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Tonight’s Nutley HS football game moved to Msgr. Owens Field

Due to weather conditions this week and the need to preserve the final stages of construction on the oval, tonight’s Nutley High School home football game has been moved to Monsignor Owens Field 44 Park Ave.,  at 7 p.m.  Admission to the game is […]


One dead in Lyndhurst shooting

The state Attorney General’s Shooting Response Team is investigating a fatal shooting of the driver of a stolen SUV at the Lyndhurst-Rutherford border early Tuesday, Sept. 16, according to a press release issued by the AG’s Office. The driver, identified […]


‘Sober House’ rattles residents

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  KEARNY – The corner house at Grand Place and Stewart Ave. doesn’t really stand out in any particular way, but it’s drawn a lot of attention from neighbors – and not in a good way. Many packed the assembly chambers at […]


2nd hotel signals growth

By Ron Leir Observer Correspondent  HARRISON –  The town of Harrison, with a current population of about 14,000 but growing thanks to several new residential projects rising in its waterfront redevelopment area, now has a second hotel. It is the Element Harrison, the brand’s second hotel in New […]


A harvest of plenty in special garden

By Karen Zautyk Observer Correspondent  HARRISON–  Somewhere in Harrison, there is a magical place. If we were telling this story as a fairy tale, it would begin: Once upon a time, there was a small plot of land on which a happy home had stood. […]


Thoughts & Views: Fanning the flames on social media

By now, you surely have heard of “The Ice Bucket Challenge” wherein people are videotaped pouring ice water over their heads in the name of charity. The stunt is raising awareness of, and donations for, the fight against ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But there is another “challenge” out there, performed in the name of abject stupidity. Or insanity. Or both. It’s known as “The Fire Challenge,” and if you haven’t heard of it, you’re probably an adult. If you are a parent or guardian, you damn well ought to learn about it, because it’s endangering your kids.

The best we can determine, the first “Fire Challenge” video was posted on YouTube back in April 2012. Today, there are multiple videos. And there have been multiple injuries but, amazingly, no deaths. Yet.

Last week, the N.J. Division of Fire Safety issued an alert to first responders in the Garden State. It reads as follows:

“A disturbing new trend is manifesting itself online on social media sites such as Facebook and YouTube called ‘The Fire Challenge.’

“The fire challenge involves teenagers pouring an ignitable liquid . . . on their bare skin and igniting it while another teenager takes photos or video of the event. [We have deleted the type of liquid cited, although several kinds are used.]

“The photos and video are subsequently uploaded to the various social media sites for the world’s online community to watch and share. The imbecilic act is supposed to elicit laughter as onlookers and internet viewers watch the reaction from the person who is on fire. . . .

“Several news stories regarding the practice report that when young survivors are interviewed, most say they didn’t give much thought to the possibility of being injured or killed and they didn’t realize the fire would be so intense.

“Since many of these reported incidents involve the ignitable liquid being poured on the chest, emergency responders must be particularly aware of the potential for serious respiratory burns when treating victims, in addition to the obvious external burns.”

Repeat: Kids are pouring flammable liquids on themselves and setting themselves on fire. Repeat: Most say they didn’t give much thought to being injured or killed and didn’t realize the fire would be so intense.

Part of our still semi-sane brain wonders if the whole thing is not some sort of hoax. (The reported death of a teenager in Buffalo was apparently untrue. Apparently true was the Aug. 24 news story about a North Carolina mother arrested after filming her son performing the stunt.)

In the videos, the subject usually stands in a bathtub or shower stall, presumably so water to douse the flames is readily available. Except, when you’re going up in flames, it takes only a millisecond to be seriously burned.

In at least one video, a panicked youth, torso ablaze, runs from the bathroom into another room. How he didn’t set the house, as well as himself, on fire is not known.

If you are seeking some profound analysis of the Fire Challenge phenomenon, you won’t find it here. We are simply dumbstruck.

Perhaps the best summation about the warped mindsets behind all this is in a parody photo we saw online: A hospital patient, swathed in bandages head to toe, is holding a phone. The caption reads, “How many ‘likes’ did I get? #FireChallenge”.

- Karen Zautyk 

Business, bikes targeted: NPD blotter

The owner of a Franklin Ave. business under construction in Nutley has been a victim of repeated breakins, according to police.

In the initial incident, on Aug. 19, police said the owner arrived at the shop – which is being renovated for the new business – and found the front door open and scaffolding – valued at about $150 – placed outside, missing.

In a subsequent episode, on Aug. 20, the owner told police that a rear steel door had been pried open and that a circular saw, priced at $150, and a Ryobi grinder, priced at $75, had been removed. A witness reported seeing a vehicle parked in front of the store with two males inside at the time of the incident, police said.

In the third case, on Aug. 21, police said that someone tried to pry open the rear door and, in doing so, damaged the dead bolt and the door.

Police said detectives are continuing to investigate.

Police are advising bike owners to lock away their bikes as a precaution in the wake of two cases of bicycle theft from outside locations on Kingsland St. that were reported during the week.

In the first incident, Aug. 19, a Kingsland St. resident reported the theft of their son’s Huffy DS5 mountain bike, black with yellow accents, with white shock covers, valued at $150. Police said the bike was last seen in the rear of the resident’s house.

