Growing up in New Milford, New Jersey, Angelo DeSalvo enjoyed playing a multitude of sports, football, baseball and basketball. By the time DeSalvo reached New Milford High School, he added another sport in running track.
“My Dad always kind of promoted sports and to get involved especially in football and baseball,” said Angelo De Salvo. “New Milford is a solid family town, a lot of good memories. I played for Rich Conti, who sadly has since passed away. When he took over that program it was not very good. I think by eighth grade they had won their first game in four years.”
“We were a bunch of guys (Jack Chaplain, Scott Jacob, Ralph Orta, Nelson Lin, Mike McSherry, Rich Govan, Rich McCarten, Danny Polan, Brandon Flanagan) that played rec football together and it was a different time. No one went to Bergen Catholic or St. Joe’s. We all kind of stuck around and stayed together and had a lot of fun. We won a bunch of games in two years, sectional championships in 85 and 86 and great memories.”
After graduating from New Milford High School in 1987, DeSalvo attended William Paterson University where he majored in Political Science. Once DeSalvo graduated from William Paterson in 1991, he returned to his alma, New Milford High School, as assistant coach on the Knights football team led by head coach, Mark Aramburu. In 1995, DeSalvo joined Passaic Valley High School as an assistant coach under the direction of Head Coach, Chet Parlavechio. Moving on to a new opportunity in 1998 DeSalvo was an assistant coach on the Indian Hills High football team and re-connecting with former New Milford Coach, Mark Aramburu.
“The three coaches that were the most influential in my career were Mark Aramburu, Chet Parlavechio and Al Deaett,” Angelo DeSalvo explained. “I was an assistant for Mark at New Milford and Indian Hills. I left to go be an assistant at Passaic Valley, where I learned a tremendous amount of defensive football from Coach P. When I was an assistant at New Milford, I became friendly with Al Deaett at Glen Rock, we used to take our team to his camp. Great X & O guys and leaders and how I’ve tried to create my programs and still ask for advice today.”
Coming full circle in 2000, DeSalvo was named the head coach of the New Milford Knights football team. In 2001 DeSalvo led the team to the most wins in school history with 10. “I had just got the job and the athletic director, Steve Purciello, who I have a great friendship with, said ‘your first game you play is against St. Joe’s by the Sea of Staten Island,’ Angelo DeSalvo described. “I had never heard of them and had to go to make a film exchange on the rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike. They were a big school like a Group 4 but I think we beat them 32-0 and ended up 7-3. The next year we had a ton of kids back and we went 10-1.”
“We lost to Cresskill in the semifinals and just missed making it to the sectional final where we would have been able to play Glen Rock and Coach (Al) Deaett. Looking back over the course of my career, I have to say the two most fun years I had as a coach were at New Milford. I went to high school there and to be a teacher and head football coach. A lot of the players I still keep in touch with. Every coach on the staff was from New Milford and grew up there. A group of guys invested in and helping that program improve. 10 wins are the most in school history and to have Brandon Flanagan, Mike Tota and Brian Tota. We went to school there and played football. I would have loved to stay there the remainder of my career but I was looking for bigger and better things.”
In 2002, DeSalvo made the short hop over to River Dell High School, coaching the Golden Hawks football team for two years while reuniting with former New Milford teammate, Brandon Flanagan. DeSalvo added Mike Tota, Dan Morris, Ed Jost and Anthony Marotti to his staff and working with Athletic Director Denis Nelson.
Making the jump to Passaic Valley in 2004, DeSalvo flourished in the system coaching the Hornets for five years. In addition to the head coach duties, DeSalvo started teaching history and remains in that position today. A staff comprised of Ben Leone, Bob Breschard, Dave Murphy, Chris Canning and Joe Auteri with Nick Sauter as the athletic director.
After taking a year off, DeSalvo returned to the sidelines as an assistant coach under Nunzio Campanile at Bergen Catholic. Deciding to take another break in 2011, DeSalvo re-connected with a former assistant coach at Passaic Valley in Dave Murphy, who became the head coach at Emerson High School.
