“A Four-Way Tossup” was the headline in The Morning Call to preview the EPC season. Easton, Phillipsburg, Northampton and Allen all graduated quality and quantity in the talent area from their fine 1984-85 squads, but plenty of skilled wrestlers returned at each school. The Rovers lost 3-time state champ Jack Cuvo but returned eight letterwinners while Allen lost state champ Scott Schleicher but returned strong middle-upper weight starters. The Kids lost two district champs, but returned many quality starters. Phillipsburg returned two-time state champ Dave Boncher, but lost two state place winners. Liberty, who lost state champ Gino Capuano was also expected to be very competitive, and many other teams were looking to take a big step forward.
Northwestern, which was returning eight starters, was favored to take their 3rd straight Centennial title. The Tigers were expected to be challenged by Stroudsburg, which was also returning eight starters, and Northern Lehigh with two returning state runner-ups, Larry Rehrig and Don Evans, and eight other starters back. Pocono Mountain was looking to again break into the top three.
In 23 years of coaching (to date) at Nazareth, Ray Nunamaker had never had a losing season. This year was not expected to be an exception as the Blue Eagles were expected to easily win another Colonial League crown. Long-time rival coach, Charlie Bartolet, retired after 25 years at the helm of Saucon Valley. Bartolet, along with long-time assistant, Doug Koch, who also retired, coached nine state champions. Wilson, senior-laden Southern Lehigh and Salisbury, which returned the highly-talented trio of Tony Buttillo, Lee Todora and John Fidelibus, were expected to battle for 2nd place.
The technical fall was introduced for the 1985-86 season with the match ending immediately and the wrestler winning the match by technical fall if a wrestler secured an advantage of 15 points over his opponent. Five team points were awarded in a dual.
The season kicked off on December 13th with the ASD Tournament, which featured six returning champions. Allen and Dieruff did battle in the ASD Tournament with the Canaries nipping the Huskies 137-134; Allen had four champs (Sean Moffitt, Scott Hovan, Jeff Roth & Jay Weiss) to Dieruff’s two (Buddy Maxwell & Rick Frable). The team title came down to the final bout but Husky sophomore Ted Steiner lost a 7-6 decision to Pennridge’s Luke Hadfield, and the Canaries had the title.
Easton had three champions (Trevor Purdy, Mike Disora & Tom Marchetti) in the Crestwood Tourney. Liberty won the Wilkes-Barre Coughlin Tourney with Freedom placing 2nd and Shikellamy 3rd. The Hurricanes won titles in the first three weights with Pat Tocci, Del Costan and Dan McIntyre. Craig Katynski (185) was Freedom’s champion and one of nine overall place winners for the Patriots.
On opening weekend, Northampton won nine of twelve bouts to defeat Northern Lehigh 48-15; Catasauqua clipped Stroudsburg 30-24; and Bethlehem Catholic won three meets out-of-state.
On December 19th, Northampton defeated Bethlehem Catholic 34-18 in an early test. Dave Foley decisioned Steve Reuben 13-12 and John Likins decisioned Stan Reuben 12-9, but five bonus point wins were a big decider for the K-Kids. Allen rallied with falls at 145-155-167 for a comeback win over Whitehall 31-25
Two days later Nazareth wrestled Easton in a packed 25th Street gym. The Blue Eagles were 0-14-2 against the Rovers in the past 16 years and hadn’t beaten them since the 1964-65 season. A victory would have to wait one more year, but the Blue Eagles rallied for a 28-28 tie on Jim Deutsch’s decision and Randy Schoenberger’s fall in the final two bouts. Liberty defeated Wilson 37-22.
Bethlehem Catholic finished 2nd in the Carlisle Tourney with three champions. Parkland had two champions in their own tournament.
