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Legendary Union football coach Lou Rettino, who passed away 23 years ago on March 22nd, will be posthumously inducted into the New Jersey State Coaches Association Hall of Fame this Sunday at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village. (photos are courtesy of Union High School Athletics)

NJSCA Hall Of Fame Is Set
To Induct Legendary Coach 

By JR Parachini
for sidelinehatter.com

Lou Rettino was a successful football coach long before he got to Union High School.

The 1959 St. Peter’s Prep graduate - who scored touchdowns in bowl games while playing running back for Villanova and who was then drafted in 1963 by teams from the NFL (Green Bay Packers) and AFL (New York Jets) - had positive coaching stints at SPP, Marist in Bayonne, Memorial in West New York and Somerville and also one year as an assistant at Elizabeth in 1976, with the Minutemen qualifying for the North 2, Group 4 playoffs that season for the first time.

When the Westfield resident was selected by then Union Township Superintendent of Schools Dr. James Caulfield as Union High School’s ninth head football coach in 1977, the Farmers were coming off four consecutive sub-.500 seasons.

Under Rettino’s 19-season tenure Union finished above .500 each year. What was more impressive was the fact that the Farmers qualified for the North 2, Group 4 playoffs 15 of those seasons (only four teams made it back then), reached the championship game 12 times and won the title on 10 occasions.

Although it has not won a state championship since 1993 Union still holds the record for most won in the playoff era in North 2, Group 4 with 10. Rettino led the Farmers to all 10 in just a 16-season span (1978-1993).

Also a member of the Hudson County, Villanova and New Jersey Football Coaches Association Hall of Fames, on Sunday, March 24 Rettino will be inducted into the New Jersey State Coaches Association (NJSCA) Hall of Fame.

“This is an honor that’s long overdue,” UHS Athletic Director Linda Ionta said.

The affair will take place at the Westin Princeton at Forrestal Village in Princeton.

After nearly a four-year battle with stomach cancer, Rettino passed away at the age of 54 on March 22, 1996.

Rettino’s final coaching victory mark - all schools - came in at 216, including an incredible 171-23-5 (.881) record at Union.

His playoff record leading the Farmers was an unheard of (at the time) 22-5, including 10-2 in the North 2, Group 4 final and 12-3 in the semifinals.

Rettino guided many Farmer teams to highly-memorable victories, including running back Dave D’Addio’s senior season of 1978 and running back Tony Stewart’s senior season of 1985.

D’Addio, who starred collegiately at Maryland, helped lead the Farmers to their first state championship in the playoff era, a 27-0 win over Plainfield in the 1978North 2, Group 4 state championship game at the old Giants Stadium.

Stewart, who starred collegiately at Iowa, helped lead the Farmers to their first 11-0 state championship team in 1984 and then in 1985 Union went 11-0 again as Stewart guided the Farmers to a 13-8 win over Montclair at that year’s North 2, Group 4 final played at Bloomfield’s Foley Field.

D’Addio and Stewart were both drafted by NFL teams, D’Addio by the Detroit Lions in 1984 and Stewart by the Seattle Seahawks in 1991.

Rettino’s best win might have taken place on Saturday, Dec. 7, 1991 – the 50th anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day and seven days before his 50th birthday.

For the second year in a row the Randolph Rams of Morris County - still holding a then-state record unbeaten streak of 59 games (58-0-1) - visited Union’s Cooke Memorial Field during the North 2, Group 4 playoffs.

The year before in 1990 Randolph left Union with a 6-0 semifinal round win in the first playoff matchup between the powers. Randolph went on to capture North 2, Group 4 its first year in the section that year after winning North 2, Group 3 four years in a row from 1986-1989.

In 1991 Union had not won North 2, Group 4 since 1987, which at that time seemed like an eternity for the Farmers.

After two quarters of play in the 1991 North 2, Group 4 state championship game at Cooke Memorial Field, Union was still without a point against the Rams. Randolph ran into the locker room ahead at 14-0 and seeking to extend its unbeaten streak to 60 games and in the process capture a state championship for the sixth straight season.