“I went to school with Brandon (Flanagan), he was the baseball coach and an assistant coach for me,” said Angelo DeSalvo. “I have fond memories there, only there for two years and still keep in contact with the players. I was a previous assistant coach at Passaic Valley and then went back there as the head coach. A great group of kids and assistant coaches. Bob Breschard is coaching at Livingston and Dave Murphy is the athletic director at Teaneck. A family atmosphere from top to bottom, 2006 probably was our best season and we to the state (playoff) semifinals where we lost to Wayne Hills after beating Wayne Valley. One of my former players, Max Wassel, is now the head coach at Passaic Valley.”
“I think Nunzio (Campanile) is one of the best coaches in North Jersey. I had always coached at a public school but to coach at a Catholic school was a really great experience and we had a great season. We had two losses that year and both were to Don Bosco. To coach at the highest level of high school football in North Jersey and against Tony Karcich and Greg Toal was quite an experience. One of my former assistants in Dave Murphy became a head coach, I was able to coach him for a couple of years. Then in 2014 I took a year off because my son was a freshman and playing football at St. Joe’s Regional.”
Once 2015 hit, DeSalvo was back in the mix, the offensive coordinator at Park Ridge High School under Head Coach Tom Curry and assistant coaches Shawn Carpenter, Shaun Hutchinson, Tim Vogel and Matt Misley with Chris Brown the athletic director.
“I knew Tom when I was a football coach at New Milford back in the early 2000’s and he was a player at Dwight-Englewood and able to coach against him from coach-player standpoint,” said Angelo DeSalvo. “We opened down at Harrison High School, it was really a big transition because we were bringing in the no-huddle spread offense and the kids executed the game plan to perfection. I think we ended up winning that game 28-6 and for the most part doing the same stuff although we changed a little bit based on personnel. I had always known Park Ridge on the outside looking in and the kids were so receptive to the change in the system. We had a really good year and were the North 1 Group 1 that ended up getting upset by Cresskill in the first round of the state playoffs 35-34 in overtime.”
Placing family above coaching, DeSalvo took the 2017 season off to see his son play football, who was a senior at Emerson High School. Returning back to Park Ridge High School in 2018, DeSalvo took over as the defensive coordinator.
“Being able to coordinate on both sides allows you to prepare for what you might be able to see on the other side,” Angelo DeSalvo explained. “I started my career on the defensive side of the ball then became a head coach and went to the offensive side of the ball. I was a head coach for 10 years and then became an offensive coordinator at some other schools and now to return to defense is kind of more enjoyable. I say it’s a lot more preparation on the defensive side of the ball, but to get back to those roots is very rewarding and see the results pay off.”
Park Ridge made significant strides in 2018 going 9-2 and reached the North 1 Group 1 state sectional final where they lost to Butler 35-28. This past season the Owls registered the most wins in school history with 11 while winning their first state championship since 1995 by defeating Hasbrouck Heights 21-14 in the North 2, Group 1 final. Park Ridge cemented their storybook season by edging Boonton 35-28 in the North 1 Regional Championship Game at Met Life Stadium. A staunch defense that yielded just 11.5 points per game.
“Vinny Pinto, arguably one of our better players, went down and we were without him for the first couple of games,” Angelo DeSalvo described. “We felt pretty confident going in from top to bottom and there was no team in the conference that was going to give us a really tough game. We got to the NJIC Playoffs and had a tough one against Cresskill and were down and scored two touchdowns in the last few minutes of the game to win it. Then we faced a really good, well-coached team in Lyndhurst with defensive coordinator, Bill Castagnetti, and we go way back when to the BCSL (Bergen County Scholastic League) days and they knocked us back into reality a little bit.”
“That turned out to be a good thing for us going into the state playoffs. We faced a big and physical team in Wallkill Valley and were able to handle them. When we played Weequahic, who had super athletic and tough kids, we were able to pull that off 14-12 with a big stop on a two-point conversion late in the game. We played Hasbrouck Heights and have a little history with them, having won the 85 and 86 state championships against them when I played at New Milford. It was kind of ironic to win on the same field I won as a player and have my career come full circle. We had lost to Heights the year before and now were able to pull it off in a tremendous game that was back and forth. Boonton was a team was averaging in the 40’s and 50’s per game and had a triple option. The year before we beat them in a state playoff game and our kids were confident going in. We jumped out 14-0 and look like it would be a runaway but they battled back and ended up going ahead and then Pinto and Justin Wagner show took over and those guys did a tremendous job for us all year.”
