After five years coaching at Hazleton, Don Rohn returned to the Lehigh Valley to take over a Northampton program that had finished 6-13 the previous year. In the EPC, Phillipsburg was favored to outpace Bethlehem Catholic, Easton and Liberty. In the Centennial League, Northern Lehigh was favored to repeat while in the Colonial League, Wilson was seen as the team to beat.
December kicked off with Bethlehem Catholic had pins in the final four bouts to defeat Saucon Valley 39-26. Allen, with transfer Felix Rosado, lost a close bout to Nazareth 29-23 and signaled that they belonged among the top tier programs in the Lehigh Valley. In the Reilly Tournament, Easton had four champs to outpace Bethlehem Catholic.
After dropping a dual to Northern Lehigh, Northwestern bounced back and upset Pocono Mountain 30-26 in Centennial League action. Freedom’s Scott Turner bumped up to 155 and had a 1-1 draw with Becahi’s Duane Peoples; the Hawks won the final three bouts to triumph 31-19. Easton cruised past Nazareth 44-14. Northern Lehigh passed a key pre-Christmas Centennial League test by defeating Pocono Mountain 31-18.
In the annual holiday tournaments, Bethlehem Catholic and Northern Lehigh were locked in a tight battle heading into the final round. Pat Santoro’s upset win over Jim Milot at 112 proved to be the winning margin for the Hawks especially after the Bulldogs’ Darrin Evans nipped John Wagner at 167. Northwestern won the Jim Thorpe tourney,
On January 6th, Easton gained revenge, winning the final five bouts, to top Liberty 37-18. Wilson hammered Saucon Valley 44-12 in a key Colonial League battle. Two huge EPC matches followed a week later with Easton topping Bethlehem Catholic 36-18 and Phillipsburg jumping to an early lead and defeating Liberty 33-17. The Easton-Becahi match featured a marquee match-up at 155 with Jody Karam battling Duane Peoples. Peoples led 11-8 in the 3rd period and countered a Karam headlock attempt with a throw but was DQ’d for an illegal slam – a result that left neither boy nor the crowd satisfied.
At about the midway point of the dual schedule, Easton and P-Burg were headed for a showdown in the EPC as Nazareth and Wilson were in the Colonial. Northern Lehigh was solidly in the top spot in the Centennial League and expected to run the table.
“A frenzied packed house in Wilson” per The Morning Call was the setting for the Nazareth-Wilson showdown on January 20th. Wilson took an early lead and led 17-9 at the halfway point, but the Blue Eagles won all but one of the remaining bouts to win 33-20.
Allen pulled off a huge upset beating Bethlehem Catholic 30-21 and giving Coach Don Schleicher his first win over a Bethlehem school in his eight year career. The same night, Nazareth defeated Saucon Valley 34-21 to basically lock up the Colonial League title.
To the north, North Schuylkill was rolling through the competition in the Schuylkill League. The Spartans knocked off Shikellamy 39-23 and rival Hazleton 34-17.
What remained was the Easton-Phillipsburg match on February 3rd which would decide the EPC title. The Rovers dropped a number of their lower weights and jumped out to a 19-0 lead. The Stateliners fought back with falls in the next two bouts and a major decision to trim the lead to 19-16. John Swick and Jody Karam had falls in the next two bouts, and Easton won 31-26.
The rest of the dual season played out largely as expected. After snow delayed the initial dual, North Schuylkill traveled to Slatington to face Northern Lehigh on February 17th. The Bulldogs led 16-0 after three bouts, but North Schuylkill was able to take advantage of the rule requiring the home team to put their wrestler on the mat first so Coach Cesari was able to get the matchups that he wanted at 126/132 and 145/155. The Spartans held a 22-16 lead with three bouts to go. Darrin Evans, who dealt Rob Wary his first loss in 30 bouts, and Chris Grammes put Northern Lehigh ahead 23-22, but Glenn Geist’s pin at heavyweight gave the Spartans a 28-23 victory.
An exciting dual season ended with Easton, Nazareth and Northern Lehigh all going undefeated in their respective leagues to win the East Penn, Colonial and Centennial league titles. Easton finished 15-1 (losing only to Shikellamy) while Nazareth was 14-4 and Northern Lehigh was 17-1 (losing only to North Schuylkill). North Schuylkill finished an incredible 27-0, Phillipsburg 17-2, Freedom 15-4-1, Allen 15-5, Liberty 14-3 and Nazareth 14-4. North Schuylkill was so dominant that it outscored its opponents 1,334-278 in its 27 dual meet victories.
Final league standing were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1982-83||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||8||3-8|