In the Christmas City Tourney, Northampton grabbed an early lead and easily took the team title with six 2ndplace finishers and four other placers to outdistance Nazareth. The Kids had the depth of very good wrestlers, but it was Allen and Northern Lehigh who crowned the most champs with three each in Scott Hovan, Jeff Roth & Jay Weiss for the Canaries and Ron Heller, Larry Rehrig & Don Evans for the Bulldogs.
Stroudsburg won the Warren Hills title as Mike Transue, Dave Zettlemoyer and Jim Perry finished 1st while Dieruff won the Kutztown title with four champs – Jose Fragoas, Dan Ortega, Buddy Maxwell and Rick Frable. Phillipsburg was 2nd in their own tourney behind Brick Memorial with three champs, Mike Kocsis, Dave Boncher & Darren Anthony. Easton was an uncharacteristic 6th in the Manheim Tourney, but still had three champs in Doug Hager, Mike DiSora and Tom Marchetti.
Parkland & Emmaus were 2nd & 3rd, respectively at Governor Mifflin; Darrin Roth & Tom Yankanich won for the Trojans while Jim Carls was the lone champ for the Hornets. Northwestern won the Jim Thorpe Tourney with five champs – Chris Shalbert, Scott Derr, Ed Klechner, Butch Padamonsky and Chris Hunsicker while Pen Argyl finished 2nd with Chris Yocum finishing 1st.
Allen cruised past Parkland 38-12, and Phillipsburg defeated Emmaus 37-22 in EPC action on January 3rd.
The following day before 1,500 fans in Northampton’s new junior high gym, the K-Kids defeated Easton 33-20 leaving only one team, Phillipsburg, on the “Kids Wall of Revenge” per Ted Meixell of The Morning Call. Coach Rohn pointed to Jeff Kaboly’s 12-4 win over Tom Marchetti as a pivotal bout. The same day, Northwestern matched up with Northern Lehigh in one of two key Centennial League tests. The Tigers were up for the challenge, before a packed house of 1,500 fans, scoring two pins and two technical falls on their way to a 34-27 win.
In the Colonial League, Palisades won its first match ever over Wilson 31-28, and Salisbury trimmed Saucon Valley 33-31. Phillipsburg beat NJ-rival, Delaware Valley, 36-27, and Nazareth rallied to win five of the final six bouts to down Emmaus 34-24.
Less than a week later, Coach Frank Gutierrez’s Liberty squad went from darkhorse to contender as they knocked off Easton 33-22. The terrific lightweight trio of Pat Tocci, Del Costan and Dan McIntyre opened a 17-0 lead and Easton could not close the gap.
Allen’s Coach Don Schleicher got his 100th win as the Canaries’ “Murderer’s Row” of Scott Hovan, Jeff Roth, Jay Weiss and Jim Liposvsky won four in a row including Weiss bumping up to 185 to defeat tough Craig Katynski 8-2 as Allen nipped Freedom 29-28.
On January 9th, Nazareth dominated Southern Lehigh 51-10, but the rest of the topsy-turvy Colonial League was still trying to sort itself out. Wilson whipped Catasauqua 39-20; Palisades scored five falls to defeat Saucon Valley 38-28; and Pen Argyl also scored five falls to surprise Salisbury 39-30.
Northwestern won their 25th straight dual surviving an upper weight Pocono Mountain rally to hold on for a 33-28 win. The Cardinals hoped to limit the damage against the Tigers strong lightweights, but the scored stood at 21-0 after four bouts. Pocono Mountain would win six of the remaining eight bouts, but Northwestern’s two wins were by fall.
Quakertown proved they were a very strong team by knocking off Northampton by a surprising 37-13 score. For good measure, two days later Quakertown followed up by whipping Allen 36-18. Allen clipped Palisades 33-21 while Parkland was too much for Northwestern as they won 33-21; Northampton whipped Wilson 37-13; and Nazareth downed Pocono Mountain 44-13. In the Pat Reilly Invitational, visiting Canon McMillan was impressive in defeating both Phillipsburg 36-22 and Easton 35-19.