And, on Aug. 22, another Kingsland St. resident told police their bike was missing when they went outside to get it. They said they’d placed it overnight in the driveway in the rear of their house. It was described as a Huffy mountain bike, blue with purple streaks.

Among other matters listed on the NPD blotter for the past week were these incidents:

Aug. 18 

A Warren St. resident reported a computer scam. Police said the resident’s computer was frozen with a screen message demanding that the resident pay $300 through Money Pak to the “Department of Justice” for alleged violations.

A motor vehicle stop, along Washington Ave., resulted in the arrest of Fernando Torres, 20, of Belleville, on charges of possession with intent to distribute drugs, possession with intent to distribute drugs within 500 feet of a park (Monsignor Owens Park), possession with intent to distribute drugs within 1,000 feet of a school (Washington School), possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia. Torres was also ticketed on charges of unsafe vehicle, failure to signal turn and possession of drugs in a motor vehicle. He was taken to Essex County Jail on $25,000 bail with no 10% option.

Another motor vehicle stop for alleged speeding, on Rt. 21 North, led to the arrest of Glenn Corrasco- Lopez, 26, of Union City, on active warrants from Union City and Edgewater. The driver was also issued summonses charging him with driving while suspended, failure to exhibit license, failure to exhibit insurance, failure to exhibit registration, expired license, uninsured motor vehicle, careless driving and speeding.

Aug. 19 

Police were called to a Passaic Ave. location on a report of illegal dumping. Police said they found 10 black garbage bags filled with rock and cement on the property line at Friedland Road. A canvas of neighbors to learn the source was unsuccessful, police said. DPW was alerted to remove the debris.

A resident reported the theft of about $16,000 worth of assorted jewelry from their home during the last two and a half weeks. Detectives are following up. The resident’s location wasn’t disclosed by police.

Someone removed a stone bearing a Coeyman Ave. resident’s house number from the resident’s front lawn. Police searched the area but came up empty.

Aug. 20 

An apparent identity theft victim told police that someone had charged several California-based transactions totaling $4,600, dating from April, to their PayPal account, all of which were unauthorized. The victim was entered in a regional database as an ID theft victim, police said.

A Howe Ave. resident reported being the recipient of multiple annoying phone calls during the past few weeks from the same Ontario phone exchange where the caller – who refers to the resident by their first name – is continually requesting remote access to the resident’s computer.

Aug. 21 

Another identity theft victim reported that two credit cards – one from Capital One bank that has since been canceled and the other, unknown – were opened in their name. That victim has been entered in the national data base for ID theft, police said.

– Ron Leir 


‘Happy Valley’ New Netflix police show will leave you wanting more


By Kevin Canessa Jr. 

Observer Correspondent 

Whenever Netflix releases new shows, they always put a little tag under the graphic that says “New Episodes.” The other day, “Happy Valley” had that label and at first, it seemed like it might be a comedy.

But it was far from it. Turns out “Happy Valley” is an incredible new police series, exclusive to Netflix in the United States (created by the BBC), with a six-episode run.

The six episodes were as intense as any TV as there’s been in quite some time.

It’s a show with two distinct plots that have a major connection. One story line surrounds police Sgt. Catherine Cawood, played by Sarah Lancashire, who comes from a most dysfunctional family.

She divorced after her daughter killed herself, right after the daughter had a child that was fathered by a rape. The father of the child, Ryan, is Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton. Cawood’s sister is a recovering heroin addict. And her son wants little to do with her.

Photos courtesy Netflix.com Kevin Weatherill, played by Steve Pemberton

Photos courtesy Netflix.com
Kevin Weatherill, played by Steve Pemberton


The second plot surrounds Kevin Weatherill, a down-on- his-luck bookkeeper who wants to send his daughters to private school. But he can’t afford the tuition. So, he asks his boss and long-time friend Nevison Gallagher for a raise in salary.

But Gallagher declines the offer at first.

To fix this, Weatherill devises a plan where three men he knows — including Royce — will kidnap Gallagher’s daughter, Ann, and demand ransom. The four will split the ransom, ideally, and Weatherill will have more than enough money to send his daughters to the private school.

Sounds like the movie “Fargo” in way, doesn’t it, where Jerry Lundegaard has his wife kidnapped to make money from her dad?

And of course, just like in “Fargo,” you can rest assured in “Happy Valley,” it’s just not as simple as kidnapping someone, a ransom demand — the criminals get the ransom and everyone lives happily ever after.

No, it’s not even close to that — and that’s why “Happy Valley” is intense and unpredictable.

So much goes wrong over the course of six episodes for Cawood and Weatherill. But it’s hardly the kind of stuff you’d be able to sit back and forecast.

The follies of the two lead characters are what make this new series so great. Nothing one witnesses can be seen as predictable. Not at all. But for the sake of not spoiling the six episodes, we’ll leave it at that.

Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton

Tommy Lee Royce, played by James Norton


Though the show is filmed entirely in England, it’s very easy to follow. The accents aren’t thick. And the town, in West Yorkshire, is a lot like our local towns — with lots of hard-working, middleclass families.

Perhaps the only drawback to the show is that it’s loaded with violence and graphic imagery — but that all gets lost in the incredible writing and incredible storylines.

The episodes were so good that this writer watched them all in a seven-hour span.

If you’re looking for a new Netflix show, and you enjoy suspenseful police dramas that aren’t necessarily about police procedure, “Happy Valley” will keep you wanting more. And the good news is there’s already a second series planned for just around this time next year.

