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2016-2017 The Brotherhood Continues - While a New Era Begins

October 22, 2016



            2016 was a year of finales.  After 27 years of coaching the Golden Panthers, Coach Len Smith completed his final year as head coach.  His leadership and guidance will be greatly missed.  During his time at Pequannock Township High School (PTHS) he amassed an astounding record of 444 wins, 122 losses and 9 ties.  The teams he coached and the legacy he built at Pequannock will always be remembered and the lines of an untitled poem embodies his career, “An excellent coach is hard to find, difficult to part with, and impossible to forget”.  These words certainly describe Coach Smith and it is difficult to say good bye to him.   Although the team finished 11-9 season and it was not as strong as the previous year, Coach Smith finished in the way he has been known … as a winner.   The team finished 5-0 in the conference, won its 6th straight conference title and was ranked as high as 17th by The Record.   The guidance and knowledge Coach Smith has always shown will be missed.    However, as the title of this article states, “The Brotherhood Continues - While a New Era Begins”, a new era is beginning. 


 In the spring of 2016, PTHS selected former assistant coach Jason LaPaglia as the new PTHS head coach.  Coach LaPaglia has served under Coach Smith for the last three years, and he will continue that brotherhood team atmosphere that was created by Coach Smith as he begins a new era of Pequannock Wrestling.  Coach LaPaglia graduated from Western New England University in 2002, where he wrestled for four years.  Following his collegiate career, he became an assistant coach at West Morris High School before coming to PTHS and then serving under Coach Smith the last three years.  He is a coach, teacher and mentor and faces with enthusiasm the challenges that lay ahead.      


 This season the team faces the loss of nine seniors including the 100 career win wrestler Patrick Daly who at 195lb took 4th Place in the NJ State tournament.  While Patrick departs to continue his wrestling career at Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, the team has also lost district place winners Alex Zangrilli (2nd Place) and Trevor Warner (3rd Place).  In addition the loss of other varsity starters and contributors: Ronnie Aiosa, Thomas Benway, Pete Bonner, Jake Foukas, Johanser Joseph (JJ) and Ryan Mulhall will leave large holes in the starting lineup for Coach LaPaglia to fill.   However, Coach LaPaglia has a “Next Man Up” attitude and expects big efforts from everyone on the team.   


 Leading this year’s team will be seniors: Joey Bauer, Luc Bongiovanni, Francisco Pliego, Jordan Schmidt, Zack Toback and Steven Pocze who is a three time District medalist.  The success of these wrestlers will be key if the team is to win their unprecedented 7th Conference championship. 


 Forming out the team will be returning juniors: Joey Carmichael who took 3rd Place in the District, Jim Hascup, Joe Leszczynski, Chris Martinelli, Evan Miller, Bryan Rosario, Jon Sebastian, Zack Sidoti and new transfer Gilbert Camacho.  They will be joined by sophomores, Jason Burklow, Jimmy Pierson and JT Zimmerman as well as several new coming freshmen.  


On behalf of the members of Pequannock Friends of Wrestling club and all who support Pequannock Wrestling, we wish Coach LaPaglia, his staff and the team “good luck” in beginning this new era as well as success in achieving their goals and continuing the Pequannock winning tradition.    


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Sponsor Thanks You

The PFOW send out a hearty thank you to all sponsors for their financial support, without which we would not be able to provide the extras that enhance our athlete’s high school wrestling experience – scholarships, team clothing, over-night tournament accommodations, etc.

PFOW strongly encourages the Golden Panther community to patronize these sponsors whenever possible.