On January 15th, Pocono Mountain nipped Northern Lehigh 29-28 on the strength of three pins. The Bulldogs opened a 10-0 lead before the Cardinals scored two falls and Steve Paglusch decisioned Ron Heller 7-2 at 126 for a 15-10 lead. After two decisions, the Bulldogs again led 16-15. The Cardinals again came back by scoring two major decisions and a fall by John McCoy at 167 to clinch the “W”.
In the Colonial League, Palisades dealt Pen Argyl their first league loss 37-17 setting up a showdown with Nazareth a few days later. Nazareth did their part by defeating Salisbury 49-17.
One day later, an “unnecessary roughness” call in the 155-pound match between Liberty and Northampton led Coach Don Rohn to pull his team off the mat with three matches to go. Liberty led 21-7 when Brian Chamberlain was disqualified at 155 on the unnecessary roughness call. The Hurricanes picked up six plus eighteen points on the forfeits to triumph 45-7 in one of the more controversial matches in Valley history. Emmaus led early and held off Bethlehem Catholic 28-27 while Phillipsburg was too much for Freedom 35-14.
Unbeaten Nazareth won all but three bouts and hammered Palisades, who had been 3-0 in the league, 46-10. The Blue Eagles also defeated Freedom 35-18. In the Centennial League, Northern Lehigh’s Mike Kistler scored a major decision at heavyweight to nip East Stroudsburg 32-31. Easton only had a .500 record and was facing defending state champ, Shikellamy, but picked up a big 28-26 win. Northampton won eight bouts in topping Pocono Mountain 36-17.
Having lost only to Canon-McMillan (PA’s #1 ranked team), Phillipsburg raced to a 24-0 lead and only allowed bonus points to one of Allen’s “Murderer’s Row” to top the Canaries 31-19 on January 23rd. Easton doubled up Freedom 36-18. In the Centennial League, Pocono Mountain trailed East Stroudsburg 27-14, but won big in the final four bouts to triumph 35-27. Nazareth stayed unbeaten in the Colonial League by clipping Catasauqua 46-8; Salisbury nipped Southern Lehigh 31-30; and Wilson whipped Pen Argyl 39-13.
With a growing rivalry and a “record-setting 1,900 people … shoehorned…in Nazareth’s High School gym”, Northampton’s Reuben brothers – Steve and Stan – posted key wins to lead the K-Kids to a 34-25 win. Phillipsburg topped North Hunterdon 39-12 to give Coach Rick Thompson his 100th dual meet win.
Easton tight wrist tilted their way to bonus points and a victory over rival Phillipsburg 35-21. Tom Marchetti won the Brad Weaver Memorial Award by beating tough Tim Miers 18-8. P-Burg was without two-time state champ Dave Boncher who had knee surgery, but Coach Rick Thompson still thought his ‘Liners could win the meet. Liberty stood alone as the only unbeaten team in the EPC.
Easton vs. Phillipsburg Match (Easton HS Sports Videos)
After Jeff Roth’s fall, Allen was within range trailing by five to Northampton as Jay Weiss took the mat against Jeff Kaboly. As he had in the Easton dual, Kaboly came up big, nipping Weiss 5-4 to lead the Kids to a 34-19 win. Emmaus’ strong middle weights were the key to topping Freedom 28-26 while Parkland’s Dana Parks had a fall in the final match to give the Trojans a 30-25 win over Bethlehem Catholic.
Stroudsburg gave Northwestern all they wanted and more, but the Tigers were able to make some line-up maneuvers as the visiting team and were able to earn a hard fought 32-30 victory. The win all but clinched the Centennial League crown. Nazareth downed Wilson 40-23 in their closest Colonial League match of the season.
