Always on the move, Lyndhurst’s Damian Weaver is The Jim Hague Observer Male Athlete of the Year for 2023

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By electing to play football his junior and senior seasons, Damian Weaver gave up the opportunity to compete in many many elite offseason wrestling tournaments his older brother Dylan and other top wrestlers would participate in.

But when given the opportunity in the Mat-Town USA Fall Classic in Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, last October, a rare Sunday tournament, Weaver was all in, even if it meant pulling off a rare example of double duty in the midst of football season.

Just an hour or two after a Lyndhurst football game on Saturday afternoon, Damian and his father, Lyndhurst wrestling coach Scot, were making the three-plus hour drive west to Lock Haven. A little more than 24 hours later, they made that same drive back to Lyndhurst, Damian as a champion.

“Right after the game, we ran home, he showered real quick, I was already packed, and we jumped in the car,” recalled Scot. “It was something to watch him compete so well after not competing at all (in recent months).

“He wrestled in a bracket of 32 with some highly touted Pennsylvania and Ohio kids and he defeated them all. He wasn’t even in true wrestling shape.”

“It was a pretty hectic weekend,” Damian Weaver said. “You go from football, you have to get your mind right in football. And then you go to wrestling, wrestle five matches and get in the right mindset. It was pretty tough, but it’s all about being in the right mindset.”

That mindset and the relentless work ethic and determination it requires makes Damian Weaver of Lyndhurst The Jim Hague Observer Male Athlete of the Year for the 2022-2023 school season.

The annual award has been renamed in honor of Hague, an acclaimed sports writer and longtime Kearny resident, who passed away on June 11. As part of Hague’s 20-plus year tenure as The Observer’s sports writer, he and the paper started presenting one male and female athlete in the area as the Athlete of the Year.

Much like Hague, who worked for several media outlets, Damian Weaver has always been on the move towards the next task at hand.

“I just feel like I’ve been raised like that, going from one thing to another. Not even just in sports, but anything really, I feel like my life has been like that,” said Weaver. “Every summer, I would have football practice in the morning, then three days a week, I would go to wrestling practice or go lift. It just set up a routine for me.”

“He loves playing football, he loves playing sports. He’s a game and sport-aholic,” Scot Weaver said. “If you want to play tennis, he’ll go out and play tennis. If you want to play basketball, he’ll play basketball. He’s as competitive as they come.”

Despite playing football and lacrosse growing up, Damian was initially wrestling only his first two years at Lyndhurst.

Eventually, the desire to return to football as well as some convincing from head football coach Rich Tuero, encouraged Weaver to return to the gridiron.

“It was important because growing up, I always loved football. I got to high school and I stopped playing, but then I realized that I should be playing football,” said Weaver. “I grew up loving football, Coach Tuero’s the man. I love Coach Tuero, I love Coach (Joe) Castagnetti, Coach (Pat) Autieri, so I figured I would give it another shot and play for another two years.”

A captain both years, Weaver was named First Team All-NJIC Liberty Division Offense at wide receiver after catching 20 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns in seven games. On defense, he recorded 49 tackles with a forced fumble at safety and also returned kicks.

“His tackling was elite, which is no surprise with the way he shoots in wrestling,” said Tuero, who tried to recruit him to play football for two years. “Damian was a two-year captain, he was a leader for our team. He was a tremendous football player for us. The fire that Damian had and brought to the team was truly incredible.”

Ironically, it was at the same time he returned to football, that Damian Weaver emerged as one of North Jersey’s elite wrestlers.

In 2002, he became the first Golden Bear to win a Bergen County championship when he won the title at 150 pounds. This past winter, as a senior, Weaver won his second consecutive Bergen County title, this time at 157 pounds. A three-time state qualifier, Weaver won two District championships and had 112 victories for his career, going 71-8 over the past two seasons.

Following the conclusion of the high school season, Damian committed to continue his career at the University of Maryland.

“I’m excited, I can’t wait,” said Weaver, who committed in late April. “I love Coach (Alex) Clemson, Coach (Devin) Mellon, Coach (Nick) Brascetta and all the members of the team. I’m excited to get down there, go all out and see what happens.”

Weaver is expected to red shirt this upcoming season as he focuses on strength and conditioning his first year at Maryland. As good as he’s been already on the mats, the belief among coaches is that Weaver just might be scratching the surface of his potential now that he’ll be a 12 month a year wrestler for the first time.

For now, the biggest adjustment for Damian is something he never had to worry about while juggling multiple sports, having plenty of downtime.

“It’s definitely a little bit weird focusing on one sport instead of worrying about another sport or going to practice for another sport,” Weaver said. “You just have one sport to focus on. Now I have practice, go lift and that’s it. You go home and repeat it all over again.”

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Jason Bernstein | Observer Sports Writer

Jason Bernstein joined The Observer as its sports writer in March 2022, following the retirement of Jim Hague. He has a wealth of sports-writing experience, including for NJ Advance Media (, The Jersey Journal, The Star-Ledger.)