. 19, 7 to 10 p.m. Music will be provided by a DJ. PBGC Executive Director Tom Fraser and PBGC board members will supervise.

The Children’s Room of the Kearny Public Library, 318 Kearny Ave., presents a family concert Tuesday, Dec. 30, at 4 p.m., by Susan Goodman (Sooz), a saxophonist/ songwriter/educator whose presentation on bias, bullying and bystanders uses music to cultivate compassionate communities. The compelling lyrics and eclectic blend of jazz, pop, Latin and Afro-beat highlight original songs that shines a light on the biases behind bullying. Light refreshments will be served.

Lyndhurst 

The N.J. Meadowlands Commission hosts a Winter Solstice celebration on Thursday, Dec. 18, 7 to 9 p.m., at the Science Center, 3 DeKorte Park Plaza. All ages are invited to welcome the first day of winter. Learn about the shortest day of the year, make a solstice craft, and enjoy solstice-themed food and drink. Adults must accompany children. Admission is $5; MEC members $4. Registration is recommended and appreciated. To register, go to www.njmeadowlands.gov/ec. For more information, call 201-460-8300.

Lyndhurst Health Department announces the following:

• Flu vaccine is available for township residents. Call 201- 804-2500 to make an appointment. The CDC recommends that everyone ages 6 months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine.

• Rabies Clinics are set for Thursdays, Jan. 8 and 15, at the Community Center on Riverside Ave. (behind the Little League fields), 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Township residents can also license their dogs and cats at these clinics. Licensing deadline is Jan. 31, 2015. Call the Health Department for more information.

The Lyndhurst Historical Society showcases a sampling of the many businesses that contributed to the community and beyond in its newest exhibit, “Lyndhurst Business: Building a Community,” which runs through August 2015 at The Little Red Schoolhouse, 400 Riverside Ave.

The exhibit is free and open to the public, but a small donation to the Society is appreciated. The Little Red Schoolhouse Museum is open on the second and fourth Sundays from 2 to 4 p.m.

For more information, leave a message at 201-804-2513 and your call will be returned. For more information about the Lyndhurst Historical Society, readers can visit www.lyndhursthistoricalsociety.org. Like them on Facebook.

Knights of Columbus Council 2396 sponsors a Tricky Tray Friday, Jan. 16, at the Senior Center, 250 Cleveland Ave. The $15 admission includes coffee plus one prize sheet of tickets. No alcohol is permitted. No tickets will be sold at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. For tickets and more information, call Steve Cortese at 201-657-0800 or Sal Russo at 201-446-7244.

North Arlington 

North Arlington Public Library, 210 Ridge Road, hosts the following programs. No registration is required. For more information, call the library at 201-955-5640:

• Lego Club, open to grades 1 and up, meets Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 6:30 p.m., and Monday, Dec. 29, at 2 p.m.

• New Year Story Time, open to ages 4 to 7, takes place Monday, Dec. 29, at 7 p.m.

Kearny grapplers prep for solid season

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer 

Tony Carratura is a wrestling lifer.

The veteran Kearny High School wrestling coach is so dedicated to the sport that he now has his son, Tony Jr., coaching a middle school program, getting kids involved in wrestling at an early age. Carratura also has his finger on the pulse of the Kearny Recreation program.

So Carratura knows that last year was a building year for the Kardinals on the mat.

“Last year was a bit of a down year for us,” said Carratura, who guided the Kardinals to a 6-15 dual meet record. “But we had a nice turnout this year with about 40 kids. Wrestling is a sport that you have to dedicate yourself to, especially if you want to take it to the next level. I feel comfortable with the way we’re moving forward.”

The Kardinals will begin the 2014-15 campaign Saturday morning with their traditional Holiday Tournament, with seven other teams joining the Kards to begin the mat slate.

Lyndhurst/North Arlington, the local cooperative program, will also begin its season at the Kearny tournament.

“We’re starting at the ground level,” Carratura said. “We have a bunch of talented freshmen. We have seven heavyweights, five are freshmen. There were years when we couldn’t buy a heavyweight. The football program is working hand-inhand with us. We have a bunch of guys from the football team. The whole offensive line is with us.”

That’s good to see the football program, spearheaded by head coach Nick Edwards, is encouraging kids to wrestle in the winter months. Edwards, a former wrestler during his days at St. Peter’s Prep, has encouraged his players to wrestle to keep in shape in the offseason.

“We have a nice little mix,” Carratura sad. “There’s a little bit of competition in the lineup, It all depends upon who wants it.”

The team’s 106-pounder is sophomore Jason DeKerr, a football player despite the lack of size.

“He’s learning and doing fine,” Carratura said of DeKerr. “We have about five guys at that weight as well. Jason is coming along.”

The team’s 113-pounder is senior Diego Poma. “I think he’s finally coming around,” Carratura said of Poma.

“He’s at the right weight now and he’s very committed. He’s one of our captains.”

The 120-pounder is junior Stanley Lliguichuzhca, pronounced exactly as it is spelled. In his spare time, the Kards’ 120-pounder can use his last name as the eye chart at the optometrist office.