Using halftime wisely, Rettino and his staff altered some blocking schemes to give Farmer running backs more room to maneuver through.

The adjustment couldn’t have produced greater results.

As much as Randolph dominated play in the first half, Union was even more commanding the final 24 minutes.

Union scored the first time it had the ball in the third quarter and then scored another touchdown to tie the game at 14-14. The Farmers then went ahead 21-14 and when Randolph got the ball back, junior linebacker Brian Sheridan came up with a huge interception that led to a Marco Caban insurance field goal.

Union came back to produce a 24-14 win to end Randolph’s unbeaten streak and propel the Farmers to their eighth state championship in the playoff era.

Union also went on to beat Randolph in 1992 (at home) and again in 1993 (at Randolph) North 2, Group 4 state championship games. Since then, however, Union has only reached three state championship games, losing them all.

Rettino’s coaching was limited his final season at the helm in 1995, with assistant John Quinn making the final decisions in his absence.

Larger school Elizabeth won North 2, Group 4 three times during Rettino’s tenure at Union – in 1981 over Union in the final and in 1988 and 1989 after beating Union in the regular season those two years.

Elizabeth head coach Jerry Moore gave Rettino credit for Union’s success against the Minutemen. Moore said that his Elizabeth teams had far more talent, but that Union won the majority of the games when they clashed.

Union and Rettino defeated Elizabeth and Moore in the North 2, Group 4 semifinals in 1985, 1991, 1992 and 1993. Union defeated Elizabeth in the regular season every year from 1990-1995.

Two prestigious honors bestowed upon Rettino included him being named National Coach of the Year in 1995 and the top coach of the decade of the 1980s by the National Interscholastic Coaches Association.

Union reached the North 2, Group 4 playoffs eight times in the 1980s, advancing to the championship game seven times and winning it five times.

The following story I filed immediately after reporting on in person in June of 2013:

SPRING LAKE – Get a bunch of guys together in a room at a football reunion and you find out about such things as: “the missed tackle,” “the play” and what player had the prettiest girlfriend, among other stories a bit less appropriate for publication.

However, the common thread Saturday night at Spring Lake Manor for over 50 former members of the Union High School football teams of 1977, 1978 and 1979 was honoring and remembering the legacy of their head coach, Lou Rettino, who passed away from cancer at the age of 54 on March 22, 1996.

Also in attendance were assistant coaches Fred Stengel and Jim Benedict and Rettino’s son, Lou Jr.

After having previously coached at Marist, St. Peter’s Prep, Somerville and Elizabeth, Rettino got to Union in 1977 as the next Farmers head coach, succeeding Joe Bizzaro, who had been at the helm since 1970.

“When Lou came in here you could see his determination,” said reunion organizer and 1979 Union graduate Ed Galisewski, who was a key two-way player on Union’s first of a record 10 North 2, Group 4 state championship teams his senior season of 1978.

This is the 35th anniversary of Union’s first playoff championship team, with the 1978 squad – that finished 9-1-1 – led by senior running back Dave D’Addio, who went on to star at Maryland and then play one year in the NFL with the Detroit Lions.

Galisewski, who resides in Littleton, Col., made varsity for the first time as a junior in 1977. He remembers, vividly, Rettino’s first season at the helm 36 years ago.

“In the locker room before our first game he gave us a speech, challenging us as men,” Galisewski recalled. “We would do whatever Lou asked us to. We would go through a wall for him.”

The first game in 1977 was an 8-8 tie against J.P. Stevens of North Edison, which would go on to capture Central Jersey, Group 4 titles in 1977 and 1978. Losses to Westfield, the eventual 1977 repeat North 2, Group 4 champ and Montclair sandwiched Rettino’s first win, which was a 14-0 triumph at Irvington on Oct. 8 – exactly 10 days before Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in Game 6.

“We started off slow and had a couple of setbacks,” Galisewski said.

"Westfield had players like Butch Woolfolk and they were great teams. We turned it around and started to build some momentum, which we took into our next season.”

