Pascack Valley defeats Demarest in Halloween blowout

Offense scores five touchdowns en route to second straight victory


BJ McGrane

Pascack Valley took down Demarest on Saturday by a score of 34-7, notching its second straight win.

BJ McGrane, Sports Editor

When Pascack Valley was shut down due to multiple positive COVID-19 cases, the football team was prohibited from practicing for two weeks, resuming practice on Thursday.

But based on Valley’s performance in its 34-7 blowout of Demarest on the road Saturday, you wouldn’t be able to tell that the team took a two week hiatus with only two practices ahead of the contest.

“We’re not the only ones in this kind of situation,” coach Len Cusumano said. “Many schools are dealing with this, and we just have to deal with the cards that we’re dealt.”

Even with the lack of practice before the game, there was no absence of confidence for PV going into its Halloween showdown.

“We knew we were going to do this,” quarterback Zach Traina said. “We were prepared, and everything was flawless.”

Traina, in his third career start under center, had perhaps his most impressive performance to date, throwing three touchdown passes and no interceptions. Senior Daniel Haag was the recipient of Traina’s first touchdown of the day, a 10-yard dime in the second quarter that stretched Pascack Valley’s lead to 14.

“The goal was to get in rhythm as quickly as possible,” Cusumano said. “We’re just very proud of these guys coming out of that two-week hiatus.”

As Traina gets more starts under his belt, the passing game is more successful. Experience has certainly been a key factor in the improvement in the passing game, as he completed 9 out of his 14 passes in the victory.

“The biggest thing was not feeling nervous, and going out there knowing that my coaches prepared me enough,” Traina said. “Today I went out there with a little more swagger than usual, feeling more confident in myself.”

Traina’s final two touchdowns came as a pair of passes to seniors John Supple and Ryan Donaldson on back to back drives in the second half, putting Valley up 34-0 and putting the game out of reach for the Norsemen.

PV’s offense was firing on all cylinders, as five different players reached the end zone. Cusumano attributes this to the way the team practices, giving multiple players opportunities to make their mark.

“It’s a tremendous thing for any football team to have that many guys that can make plays for you,” Cusumano said. “Coach [William] Lynn does a great job of making sure we spread the wealth and making sure that enough guys get reps in practice to make those plays.”

Running backs Mike Solazzo and Nick Messina each got in on the action early, both punching in touchdowns in the first half. Solazzo once again served as the lead back, racking up 16 carries – 8 on PV’s opening drive – and finishing with 84 yards. Solazzo capped off the busy opening drive with a 7-yard score to put Valley on the board first.

“I thought we got off the ball very well on the offensive line,” Cusumano said. “I thought we were making plays, catching the football, and running backs running hard.”

While Solazzo was grinding out yards, it was Messina who had a breakaway score late in the first half to give Valley a 20-0 edge.

As much as the win came by virtue of the offense, Valley’s defense was no slouch, holding its opponent to one score for the second straight game. Some of Valley’s success on the offensive end came as a result of its defensive presence as well.

“[Defensive success] allows us to score more points, and allows [the offense] to get on the field more,” Traina said. “The defense did a great job today, and they really helped us out.”

Although defensive coordinator Adam Preciado’s defense got the job done in its second straight contest, even in the best of games, there is always room for improvement.

“Coach Preciado did a great job putting the guys in position to make plays,” Cusumano said. “I thought our tackling was borderline outstanding. We could’ve had more opportunities for interceptions, so we have to go back to work on that.”

The Demarest offense relied heavily on running back Michael Mai early on, but began to air it out later on, attempting to play catch-up with a Pascack Valley team that led 20-0 at halftime.

Mai totaled 8 carries in the first half but only rushed 4 times in the latter half as the Norsemen shifted their focus to quarterback Andrew Argenziano and the passing game. Argenziano would finish the game completing 11 out of 25 attempts, while accounting for Demarest’s only touchdown of the day on a deep bomb to Sean Vadis as the game wound down.

Even if the rest of Demarest’s offense wasn’t clicking, Vadis had himself a day.

The Norsemen receiver had six receptions in the loss, more than half of his quarterback’s completions as Argenziano struggled to get something going with any other receiver.

Demarest threw everything but the kitchen sink at Valley, even getting the ball back on an unexpected onside kick on the second half kickoff.

Pascack Valley will face Old Tappan in its long overdue home opener next Friday night, as PV looks to ride the momentum from two straight wins to take down the Golden Knights.

“I’m very happy to get a home game finally for our guys,” Cusumano said. “We’re ready to get back to work this week, focusing on OT.”

Despite all the excitement from the win, Cusumano sees the bigger picture and is thankful that his team is able to get back onto the field.

“We made the best out of our opportunity,” coach Len Cusumano said. “We’re very grateful to have a football game today.”