“It’s his first year in our lineup,” said Carratura of Stanley, whose name would have been remembered if he were part of the varsity.

The team’s 126-pounder is Josh Guerrero, who was third at the NJSIAA District 16 tournament last year.

“He’s one of our leaders,” Carratura said of Guerrero. “He looks really good so far. I think he’s going to have a good season for us. He has some talent.”

The 132-pounder is returning senior Juan Lamboy, who won more than 15 matches last season and was fourth in the districts in a very tough and competitive weight class.

“I think he’s hungry,” Carratura said. “He’s dedicated himself to the sport and is ready to go to the next level.”

The Kardinals have a battle royale going on in the middle weights, like at 138, 145 and 152 pounds. Carratura believes that the competition in those weights is good for his team and keeps them fresh with a lack of complacency.

The team’s 160-pounder is sophomore Justin Baeza, who won 17 matches last year as a freshman. Last year, Baeza was in a tough weight class. This year, the road to Atlantic City has become a little tougher.

“I still think he’s going to go a long way,” Carratura said.

Sophomore Lukasz Glazewski is another tough wrestler who will find his way into the Kardinal lineup. Sophomore Tomasz Pryzbilski and junior Christian Rodriguez are others who will get a chance to earn time either in the vacant middle weights or at the 172-pound class.

“We may have to get one of them to face the 182-pound class,” Carratura said. “We have four kids battling for three spots.”

The 220-poumd class will be manned by senior Pedro Ugaza.

“He was with us last year and then he broke his arm,” Carrartura said.

The heavyweight bracket will be handled by senior Brian Carpio and freshman Spencer Toledo, both of whom have a ton of promise.

Carratura has a team that will contend later in the season, as the Kards gain experience and confidence.

“I think they’re working very hard,” Carratura said. “We have 40 kids that are always there for practice. I think we’re teaching them the basics a little more. But these kids are hungry. They want it.”

Carratura better feed his team before they take the mats this weekend, just to quench the team’s hunger pains.

Kearns out as QP grid coach

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By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

The revolving door at Queen of Peace continued to spin out of control recently. Not only is principal John Bellocchio leaving after just two years, but it was learned that both football coach Bob Kearns and softball coach George Steel were not retained.

Kearns, who has spent the majority of his adult life at Queen of Peace in some capacity, including two stints as the head football coach, was caught blindsided by the move.

“I received a phone call from (athletic director) Joe Torchia Tuesday morning at 9 in the morning to tell me that I wasn’t going to be rehired,” Kearns said. “I didn’t even get a chance to meet with my players. I had the legs cut out from under me. I was crushed by it. I’ve been there for 35 years and I get a phone call. It reeks of unprofessionalism.”

Kearns was asked to come out of retirement to take over the program after Steve Romano left two years ago.

“They asked me to come back,” said Kearns, who guided the Golden Griffins to a 6-5 record, a berth in the NJSIAA Non-Public Group 1 state playoffs and a victory in the first round of the state tournament in 2013, before posting a 1-8 record last season. “I’m a QP guy, so I said I’d do it. They only had 26 kids in the program, but I took it.”

Kearns said that he established a good working commitment from the Brick City Lions youth football team in Newark, with as many as 20 products of that organization going to Queen of Peace beginning in the fall.

“We basically had a team of all freshmen and sophomores,” Kearns said. “I knew that we were going to take our lumps this year. I formed a bond with those kids. But I knew that we would be better off down the road.”

Now, Kearns will not get the opportunity to coach those kids.

“It’s like getting a punch in the face,” Kearns said. “I’m devastated. I can go on and on about the nonsense that goes on there. I never had anything like this happen to me before. It’s just unbelievable what’s gone on.”

Kearns was commuting daily from Tinton Falls to coach the team.

“I had to drive back and forth with no one paying for the tolls,” Kearns said. “I was trying to build a little consistency that QP has never had. But it just goes up and down and out the door. It’s a circus.”

Over the last 12 years, Queen of Peace has gone through eight different head football coaches. There’s no consistency there at all.

There has also been the hiring of someone like Mike Miello as athletic director, to make a huge splash, bringing someone in who had been a successful head coach at Ramapo and Hackensack and a college coach at Rutgers and William Paterson. Miello didn’t last a full week at the school.

Last fall, the school promoted former All-State football player Joe Torchia to the role of athletic director. Torchia, who went from QP to the University of Virginia as a tight end, then had a solid tryout with the Washington Redskins, took over from long-time athletic director Ed Abromaitis, who has bounced in and out of the AD chair for the last four years.

Torchia was asked about the firing of Kearns as football coach.

“It was a decision made by the school’s administration to look elsewhere,” Torchia said. “There were various reasons behind the board’s decision, but those will remain internal.”

Torchia was asked about the school asking a loyal soldier like Kearns to take the head football coaching position.

“When he was hired, it was not under my tenure,” Torchia said.

Sure, because no one can keep up with when what coach was hired when. It’s a complete revolving door, spinning out of control. Kearns and Steel are just pawns in what is a complete disorganized mess. There’s no denying it.