Union closed with a five-game winning streak, ending a successful 6-2-1 campaign with a 30-6 victory at Linden on Thanksgiving. That was Union’s first winning season since 1972.

Although the Farmers did not make the playoffs in 1977, they were primed to qualify for the first time in 1978.

“What I remember about Lou is that he knew how to place players in the right positions,” Galisewski said. “He didn’t have everyone moving around like dominoes. He just put people where they needed to be. The faster linemen were the guards and the larger guys were the tackles.

“Then when you have that system with (assistant coach) Fred Stengel doing the line, with his drills about footwork, wow.”

A guard on offense and an end on defense, Galisewski saw the potential the 1978 team had right away. It began with a huge 13-0 Opening Day triumph at J.P. Stevens, which was on an 11-game unbeaten streak at the time and was a defending sectional champion.

“That was a defining moment, going in there and realizing this was going to set the tone,” Galisewski said.

With only a loss to Westfield again in Game 2, Union – which had to play all of its home games at Linden that year while Cooke Memorial Field was being drained – won five straight before playing at Plainfield the week before the playoffs.

Union and Plainfield battled to a 0-0 tie at Hub Stine Field, with both making the North 2, Group 4 playoffs, Plainfield for the second time. Ironically, both Union and Plainfield lost to Westfield, but Westfield did not make the playoffs after winning the section in 1976 and 1977.

“It was at their field in front of an intense crowd,” Galisewski said of the 0-0 tie vs. Plainfield. “We played well and they played very well. They got down to our five-yard line and on fourth-and-goal we stopped them.”

In the North 2, Group 4 playoffs, Union was the fourth seed and had to travel to Newark’s Schools Stadium to face top-seeded Barringer, which was 7-0-1 and the winner of the section in 1975. Barringer also reached the final in 1977, led by future NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett.

“They were a phenomenal team,” Galisewski said, recalling standouts such as Norm Granger. “We had to come back and score late to win that game.”
Union rallied for a thrilling 23-20 triumph to reach its first state championship game.

“I remember Lou coming out to the middle of the field at one point and really looking at us and challenging us,” Galisewski said.

Plainfield, the second seed, defeated Morris Knolls 49-20 in the other semifinal, setting up a second Union-Plainfield matchup.

This time the setting would be Giants Stadium in East Rutherford. Giants Stadium opened in 1976, with the first North 2, Group 4 final being played there the 1977 game that Westfield defeated Barringer 33-12 before a crowd of more than 30,000 fans.

Both Union and Plainfield were 8-1-1 going into the Dec. 2 clash in Bergen County, each with only a loss to Westfield and a tie against each other.

“The first half was tight,” Galisewski said. “Near the end of the first half we were up only 7-0.”

Quarterback Dom Lorusso, in attendance Saturday night, threw a touchdown pass right before halftime to give Union a two-touchdown lead.

Union managed to keep the Cardinals off the scoreboard for another two quarters en route to a decisive 27-0 triumph for its initial playoff championship.

D’Addio scored two touchdowns, carrying the ball 25 times for 150 yards.

“We ran the ball over and over again with Dave leading the way,” Galisewski said.

Galisewski remembered first practicing at Giants Stadium.

“The adrenaline just at practice was something else, being out there on that field,” Galisewski said. “For the game, I remember getting on the field and looking up. We had a pretty good crowd for that game.”

Asked what he was thinking right before the final gun sounded and the game was over, with Union winning the championship for the first time, Galisewski said, “this is why we’re here tonight, celebrating this championship 35 years later.”

Union repeated as North 2, Group 4 champions in 1979, finishing 10-1 with only a loss at Westfield. The Farmers won both of their playoff games at Giants Stadium that season, first downing Belleville 15-12 in the semifinals.

In the championship game against Livingston, the contest was tied in the third quarter before a huge defensive play propelled Union to go on and score the game’s final three touchdowns.

