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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 1984-85||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||9||3-8|
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.
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.