On February 1st, Bethlehem Catholic won all but one of the first six bouts against Allen. The exception being a 1-1 draw between John Likins and Sean Moffitt at 119. The Hawks led 24-2, but the Canaries won the final six bouts for a 29-24 victory. Easton defeated Parkland 31-16. Pocono Mountain stayed in the Centennial League title hunt by downing Lehighton 37-22; Stroudsburg remained tied with the Cardinals in 2nd place by beating Northern Lehigh 40-24.
On February 6th, Phillipsburg had held their own with Liberty’s strong lightweights and actually led 10-7 after the 126-pound bout. The Hurricanes’ middleweights were the key as they reeled off four straight wins from 132-155 for a 26-18 win to close in on an EPC title. Allen trailed Emmaus 19-4 at the halfway point, but the Canaries had been coming back all year long in the upper weights. Emmaus’ Troy Schantz scored a fall at 155 and Steve O’Brein won by major decision at heavyweight to pull out a 29-28 win.
Palmerton almost spelled “D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R” for Northwestern. The Tigers led 27-16 with only four bouts to go, but Palmerton got two falls and a technical fall to earn a 33-33 tie. With the tie, Northwestern was still able to win the Centennial League title outright. Stroudsburg secured 2nd place by upending Pocono Mountain 35-22. Nazareth clinched the Colonial League title by pounding Pen Argyl 51-8.
Northampton led Phillipsburg 23-18 after Jeff Kaboly came back to beat Tim Miers 10-5, but Robbie Packard stunned Eric Gieski, who had dropped from heavyweight, with a fall at 189. After a forfeit win at heavyweight, the Stateliners topped Northampton 30-23 in an exciting dual.
The same evening, Quakertown broke North Penn’s 43 match unbeaten streak 34-23; Nazareth defeated Parkland 44-14; and Palisades edged Emmaus 28-24. In rivalry bouts, Liberty ripped Freedom 48-9, and Easton easily beat Wilson 35-17.
The next week, Allen’s Murderer’s Row of Hovan-Roth-Weiss tallied three straight wins as the Canaries defeated Easton 30-19. Liberty beat Emmaus 43-11 to clinch their first EPC title sinced 1976. In a closely contested dual, Phillipsburg nipped Parkland 26-24 to finish 2nd in the EPC.
In a battle of league champions, Nazareth won eight bouts to roll to a 39-14 win over Northwestern. Nazareth followed up with a bout against unbeaten Liberty, but the Hurricanes raced out to a 30-0 lead and held off the Blue Eagles 30-21 to remain unbeaten. Easton bounced back from its loss to defeat an undermanned North Penn team 49-14 and tie Downingtown 30-30. In closely contested non-league bouts, Catasauqua defeated Whitehall 33-29; Freedom won the final two bouts to beat Wilson 30-26; Northwestern edged Emmaus 34-28; Parkland clipped Northern Lehigh 31-24; and Wilson nipped East Stroudsburg 31-26.
On February 19th, Liberty closed out an unbeaten 18-0 season, EPC championship season, by defeating Allen 33-20. Easton won decisions in the final three bouts to down Bethlehem Catholic 30-20. Freedom got falls from Craig Katynski and Tim Cuevas to defeat Parkland 29-25.
Phillipsburg repeated as NJ Section 2, Group 4 dual champion and would go on to win the NJ state dual tournament.
Nazareth crowned three champions to add a Colonial League tournament title to the trophy case, but Stroudsburg, with six finalists, dethroned Northwestern and outpaced Pocono Mountain and Northern Lehigh to win the Centennial League tourney title.
In season-ending rivalry duals, Parkland beat Emmaus 31-26; Bethlehem Catholic cruised past Allentown Central Catholic 50-14; and Allen defeated Dieruff 37-29.
Nazareth was 8-0 in the Colonial League and finished 15-2-1 overall while Northwestern won the Centennial League with a 7-0-1 league record and finished 14-2-1 overall. Other teams with very strong records included Northampton 15-3, Phillipsburg 19-3, Easton 12-4-2, Allen 12-5, Stroudsburg 14-2, Pocono Mountain 11-4, Palisades 14-4, Quakertown 16-1.