Union’s 35-14 triumph was sparked by a stop made early in the third quarter by senior linebacker Tommy Blazak. On fourth-and-goal from the Union three-yard line, Blazak – a team captain that year along with Mark Ignatowicz – knocked Livingston running back Fred Apicelli out of bounds before he could reach the end zone.

Livingston, coached by Al Jacobson, argued that Apicelli was in. The referee didn’t see it that way, giving Union the ball at the Livingston one. The Farmers then went 99 yards for what turned out to be the winning touchdown. Union added two more TDs before celebrating a second straight state championship.

Here’s how Blazak describes what the former Union players refer to as, “The Play,” which ended Livingston’s second-half opening drive: “With the score tied 14-14 at halftime, we really felt that momentum would go to the team that scored next. Stan Yagiello, their quarterback, was phenomenal. Things were happening so fast in the secondary that, with the goal line behind us, we really felt the game slipping.

“On fourth down they decided to go for a touchdown. It was a pitchout option to the right. I jumped off one blocker and had the goal line right at my feet.

“Then at the last minute I just made one lunge at the flag and it was enough to knock him (Apicelli) out of bounds. The referee was right on the play and he watched the play in review. He (Apicelli) was out of bounds.

“We got the ball, went 99 yards and scored; final score 35-14.

“It seems like it was yesterday.”

Lou Rettino Jr. grew up in Westfield and played quarterback for the Blue Devils in the late 1980s under head coach Ed Tranchina before graduating in 1990. At age 5 he remembered one of his father’s first wins in 1977.

“The first year they struggled the first couple of games, but I remember this vividly: he came home after beating Plainfield and kissed my mom saying that he knew he had something special,” Rettino Jr. said.

As good as Westfield was in the 1970s, Union was even better in the 1980s, with the changing of the guard among legendary Union County coaches going from Westfield’s Gary Kehler to Rettino.

While Rettino’s Union teams won back-to-back North 2, Group 4 titles in 1978 and 1979 right after Kehler’s Westfield squads did so in 1976 and 1977, it took Rettino some time before he finally beat Westfield. Rettino was 0-5 in the regular season vs. Westfield from 1977-1981 before his Farmers finally beat the Blue Devils in the 1981 N2, G4 semifinals. Rettino’s first regular season win against Westfield didn’t come until 1982. Union then posted a long winning streak against Westfield  - 16 games - before falling to the Blue Devils again in 1998.

“Westfield was the team of the decade in the 1970s and Union in the 1980s,” Rettino Jr. said. “We lived a block-and-a-half away from Gary (Kehler). Union played a ball-control, opportunistic offense.”

As Lou Jr. was growing up, Union would go on to win North 2, Group 4 again in 1982 and then in 1984 began a stretch of four straight seasons where they would capture the section, beating Montclair and Roxbury both back-to-back.

However, Lou Jr. was not part of that success. He didn’t get to play for his father. The lefty-throwing signal-caller ran the offense – in addition to starring in lacrosse – at rival Westfield.

“It was tough seeing my father on the other side,” said Rettino Jr., who now resides in Rumson. “I was a football and lacrosse player and lacrosse wasn’t offered at Union High School. Plus, all of my friends I grew up with were from Westfield.”

One of Benedict’s coaching stops after Union was as the head coach at Westfield. Now residing in Georgia, Benedict capped a 51-year playing-coaching career in 2010.

“I really thank you for the opportunity to be able to coach you guys,” Benedict said to the former players in attendance. “You’re the best players I ever worked with, not because of my coaching, but because of all of your hard work.”

Benedict, who also coached at Summit and Watchung Hills and in college at his alma mater Rutgers, had a very strong coaching relationship with Rettino.

“He helped Fred (Stengel) become one of the great coaches in the state of New Jersey and he helped me have a great experience as a coach at (college) my alma mater,” Benedict said. “He helped us all.”

Stengel is a 1967 UHS graduate who was an assistant coach at Union for 16 seasons from 1972-1987 before becoming a highly-successful head coach at Bergen Catholic beginning in 1988.

A line coach with the Farmers, Stengel had a special relationship with the players that played their guts out in the trenches.

