Over the next 24 hours, I’ll be blogging 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=4 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.
THURSDAY, OCT. 8: The message has resonated all week. This was not the usual preparation for a Big North game. This has been Ramapo Week.
There’s a reason why Wayne Hills and Ramapo have put together a tremendous rivalry for over two decades. Both programs are solid and well coached. Championships are considered the goal in Franklin Lakes and Wayne. On more than one occasion, they’ve met for a state title.
There’s not rebuilding with these teams, just reloading.
So when they meet on the gridiron , expect a battle, regardless of the records. And this year, the records are good. Hills is 4-1, Ramapo, 3-1.
Head coach Wayne Demikoff had been reminding his team all week long, that when it comes to a game like Ramapo, a player that perhaps wasn’t on the forefront, sometimes steps up and plays the game of his career.
“Last year, it was Chris Garrone,” said Demikoff, reminding his team that Garrone, a senior last fall, rushed for 234 yards on an incredible 43 carries, at Ramapo, as Hills won a thriller, 22-21. “Who will be this year’s Chris Garrone? Who steps up and plays the game of his life tomorrow?”
Practice on the day before the game was good, but not great. The players were loose. The scout team did its share of taunting the starters during a two-minute drill and seemed to revel in stopping the first unit on a drive.
Assistant coach Pat Cosgrove is at practice, before he heads over to Franklin Lakes to see the Hills freshman play Ramapo in a battle of unbeatens. (For the record, Hills won a thriller, 27-26. Ironically, 10 years ago, the Hills varsity defeated Ramapo by the same score).
There was the usual fun among the coaches. Assistant coach Walt Johnson noticed a nice pair of sneakers on fellow assistant Erik Magrini, and decided it was to have some fun with Magrini, who is an expectant father.
“Nice shoes,” Johnson, the Czar of the special teams, said. “I hope that money didn’t go in place of taking care of the new baby?
“Have you started a college fund yet?
“I noticed you have a nice ($400.00) hair cut. Where’d that come from?”
Magrini takes it all in stride, reverting to his ‘Just here to save the program, Babe’, line.
As practice starts to wind down, ATHLETIC TRAINER Corinne Scarpa arrives, wearing an equally pair of nice ‘kicks’ (or sneakers), comparable to Magrini’s.
“Nike, World Cup,” said the even-keeled Scarpa of her snazzy footwear, as Magrini takes note of the shoes and nods in the affirmative.
Back to on-the-field stuff, the coaches had some good news in that junior tailback Luca Grave, who hurt his knee two weeks ago and missed last week’s game at Pascack Valley, has been practicing well and was listed as hopeful of playing against Ramapo.
Scarpa checks with Grave after practice, and when he says he feels good, she responds “fabulous”.
Line coach Anthony Vitale growls at me that there’s too much references to food, on his part, in this week’s blogs and not enough emphasis on his vast coaching skills. (To be completely candid, Vitale is as good as they get when it comes to coaching linemen).
Demikoff hurries off to Back to School Night at Wayne Hills High while most of the other coaches (Magrini, John Jacob, Vitale, Johnson and Mike Kelly), sit in the office and reminisce about coaching days gone by, with Johnson telling most of the stories.
They’re all pretty good accounts, and a nice way for the coaches to settle down, with just 24 hours left until kickoff.
“I think we’re ready,” said Jacob, the team’s offensive coordinator.
He then added, “At this point, we better be.”
Tick, tick, tick…