SATURDAY OCT. 24, 10 a.m. :Wayne Hills had won a key road game at Paramus on Oct. 23, beating the Spartans, 28-7, despite the worst officiating I’ve seen in some 30 years.
The officials assigned to the game were AWFUL. To say they stunk was an understatement. I’ll have more on those clowns in an upcoming blog.
Anyway, back to the important stuff, Hills overcame the incompetent officials with a good running game, led by junior tailback Luca Grave, who was once again dominant, with another 100 plus rushing game. Grave is closing in on 1,000 yards rushing for the season. He was also a force on defense, while Vincent LoVerde returned an interception for a score.
While the win improved Wayne Hills’ record to 6-2 and assured the Patriots a playoff berth, head coach Wayne Demikoff didn’t feel his team played anywhere near to its potential.
“You have the talent to win a state championship,” he said to the players after the Paramus game and again this morning during, and after the film review of the Paramus game.
With a bye week, the focus is now on the regular season finale, at Wayne Valley, on Nov. 6. Wayne Valley had a huge win on Oct. 23, rallying from 25-7 down to edge Lakeland, 29-25. The win improved the Indians’ record to 7-0. Valley will be a prohibitive favorite to improve to 8-0 when it visits Demarest on Friday night, which then sets the stage for what Demikoff called an “electric” setting at Valley, on Nov. 6.
“Pressure comes with life,” Demikoff reminded his team. “And there will be pressure when we go there. As you continue in your life, success will come with how you deal with pressure. Wayne Valley will be packed on Nov. 6. It’s going to be something special. Two playoff-bound teams. If that’s not enough to get you fired up, nothing will.”
The film session goes pretty well. Offensive coordinator John Jacob starts with a breakdown of the offensive successes and miscues. ‘Jakes’ will run the gamut of emotions, from “good job, Dude”, to “are you kidding me?” to “accountability is everything.” Jacob has an uncanny ability to break someone down, then build them up, sometimes within three sentences.
Line coach Anthony Vitale, when he’s not talking about a new dish he’s cooked in a crock pot, is as analytical as they come when it comes to blocking schemes. And he’s in no mood for excuses when he sees a mistake.
“We practiced that all week, Dude,” Vitale barks at a lineman, after seeing a mistake. “No excuses, just results.”
Demikoff and defensive coordinator Jermain Johnson are next, and they also run the gamut. Demikoff mixes in sarcasm as good as any coach I’ve ever seen. On one play, Demikoff’s two young sons, Tyler and Troy, are playing on the sidelines and within camera view. Both kids seem to roll over like bowling pins and when Jacob asks who hit who, Demikoff replies “No one. They just both feel down.” The film affirms this and the entire room roars with laughter.
On another play, sophomore lineman Jason Modak makes a nice play on defense. “Wow, Modak, look at you,” paraphrases Demikoff. “This is a play that you can show the grandchildren one day.” Laughter fills the room again.
Demikoff also notes some good work by Leyshawn Askew and Matt Varone, on defense. Askew, the tallest player on the team, is becoming a solid lineman on defense. He batted down a couple of passes against Paramus and created havoc at the line. Varone, a fire plug, was also effective and filled in well when Matt Sportelli went down late in the game with a knee injury.
Sportelli is at today’s film session. He was limping slightly, but very confident that he’ll be okay. The witty Demikoff will ask him on one play if he was a roller skater in a previous life, after watching ‘Sport’ make a play on defense prior to getting hurt. “You look like one of those skinny guys with the tight shirt, roller skating, on that play,” said Demikoff.
It was all in good fun. Sportelli is one of the most valuable players on the roster. He’s considered one of the best long snappers in the conference and his work on the line has been outstanding.
On other plays, Demikoff is not so funny, noting a lapse on a coverage, or a missed tackle, by a certain player, or players. But for the most part, the reviews are good.
With a bye week, Demikoff wants to give the kids a bit of a break from the usual 2 1/2 to 3 hour practices. The team will have lighter workouts early this week, before getting into full Wayne Valley mode late this week. which then leads to a full week of preparation.
“You have at least two more games left,” said Demikoff, referring to Wayne Valley and then at least one playoff game. “We want to have four more games to play (with the last one at MetLife Stadium in early December for a state championship). They’re all big games now. There are no more easy ones on the schedule. Think of all the hard work you’ve put in since January. Do you want it to end in two weeks, or in early December? For the seniors, this may be the last time you play football. You’ve been doing it since the fifth, or sixth grade. Where do you want it to end?”
It’s about 12:20 p.m. when the players file out of the classroom. Demikoff’s day is just beginning, however. He’ll go to his office at Wayne Hills and begin breaking down film of Wayne Valley.
Johnson says he’ll talk to Demikoff later. But about a minute later, Jermain says, “hey Wayne, I’m coming with you. Let’s start going over that film.”
The life of a coach, especially with Wayne Valley on the schedule.
Tick, tick, tick…