Hills Football: Part 3, Preparing for Paramus; Vigorito and Hogan know what’s on the line

This is the third in a series of blogs leading up to Wayne Hills High School’s big football game on Oct. 24, at home, against Paramus. A win could move the Patriots into the playoffs for a 20th straight year, while a setback most likely eliminates it from post-season consideration.

During the week, we’ll have a series of blogs, highlighting a lot of work, behind the scenes, of the proud program in Wayne, as the Patriots gear for a visit from the Spartans. 

Part 3, Vigs and Hoags getting ready. Oct. 22, 6 p.m.

Anthony Vigorito, a senior at Hills, is one of the nicest young men you’ll ever meet. Respectful, succinct, retrospective and diligent, ‘Vigs’ is one of the more popular kids on the team.

Vigorito put this week into perspective.

vigs2

“Let’s face it, if we’re making the playoffs, we have to win this week,” he said after an indoor practice. “I like the way this team has been preparing the past few weeks. Everyone is bringing an intensity to practice, and the games. We got off a little slow (an 0-2 start), but you can see this team is starting to hit its peak.”

vigs

(Photos courtesy of Allyson Garrone)

Vigorito has been Hills’ very reliable holder on kicks the past few seasons. It’s a vital part of special teams, and often goes unnoticed. But his value to the team, which also includes punt returns and as a receiver, is important.

He’s represented Wayne Hills with class and integrity. And if this team has an identity, it’s clear ‘Vigs’ is the reason why.

Justin Hogan enters a room with a look of fierceness. That same scowl can is evident on the gridiron, where the 6’3″, 240 pound linebacker and fullback, is as intimidating as they come.

hogan

But typical of a hard-nosed, classic looking football player is the ability to smile and make one feel at ease, off the field. And that’s what ‘Hoags’ has been doing at Hills.

hogan 2

Like his friend, Vigorito, Hogan doesn’t need to be reminded what this week’s preparation for Friday’s game means.

“(Paramus) is a good team, we’re a good team,” said Hogan. “It’s a matter of going after them, and they’re probably thinking the same thing. Our preparation has been good. We’re working hard. We want it, and we know we’ll have to work hard to get it.”

In the next diary, a look at the last full day of practice, leading up to Friday’s game.

By mike051893

Hills Football: Part 2, Preparing for Paramus; Adverse Weather

This is the second in a series of blogs leading up to Wayne Hills High School’s big football game on Oct. 24, at home, against Paramus. A win could move the Patriots into the playoffs for a 20th straight year, while a setback most likely eliminates it from post-season consideration.

During the week, we’ll have a series of blogs, highlighting a lot of work, behind the scenes, of the proud program in Wayne, as the Patriots gear for a visit from the Spartans. 

Part 2, Weather frustrations, Oct. 21. 4 p.m.

The usual hooting and hollering in a locker room that accompanies a high school football team as it prepares to practice, was interrupted by the sounds of the outdoor lightning device.

Head coach Wayne Demikoff had noted a few minutes earlier that the skies appeared ominous, but hopefully, the team could get on the field and avoid a delay.

No such luck.

When the detector goes off, it’s automatic that no teams are on the fields at Hills, and at least 30 minutes must pass before anyone steps back on. For that matter, any additional lightning means further delays.

While the players remain in the locker room, Demikoff’s wheels are turning. Down time, on the week his team is scheduled to play Paramus, is unacceptable.

Offensive coordinator John Jacob walks through and says, in somewhat mock anger, ‘it better be this way in Paramus, too!”

Most coaches live with conspiracy/paranoia theories, so while Jacob was somewhat kidding, the gist of his message was far from jovial.

For example, a year ago, while the Patriots were preparing for a game with arch rival Wayne Valley, a helicopter was seen flying over the team’s practice field. Then-assistant coach Jon Goldstein insisted it was a spy from Valley, looking down on his team’s practice. (And bear in mind that the legendary Goldy was a Wayne Valley graduate).

With the weather not showing much sign of improvement, Demikoff has his junior and senior players move to the adjacent cafeteria, to do some walk throughs. The players wear ‘uppers’, mainly shoulder pads, jersey and a helmet, along with a pair of shorts, or sweats.

Demikoff is clearly frustrated by not getting outside.

“What’s the forecast for tomorrow?” he asks.

“Same as today,” was the not-so-popular response.

Oct. 22, 2:35 p.m.

Demikoff decides not to take a chance with the weather. An indoor practice at a local facility, in Wayne, which has field turf and a big enough field, is the place for practice. The team boards busses for a 10-minute trip. There, the team, practicing again in uppers, can have a full practice, and Demikoff is in rare form.

“Good, good”.

“Run it again.”