“It was appropriate for our season to end at Met Life with a Pinto pass to Wagner. For us to be able to get to that point with a program that hadn’t won since 1995 and a tremendous group of kids that had lost the year before in the sectional final to Butler. For me personally, I had been coaching high school football since 1992 and my first sectional championship and had been in a few as an assistant but had lost.”
“Tom (Curry) does a great job of focusing the kids on a weekly basis, he kept the mentality the whole year not to get too far ahead. As we were preparing for the season, we had a scrimmage against Pascack Hills that went really well for us and after that scrimmage the kids kind of saw that this could be a special year.”
More importantly winning the first state sectional championship title in 24 mean so much to the community and high school DeSalvo. There was team manager, Matty “Ice” Gray, honored at halftime of a home game against Cresskill during the regular season and a New York Giants player surprising Gray with tickets to the Super Bowl and honoring the memory of former coach, Gary Mioli.
“Matty Ice Gray is really a key part of the whole program and he’s been around since I started coaching at Park Ridge since 2015,” Angelo DeSalvo explained. “Matty was there as a student manager, then he graduated and we kept him on as an assistant coach. It’s really nice to see for the entire community and best-known person is Matty. I was thrilled for Matty to have an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl.”
“To be able to bring a championship to such a small town and had a parade where we celebrated the kids is outstanding. Chris Brown is one of the best athletic directors I have worked for and I have worked at a lot of schools. I can’t compliment him enough and the job the entire athletic department does and just not in football. The community support we got just not this year but since 2015 and the booster club and parents. It’s just not Friday, it’s Thursday night dinners, the banquet lunches in between. How much the community and student section is at home games and they really love their football.”
“Coach (Gary) Mioli is one of the great guys in Bergen County and I remember when I first became a head coach at New Milford in 2000 and one of the first calls I got was from Gary, welcoming me to the league. I remember the first couple of years as a rookie head coach, I had questions on certain things and Gary and I would be on the phone a lot. Back in the day you would have to go and meet coaches to exchange film and we would meet up and sit there talking for a good hour or so. Bringing that championship to Park Ridge I felt so good for him and his family and we were able to do that.”
The work never ends in the off-season for DeSalvo with preparing for the following season as well as after a game on Friday or Saturday during the regular season. “You win a game on Friday night and then bring the kids in on Saturday morning,” Angelo DeSalvo explained. “I would drive up to Schenectady (New York) to watch my son’s team and on Saturday night I would be in a hotel room watching film for the next opponent. I don’t have even 12 hours to enjoy a victory.”
“After we beat Boonton in the regional championship game at Met Life, we gave the kids a couple of weeks off and then we were right back at it in the weight room. I take January and February to meet with college coaches and try to stay up on the latest strategies that are happening. With such a small place like Park Ridge, we promote the kids to play as many multiple sports. It’s about the preparation, weight training and kids getting their body in the right place.”
Despite the hustle and bustle of coaching football, DeSalvo finds the time to spend with his family. Residing in Emerson with his wife Danielle and four children, Angelo (20), Aidan (18), Dominic (9) and Lucia (7). “My oldest son (Angelo) is going to be a junior at Union College and plays football,” said Angelo DeSalvo. “My middle guy (Aidan) just graduated from Emerson High School and is a basketball/lacrosse player. My oldest son (Angelo) was a football/lacrosse player. I have a nine-year old (Dominic) who is all playing football, basketball and baseball. My daughter (Lucia) is still trying to figure it out.”
“My wife (Danielle) is unbelievable, she is so committed to it as I am. Luckily my younger guy (Dominic) plays football in Park Ridge, so it’s nice I’m able to leave the field and take a few steps to the other field to watch his practice. She is driving him around and dropping him off and at all the games. One of the best things winning this year is the fact all my three sons were able to be on the field at Met Life. When they were younger, they were at every practice, scrimmage and 7 on 7. I still love it after 27 years and said to my wife ‘I don’t see the end anytime soon.’”