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.
“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.