Final league standings were as follows:
|Compiled Standings 1985-86||Place||W-L-D|
|Allentown Central Catholic||12||0-11|
District 11 Tournament
In the District XI AAA Tourney, Easton and Allen jumped out to an early lead after Day 1. The Rovers were helped by #10 seed Dave Moser upset Liberty’s #2 seed Pat Tocci at 105. 6th seeds, Doug Hager and Trevor Purdy, also advanced to the semi’s. The Rovers would go on to send five men to the finals to capture the team title over Allen. Purdy (126) and Mike DiSora (132) were the Rovers champs while Allen led all team with three champions from 138-155 in Scott Hovan, Jeff Roth & Jay Weiss. The Canaries also took home much of the evening’s hardware. Don Schleicher was named Coach of the Year, and Hovan was the Outstanding Wrestler. Northampton was the only other team to win multiple titles as Brad Billy (119) and Jeff Kaboly (167) won their finals’ matches. Five other teams would crown one champion each – Emmaus’ Glen Kepic (98), Liberty’s Dan McIntyre (105), Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins (112), Freedom’s Craig Katynski and Pottsville’s John Flannery (Hwt).
North Schuylkill led Northern Lehigh and Tri-Valley after the quarterfinals in the AA tournament. Northern Lehigh had three champions, a runner-up and three 3rd place finishers to dominate the Day 2 action and win the AA team title. Further, Coach Bob Kern was Coach of the Year and Larry Rehrig was named the Outstanding Wrestler. Scott Derr (98) of Northwestern, Larry Rehrig (126) & Don Evans (185) on Northern Lehigh, Lee Todora (119) & John Fidelibus (132) of Salisbury and Frank Zelinsky (155) of Palmerton all defended their district titles. Pine Grove’s Chris Doukas (105), Northern Lehigh’s Ron Heller (112), Northwestern’s Butch Padamonsky (138), Catasauqua’s Bill Meyer (145), Tamaqua’s Garth Lakitsky and Tri-Valley’s Harold Wehry (Hwt) were also champions.
In the AAA Northeast Regionals at Bloomsburg, both Allen and Northampton went 4 for 5 to lead 21 District XI wrestlers into the semi-finals. Both the Canaries and K-Kids would crown three champions each to finish 2nd and 3rd in the team race behind Williamsport. Allen’s Scott Hovan, Jeff Roth and Jay Weiss all defeated Williamsport wrestlers in the finals in succession from 138-155 with Hovan and Roth both beating unbeaten wrestlers. Northampton’s Brad Billy (119), Stan Reuben (126) and Jeff Kaboly (167) all won titles. Reuben, a 3rd place district finisher, won three exciting bouts – 14-10, 7-6 and 16-13 – on his championship run. District XI crowned nine champs in all and advanced 20 wrestlers (5 for Allen and 4 for Northampton) to the state tourney. Emmaus’ Glen Kepic, Liberty’s Dan McIntyre (5-4 over Shikellamy star Bob Supsic) and Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins rounded out the local champs.
Northern Lehigh advanced six wrestlers to the semi-finals in AA Southeast Regional action. Ron Heller (112 – his 1st), Don Evans (185 – his 2nd) and Larry Rehrig (132 – his 3rd) all won regional titles as the Bulldogs edged North Schuylkill 86.5-83 in the team scoring. Evans’ win over the Spartans’ Chris Boylan was the clincher. The Spartans Mark Cesari upended John Fidelibus 12-8 at 132. District XI was dominate winning all but one title and claiming 34 of 36 state berths. There were eight rematches of District XI finals with Cesari and Tamaqua’s Jon Maschak (132 with a 9-8 win over Butch Padamonsky) being able to reverse the prior week’s results. The remaining District XI winners were Scott Derr, Chris Doukas, Lee Todora (his 2nd title), Frank Zelinksy, Garth Lakitsky (who roared back from a 7-0 deficit to pin Tom Socker) and Harold Wehry (who rallied for an 11-10 win).