(Are you in a band? Starring in a show? Live in our readership area? We want to know about it. Send an email to kevincanessa@gmail.com and we’ll feature you, your band, etc). 

Around Town


Belleville Elks, 254 Washington Ave., host a Type O blood drive Wednesday, Aug. 27, 5 to 9 p.m., for Belleville residents and all surrounding communities. No appointment is needed. Priority is for Type O blood but all types of blood will be accepted. The entire process takes less than one hour. Donors must be at least age 17, weigh at least 120 pounds and be in generally good health.

East Newark

West Hudson Brave Women Fighting Breast Cancer meets on the last Friday of every month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the East Newark Senior Center, 37 President St. For more information, call Emma at 201-998-6828, Rosa at 201-246- 7750, Fatima at 973-485-4236 or email emidura2@ yahoo.com.


Holy Cross Church sponsors a bus trip to the Taj Mahal, Atlantic City, on Sunday, Aug. 31. The bus departs from Holy Cross School, 15 Frank E. Rodgers Blvd. S., at 10 a.m. Refreshments will be served in the school basement at 9:15 a.m. A $30 donation is requested, with a $25 return in slot play. For reservations, call Joan at 973-481-2434. (Leave your name, phone number and number of people attending).


The Class of 1964 of St. Cecilia High School is holding a 50th reunion dinner Saturday, Oct. 4, 6:30 to 10:30 p.m., at Mama Vittoria Restaurant, 160 Franklin Ave., Nutley. Those interested in attending are asked to contact Kathy Mc- Court Jackes atkathyjackes yahoo.com or 908- 303-9993; Kathy Walsh Vecchio at katvec46 gmail.com or 973-865- 0402 or Nancy Branin Waller at nancy.waller2@ verizon.net or 201-889-6229 by Sept. 25.

The community is invited to enjoy food and music at an Hispanic Festival Sept. 7 at St. Cecilia’s Church, 120 Kearny Ave., in the church’s parking lot. A Spanish Mass will be offered at the church at 12:30 p.m. and the festival begins at 2 p.m. Email ngonzalez@ stceciliakearny.org for more information.

Kearny High School’s classes of 1954 and January 1955 host a 60th reunion luncheon on Sept. 19 at the Spring Lake Manor, Spring Lake, at noon. For information and reservations contact Phyllis Glass McCartin at 732-458-5162 or phylpmae@ aol.com. Guests are welcome.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church, 136 Davis Ave., begins its annual nine-week St. Jude Novena with Monsignor John J. Gilchrist Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. All are welcome.

The Woman’s Club of Arlington hosts an Autumn Harvest Social Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1 to 3 p.m., at the Girl Scout House, 635 Kearny Ave. Admission is free. Members and non-members alike may bring friends interested in joining the club as well as children, grandchildren, sisters, mothers, etc. for a fun, social afternoon.

To attend, contact Jennifer Cullen at 201-991-6612 or Teddie Jablonski at 973-248-6500.

Kearny UNICO hosts these events:

• A bus trip to Caesars in  Atlantic City departs Sunday, Sept. 14, from the parking lot of Kearny Federal Savings, 614 Kearny Ave., at 8:30 a.m. Cost is $30, with $25 in slot credit back from the casino. For tickets or additional information, contact Lou Pandolfi at 201-368-2409 or 201-693-8504.

• “Wheels for Vic,” a  fundraiser to purchase a power wheelchair for Kearny resident Victor Muniz, will be held Sunday, Oct. 5, at 1 p.m., in the former Boystown gym, 499 Belgrove Drive. Tickets are $30, which includes a raffle, lunch and live music. Muniz was paralyzed after a tree branch fell on him during a 2008 summer storm. For tickets or more information, contact Pandolfi, Joseph Sgalia at 201- 998-6879, Rossana McLaughlin at 201-407-7262, or Judy Hyde at 201-991-5812. The committee also welcomes both monetary and/or gift donations for this event.

Kearny Lions Club sponsors a bus trip to Sands Casino, Bethlehem, Pa., Sept. 27, leaving from 60 Kingsland Ave. at 9 a.m. Price is $35. Tickets include $20 for slots and a $5 food voucher. For tickets, call Alvin at 201-997-9371, ext. 18, or Jo Ann at 201-998-3018.


The Lyndhurst Health Department is collecting donations for students in need. Backpacks, marble composition books, notebooks, dividers, loose paper, crayons and 3-ring binders are requested. Drop off donations at the Health Department, 601 Riverside Ave., Suite 1, Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., through Aug. 31. People with children in need of school supplies are asked to contact the Health Department at 201- 804-2500 to schedule a pick-up of the needed supplies. Be prepared to give child’s gender and grade level.

Lyndhurst Public Library, 355 Valley Brook Ave., has purchased vouchers to the American Museum of Natural History in New York City through its library membership program. Each voucher can be redeemed for free general admission and one special exhibition, film, or live animal exhibition of the visitor’s choosing. The vouchers are available in the library’s children’s room to patrons with a valid BCCLS Lyndhurst Library card. For more information, call the library at 201-804-2478, ext. 7, or email romeo@ lyndhurst.bccls.org.

The library hosts “The Daily Life of the Civil War Soldier” Wednesday Sept. 10, at 6:15 p.m., presented by speakers from LetHistoryLive.net. Space is limited and registration is necessary. To register, call or email the library.