“I was determined that we were going to be the best football team that we could make ourselves,” Stengel said to his former players.

They all got a chuckle after he said this: “there was a method to my madness.”
Stengel continued: “I can’t thank you enough for giving me the opportunity to coach you guys. I know there were times when you said, ‘what is with this guy?’”

Stengel, a Union kid born and raised, thought about what would have happened had Rettino “coached Larry Kubin (class of 1977, Penn State, Washington Redskins Super Bowl winner) and those guys” if he got there a bit sooner.

“I’m telling you Kubin was so good it was ridiculous. One play against Carteret – this is one of the great athletic feats I ever saw in my life – he runs 88 yards with an option play and three quarters of his way into the end zone a flag is thrown because somebody was off sides or it was holding or something stupid like that.

“So what are we going to call here? We ran the same play and Kubin runs 85 yards for a touchdown. We had guys, which is what I’m saying. If Lou Rettino was coaching it would have been a much different story.”

While at Bergen Catholic, Stengel’s Crusaders clashed with Union in pre-season scrimmages. In the early 1990s, Union and Bergen Catholic were among the top teams in the state.

“As much as what Lou meant to you guys (the players) and to the program he meant to me personally,’’ Stengel said. “You want to learn interpersonal skills and you want to learn how to deal with people, there was nobody I ever met in my whole life like Lou Rettino.

“He could talk to the janitor, who was his best friend. He could talk to the superintendent of schools, who was his best friend. He could talk to every kid, put his arm around them and make them feel like he was their dad.”

It was appropriate that Stengel made that last claim the night before Father’s Day.

Rettino had that kind of impact, beginning with his first three Union teams in 1977, 1978 and 1979. The latter two went on to win state championships.

They began a football legacy – and more – that lasted a generation.

“He made all the difference not only in your (the players) lives, but in mine too,” Stengel said. “How many of you guys have degrees, are lawyers, chemical engineers, businessmen are successful guys?

“You look around this room and there are a lot of successful guys. I’m tremendously, tremendously proud of all of you.

“But the guy that really got this thing going and affected you guys – not Jimmy and I, we affected your lives – but the guy that really did was Lou. Did he do it with magic? I don’t know what else to say other than that.

“In closing I would like to say that I’ve won a lot of games and a lot of championships, but I’ve never forgotten you guys.”

Now in their early 50s, all of the former Union players that celebrated the success they enjoyed on the football field in the late 1970s had one more chance to share that special bond with each other.

They also gathered one more time to thank their mentor – Lou Rettino – for leading the way.
 
1977 (6-2-1)

The first game was at home vs. J.P. Stevens of North Edison. Union quarterback Dom Lorusso scored on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter and Pat Caprara’s two-point run gave Union an 8-2 lead before J.P. Stevens drove 60 yards for the tying touchdown.

The second game was a 43-0 loss at Westfield, which went on to repeat as North 2, Group 4 champions.

The third game was Rettino’s first victory, a 14-0 win at Irvington on Oct. 8 – exactly 10 days before Reggie Jackson hit three home runs in Game 6.

Sophomore running back Mark Ignatowicz scored both touchdowns in the third quarter on runs of three and 10 yards.

Union then lost at home to Montclair 14-0 for a 1-2-1 start before closing with five straight wins for a 6-2-1 finish.

Union wrapped its non-playoff season with a 30-6 Thanksgiving Day victory over Linden at Linden’s Cooper Field. Fullback Joe Gruchacz and Caprara, playing halfback, each scored two touchdowns. Gruchacz led all rushers with 150 yards on 23 carries and Caprara rushed eight times for 45 yards.

1978 (9-1-1)

Union’s first step toward its initial sectional championship was a big one, defeating J.P. Stevens 13-0 in its opener in North Edison. J.P. Stevens entered the contest with an 11-game unbeaten streak and as the defending Central Jersey, Group 4 champions. J.P.Stevens defeated Middletown North 35-0 in the 1977 CJ, G4 final and then repeated as champs in 1978, downing Watchung Hills 14-7 for the second of its six championships in the playoff era. Game No. 2 could not be played at Cooke Memorial Field because of renovation, so Union faced Westfield at Linden’s Cooper Field, which is where Union played all of its home games that season. Union fell 20-7 for its only loss.

