Pascack Valley defeats Paramus for the first time since 2014

Indians pulled out the win against the Spartans

BJ McGrane, Sports Editor

Neither Paramus nor Pascack Valley lacked star power heading into Friday night’s game, as Paramus’ all-county quarterback and running back duo in Trevor Bopp and Kyle Jacob faced off against Valley’s dynamic duo of quarterback Stephen Begen and running back Jake Williams. All four players impressed in Valley’s 38-27 home win.

PV’s offensive duo wasted no time before getting on the board, scoring on just four plays after the opening kickoff on a 36-yard rushing touchdown by Williams. He would finish the game with 16 rushes for 130 yards and two rushing touchdowns.

Although PV’s offense got off to a hot start, the same could not be said for the Paramus offense, The PV defense continued to impress after two stellar performances to open up the season when the Spartans first offensive drive came to an end as junior defensive back Chris Cole swatted down a pass by Bopp on fourth down.

“We bent, but we didn’t break,” head coach Len Cusumano said. “Our boys stepped up and made plays.”

On the Indians’ next drive, it was Begen who led the charge. Begen connected on four out of his five passing attempts on the drive for 25 yards.

“[The passing game] opens up the run game, the run game opens up the passing game. They both collide,” Begen said.

Begen’s passing did open up the running game for Williams, who capped this drive off with a 29-yard rushing touchdown for was the second of his three scores on the night.

The Indians led 14-0 until Paramus’ dynamic backfield duo finally came through in the second quarter. On their first successful drive, Bopp ran for 24 yards and Jacob ran for 29 of his own, including his first touchdown of the game to reduce PV’s lead to 14-7.

Just over a minute after Paramus scored its first touchdown of the game, PV struck again on a drive highlighted by a 39-yard reception by senior James Allmers and a 24-yard touchdown reception by Williams, putting PV up 21-7 with around nine minutes to go in the half.

The score remained intact until the waning seconds of the first half, when senior Jake Ciocca hit a 39-yard field goal to put the Indians up 24-7 at halftime.

The Spartans received the ball to start the second half, giving the PV defense another chance to shine. On just the fifth play of the drive, senior lineman Chase Rickert recovered an aborted snap to give Valley the ball back.

“[The defense] came up with big [plays] at critical times,” Cusumano said.

Up 24-7 in the third quarter and already on the Spartans’ side of the field, the Indians had a chance to potentially put the game out of reach for Paramus. However, following an interception of Begen, the Spartans’ stars showed why they were voted onto the All-Bergen County 1st Team. Bopp completed both of his pass attempts on this drive; one being a 39-yard completion to Jacob and the other being a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Del Colle that brought the score to 24-14 late in the third quarter.

When PV’s offense came back on the field, it was Begen’s turn to lead his offense down the field. He completed all three of his passing attempts– all to Ciocca– including a 59-yard touchdown that would put PV up 31-14 with a little over a minute to go in the third quarter.

Begen would finish the night having completed 18 out of his 28 pass attempts for 204 yards and two touchdowns, as well as an interception. Begen’s passing has been a much larger part of the offensive gameplan than in previous years, which is a testament to his work ethic in the offseason

“Two or three times a week I would get together with my receivers, and we would just throw the ball,” Begen said. “It would be in January, and the field wouldn’t even be shoveled, or it would be hot in June or July. We would just get together and work with every single pattern, and scramble drills.”

Just as the Indians started to pull away, Bopp and Jacob put together another successful drive for a touchdown, making the score 31-21. Bopp would finish the game completing 13 of his 22 pass attempts for 310 yards and two touchdowns, while Jacob finished with 17 rushes for 87 yards and a rushing touchdown. Jacob didn’t just limit his abilities to the running game, however, as he also caught 6 passes for 112 yards with a receiving touchdown.

The Spartans offense was firing on all cylinders, and the momentum was beginning to shift their way.

That was until Allmers took the following kickoff to the house for a touchdown, serving as a huge momentum shift and giving the Indians’ a 38-21 cushion heading into the fourth quarter.

“As soon as I got the ball, I knew I just had to go,” Allmers said. “I saw the hole open, and as soon as I broke open, I knew I was gone.”

The special teams has been impressive thus far this season, with Allmers’ return serving as the unit’s second touchdown in as many weeks.

“Special teams is always huge,” Cusumano said. “Anytime you have critical plays on special teams that can change the momentum of the game, it’s huge.”

Allmers’ touchdown served as a momentum boost for the entire team.

“It was a momentum changer, and great blocking by everybody,” Allmers said.

Although the team’s momentum seemed depleted, the Paramus offense continued to fight. They put together one last scoring drive which concluded with Bopp hitting Jacob for an 18-yard touchdown reception.

Following a Valley punt, a fumble recovery by senior Drew Carney on the Spartans’ final drive would cap off the win for the Indians.

With the win, the Indians advance to 3-0 for the first time since 2015, when they opened up with five straight wins. This is also the first time Valley has defeated Paramus since its 22-6 win at Metlife Stadium in the 2014 playoffs.

The Indians will host Demarest (2-1) next Saturday as they look to stay undefeated.

“[We need to] continue to focus on the next game,” Cusumano said. “The next game is always the biggest game. We’re looking to go 1-0 each week.”