It’s been an up-and-down season at Wayne Hills High for its storied football program. But first-year head coach Wayne Demikoff has been around Patriot land long enough to know that its best games may still lie ahead.
Demikoff arrived at Wayne Hills as an assistant coach in 1999 and remained in that capacity through last season, under legendary head coach Chris Olsen. He has a nice collection of eight state championship rings. And while this year’s 5-4 team in regular season play showed signs of being really good, too many mistakes and a lack of mental focus, at times, hurt the team in close games.
Wayne Hills hopes to add a ninth championship to its legendary football program this year.
Now, as the team prepares for its usual appearance in the NJSIAA playoffs beginning on Nov. 15, the Patriots seem to have amped up the intensity level. Wayne Hills will play Northern Highlands, at home, in a battle of the fourth and fifth seeds in North Jersey, Section 1, Group 4.
Last Saturday morning, As he reviewed the films of last week’s 14-10 loss to Paramus in the regular season finale from the previous evening, Demikoff reminded his players of some facts.
“Most of you have been playing this game since you were six, or seven years old,” Demikoff said. “That’s 10 years out of your life devoted to football. Many of you won’t play at the next level, so this game (against Northern Highlands) could be the last time you put the uniform on. Do you want your last game to be on Friday? Or do you have three games left in you, where if you play to your capabilities, can result in you wearing a state championship ring?
“It’s up to you. It’s about toughness and effort. That’s all this is. You play Wayne Hills football and you can be state champions again. How many of you want it?”
The answer may be quite positive for Demikoff, as his team enjoyed two solid days of practice earlier this week.
“It’s the playoffs, this is when Wayne Hills plays its best football,” Demikoff said after Tuesday’s frigid workout at Patriots Stadium.
While the Northeast has been hit by a whicked cold spell early this week, the forecast calls for better weather by Friday’s game. And for a team that is 1-4 at home (they’re 4-0 on the road), it’s hard to comprehend the 2013 Patriots stubbing its toe again at Patriots Stadium.
“Coach Olsen once said that ‘we’ll go as far as the seniors will take us’,” Demikoff told his team in the film room. “How far do you seniors want to go?”
The answer to that (hopefully) three-part question begins to take shape on Friday night.