The Farmers then reeled off five consecutive victories for a 6-0-1 start. Next came a 0-0 tie at Plainfield, with Union’s 6-1-1 record good enough to earn the Farmers enough power points to qualify in North 2, Group 4 for the first time as the section’s fourth seed.

Union went to Newark to face top-seeded Barringer in a semifinal at Schools Stadium. Barringer won the section in 1975, which was the second year of playoffs in New Jersey and the first year with power points and four teams making it in each section.

Before approximately 8,500 fans, Union upended a 7-0-1 Bears team 23-20 to advance to the final.

Union finished its season with two consecutive shutouts, blanking Linden on Thanksgiving 34-0 at Cooper Field and then whipping Plainfield 27-0 at Giants Stadium in the North 2, Group 4 championship game.

Union and Plainfield entered the N2, G4 final with identical 8-1-1 records, both teams losing only to two-time defending champion Westfield.

Union senior running back Dave D’Addio (6-4, 225) rushed for 150 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries vs. Barringer and finished the season with 98 points.

Union’s defense vs. Barringer was led by tackle Barry Amatucci, end Ed Galisewski, linebacker Tony Imbriaco and safety Bobby Hope.

1978 NORTH 2, GROUP 4 PLAYOFFS
SEEDS: 1-Barringer. 2-Plainfield. 3-Morris Knolls. 4-Union.
SEMIFINALS
Union 23, Barringer 20 – at Barringer’s Schools Stadium in Newark
Plainfield 49, Morris Knolls 20 – at Plainfield’s Hub Stine Field
FINAL
Union 27, Plainfield 0 – at Giants Stadium in East Rutherford
Union finished No. 5 in The Star-Ledger.

1979 (10-1)

Union’s only blemish in eight weeks was its usual loss to Westfield, this time by a 20-0 score on the road in Week Two. Rettino’s first team to beat Westfield was the 1981 squad that lost to the Blue Devils in the regular season, but defeated them in the N2, G4 semifinals at Giants Stadium.

Rettino’s first team to beat Westfield in the regular season was his 1982 squad, after going 0-5 against the Blue Devils from 1977-1981.

After the Westfield defeat, six consecutive victories put the Farmers at 7-1 and gave them enough power points to qualify in North 2, Group 4 again, this time as the third seed.

First up was Belleville at Giants Stadium and Union didn’t disappoint. The Farmers downed the Buccaneers 15-12 to earn a shot at Livingston in the sectional final. Livingston defeated Westfield 38-20 in the other semifinal.

Union tuned up for its clash with Livingston by drubbing Linden 45-0 at Cooper Field on Thanksgiving, which was the third consecutive year the Turkey Day game was played in Linden.

Nine days later a Marc Casale-led Union offense roared against Livingston at Giants Stadium as the signal-caller directed the Farmers past the Lancers 35-14 for the team’s second straight sectional championship.

Plainfield has still not won a championship in the playoff era, while Livingston has captured only one, that being the 2008 North 1, Group 4 title.

1979 NORTH 2, GROUP 4 PLAYOFFS
SEEDS: 1-Belleville. 2-Westfield. 3-Union. 4-Livingston
(seeds are according to www.gridironnewjersey.com)
if seeds above are accurate, 1 did not play 4 and 2 did not play 3
in the semifinals, which was and is the usual format

SEMIFINALS
Union 15, Belleville 12 – at Giants Stadium
Livingston 38, Westfield 20 – at Giants Stadium

FINAL
Union 35, Livingston 14 – at Giants Stadium
Union shared The Star-Ledger Trophy for No. 1 ranking with Madison.
           

LOU RETTINO’S 19-SEASON (1977-1995) COACHING RECORD AT UNION
171-23-5 (.881)

1977: (6-2-1) - Union’s first winning season since 1972.

