SATURDAY, NOV. 28: For the coaches, the countdown had begun minutes after Wayne Hills had defeated Indian Hills in the NJSIAA sectional semifinals on Nov. 20.
But for most of the fans, the countdown is officially underway, with just seven days left until the state championship game, at MetLife Stadium, opposite top-seeded Old Tappan. The game is set for Saturday, Dec. 5, in a 1 p.m. kickoff.
Practice for the first week went as well as expected, according to head coach Wayne Demikoff. The energy level has been high and the intensity, good.
“You’re where you should be after one week,” Demikoff told his team on Nov. 28, after a two-hour practice on an unusually warm November morning.
“We need to be ready to play a physical game at MetLife. You can do it, you can win this.”
And with that, a simple, but succinct message.
“Forty eight minutes for a lifetime of memories.”
Practices haven’t been as long for the first of the two weeks leading to the title game. Instead, there’s been 90 minute sessions, with a specific focus, along with conditioning and weight lifting sessions. Now that the countdown is underway, Demikoff knows the coming week will be hectic.
There’s a trip for the players, coaches and administration on the evening of Nov. 30, to MetLife, where the players will get a tour and have a chance to take in the huge venue. There’s of course five practice days, starting on Nov. 30, leading to Saturday’s championship game.
Demikoff will tell you there’s never enough time for coaches to prepare. And of course, with the holiday season upon us, he made time to take his sons, Tyler and Troy, to Pennsylvania on the day after Thanksgiving (following practice, of course) to chop down a Christmas tree, something the Demikoff family has done for a number of years. Assistant coach Mike Kelly has long been a fan of being with the family in chopping down a tree and introduced Demikoff to it a while ago.
Demikoff spent Thanksgiving Day at home, working on films and game plans, while the family ate dinner with other relatives.
Today, after practice, Demikoff, along with Kelly and coaches Jermain Johnson and Chris Dowling are spending more time in Demikoff’s office at Hills, going over defensive formations.
The upcoming week promises to be eventful. It’s the final week of the season for a team that began working out regularly nearly a year ago. And despite the time commitment, it’s evident in the players’ work ethic that this one will be special.
“You’re one game away,” Demikoff reminded his team. “You’re doing good work. The coming week will be special. Enjoy every minute of it.”
And we’ll have plenty of blogs leading to Saturday’s championship game.
Tick, Tick, Tick…