For the next two days, I’ll be blogging daily updates on the Wayne Hills football team, as it prepares to play a HUGE game against arch rival Ramapo on Friday, Oct. 9, in Wayne. The 4-1 Patriots are seeking to get back on the winning track after losing a tough game on Oct. 2 to Pascack Valley, 23-20. Ramapo will be a tough assignment. The Raiders will come to town with a 3-1 mark. In it’s three victories, head coach Drew Gibbs’ team has averaged 45 points a game. The lone setback was a 32-28 loss to undefeated Old Tappan.
Days 1, 2 and 3 of the Diary are up and posted on the blog, under the archives for October, 2015. Check them out, in case you haven’t tuned in yet.
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 7: After a longer-than-usual practice on Oct. 6, Wayne Hills head coach Wayne Demikoff didn’t want to wear down his team, with just two days left before the big game with Ramapo. Practice was a little over 2 1/2 hours, and while Demikoff wanted to keep the team somewhat fresh, the tempo of the practice required plenty of energy.
Assignments had to be done quickly, and players needed to run to, and from water breaks. Hitting was nominal. Instead, the focus was on finishing plays and preparing for Ramapo’s complicated offensive schemes.
Demikoff’s stack of manilla cards are never far away, as he presented different offensive formations for the scout team to run against the starting defense.
“Good,” Demikoff would say. “Back in the huddle.”
That would continue throughout most of the drills. There would be the occasional wise crack from the head coach, mostly with some levity. Offensive coordinator John Jacob prided himself on being 10 minutes ahead in his work. During a drill, the Czar, Walt Johnson and lineman Leyshawn Askew talked about their favorite television show, ‘Friends’.
“One of my all time favorites,” said Johnson. “I couldn’t believe Leyshawn liked it, too. I didn’t think most of the kids ever watched that show.”
The staff was happy because the Hills sophomore team had won its game today against Roxbury. It’s been a good season for the program, with the freshman, sophomore and JV teams all unbeaten, so far, while the varsity had that one loss, last week, at Pascack Valley.
Defensive coordinator Jermain Johnson constantly reminded his players to talk on defense. “Read your keys,” he repeated on at least 10 occasions.
As practice wound down, Demikoff brought the team together.
“I’ve said it all week, it doesn’t get any bigger than this,” Demikoff reminded his team. “Normally, we condition after practice on Wednesday, but we’re playing Ramapo on Friday and I want your legs to be fresh. We’ve got everything in. Now, it’s a matter of refining it, and getting our mindset in the right place. Look around you. For the seniors, this could be your last home game. (The Patriots’ final three regular season games, after Friday’s game, are on the road).
“If we win, we’ll probably get a home playoff game. Like I’ve told you all along, we’re a 5-5 football team until we say otherwise. (5-5 was the team’s record the past two seasons).”
While practice was winding down, the Wayne Boys Club junior football team was getting ready to practice. A number of varsity players, including team captains Tom Skiba, Joe Kenny and Frank Petracco would spend time with the kids, working on drills, along with Demikoff.
After watching the youngsters practice, Demikoff hustles back to the school for the weekly film review of the previous week’s game with parents and fans. It’s a tradition started by former coach Chris Olsen, and Demikoff has continued it since he was named head coach in 2013.
It’s a long day for the coach, but, again, it’s Ramapo week. Perhaps assistant coach Joe Lane, a former Patriot standout from 2008-2011, put it best when the team came together after practice.
“Ramapo, baby,” Lane shouted.
That pretty much said it all.