1978: (9-1-1) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the first time,
topping Plainfield 27-0 after tying the Cardinals 0-0 in the regular season.

1979: (10-1) - Union repeats as North 2, Group 4 champions, winning
at Giants Stadium again, this time against Livingston 35-14.

1980: (7-2) - First of only 4 times Union does not make the playoffs
under Rettino’s guidance.

1981: (8-2-1) - Union reaches the North 2, Group 4 final, falling to
Elizabeth 21-0 at GS after beating the Minutemen in the regular season.
Union defeated Westfield in the semifinals after losing to the
Blue Devils in the regular season.

1982: (10-1) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the third time and
first time over Montclair. Rettino also got his first regular season win
 - in attempt No. 6 - over Westfield and legendary head coach
Gary Kehler.

1983: (9-2) - Union reached the North 2, Group 4 final, falling at
home to Montclair after winning at Montclair the year before. Was
Montclair head coach Butch Fortunato’s final game.

1984: (11-0) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the fourth time and
the first time undefeated, topping Montclair again, this time at home.

1985: (11-0) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the fifth time and
undefeated for the second time, this time beating Montclair at Bloomfield.

1986: (9-2) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the sixth time and
third time in a row, this time at Roxbury.

1987: (11-0) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the seventh time and
undefeated again, once more winning at Roxbury for its 4th straight title.

1988: (7-3) - Union falls in the North 2, Group 4 semifinals for the
first time as the Farmers are defeated at Morris Knolls.

1989: (8-1) - Union fails to qualify in North 2, Group 4 with a 7-1
record at the cutoff date. Bloomfield edges Union for the fourth
most power points in the section and gives top-seeded and
undefeated Elizabeth a scare in the semifinals before the Minutemen
prevail 19-9 at Willaims Field. Union’s only loss that year was
home against Elizabeth 14-0.

1990: (8-2) - Union falls in the North 2, Group 4 semifinals at home
to Randolph. In 1986 a Summit team coached by Howie Anderson
topped Union in the regular season. In 1990 it was a Summit team
coached by former Rettino assistant Jim Benedict that defeated
the Farmers in regular season play.

1991: (11-0) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the eighth time,
defeating Randolph in the final for the first time and snapping a
then state-record 59-game (58-0-1) unbeaten streak by the
Rams. It was Randolph’s first loss since falling at Seton Hall Prep
14-13 on Saturday, Oct. 25, 1986. Union came back to top Randolph 24-14.

1992: (11-0) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the ninth time,
downing Randolph at home again in the final, this time 21-7.  It was
the second time the Farmers won the section with consecutive 11-0 marks.

1993: (10-1) - Union wins North 2, Group 4 for the 10th time and
first time at Randolph, 19-16. Was Randolph’s first loss at home since 1985.

1994: (8-1-1) - Union falls in North 2, Group 4 semifinals at home
to Montclair.

1995: (7-2) - Union fails to qualify in North 2, Group 4 with a 6-2
record at the cutoff date.

UNION IN NORTH 2, GROUP 4 PLAYOFFS UNDER LOU RETTINO
22-5 – 10-2 in the final and 12-3 in the semifinals

1978: (4th seed) Barringer was the top seed.
Union 23, Barringer 20 - at Barringer
Union 27, Plainfield 0 - at Giants Stadium

1979: (3rd seed) Belleville was the top seed.
Union 15, Belleville 12 - at Giants Stadium
Union 35, Livingston 14 - at Giants Stadium

1981: (3rd seed) Elizabeth was the top seed.
Union 14, Westfield 0 - at Giants Stadium
Elizabeth 21, Union 0 - at Giants Stadium

1982: (3rd seed) Montclair was the top seed.
Union 12, Belleville 7 - at Belleville
Union 14, Montclair 7 - at Montclair

1983: (Top seed)
Union 58, Nutley 27 - at Union
Montclair 14, Union 10 - at Union

1984: (Top seed)
Union 42, Belleville 0 - at Union
Union 34, Montclair 13 - at Union

