After seven extremely successful years, Dave Crowell passed the torch to Assistant Steve Powell.  The cupboard was far from bare as two-time state champ, Jack Cuvo, and seven current or former starters returned.  Northampton returned nine starters and Coach Don Rohn’s squad was expected to make the leap to the top tier in his 3rd year at the helm.  Phillipsburg and Allen were also expected to contend in the EPC.

Steve Powell
Steve Powell Took the Helm at Easton (Photo from The Morning Call)

The PIAA made significant changes to the start of wrestling and basketball seasons to eliminate the overlap with fall sports.  Start dates for wrestling practice was bumped back to November 26th and matches to December 14th.  The Morning Call’s Ted Mexeill wrote that the “PIAA had right idea but went too far” with their limitations on dual meets and tournaments.

With nine returning starters Northwestern was the heavy favorite to repeat in the Centennial League.  With six returning league champions and two other starters returning, Nazareth was expected to easily win their fifth straight Colonial League title.

Northwestern Wrestling
Northwestern Had Plenty of Returning Talent Heading into the ’84-’85 Season (Photo Courtesy of Northwestern HS Yearbook)

The very first ASD Tournament kicked off the new season.  Hosted by Dieruff, the event featured Allen, Allentown Central Catholic, the host Huskies, Emmaus, Kutztown, Pennridge, Salisbury and Whitehall (under new Coach Ed Kutz).  Allen had eight finalists to easily win the first tourney title, but surprising Salisbury (Tony Buttillo, Lee Todora & Evan Fidelisbus) and Emmaus (Chris Zorman, Tom Johns & Bucky Nicholas) tied for the most individual champs.  Liberty and Freedom finished 2nd and 3rd in the Wilkes-Barre Holiday Wrestling Tourney behind Shikellamy.  Easton had five champions in winning the Crestwood Tournament.

Allen Wrestling
Allen Won the 1st ASD Tourney (Photo Courtesy of Allen HS Yearbook)
Salisbury Wrestling
Salisbury Tied for the Most Champs in the ASD Tourney (Photo Courtesy of Salisbury HS Yearbook)

Northampton opened the EPC by defeating Bethlehem Catholic 32-21 with Terry Daubert, Joe Billy and Wayne Reiss scoring falls.  On December 22nd, Easton visited Nazareth before a packed house.  The Rovers triumphed 36-19 on the strength of four falls.  Parkland hosted a small, but very competitive tourney with North Penn winning the title followed by the Trojans and Quakertown.

Joe Billy
Joe Billy Helped Lead the Kids Over Becahi (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

Nazareth edged Salesianum, DE, Allen and Northampton to claim the Christmas City team title.  Ron Miller, Jim Karch and Rusty Amato won individual titles for the Blue Eagles.  Quakertown had six champs to easily win the Kutztown Tourney; Northwestern captured their 3rd straight Jim Thorpe Tourney title; Emmaus won the Governor Mifflin Tourney; Wilson won the Delaware Valley tourney; and Stroudsburg was 2nd at the Warren Hills Holiday Tourney.  Easton had four individual champs – Jack Cuvo, Jerry Hulbert, Jeff Karam and Kevin Benton – to edge Meadville in the Manheim Central Tourney.  Liberty, paced by Gino Capuano and Elliot Cox, took 3rd in the Top Hat Tourney.

Elliot Cox
Elliot Cox Anchored the Hurricanes’ Lineup (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)

After the holidays, Northwestern hammered Northern Lehigh 44-11 which begged the question “could anyone in the Centennial League hang with the Tigers?”  Northampton led early (15-6 after five bouts), but Easton roared back to win the next six bouts to claim a 31-20 victory.  One week later, the Rovers defeated Liberty 31-17 piling up 19 team points from 145-185 while Northwestern doubled up Pocono Mountain 36-18.

The Pat Reilly Memorial Tournament morphed into Duals in 1985.  Easton and Phillipsburg both defeated PA western powerhouse, Canon-McMillan, and Phillipsburg-Osceola.

In the Colonial League, Nazareth easily passed their first test by beating up-and-coming Salisbury 44-22.  Northampton stayed in EPC contention when Wayne Reiss used a “cement job” for match clinching fall at 185 in a 31-24 win over Liberty.

Wayne Reiss
Wayne Reiss Scored Some Big Falls for Coach Don Rohn’s Kids (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)

2nd-ranked Easton traveled to Sunbury to wrestle #1 Shikellamy.  Shik won four bouts by two points or less to prove their #1 state ranking.