The Lyndhurst Health Department announces the following programs. To register, call the department at 201-804- 2500.

• Registered dietician  Elizabeth Nossier offers healthy diet tips at a breakfast forum hosted by Clara Maass Medical Center, but held at the Health Department, Friday, Sept. 12 at 10 a.m.

• A bi-annual chiroprac tic screening, conducted by Lyndhurst chiropractor Marco Ferrucci, is also set for Sept. 12 at 8:45 a.m. The screening includes a digital postural analysis.

• A bi-annual women’s  health clinic, arranged through a partnership with Clara Maass Medical Center, is scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 1, at 9 a.m. It includes education on breast self-examination and a PAP test and is open to township residents ages 18 and over.

The Township of Lyndhurst hosts a Labor Day Weekend Antique and Craft Fair on Sunday, Aug. 31, at Town Hall Park. There’ll be live music throughout the day, a wide selection of specialty foods and a children’s play area. For more information, call 201-321- 2756 or email robin.brystra@ gmail.com.

Guest of the fair are invited to give blood at the Blood Center of New Jersey’s bloodmobile from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Donors must be at least age 17, bring a sign or picture form of ID and know their Social Security number. There is no upper age limit for donors provided they meet health requirements. For those who have recently traveled outside the U.S. and for other eligibility questions, call the blood center at 973-676-4700, ext. 132, or 1-800-652-5663.

Registration is open for a walk to benefit the American Diabetes Association set for Sunday, Oct. 5, at Riverside County Park, Riverside Ave. (entrance on Valley Brook Ave.) Participants must check in at 9 a.m. and the walk begins at 11 a.m. The event will include vendors, health seminars and activities for kids. To register, visit www.diabetes. org/lyndhurstwalk.

Interested participants may register now for Lyndhurst Police Emergency Squad’s 3rd annual 5k run set for Sunday, Oct. 5, beginning at 8:30 a.m., at the Recreation Center, Valley Brook and Polito Aves.

Water stations and emergency personnel will be set up throughout the course.

Visit www.lpes5k.com to register online, for a printout and mail-in application, or to get an application by mail. Anyone interested in being a sponsor is invited to email tnunes@emergencysquad.com.

Kick off the NFL season by joining the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission and the Bergen County Audubon Society on a free, 2-hour guided Back to Football bird walk Sunday, Sept. 7, 10 a.m. to noon, in DeKorte Park. Prizes will be awarded to the first people who see any bird species with the same name as a pro football team, such as: cardinal, raven, falcon, eagle, seahawk (osprey), giant (great) egret and giant (great) blue heron. All seven team bird species can be seen in the park. Check meadowblog.net for last-minute weather updates. Participants are asked to sign a standard liability release that is good for NJMC/ BCAS events throughout the year. To RSVP, contact Don Torino of the BCAS at Greatauk4@aol.com or call 201-230- 4983.

 North Arlington 

Openings are available for the Queen of Peace Ladies Bowling League. The season starts Wednesday, Sept. 2, at 12:45 p.m., at North Arlington Bowl, 200 Schuyler Ave. To join, call Betsy at 201-997- 3914.

North Arlington Senior Activity Center, 11 York Road (at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church), hosts a fall bingo luncheon Friday, Sept. 5, starting at 10:30 a.m., with lunch at noon, followed by bingo, games and special prizes from 1 to 3 p.m. For more information and reservations, call 201-998-5636.

Tickets are now on sale for North Arlington Woman’s Club’s beefsteak fundraiser set for Friday, Oct. 24, 7 to 11 p.m., at the Knights of Columbus hall, 194 River Road. Tickets are $40. Proceeds benefit various local charities. For tickets and more information, call Christine at 201-577-1088 or Fran Sardoni at 973-818-6421.


Join Nutley Public Library, 93 Booth Drive, for a film screening, story time and more. A list of scheduled programs follows. To register for programs, or for more information, call the library at 973-667-0405. No registration is required unless otherwise noted:

• Adult library patrons are  invited to join bridge Tuesdays at 1 p.m., Conversational ESL class Wednesdays at 10 a.m. and Wednesday Afternoon Knitters at 1 p.m. (Bring your own supplies).

• The film “Non-Stop” will  be September’s installment of the library’s “First Friday Films” program Sept. 5 at 2 p.m.

• Registration is required  for Back to School Story Time, set for Monday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. School-age children up to grade 6 can enjoy stories, songs, crafts and snacks.

• Ages 10 and up can learn  how pop-up books are made and even create a pop-up character for their own book with Patti Ann Harris, executive art director for Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Saturday, Sept. 13, at 11 a.m. Registration is required.

• Children in grades 2 and  up can learn the basics of computer coding, the foundation for “programming literacy,” Sept. 17 and 24, 3:30  to 4:30 p.m. Registration is required.

One (un)lucky dog


A walk in the park turned out to be anything but for a man and his dog last week. While the two were on an afternoon stroll along the banks of the Passaic River, the dog was shot and wounded, apparently by someone firing a weapon from the Newark side of the river. The man was not hit, and the dog survived.

Kearny police said the shooting, which they described as an “isolated incident,” occurred about 1:30 p.m., Monday, Aug. 18, in Riverbank Park, but it was not reported until the following morning.