1985: (2nd seed) Montclair was the top seed.
Union 34, Elizabeth 8 - at Union
Union 13, Montclair 8 - at Bloomfield

1986: (3rd seed) Roxbury was the top seed.
Union 10, Barringer 6 - at Barringer
Uinon 15, Roxbury 6 - at Roxbury

1987: (2nd seed) Roxbury was the top seed.
Union 10, Linden 9 (OT) - at Union
Union 17, Roxbury 14 (OT) - at Roxbury

1988: (4th seed) Morris Knolls was the top seed.
Morris Knolls 27, Union 14 - at Morris Knolls

1990: (2nd seed) Montclair was the top seed.
Randolph 6, Union 0 - at Union

1991: (Top seed)
Union 17, Elizabeth 3 - at Union
Union 24, Randolph 14 - at Union

1992: (Top seed)
Union 14, Elizabeth 0 - at Union
Union 21, Randolph 7 - at Union

1993: (3rd seed) Randolph was the top seed.
Union 14, Elizabeth 7 - at Elizabeth
Union 19, Randolph 16 - at Randolph

1994: (2nd seed) Randolph was the top seed.
Montclair 22, Union 0 - at Union

--

Union seven times defeated the top seed on its way to
capturing the North 2, Group 4 state championship under
head coach Lou Rettino: 1978 and 1979 in the semifinals
and 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1993 in the final.

NEW JERSEY STATE COACHES ASSOCIATION (NJSCA)
HALL OF FAME - CLASS OF 2019

Peter Anzelone, West Milford, Baseball

Robert Auriemma, Brick Township, Ice Hockey

Herb Bacon, Pennsville Memorial, Softball

Jeremy Beardsley, Montgomery, Girls Soccer

Mark Bramble, Marlboro, Athletic Trainer

Jason Cannici, Dumont, Baseball

William Chesney, Ramsey, Baseball and Bowling

Lou DeLisio, Cliffside Park, Wrestling

Jeffrey DeNick, Moorestown, Boys Swimming

Dennis Devaney, St. Rose, Boys Basketball

Siobhan Devlin, Ridge, Girls Golf and Field Hockey

Frank Donohue, Palisades Park, Cross Country and Track

Kurt Fenchel, Irvington, Basketball

Irv Gosman, Vineland, Basketball and Golf

Richard Kelly, Fort Lee, Boys Basketball

Greg Kelly, New Milford, Girls Track and Cross Country

Gerald Labenski, Wood-Ridge, Baseball

Kathy Luckey, Westfield, Girls Tennis

Bobby Mannino, Triton Regional, Girls Soccer

Kevin McEvoy, East Brunswick, Track

Jamie McGroarty, Eastern and Delsea; Girls Soccer and Softball

Chet Olinger, Collingswood, Tennis

Rob Osieja, Irvington, Boys Soccer

William Pavlak, South Plainfield, Wrestling

Cherie Lynn Pizzano, Linden, Bowling

Ed Rendzio, Wood-Ridge and Waldwick; Basketball

Lou Rettino*, Union, Football

Mike Ryan, Hasbrouck Heights, Cross Country and Track

Kevin Sabella, River Dell, Ramsey and Mahwah; Soccer and Ice Hockey

Willard Schulte, South Plainfield, Basketball

William Sheppard, Cherry Hill East, Swimming

Michael Sheridan, St. Mary’s, Football

Donna Slenkamp, Pitman, Tennis

Tracie Smith, Edison, Bowling

Zack Valentine, Woodbury, Football

Sean Walsh, North Hunterdon, Cross Country and Track

Emil Wandishin, Ewing, Boys Basketball

John Ziemba, Fort Lee and Emerson; Boys Basketball and Girls Volleyball

*posthumous award

 Follow JR Parachini on Twitter @parachini_jr    

Lou Rettino had quite the run as one of New Jersey's premier high school football coaches in the 1980s, leading his team to eight finals in that decade.

Union's legendary coach Lou Rettino left this world far too early at age 54 after a long battle with cancer as he passed away on March 22, 1996.

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