Heading into its January 24th dual against Phillipsburg, Allen was undefeated in the EPC along with the Stateliners and Rovers.  Allen was still looking for its 1st win over Phillipsburg since 1966, but Coach Rick Thompson’s ‘Liners had other ideas, jumped out to a huge lead, and won 31-18.  The same night, Nazareth kept its undefeated record intact in the Colonial League by beating Catasauqua 39-15.

Rick Thompson
Phillipsburg Had Another Fine Season Under Coach Rick Thompson (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)
Nazareth Wrestling
Nazareth Was Led by Jim Karch and Rusty Amato (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)

Bion Konya (155) and Wayne Reiss (Hwt) both scored falls as a packed house at Northampton Junior High School exploded as the Kids defeated Nazareth, for the first time in five years, 36-24.  A few miles to the south, another powerhouse was developing in Coach Dave Evans’ Quakertown squad.  The Panthers knocked off both Liberty and Allen and moved up to #5 in the area wrestling poll with a 10-0 record.

Northampton Wrestling
Northampton Crowds Were Growing as the Kids Success Grew (Photo Courtesy of Northampton HS Yearbook)
Quakertown Wrestling
Quakertown Defeated Some the Valley’s Best Teams as They Built a District 1 Powerhouse (Photo Courtesy of Quakertown HS Yearbook)

While it was not surprising that Phillipsburg defeated Northampton, the final margin of victory 41-12 was.  It was a total team effort for the Stateliners.  The Kids bounced back to edge Allen 31-29 with pins from Steve and Stan Reuben and two superior decisions being the difference.

Easton sophomores, Doug Hager and Tom Marchetti, both came up big and Easton’s strong upperweights (145-185) iced the match as the Rovers defeated Phillipsburg 32-13 in their annual rivalry match to put themselves alone in the top spot in the EPC.

On February 9th, Pocono Mountain dealt Stroudsburg a 28-23 loss, taking away much of the anticipation from the Mounties upcoming match with Northwestern.  The Tigers trounced the Mounties 52-6 to wrap up the Centennial League Title.  Nazareth and Northwestern again wrestled a non-league bout and this time, the Tigers turned the tables on the Blue Eagles 30-21.  Northwestern jumped out to an early lead and clinched the win when Keith Neilsen earned a 4-4 draw with Rusty Amato at 185.

Northwestern Wrestling
Scoreboard Tells the Tale as Northwestern Upended Nazareth (Photo Courtesy of Northwestern HS Yearbook)
The Lineup Board for the Allen-Dieruff Match (Photo Courtesy of Risa Roth)

The regular season ended with all league champions undefeated in league action, as follows (overall records in parenthesis):  EPC – Easton (17-1), Colonial – Nazareth (14-4), Centennial – Northwestern (16-0).  Other teams with very good records included:  Allen & Becahi 13-5, Northampton 15-2, Phillipsburg 21-2, Pocono Mountain 13-3 and Salisbury 16-2.

League standings were as follows:

Compiled Standings 1984-85PlaceW-L-D
East Penn
Easton111-0
Phillipsburg210-1
Northampton39-2
William Allen4T7-4
Bethlehem Catholic4T7-4
Freedom6T6-5
Liberty6T6-5
Parkland84-7
Allentown Central Catholic93-8
Emmaus102-9
Dieruff111-10
Whitehall120-11
Colonial
Nazareth18-0
Salisbury27-1
Wilson35-3
Catasauqua4T4-4
Palisades4T4-4
Pen Argyl6T3-5
Southern Lehigh6T3-5
Bangor82-6
Saucon Valley90-8
Centennial
Northwestern18-0
Pocono Mountain27-1
Stroudsburg36-2
Northern Lehigh4T4-4
Notre Dame4T4-4
Palmerton62-5-1
East Stroudsburg7T2-6
Lehighton7T2-6
Pleasant Valley90-7-1
Jack Cuvo-John Likins
Easton Finished the Season Unbeaten in the EPC by Defeating Becahi. Jack Cuvo scored 13 points in the 3rd period to Defeat John Likins 19-13 (Photo from The Morning Call)

Nazareth and Northwestern dominated their league tournaments just as they had during the regular season as they each crowned five league champions in their respective tournaments.  Phillipsburg regained the NJ District 16 team title from Delaware Valley with six champions.  They went on to crown three Region 4 champions.