The man, a township resident, was walking his canine north along the river between Bergen Ave. and Afton St. when the dog was hit in the left side by a small projectile, fired from either a pellet gun or a small-caliber rifle, police said. The owner rushed his pet to a veterinary hospital, where it received emergency treatment.

According to Kearny Police Chief John Dowie, the pellet “was so small, the doctor felt it would do more damage to remove it” than to leave it in. “But the dog’s okay.”

The chief assured the public that there is “no mad sniper” on the prowl.

Whoever fired the shot “was not lying in wait for the dog,” Dowie said.

The section of Newark across the Passaic from the scene has “a lot of abandoned buildings,” Dowie noted. Kearny detectives went to the area after the report came in Aug. 19, “but nothing of evidentiary value was found.”

 -Karen Zautyk 

Maroon Raiders look to improve on gridiron

8-27 Nutley_web

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer 

The Nutley High School football team posted a 5-5 record in 2013. With any luck, that record could have been dramatically better.

“We lost three games where we had leads going into the fourth quarter,” said Nutley head coach Tom Basile, who enters his third season as the head coach of the Maroon Raiders. “We have to do a better job of finishing football games. That’s our goal this year. We have to finish better.”

Basile said that the Maroon Raiders’ season ending victory over Wayne Valley, a game where Nutley came from behind to win, has been a giant stepping stone into the 2014 season.

“We’re using that game as a springboard,” Basile said. “We have a lot of kids coming back from that team. It’s a different year, with a different schedule, but with a lot of the same kids, we feel good about our chances. The kids have really been receptive. I couldn’t be any happier.”

The Maroon Raiders will face different foes such as Caldwell, Weequahic and Irvington in 2014, shifting divisions in the Super Essex Conference.

“We have good senior leadership,” Basile said. “We have good impact players.”

One of the impact contributors will be senior quarterback Rob Melillo (6-2, 190). Melillo was the junior varsity quarterback for the last two seasons and gets his chance to finally start this fall.

“He did bide his time,” Basile said of Melillo. “He runs smart. He runs more like a fullback than a quarterback. He is smart with the ball and has a gun for an arm. His accuracy is good and manages the offense well.”

Senior Frank Malanga (5-9, 180) is the returning starter at fullback.

“He’s a hard-nosed runner who is also a good lead blocker,” Basile said. “He runs our Veer option and misdirection well.”

The key to the Raiders’ offense is junior running back Craig Merkle (6-0, 195).

“A year ago, we tried to bring him along slowly and he ended up being our leading rusher and tackler,” Basile said. “He did everything for us, running, catching passes, scoring touchdowns (11). We realized midway through last year that he was our best player. He’s everything and more.”

The other running back is junior Devin Merritt (5-9, 170), whose father, Dave, is the defensive backs coach for the New York Giants.

Senior Pete Russo (5-11, 175) is a sure-handed wide receiver who also serves as the backup quarterback. Junior receiver Anthony Condito (5-10, 170) is also a quarterback.

“All three are going to be on the field at the same time,” Basile said. “We feel pretty fortunate to have all three play quarterback.”

Senior Jason Hoffman (6-1, 230) is the starting tight end.

Senior Kevin Davis (6-3, 230) is a returning starter at offensive tackle, joined by junior August Mustardo (6-0, 195). Senior Jesse DeFuria (5-9, 215) returns to his starting slot at guard, joined by junior Devin White (5-10, 195).

The center is senior Joe Iorio (5-10, 190), who is a converted fullback.

“Joe started the season last year as our starting fullback,” Basile said. “We moved him back to center this year. He played center as a little kid, so he knows what he’s doing.”

The Maroon Raiders will utilize a 3-4 defensive set this season to better use their personnel.

“We felt that we had a lot of talent at linebacker, so we made the transition to 3-4 to get them all on the field,” Basile said.

Senior Austin Brendel (6-2, 190) joins Hoffman at defensive end, flanking DeFuria at nose guard.

Merkle is a standout at outside linebacker. He made 81 tackles to lead the team last fall. Merritt is the team’s other outside linebacker.

Malanga and Iorio return to their starting slots at inside linebacker, so the Maroon Raiders have three returning players at linebacker. Not many teams have that kind of experience at that position.

Seniors Kevin Goudie (5-9, 165) and Chris Ammiano (6-1, 170) are the cornerbacks.

Russo returns to the safety slot, where he earned All-SEC and All-Essex County honors a year ago, tying for the state lead in interceptions with eight. Incredibly, Russo made six of those interceptions in two late-season games.

Andrew Aiello (5-9, 170) is a senior who starts at the other safety slot.

The Maroon Raiders open the 2014 season against neighboring rival Belleville at Belleville on Sept. 12.

Basile really likes the makeup of his team.

“They have formed a little bit of a bond,” Basile said. “They really worked hard together in the offseason. We have a great group of leaders, a group of kids who do everything together. They hang out together off the field. They really are buddies. We profess that we’re not a team, that we’re the Nutley football family.

But that’s for real with these kids. They really are a family.” And if they can figure out a way to close out games this season, maybe they will return to the state playoffs.

“That’s what we’re hoping for,” Basile said. “We wanted to establish a tradition of contending for a state title every year.”

This could be the year that the Maroon Raiders make a return to glory.

Harrison boys’ soccer team looks to continue winning ways

8-27 View_web

By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer

The newest member of the First Family of West Hudson soccer arrived last Monday.