PIAA State Championships
The Canaries and K-Kids both had their largest contingents in years headed to the state tournament (Photos Below Courtesy of The Allentown Morning Call):
In the PIAA AAA Championships, District XI moved a baker’s dozen of wrestlers through the first round, and then went ten-for-thirteen in the quarterfinals. Allen’s Murderer’s Row of Scott Hovan, Jeff Roth & Jay Weiss all made the semi-finals along with Dieruff’s surprising Rick Frable (185) to lead the local wrestlers. When the dust settled, District XI had crowned four champions. Allen’s Scott Hovan (138) won in dominant fashion, and Jeff Roth (145) scored a reversal with 2 seconds to go in the semis to top West Hazleton’s Mark Verratti 4-2 and then won by an identical score in the finals. Bethlehem Catholic’s John Likins (112) and Pottsville’s John Flannery (Hwt) both won their title bouts handily scoring major decisons. Allen, thanks to its two titlists and Jay Weiss, who finished 5th after losing to tough Mark Banks in the semis, finished 2nd in the team race. Dave Foley of Becahi was 2nd at 98, Liberty’s Dan McIntyre was 2nd at 105, and District XI had six other place winners. Verratti finished 3rd (for the third week in a row) while Glen Kepic and Brad Billy were both 4th. Easton’s Mike DiSora (132) was 5th while Northampton’s Stan Reuben (126) and Frable finished 6th.
District XI struggled in the opening round and quarterfinals as only nine wrestlers were able to move to the semi-finals including all three entrants at 132. Four wrestlers were then able to move on to the finals. Northern Lehigh’s Larry Rehrig (126) made it to the top step in Hershey with an exciting, 8-7 nail biting win in the finals. Salisbury’s John Fidelibus defeated North Schuylkill’s Mark Cesari 7-1 to claim the 132-pound title in their “rubber match”. Palmerton’s Frank Zelinsky took a 2nd place at 155. North Schuylkill and Northern Lehigh were 2nd and 3rdin the team race. District XI had nine other place winners, six of whom who finished 3rd – North Schuylkill’s Chris Rickard (98), Chris Doukas, Lee Todora, Dave Lucykanish, Butch Padamonsky and Don Evans. Scott Derr and Garth Lakitsky finished 4th while North Schuylkill’s Rich Reichwein (119) was 5th.
Phillipsburg Post Season
Phillipsburg had five champions (Mike Kocsis, Dave Bonchar, Jason Hawk, Darren Anothony and Tim Miers) to win the District 16 team title and give Coach Rick Thompson his 36th district champ in six years!
Dave Boncher, Jon Koehler and Tim Miers all won NJ Region 4 titles for Phillipsburg.
Phillipsburg’s Dave Boncher was seeking his 3rd straight NJ state title but dropped an overtime decision to finish 2nd.
The sixth annual Easton Lions Classic saw New Jersey even the series at 3-3 after a 27-25 victory. The meet had some controversy as new fewer than ten wrestlers scheduled to compete dropped out for various reasons. This caused a shuffling of the match-ups resulting in some PA wrestlers facing NJ wrestlers who competed at higher weights throughout the post season and one NJ wrestler competing twice. Two-time NJ state champ Dave Boncher and PA state champs Larry Rehrig and Jeff Roth won their bouts with Roth being named OW.
In the Challenge of Champions, Northern Lehigh’s Larry Rehrig and Salisbury’s John Fidelibus both won to help lead AA to a 23-18 victory over AAA. Allen’s Jeff Roth also participated for the AAA team but dropped a close decision.
Fidelibus would go on to participate in the Pittsburgh Press Classic and earned a draw as PA defeated the US team 25-17 to extend their edge to 8-3-1 in the overall series.