There was very little turnover in the coaching ranks entering the ’81-’82 season and with all three AAA state champs graduating, The Morning Call’s Ted Meixell couldn’t help but asking “if this is the year for a letdown”? While the AAA cabinet was far from bare, there was deeper returning place winners at the AA level including Catty’s Gerhard brothers and eleven other state qualifiers. In the EPC, Liberty and Phillipsburg were favored to unseat the Rovers at the top of the standings.
In the Colonial League, Catasauqua was expected to battle perennial league favorites, Nazareth and Saucon Valley. The latter challenged Bethlehem Catholic, who had been hit hard by graduation, in an early season test. The Golden Hawks served notice that they would contend by winning the final five bouts to beat the Panthers 32-20 on December 3rd.
With the Pat Reilly tourney moving to earlier in the year, the Hawks outpaced Saucon Valley, Hazleton and Easton among others to again show that they would be a contender. John Wagner won the 185 pound title by fall to give Bethlehem Catholic the team title. Pat Santoro was the Hawks other champ at 105 while Saucon Valley led all teams with three champions – Sean Finkbeiner, Bill Hershey and Ken Ziegler.
In a nine day span, Central Catholic’s Felix Rosado defeated both Steph Billy, Northampton, 12-5 and defending state champ, Matt Gerhard, 3-2.
Wilson had dropped an early dual 31-27 to Catasauqua, but Wilson rebounded by upsetting Pocono Mountain 37-21. Easton reeled off five straight wins from 132-167 to top Nazareth 30-23 on December 19th. On December 23rd, Wilson had three fall in the first four bouts to lead Saucon Valley 18-3 then found themselves trailing 28-24 as Jim Krause took the mat at heavyweight. Krause’s fall gave Wilson a 30-28 victory and their first win over Saucon Valley since the 1965-66 season!
Stroudsburg and Northern Lehigh were expected to battle for the Centennial League title. Northern Lehigh defeated defending league champ, Pocono Mountain 34-19 on December 23rd. The Bulldogs raced out to a 21-0 lead and held off the Cardinals’ rally. Liberty’s strength was on full display as they shut out a much-improved Allen squad 54-0.
In the annual holiday tournaments, Bethlehem Catholic easily won their Christmas City tourney as Bill Bittenmaster (119), Duane Peoples (155) and John Wagner (185) won titles. Freedom matched the Hawks with three champions – Bill Kibler (132), Scott Turner (138) and Ken Russell (145). Phillipsburg was tops at Council Rock, and Emmaus won in Hamburg with five champions. An Easton freshman, Jack Cuvo, won the 98 pound title in the Top Hat Tourney; Liberty and Saucon Valley finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively, behind Shikellamy. Pocono Mountain had three champs to win the Wallenpaupack Tournament.
On January 7th, there were two huge duals. Liberty snapped Easton’s 39-match win streak 37-18. The Hurricanes got falls from Angelo Fetter (105), Mickey Torres (112), Derron Henning (126) and Dave Green (Hwt). Nazareth moved past Catasauqua 32-21 on the strength of falls from Greg Noll (112), Jim Albanese (126), Rich Dech (132) and Bob Fehr (Hwt).
One week later, Phillipsburg nipped Liberty 26-25. In a battle of state champs, John Barna decisioned Mickey Torres 11-6 at 112. After Don Margeson’s fall at 126, P-Burg led 15-6. An illegal slam took place at 145 with P-Burg’s Kevin Stocker leading but then being DQ’d against Junie Rich. The Stateliners rebounded to win the next two bouts and then earning a draw at 185 to wrap up the match. The same night, in the suddenly very competitive Colonial League, Nazareth downed Wilson 35-23 on four falls.
On January 16th, Freedom scored falls in three of the final four bouts to upend Easton 32-22, and Parkland won the last two bouts against Allen to edge the Canaries 32-26. Next up for the Patriots was ultra-tough Phillipsburg who won in a 45-8 rout.
On January 21st, Nazareth jumped out to an early 13-3 lead against rival Saucon Valley. The Panthers took the lead on Ken Ziegler’s fall at 167 and extended it to 24-20 after the 185 pound bout. Heavyweight Bob Fehr’s fall gave the Blue Eagles a 26-24 victory.
On January 27 th, the long awaited Centennial League showdown between Stroudsburg and Northern Lehigh took place. The Bulldogs raced to an early lead on falls by Jim Milot and Todd Herzog and then saw Stroudsburg pull to within 24-21 after John Fisher’s fall at 167, but Darrin and Dan Evans both posted wins as Northern Lehigh won 31-21 and all but assured itself of the Centennial League title. On February 4th, Pocono Mountain would claim 2nd place by downing Stroudsburg by an impressive 39-15 score.
The annual “War on the Delaware” took place on January 30th. Phillipsburg’s John Barna (112) and Brett Morrow (126) scored falls. Easton’s Jody Karam won a 16-14 bout over Don Margeson. The Stateliners won their first dual against Easton since 1976 by a 31-20 score. Liberty rallied to win three of the final four bouts to top Saucon Valley 32-25.
On February 3rd, Catasauqua then upset Saucon Valley 31-29 pretty much clinching the league title for Nazareth. Jeff Gerhard (98), Jeff Miller (145) and Chris Gerhard (155) scored falls. North Schuylkill avenged defeats the past two seasons against Hazelton by beating the Cougars 22-21. Freedom defeated Nazareth 38-17.
Phillipsburg won the first six bouts to establish all the momentum as they beat Bethlehem Catholic 32-13 to win the EPC title. One week later, Liberty defeated the Hawks 27-13 to clinch 2nd place in the EPC. Pocono Mountain started with two falls and finished with one as they defeated Nazareth 31-27.
Easton led Shikellamy 22-9 with only four bouts to go, but the Braves scored three falls to clip the Rovers 29-24. In a late dual on February 24th,
Another very competitive dual season ended with Phillipsburg, Nazareth and Northern Lehigh all going undefeated in their respective leagues to win the East Penn, Colonial and Centennial league titles. Phillipsburg finished 18-2 while Nazareth was 12-5 and Northern Lehigh was 16-2. Liberty and North Schuylkill were both 20-1, Catasauqua 15-3, Saucon Valley 14-3-1, Pocono Mountain 13-2 and Easton was 11-4.
Final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1981-82||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||9||3-8|