“Back in the huddle.”

“Trust your keys.”

“We’re in (a certain terminology), Tom. Move over, Tom.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“What are you doing?”

Most of the phrases are in duplicate, or triplicate, but the kids are used to it, and the practice is pretty upbeat. After about two hours, the team boards the bus back to Hills, and from there, it’s onto the field for more work, even though the rain is starting to fall again.

Paramus is two days away, no time to worry about the rain now.

In the next diary, a look at some key players from Hills, and how they hope for maximum preparation leading up to Oct. 24.

By mike051893

Hills Football: Part 1, Preparing for Paramus; Coaches Meeting

This is the first in a series of blogs leading up to Wayne Hills High School’s big football game on Oct. 24, at home, against Paramus. A win could move the Patriots into the playoffs for a 20th straight year, while a setback most likely eliminates it from post-season consideration.

During the week, we’ll have a series of blogs, highlighting a lot of work, behind the scenes, of the proud program in Wayne, as the Patriots gear for a visit from the Spartans. 

Part 1, Coaches Meeting, Oct. 20. 7 p.m.

From September through early December, Monday nights have long been a tradition of coaches meetings in the head coaches office at Wayne Hills.

Chris Olsen held the head coaches job from 1987-2012, and during that tenure, an unprecedented level of success surrounded the program. There were multiple appearances in the state sectional finals, the legendary 55-game winning streak from 2004-2009, and eight state championships from 2002-2011,

Olsen retired following the 2012 season and handed the reigns to long-time assistant, Wayne Demikoff. While the personalities of Olsen and Demikoff are different, the atmosphere is pretty much the same at these Monday meetings during the previous and current tenures.

Demikoff sits at the main desk, eating a sandwich from the local deli. (Gone are the days of the catered Monday night meals from a nearby catering hall, supervised by the late, great, Jon Goldstein). The other coaches, John Jacob, Anthony Vitale, Mike Kelly, Jermain Johnson, Pat Cosgrove, Matthew Bogert, Eric Magrini, Mike Zaccone, Chris Dowling, Anthony Giampapa and Peter Staluppi sit around a large conference room table in the office, as well as some comfortable chairs adjacent to the conference table.

The meeting generally starts around 7:15 p.m., after the players complete a weight training session. Dowling brings in the traditional  large coffee order from the local Dunkin’ Donuts. Demikoff is last to arrive, as he was supervising the weight room training.

“You won’t believe how fired up (Justin) Hogan was in the weight room,” paraphrased Demikoff with a laugh. “He was (ticked) that (one of the players) wasn’t working hard enough in the room, and he let the kid know. It was classic. ”

Hogan’s intensity is evident of what the players hope to accomplish at practice this week. The kids all read the websites and follow the all important power points. They know that a loss pretty much ends its hopes of competing for a state championship.

The meeting always starts with Demikoff going over the roster of the upcoming opponent with Cosgrove, the longest-termed coach on the staff. Demikoff will ask a position and Cosgrove replies with the player’s jersey number, height and weight.

While the two discuss that, the other coaches eat, make fun of each other and start talking about Paramus. The brunt of the jokes tonight are directed to Staluppi, who deflects the jib jabs pretty well.

Magrini, a Hills grad and former player, has returned as a coach this year and he fits right in. He gets the usual ribbing from the coaches about his work as a driving instructor.

Demikoff finally gets some semblance of order in the room. While the banter is enjoyable, the staff knows the meeting will last at least four hours, and that there’s no question how tough the assignment will be this week.

“They’re good,” said Jacob of Paramus, and that’s saying something, since Jacob throws compliments around like manhole covers. “They go after it.”

Among the early problems at the meeting is the overhead projector isn’t working. A few phone calls results in Bob Garrone, the father of Hills’ running back Chris Garrone, arriving with an extension cord. It was one of those ‘how many people does it take to screw in a light bulb’ scenario, but in the end, the projector gets the necessary juice and the film work is on.

Paramus has beaten Hills the past two seasons, in close games. Two years ago, the Patriots led at Paramus in week nine, 17-16, having rallied from an early 14-0 deficit on the week after Hurricane Sandy. Paramus would score a late TD and win, 24-17.

Last year, Paramus won in Wayne, 14-10, as Hills’ final rally ended with a key illegal motion penalty. Coming into this game, the 5-1 Spartans will be a slight favorite over the 3-3 Patriots.

Demikoff watches video of last year’s game, since a number of players on Paramus’ roster were key parts of that game, not to mention the 2012 contest.

“They don’t make many mistakes,” Demikoff said, as the meeting heads to 11 p.m. “We gotta get out of here, before the janitors throw us out. Let’s go, tomorrow is another day.”

 

By mike051893