“I didn’t know about (Kearns’) 35 years at Queen of Peace,” Torchia said. “We thanked him for his services and wished him luck.”

Torchia was asked about the means in which Kearns was terminated – meaning the early morning phone call.

“He was notified in writing as well,” Torchia said. “There’s no policy that says he had to be told face-to-face.”

How about Kearns meeting with his players before being shown the door?

“There was no need for that,” Torchia said. “We just want someone to come in and make Queen of Peace successful in the future. We’re excited for the future and what’s best for the kids.”

The new softball coach has already been hired in former QP standout Leanne Sleboda, who served as Steel’s assistant last year. The new football coach could be anyone’s guess. There is talk that Torchia may move up in the school’s administration and that there could be a new athletic director, maybe even Abromaitis, who has been unceremoniously removed from the AD slot twice in the last six years.

One thing is for sure: The new football coach won’t be Bob Kearns.

“I will never go back,” Kearns said. “If I did, I’d have to be in a straitjacket.”

And another thing is certain: The coaching wheel keeps spinning like a revolving door. One coach leaves, another arrives. One after another. There is certainly no consistency, but that lack of consistency can be spelled with just two letters – QP.

Maroon Raider wrestlers more than ready

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By Jim Hague 

Observer Sports Writer

The Nutley High School wrestling team is getting the opportunity of a lifetime as the season begins this weekend.

The Maroon Raiders will head to the Grapple at the Garden tournament this weekend at Clarkstown South High School in Nyack, N.Y.

The top two finishers at the tourney Saturday will then head to Madison Square Garden on Sunday to be part of the Grapple at the Garden festivities.

“I was approached a few years ago about this tournament,” said Nutley head coach Frank DiPiano, who has elevated the Nutley program to elite status in recent years. “It’s a little different, but it’s a great opportunity. It’s a great day of wrestling at Madison Square Garden and it’s a great day for the sport.”

There will be collegiate wrestling going on that day at the Garden, as well as the introduction of professional wrestling – and not the kind seen at the WWE Smackdown. But traditional wrestling is now being moved into the professional ranks.

In any case, Nutley will be a part of it.

“We’re really fortunate to get this chance,” DiPiano said. “It’s a great start to the season.”

DiPiano is excited about his team’s chances this season and whether the Maroon Raiders can add another NJSIAA District 14 team championship. Nutley has captured the last three district titles.

“We have more depth than we’ve ever had,” DiPiano said. “It’s a good problem to have. We’ve never had numbers before. We’re almost two-deep at every weight class. It’s the most experienced team we’ve had in the past several years. We only have two kids with zero experience.”

The Maroon Raiders will use either freshman Frank Gabriele or freshman Jimmy Quinn at 106 pounds. At 112, Quinn might get a shot, along with freshman Kyle Conca.

At 120 pounds, freshman Frank DeMaio is showing signs of developing into a solid wrestler.

“He has some experience on the rec (recreation) level and knows how to wrestle,” DiPiano said. “He’s going to do well there.”

Senior Tom Hickey is also a solid wrestler at the lighter weight classes. Senior Joe Ferinde is the team’s mainstay at 126 pounds. Ferinde finished eighth in the entire state last year in Atlantic City, winning 32 matches.

“He’s ready to have another solid year for us,” DiPiano said of Ferinde, who has a chance to be at the podium once again in Atlantic City come March.

Senior Kenny Pena is another solid wrestler in the lighter class. Pena finished second in the districts last year.

“I have to be creative how I use them,” DiPiano said of Ferinde and Pena. “I need to move one up and one down.”

Junior Robert Duxbury is a solid wrestler at 130 pounds. Duxbury won more than 20 matches last season and was a District 14 champion.

The 138-pound duties will be shared by senior John Zarro and sophomore Joe DiPasquale.

Junior Darwin Pena (cousin to Kenny) is the team’s 145-pounder. Darwin Pena was second in the district last year and competed in the region tournament.

The 160-pound class is being shared by seniors Andrew Aiello and Kevin Goudie, the latter coming off a solid football campaign.

Senior Jason Castellanos is a solid 171-pounder.

“He was hurt last year, breaking his hip,” DiPiano said. “But he’s healthy now. He was having a good season when he got hurt.”

The 182-pound class will be shared by junior Gerard D’Alessio and junior Lou Long.

At 195 pounds, the battle will be between senior Vin Scherer and junior Justin Bivona. At 220 pounds, sophomore Brian Mercado, a transfer from Illinois, will hold fort.

The team’s heavyweight is senior Adam Touah.

The Maroon Raiders were 10-17 in dual matches last year. DiPiano scheduled some tough teams because he thought he had the makings of a great group, but was hurt by some transfers.

“We went through the ringer a little last year,” DiPiano said. “But that got us ready for the District (14) and we saw them get at it a little and win. It was our third in a row and I was very pleased with it.”

DiPiano likes the makeup of this year’s team.

“I think we’re going to be better,” DiPiano said. “From what I see, we have a good group of hard working guys. I think that’s going to make us better come tournament time. We’re going to be much more competitive than we were last year.”

That’s good news for Nutley wrestling followers. From start to finish, it should be an exciting year.