Christian Michael Rusek was born on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, weighing in at eight pounds, six ounces. He’s the first child for Harrison High School head coach Mike Rusek, who had a reason to miss the Blue Tide practice session the next day, leaving the duties for the newborn’s grandfather and uncle to carry on.

Mike Rusek begins his 15th season as the head coach at Harrison, where he now coaches with not only his brother, John, but with his father, Mickey.

This year, things will be a little different for the head coach in the family, because of his new family obligations.

“I find myself running home after practice now,” Rusek said. “I tell everyone, ‘It’s time to go. I have to go home and be with my son.”

But in most aspects, things won’t change one iota with the Blue Tide’s immensely successful boys’ soccer program. The Blue Tide should once again contend for top honors in the Hudson County Tournament, which they won last year, and in the NJSIAA Group I ranks, where they lost in the overall state title to Newton last November.

In fact, the 2-1 loss in the state championship was the lone blemish in what had been a perfect 22-0-1 record up until that cold, dreary day at the College of New Jersey in Ewing. The Blue Tide won 19 of their 22 games via shutout last year. They featured the state player of the year in senior defender/ do-everything Modou Sowe. It was definitely a year to remember, culminating in county and state sectional titles.

But the Blue Tide graduated a lot of key members to last year’s 22-1-1 team, including the immensely talented Sowe, now at Ramapo College after amassing an astounding 19 goals as a defender last season.

“I was looking at our stats from last year and we lost a total of 75 goals to graduation,” Rusek said. “That’s a lot. You always believe and hope that the seniors who are left can carry on and hope that others now get the opportunity to play where they might have been held back.”

Rusek likes the makeup of his team.

“We do have a good number of seniors this year,” Rusek said. “We do have about half of last year’s team back. I just hope this is a group that can carry us a very long way.”

Leading the returning players is senior goalkeeper Nick Araujo, who was the one to record those 19 shutouts a year ago.

“I feel very good about that position,” Rusek said. “Nick is a solid keeper.”

The Blue Tide utilizes what Rusek dubbed “a flat back four,” instead of the traditional sweeper/stopper formation on defense.

The center defenders are seniors Rodrigo Esquivel and Ali Lathgar, both of whom are capable and experienced. The other two backs are senior Marcelo Esquivel (Rodrigo’s identical twin brother and good luck trying to determine which one is which) and senior Alexis Burga.

So the Blue Tide have some experience and strength along their back line.

One midfielder slot belongs to senior Jorge Castro, who compiled seven goals and had 10 assists last year.

“He’s a good distributor,” Rusek said. “He’s also a good defensive midfielder.”

The other midfielder is junior Cristian Marquez, who had six goals in limited action last year, but five of those scores came in the NJSIAA state tournament.

“He really came on at the end of the season,” Rusek said of Marquez.

The center midfielder is returning senior starter Leandro Gonzales, who is a three-year starter in the Harrison midfield. Gonzales had 10 goals and 10 assists last season.

“We’re hoping that Leandro can lead us if we’re going to get things done this year,” Rusek said. “If we’re scoring goals, he’s the one who will be behind a lot of it.”

Junior David Inahuazo is another key contributor in the midfield.

Up front, the Blue Tide welcomes back senior Ali Lakhrif, who had 12 goals last year, including the big lone goal in Harrison’s 1-0 victory over Kearny in the Hudson County Tournament semifinals.

“He’s definitely going to get his chance to score,” Rusek said of Lakhrif, whose family is originally from Morocco. “He has a good, strong leg.”

The other forward is senior Christian Restrepo, who gets a chance to crack the lineup this fall.

“He’s finally going to get a chance to play,” Rusek said of Restrepo.

The Blue Tide begins their season Monday, Sept. 8 against New Milford.

There is something else to be excited about. The Blue Tide will, indeed, face Kearny in the regular season at Red Bull Arena in Harrison on Saturday, Sept. 27 as part of a girls’-boys’ doubleheader on that day. No need for waiting and hoping for a county tourney showdown. The two will meet in a regular contest in late September in the state’s premier soccer palace.

“It should be a great day of soccer,” Rusek said. “I know our kids are very excited about it. As long as it’s a good day weather-wise, it should be a great crowd.”

Needless to say, the Blue Tide should be in the thick of county and state playoff runs as well – like they always are.

“I like to hope so,” Rusek said.

However, this time around, Rusek does it as a father. And there can’t be any more rewarding feeling than that.

Buccaneers look to gain respectability under Fischer


By Jim Hague

Observer Sports Writer 

Joe Fischer knows exactly what the new head football coach at Belleville High School has to do – because he’s done it.

In 2004, Fischer inherited a Belleville football program that was in the midst of the state’s longest losing streak. At first, it didn’t get better for the Buccaneers, as they lost all 10 games during Fischer’s first season.

But in 2005, the 33-game losing streak ended with a dramatic win over Paterson Eastside. Two years later, the Buccaneers did the unthinkable and qualified for the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 1, Group IV state playoffs for the first time since 1984.

Fischer then stepped aside to take care of his young family.

The Buccaneers were 1-9 last season and struggled to make it to the end of the year, so Fischer can relate to what the new coach has to tackle as he takes over.

The new coach? None other than Joe Fischer.

The former coach of the Buccaneers is now the current head coach of the Buccaneers, returning after a seven-year respite.

