Indians look to go 5-0 in rivalry game

Pascack Valley will face Old Tappan on Friday night


Ariela Alfonso

Stephen Begen runs in the open field

BJ McGrane, Sports Editor

“We’re looking to go 1-0 every week.”

That is the phrase PV football coach Len Cusumano has repeated prior to every one of the Indians’ games this season. Cusumano stresses that each and every game is important, and the team has to focus on their next game and their next game only.

Pascack Valley will face off against Old Tappan this Friday night at home, in what many would call their biggest game of the year so far due to the rivalry between the two schools. However, Cusumano doesn’t view it much differently than any other game the Indians have played so far.

“Every game has a lot of intensity,” Cusumano said.

Although Old Tappan has a record of 2-2 thus far, their schedule has been tough. The Golden Knights’ losses have come against an undefeated Ridgewood team, as well as a Ramapo team that has won their last 17 games.

Going into the season, there were questions surrounding Old Tappan’s quarterback situation, as senior Niko Orecchio has taken over the offense this year under center. However, the same cannot be said for the rest of the offense, as the Golden Knights are returning eight starters on offense this year, including senior linemen Pat Passalacqua and Sebastian Santana.

Last year, the Golden Knights fell to Wayne Hills in the North 1, Group 4 sectional final game. After winning this year’s season opener by a score of 21-14 against Northern Highlands, Old Tappan was ranked number one in the North Jersey Public Top 20 rankings, selected by the staff. After going 1-2 in its next three games, the Golden Knights look to justify their ranking by defeating the Indians on Friday, something no other team has been able to do this year.

Pascack Valley has had an impressive start to the season, winning their first four games. Much of this success can be credited to Valley’s defense, allowing less than 20 points in three of its first four contests.

“[The defense] just needs to keep tackling well,” Cusumano said.

Cusumano has credited the team’s success not just to the players, but to the coaching staff as well.

“Coach [Adam] Preciado, Coach [William] Lynn, and Coach [JJ] Moran have done a great job of getting our guys where they need to be,” Cusumano said.

Valley’s offense has also been much more successful than in previous years, with the offense scoring at least 27 points in every game this season.

“[Coach Lynn] has given [the offense] balance,” Cusumano said. “Not only do teams have to stop the run, they have to stop us [passing] as well.”

Both the running game and the passing game were successful for the Indians in their win against Demarest last Saturday, as senior quarterback Stephen Begen completed 68.4% of his passes for 163 yards to go along with a touchdown, and senior running back Jake WIlliams rushed 19 times for 145 yards with 4 rushing touchdowns on the day.

Pascack Valley will aim to have a different result in Friday’s game than in last year’s contest against the Golden Knights, a game in which the Indians fell 38-14 in Old Tappan.

“We just need to continue to play consistent, sound football,” Cusumano said.