Members of the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame are those that have made a lasting impact on the school’s sports program as either student players, coaches, or supporters. Often the student players have continued to influence their chosen sports after high school by ongoing participation in athletics.
Paul Tornatore 2014 Inductee
Ridgewood High School has competed in the sport of football for over 100 years, having fielded its first team in 1908. In all of those years through all of those games, through wins and losses and the occasional tie, no one in RHS history has thrown the football for more yards or more touchdowns than Paul Tornatore.
Competing for the Maroons in the mid 1980’s, before the invention of spread offenses, the option read and rule changes that have turned the sport into something “old-timers” might not recognize, Tornatore put together the two greatest passing seasons in Ridgewood Football history. The fact that his records still stand today, over 25 years since they were set, is what makes Paul Tornatore such a worthy inductee into the Ridgewood High School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tornatore took over the controls of the Ridgewood offense in the fall of 1985, his junior year, and completed 94 of 166 attempts for 1,483 yards and 18 touchdowns establishing a new single season passing standard for Maroon QB’s. He followed up his record setting year with an even better senior season completing 113 of 196 attempts (57.7%) for 1,748 yards and 19 touchdowns as the Maroons finished the season 9-1. For his career, Tornatore threw for a total of 3,231 yards and 37 touchdowns which both still stand as school records as does his 362 passing attempts and his 207 career completions. His 58% career completion percentage puts him second on the All-Time List to Dan Burns and who guided the Maroons to a State Championship in 1991.
Tornatore’s individual accomplishments helped lead Ridgewood to great heights as a team. An 8-2 record as a junior including big wins over Bergen Catholic, Paramus Catholic, and Don Bosco garnered Ridgewood a playoff berth. His senior season was as spectacular for the Maroons as it was for him. The team finished the regular season 8-0 including what should seem to be impossible today; a second straight year of wins against the parochial high schools including a 17-14 win over St. Joseph’s, and consecutive wins over Paramus Catholic, Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco by Scores of 37-7, 28-6, and 42-7 respectively. For his efforts and accomplishments the 6’1” 190lb Tornatore was voted First-Team All-NNJIL, First Team All-Bergen County, unanimous First Team All-Area, and First Team All-State Group IV by the Star Ledger. He was also honored by the Bergen Record as the “Athlete of the Week” for his games against Bergen Catholic and Don Bosco. A solid four year career at UMASS followed his career at Ridgewood High School and Tornatore has continued to be involved in the sport as a coach in the Ridgewood Junior Football Association.
Many young men have played the role of signal caller for the Maroons over the years. Legendary names like Stroker, Van Yperen, and Hartung, as well as 1,000 yard passers like Strait, Biasi, and Bourke. Of course we also must recognize the recent young guns like Duran, Kaliades and Locke that have all stood behind center for Ridgewood, but none of the aforementioned came close to putting up the passing numbers of Paul Tornatore. It is those numbers and the success the Maroons enjoyed as a team during his time at quarterback for RHS football that makes Paul Tornatore a Ridgewood High School Hall of Fame Inductee class of 2014.
John Marshall, Jim Bruni, Mark Romeo, Jean Hughes, Chris Van Note, Nancy Hogan, RHS Football Team 1913, Don Taylor, Rachel Grygiel, John Cerf, Paul Tornatore, Michele Marangi, RHS Boys’ Lacrosse 1990-92
Craig Halyard, Tom Flatt, Tricia Pappalardo, Mike Henderson, Kandie Latham, Leigh Jester, Tom Dusel, Roger Sweeney, Linda Zabielski, Patty Capasso, Dennis Sullivan, Nick & Dottie Capasso, Track and Field (Bain-Daley-Oliver Era)
Kitty Batterson, Henry Blauvelt, Frank L. Bradley, Jr., Lucia Cancelmo, Chris DuFlocq, Renee DuFlon, RHS Girls’ Basketball 1922-1923, Harry Grundy, Jim Jones, Joe LeMay, Jen McDermott, Shannon McGarrigle, Tony Napier, Margaret Niemann, Vince Robertiello (Jamie Roberts), Damian Ross, Mike Springer
Paul Arrigoni, Pete Campbell, Doug Cook, Becky Deetz, Otis Grendler, Jodi Hartwig, Gene Links, Debbie O’Connell, Aimee McGuire, Walt Perdue, Tom Simos, Kazbek Tambi, Jack Van Yperen, Bob Whitaker, Margaret Scutro