Pascack Valley football set for big road test

Indians to face off against Paramus for first time since 2014 Championship Game


Victoria Donofrio

James Allmers (14) takes the handoff from Stephen Begen in last week’s game against Dwight Morrow. On Friday, Valley travels to Paramus to face the undefeated Spartans.

Josh DeLuca, Sports Editor

Pascack Valley vs Paramus

When: Friday Sep. 14, 6 p.m.

Location: Paramus High School

2018 Records:

Pascack Valley: 1-0

Paramus: 2-0

Coming off season-opening blowout against Dwight Morrow, Pascack Valley will look to improve to 2-0 for the first time since 2015 when they travel to Paramus on Friday.  Last week, the Indians played effectively on both sides of the ball, combining a potent and consistent offensive attack with stout defensive play en route to the 47-6 win.

As they did in Week 1, Valley will likely rely upon its ground game against Paramus.  Last week, the Indians utilized a rotating cast at running back, as junior tailbacks Jake Williams and James Allmers split the first team reps.  Williams rushed for 87 yards and three touchdowns on 13 carries, while Allmers picked up 67 yards and a touchdown on 8 carries. Senior Stephen Soravilla also found the end zone.

“Yeah, we really have a stable of running backs,” PV head coach Len Cusumano said. “[They’re] guys that I think can handle the football, do a great job.”

In the air, the Indians showed signs of promise, as junior signal caller Stephen Begen connected on six of his 10 passes for 56 yards.  Begen connected with senior receiver Joe Campagna on three occasions for a total of 47 yards against Dwight Morrow. He also found tight-end Justin Nicita for an eight yard completion on the sidelines.

“It wasn’t a high amount of passes,” Cusumano said. “But I thought when he had his opportunities, he connected with our receivers.”

Pascack Valley will get some help this week in the passing attack as senior receiver Jake DeMilia and junior tight-end James Della Pesca will both return from injury this week.

“We got a couple horses, guys that are experienced guys that can definitely help in any fashion this weekend,” Cusumano said. “We’ll see what they can do.”

By allowing just six points in Week 1, Valley has already bested its best defensive performance from 2017, allowing seven points against Ridgefield Park.  The Indians were able to keep the Dwight Morrow offense under wraps, save for a 65-yard touchdown run in the early stages of the third quarter.

Williams and sophomore Desmond Von Tobel led the way with five tackles each, while seniors Mike Garay and Charlie Looes both contributed four.  Kris Ostrowski added the lone sack for the Indians, while Andrew Martinez deflected a pass that nearly went for an interception.

Though the Indians played well in all three phases in Week 1, PV will face a much tougher test in Week 2 with No. 13 Paramus.  The Spartans enter play at 2-0 after back-to-back blowout wins at the hands of Parsippany Hills and Mahwah.  After opening its season in Week 0 with a 51-21 win against Parsippany Hills, Paramus held Mahwah to just a field goal in a 35-3 rout.

Offensively, Paramus is led by dual-threat quarterback Trevor Bopp.  The 6-foot-3-inch junior has completed 14 of his 25 passes for 114 yards and one interception. Against Mahwah, however, the Paramus aerial attack struggled greatly, as Bopp completed just two passes for -2 passes. Bopp is also the Spartans’ leading rusher with 304 yards and five touchdowns on 26 carries.

“Anytime you’ve got a quarterback that is fundamentally sound both as a run option and a pass option you got to be sound defensively,” Cusumano said. “It comes down to the fundamentals of tackling, wrapping up. When we have our opportunity to make a play, we have to get the job done.”

Junior running back Kyle Jacob has also rushed for five touchdowns and 285 yards, while senior tailback Justin McKeon has racked up 61 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, the Spartans’ defense has been strong in both outings thus far this season. The Paramus defensive front was able to effectively shutdown opposing rushing attacks. Last week, the Spartans’ first-string defense held Mahwah running backs to just 12 yards on 14 carries before giving way to the junior varsity. 

Jacob and senior Matt Amato each have registered 18 tackles on the season. Amato has also recorded three sacks.

The last time the Indians and Spartans faced off, the stakes were a bit higher – the 2014 North 1, Group 4 Championship Game at MetLife Stadium.  Pascack Valley emerged victorious 22-6 to capture its second straight N1, G4 championship, both of which came at the hands of Paramus.  Though the two programs have a long playoff history, locking horns in 2014, 2013, 2009, and 2008, this will be their first regular season showdown since at least 2003.

“This is very unique. It’s a regular season game, and it’s now a league game. Obviously, extremely important,” Cusumano said. “Our biggest thing is getting off to a great start, make sure we’re consistent on both sides of the ball, and making plays when our numbers’ called.”