And Fischer inherits a lot of the same headaches he incurred when he came to Belleville from Immaculate Conception of Montclair a decade ago.

“I knew it was going to be a challenge,” Fischer said after a spirited practice last week. “But when I came the first time, we didn’t even have a field.”

The Buccaneers were forced to play all their games on the road that season due to troubles at Doc Ellis Field, which has since been totally restored and renovated to make it a beautiful facility.

“We have 64 kids now in the program, including 22 freshmen,” Fischer said. “We have kids who want to play football. Things are definitely looking up. We’re definitely moving up.”

Fischer said that the first obstacle was instilling a sense of decorum and pride.

“The attitude was the first challenge,” said Fischer, who posted a 10-30 record during his first tenure as head coach. “We’re working on changing the attitude every day. It starts with the kids having to show up every day, ready to work. They have to be accountable. I think at least 95% of the kids bought into that idea and the others are no longer here.”

Fischer has faith in restoring the Belleville program and giving it a sense of pride.

“I can see the potential,” Fischer said. “We’ve put in a system on offense and a system on defense. We’re not asking kids to do things that they cannot do. So we can improve right away. We will do what we do well and keep on moving forward.”

Fischer said that he wants to get all of his players involved.

“Our goal is to go two-platoon (meaning different players on offense and defense, like what’s done in college and the NFL),” Fischer said. “Right now, we maybe have three kids who go both ways and that’s out of necessity. We want to have our players play.”

Fischer will run a multiple set on offense, with its basis being the Delaware Wing-T.

Leading the returnees is junior quarterback Joey Rivera (5-10, 170).

“He’s very athletic,” Fischer said of Rivera. “He’s very fast and runs the offense well. He’s probably going to be our leading rusher this year. He’s our best runner and has a great first step.”

Sophomore Brian Rivera (5- 11, 150 and no relation to Joey) is the team’s starting running back.

“He started last year as a freshman,” Fischer said. “He’s a good athlete.”

The fullback is another sophomore in Terrence Best (5-10, 180).

“He’s blocking well,” Fischer said. “He’s an intelligent kid who knows the offense and knows how to block.”

Senior Manny Lascarro (5- 9, 170) is the team’s resident wingback/wide receiver.

“He’s the fastest kid on the team,” Fischer said. “He’s very athletic.”

Lascarro is also a champion in tae kwon do, so Fischer likes his hands.

Senior Michael Ramirez (6- 0, 190) is a four-year varsity player at wide receiver.

“He goes up and gets the ball,” Fischer said. “He has good hands.”

Junior Jared Collazo (5-11, 170) is another wide receiver. Collazo has just joined the program for the first time.

The tackles are senior Victor Samaniego (6-0, 270) and junior Jeremy Jones (6-3, 280), so the Bucs have good size at the bookends.

Senior Nick Nardachone (6-2, 230) is at guard. He’s another four-year player and a returning starter from last year. Nardachone, who is also a standout wrestler, is a player to watch on both sides of the ball.

Senior Michael Baylock (5- 10, 250) is another returning player at guard.

Sophomore Craig Jackowski (6-0, 180) is the starting center.

Nardachone has been moved outside to defensive end to key the Buccaneers’ 4-4 defensive formation. Senior Ibn Whitfield (6-0, 200) is the other defensive end.

Sophomore Andre Vasquez (5-10, 175) will get time also at defensive end. “He’s lightning quick,” Fischer said of Vasquez.

Samaniego and Baylock are the defensive tackles.

Lascarro and Ramirez are players to watch at linebacker.

Senior Anthony Jett (5-11, 150) is a fixture at cornerback, along with Brian Rivera. Joey Rivera is the team’s free safety.

The Buccaneers open their season early, facing Snyder on Friday, Sept. 5 at Doc Ellis Field. They then face Nutley Sept. 12, also at home.

In fact, Belleville will play seven of their nine scheduled games this season at home, so that gives the Buccaneers an advantage over their opponents.

“Seven home games, seven Friday night games,” Fischer said.

Fischer likes the makeup of his team.

“I like the attitude,” Fischer said. “We weeded out the kids who were negative.”

Fischer also likes his coaching staff.

“They all played college football, so they know what it takes,” Fischer said. “That’s important to me. They’re all positive people. We put together a nice coaching staff.”

Fischer also thinks that the Buccaneers will be better this year.

“We should improve,” Fischer said. “We should be competitive.”

It’s definitely a new era for Belleville football.

“That’s right,” Fischer said.

He should know.

Seeking buyer


Stewart’s Drive-in, a longstanding Kearny business at 938 Passaic Ave., is on the market. The property is just south of the Cpl. Osbrany Montes de Oca Memorial (Belleville Turnpike) Bridge.


Irene Chickene 

Irene Chickene, 93, passed away Aug. 22 at Clara Maass Medical Center in Belleville.

Visiting will be on Tuesday, Aug. 26, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. A funeral Mass will be on Wednesday, Aug. 27, at 10:30 a.m. in St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny, and burial will follow at Holy Cross Cemetery. To leave online condolences, please visit www.armitagewiggins.com

Irene was raised in Missouri where she received her degree in nursing. Shortly after that, she served overseas during World War II and was an Army nurse, eventually moving to New Jersey.

After staying home raising her family, Irene returned to nursing at the former West Hudson Hospital in Kearny. She later worked both at the Kearny Board of Health and as a school nurse.