Nazareth Wrestling
The Nazareth Blue Eagles Won Both the Regular Season and Tourney Titles in the Colonial League (Photo Courtesy of Nazareth HS Yearbook)
Northwestern Wrestling
Northwestern Lived Up to Expectations in the Centennial League (Photo Courtesy of Northwestern HS Yearbook)

It was a clean sweep for Easton in the District XI AAA tournament.  The Rovers took the team title with three champions – Jack Cuvo, Jerry Hulbert and Jeff Karam.  Jack Cuvo became only the third wrestler to win four District titles and also was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler and won the pinner award.  Coach Steve Powell was named Coach of the Year.

North Schuylkill had won four team titles and coach of the year awards, but 1985 was a different year.  Northwestern crowned three champs – Scott Derr, Phil Villard and Keith Nielsen to win the team title.  Yep – the Tigers’ Mike Pladdus was named Coach of the Year.  The Spartans nipped Northern Lehigh, who also had three titlists, for 2nd.

Northwestern Wrestling
Northwestern District Champs – Scott Derr, Phil Villard and Keith Nielsen (Photos Courtesy of Northwestern HS Yearbook)

District XI advanced 24 wrestlers to the semi-finals in the AAA Northeast Regional tourney.  Shikellamy put a bit of a crimp in D XI’s plan as they crowned four champs and advanced eight to states to win the team title.  District XI was able to crown seven champs (four from Easton) and advance 18 wrestlers to the states.  For the Rovers, Jack Cuvo became the first ever 4-time NE Regional champ while Jerry Hulbert, Jeff Karam and Mark Benton also won.

District XI was completely dominant in the Southeast AA Regional advancing 44 of 48 wrestlers to the semi-finals.  Northwestern, Northern Lehigh and Salisbury finished 1-2-3 in the team race in leading the local wrestlers to claim 33 of 36 state qualifier slots.

In the state championships, District XI had six finalists in AAA and three champions.  Jack Cuvo was named Outstanding Wrestler as he claimed his 3rd state title with a takedown clinic 26-12.  After finishing 2nd to Easton’s Jerry Hulbert two weeks in a row, Liberty’s Gino Capuano won the 138 pound title 8-5 over Quakertown’s Tom Hontz.  Allen got their first state champ in 18 years as Scott Schleicher took the title at 145.  Liberty’s Dan McIntyre (98), Freedom’s Keith Venanzi (132) and Nazareth’s Jim Karch (167) placed 2nd.

Gino Capuano
Gino Capuano Won the 138 Pound State Title for Liberty (Photo Courtesy of Liberty HS Yearbook)
Scott Schleicher
Scott Schleicher Was Allen’s 1st State Champ in 18 Years (Photo Courtesy of Allen HS Yearbook)

Northern Lehigh was the surprise team champ in the state AA competition thanks to two runner-ups (Larry Rehrig and Don Evans) and a 4th place finish.  District XI did get two state champs in Pine Grove’s Allen Daubert (105) and North Schuylkill’s Steve Cesari (145).  Salisbury freshman, Lee Todora, took 2nd place and suffered the 1st loss of his career – an 8-7 heartbreaker.

Northern Lehigh Wrestling
Northern Lehigh Won the AA State Title Under Coach Bob Kern (Photos Courtesy of Northern Lehigh HS Yearbook)
Allen Daubert
Allen Daubert Became Pine Grove’s 1st State Champion (Photo Courtesy of Pine Grove HS Yearbook)
Steve Cesari
Steve Cesari Celebrates With His Father & Coach After Winning the State Title (Photo Courtesy of N. Schuylkill HS Yearbook)
Lee Todora
As a Freshman, Lee Todora, did not Lose a Bout Until the State Final (Photo Courtesy of Salisbury HS Yearbook)

For Phillipsburg, Dave Boncher won his 2nd state title while Jeff Turner was a runner-up.

Dave Boncher
Dave Boncher Claimed his 2nd NJ State Title (Photo Courtesy of Phillipsburg HS Yearbook)
Photo of Program Cover from 5th Easton Lions Classic (Photo Courtesy of Cathy Leibernsperger)

Jack Cuvo was victorious in the Challenge of Champions while Scott Schleicher and Steve Cesari battled to an 8-8 draw; Gino Capuano also participated and had a draw.  Cuvo, Capuano and Schleicher all participated in the Pittsburgh Press Classic and won as PA triumphed over the US team 29-13.

Jack Cuvo
Jack Cuvo Won His 4th District, 4th NE Regional & 3rd PA AAA State Title and Capped His HS Career Winning in the Pittsburgh Press Classic (Photo from The Morning Call)