Nutley ends gridiron season with solid win on Turkey Day

Maroon Raiders seniors go out in style, 49-14


Photo by Jim Hague/ From left, Nutley seniors Mike Hovan (22), Lou Meggiolaro (24), Matt DelMauro (34) and Jordan Yuppa (12) escort a senior cheerleader onto the field before the annual Nutley-Belleville football game played at the Nutley Oval on Thanksgiving, a game won by Nutley, 49-14.

By Jim Hague

NUTLEY – After his football team lost to Parsippany Hills in the opening round of the NJSIAA North Jersey Section 2, Group III playoffs two weeks ago, Nutley head coach Steve DiGregorio didn’t have to worry about the Maroon Raiders bouncing back to play their final game of the 2011 season.
That’s because they were facing Belleville in their annual Thanksgiving Day rivalry
“If the season would have ended with the loss to Parsippany Hills, it would have been
tough,” DiGregorio said. “We had the great rivalry to look forward to. I didn’t have to
worry if they would be ready. They did a great job of responding. If it was any other team other than Belleville, I might have been concerned, but they were ready. We had about five or six very good practices leading up to the game.”
It certainly showed, because the Maroon Raiders dominated the Turkey Day clash from start to finish, coming away with a 49-14 win.

Photos by Jim Hague/ Nutley head coach Steve DiGregorio (far left) gets ready to lead his seniors down the stairs from the school to the Nutley Oval for the Thanksgiving Day rivalry game against Belleville.


Photos by Jim Hague/ The Belleville Buccaneers get ready for the opening kickoff at the annual Nutley-Belleville game.


Photos by Jim Hague/ The Belleville mascot, the Buccaneer, was ready for action on Thanksgiving Day in Nutley.


It marked the third straight year that the Maroon Raiders won on Thanksgiving Day over the Buccaneers and enabled the Maroon Raiders to finish the season with a
solid 6-4 record. Belleville, which last defeated Nutley on Thanksgiving Day of
2008, completed the year with a 3-7 mark.
Nutley now leads the alltime series, 48-19-4. The game was moved to Thanksgiving
Day permanently in 1984. Nutley has not lost a game at the Nutley Oval on Thanksgiving since the rivalry was shifted to Turkey Day. Belleville’s last win in Nutley was in 1983.
There was a 14-14 tie in 1993. Some of the Nutley seniors played huge roles in the win in their final game at the Nutley Oval.
Senior running back Matt DelMauro had a sensational game, carrying the ball 25
times for 174 yards and three touchdowns.
“Matt put back-to-back seasons where he got 1,300 yards,” DiGregorio said. “That’s pretty darn good. He smashed the Nutley all-time career rushing record. When I think of Matt, the word that comes to mind is tenacious. He was just tenacious and always ready to play.”
DelMauro ended the year with 19 touchdowns. He had an extraordinary career. Lou Meggiolaro, who suffered a broken collarbone in October, forcing him to miss four games, returned to action and had a fine game, scoring two touchdowns and collecting three interceptions.
“It was a pretty unique thing,” DiGregorio said. “Lou intercepted a pass and then on the very next play, he caught a touchdown pass. That doesn’t happen often.” The Maroon Raiders had 18 seniors on their roster and all of them that were healthy got a
chance to get on the field Thanksgiving morning.
“We had a good lead (28-6) at the half and felt pretty good where we were,” DiGregorio said. “So we were able to get everyone a chance to play and that was good
for everyone.”
Nick Rodriguez closed out the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run. DiGregorio, who is a Nutley graduate, recalled the feeling he had when he was a senior and a member of the football team.
“I tell the kids all the time that I got hurt against Irvington the week before we played
Belleville in 1978, hurt my knee bad and couldn’t play against Belleville,” DiGregorio
said. “I had to watch that entire game on the bench. I really never got over that. So any time we can beat Belleville, it’s special for me. This was three in a row.”
DiGregorio reflected on the seniors that will move on.
“They’ve won more playoff games than anyone in Nutley history,” DiGregorio said. “They accomplished a lot. These seniors know nothing but winning.
They’ve been winners their whole careers here at Nutley. They’re terrific kids, a special bunch. I’m going to miss them an awful lot. We’re going to have a lot of spots open,
so the work for next year begins sooner than later.”
DiGregorio knows one thing. Nutley has a program now and has established a winning
“It’s one of the things we wanted to do when we took the job seven years ago,” DiGregorio said. “We’ve made the state playoffs five out of those seven years and
advanced in the state playoffs to the state finals. We don’t want to take any steps back. We want to keep moving forward.”

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