Irene is survived by her loving and devoted family. She leaves behind three daughters Mary and Nancy both of Kearny and Terri Watson with her husband Danny of West Caldwell. She is also survived by her grandchildren Carly and Jack Watson, her sister Beulah Foster of Missouri as well as nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her two daughters Frances and Susan.

In lieu of flowers, kindly consider a donation to the Wounded Warrior Project.

Barbara Choinski 

Barbara Choinski (nee Milewski) of North Arlington peacefully entered into eternal rest surrounded by her family after a short illness on Monday, Aug.18. She was 64.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, Harrison. Her interment was in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington. For information, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.

Born in Police, Poland, she lived in Harrison for two years before moving to North Arlington and living most of her life there. She worked as a secretary for Accurate Tool and Die in North Arlington for many years. She was a parishioner of Our Lady of Czestochowa Church.

Barbara is survived by her mother Henrika Grygielko, sisters Irene Bishop and Teresa Kociecka, her lifelong companion John Adler, aunts Helen and Hedwig Grygielko, nieces and nephews, Heather Bishop, Antoni and Przemek Milewski, and Pawel and Jacek Kociecki She is also survived by her cousin Ambassador Kosowicz of Los Angeles.

The family would appreciate donations to Our Lady of Czestochowa Church, 115 S. Third St., Harrison, N.J. 07029 in loving memory of Barbara.

Jesus Garcia 

Jesus Garcia, of Kearny, died Aug. 23. He was 63.

Arrangements were by the Armitage Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny. The funeral service will be held Tuesday, Aug. 26, at 11 a.m. from the funeral home and burial will follow in Holy Cross Cemetery.

He is survived by his wife Miguelina, son Oscar and stepchildren Ivan, Rocio and Jose Fermin, a brother and sister and five grandchildren.

Maria Fatima Meyer 

Maria Fatima Meyer peacefully entered into eternal rest on Tuesday, Aug. 19, surrounded by her family and friends.

Born in Lombacdamaia, Azores, Portugal, Maria lived in Newark most of her life before moving to Harrison in 2010. She was a parishioner of St. James Church, Newark.

She is survived by her loving children Barbara, Shana, Jennifer, Frederico and Stephanie; dear siblings Grace Ambrosio, Leonel, Emanuel and Joe Rocha, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews and cousins. She was predeceased by her mother Maria Rocha and sister Maria Doceu.

Funeral services were under the direction of the Mulligan Funeral Home, Harrison. A funeral Mass was held at St. Stephen’s Church, Kearny. Her interment took place in Holy Cross Cemetery, North Arlington.

For information, please visit www.mulliganfuneralhome.org.

John Muscarella IV 

John Muscarella IV, 27, of Kearny died Aug. 22 after his long battle with Cystic Fibrosis.

Visiting will be at Armitage and Wiggins Funeral Home, 596 Belgrove Dr., Kearny, Friday, Aug. 29, 4 to 8 p.m. A funeral service will be held Saturday, Aug. 30, at 10 a.m. at the funeral home, with interment in Holy Cross Cemetery. Condolences can be sent to www.armitagewiggins.com.

He was the beloved son of Debbie Farrell Muscarella and the late John Muscarella III; brother of Tina Santiago (Arsenio), Jessica Muscarella and the late Amanda Muscarella; uncle of Anthony, Joshua, Atianna, Alexsis and Arsenio. He was the nephew of John Beasley and is survived by several other uncles, aunts and cousins.

John was a strong person and fought a great fight. He was a diehard Jets fan. As per John’s wishes, please do not attend his wake in a suit, but put on your favorite T-shirt and jeans and come to the funeral home to celebrate his life.

In lieu of flowers, the family will be accepting donations at the funeral home or make a donation in John’s memory to The Cystic Foundation, 2 University Plaza, Suite 312, Hackensack, N.J. 07601-6210. (www.cff.org).

Linda List Currie Rogers 


Linda List Currie Rogers, born to Peggy and Edwin List in Newark, on May 21, 1947, passed away Aug. 18 in Kingwood, Texas.

Linda grew up in Kearny, where she raised her family with her husband, George, before moving to Kingwood in 1991. She worked as a Weight Watchers leader for 10 years; office manager for Kingwood Funeral Home for five years; and administrative assistant for the Lifelong Learning Dept. at Lone Star College in New Caney, Texas, for the past six years.

Linda was preceded in death by her parents; and first husband, George Currie. She is survived by husband, Everett Benson “Buddy” Rogers Jr.; sons, Scott Currie (Patty), Sean Currie (Theresa), and John Currie (Gretchen); sister, Diane Michaliszyn (Joseph); brother, Edwin List Jr.; grandchildren, Aiden and Kylie Currie; Christopher and Bryan Currie; Ian, Anna, Peter, Luke and Joseph Currie; niece, Meaghan List; nephews, Jason List, Andrew and Matthew Michaliszyn; stepchildren, Jeane Rogers, Kathy Rogers Mayeux (Gordon), Everett Benson Rogers III (Terry), and Timothy Rogers.

A Mass of Christian burial was celebrated at St. Martha Catholic Church on Aug. 25 and interment followed in Houston National Cemetery. For those desiring to make a memorial contribution, please honor Linda’s love for children by sending donations to either Ronald MacDonald House or to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.