Indians to welcome New Canaan on short notice

Pascack Valley’s regular season finale moved up due to impending rains

Josh DeLuca, Sports Editor

Pascack Valley vs New Canaan

When: Thursday Oct. 25, 6 p.m.

Location: Pascack Valley High School

2018 Records:

Pascack Valley: 3-4

New Canaan: 4-2

On short notice, it has become a short week for the Pascack Valley football team.

On Wednesday, it was announced that the Indians’ regular season finale against New Canaan originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon has been moved up to Thursday night at 6 p.m. due to impending inclement weather.  The Pascack Valley Athletic Department cited “logistical issues” as to why the game could not be played on Friday.

Saturday’s game was supposed to mark Pascack Valley’s Homecoming including pregame festivities and a barbecue. These events have been cancelled and will not be rescheduled.  Senior day festivities for the football team, cheerleaders, and band will still occur prior to Thursday’s game.

Playing on a Thursday is not unprecedented for Pascack Valley. Last season, the Indians played a Thursday night game in Ramapo due to religious holidays prohibiting games from being played over the weekend.

As if playing on a short week was not difficult enough, the Indians will welcome one of Connecticut’s best teams to Hillsdale on Thursday night.  A perennial powerhouse, New Canaan enters play on a high note, after a 49-7 trouncing of Trinity Catholic last week.

The Rams boast a high-powered, pass-first offense, led by junior signal caller Drew Pyne. Pyne, who has verbally committed to Notre Dame, has completed 96 of 146 passes for 1298 yards and 18 touchdowns. He has thrown just three interceptions.

Pyne’s top target, senior Quintin O’Connell, has hauled in 41 passes for 626 yards and eight touchdowns. Fellow Senior Wyatt Wilson has caught 15 passes for 283 yards and three touchdowns, while Zach Lapolice, Luke Morton, and Stephen Wronski have all caught two touchdowns.

On the ground, Senior J.R. Moore leads the way for New Canaan.  Moore has rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns on just 29 carries. O’Connell has also rushed for a pair of touchdowns.

Defensively, the Rams have been stout, allowing just over 17 points per game.  They have had success getting to opposing quarterbacks, recording an average of three sacks per game. Junior Matthew Rigione alone has gotten to the quarterback seven times.

New Canaan has also been effective in turning over opposing offenses.  Rams defenders have recorded nine interceptions and have recovered three fumbles.

The Indians will have to be firing on all cylinders in all three phases of the game if they hope to upset the Rams.  Last week, despite a 35-20 loss to the No. 4 team in New Jersey, Valley showed signs of improvement.

On the offensive side of the ball, the Indians switched things up, operating a spread offense, as opposed to their traditional power style.  Quarterback Stephen Begen threw for a season-high 167 yards and three touchdowns, doubling his season total. Senior Gio DeGiglio hauled in five passes, while Jake DeMilia and Jake Williams each caught four.

“I thought we could expose some things on the outside, and kinda get out of the box a little bit,” PV coach Len Cusumano said of the new offensive look.

Meanwhile, for the first time since 2015, save for a 2017 shutout against Demarest, the Indians did not rush for a touchdown.  While PV rushed for 179 yards, it did not reach the end zone on the ground.

Defensively, the Indians held a potent Ramapo offense to just 28 points, as one of Ramapo’s scores came on a pick-six.  The Indians secondary will be put to the test on Thursday night against a Division I quarterback.

Thursday will mark the second matchup between Pascack Valley and New Canaan.  Last year, in the Indians’ first ever out-of-state game, the Rams defeated PV 33-14.

Cusumano described New Canaan as an “outstanding program.”