Pascack Valley looks to rebound in Demarest

After a blowout loss last week, Indians look to improve in all facets of the game


Molly Heintze

Pascack Valley receiver Jake DeMilia (5) lines up for the snap against Paramus.

Josh DeLuca, Sports Editor

Pascack Valley vs Demarest

When: Friday Sep. 21, 6 p.m.

Location: Northern Valley Demarest High School

2018 Records:

Pascack Valley: 1-1

Demarest: 1-2

Thus far this season, the Indians’ two games have been near polar opposites: a 47-6 blowout win at home against Dwight-Morrow and a 48-14 shellacking on the road in Paramus.  This week, Pascack Valley will look to right the ship and improve its play on both sides of the ball.

A week ago, the Indians got off to a slow start, falling behind 28-0 in the first quarter, and things would not get much better from there.  The defense struggled mightily to stop the high-powered, uptempo Paramus offense, while the Valley could not muster much of anything offensively.

The Indians will need to drastically improve their defensive play this week. According to head coach Len Cusumano, the Indians focused on their tackling and “amping up [their] physicality” this week in practice.

“There’s no hiding on the field,” Cusumano said. “You got to make sure that when your opportunity is there to make a play, you make that play for your team. We want them to snap the ball another play, so we have the chance to get the ball back.”

When they do get the football back, it will be up to the Pascack Valley run-first offense and strong offensive line to make something happen.  Last week, the Indians’ ground game managed just 113 yards against the Paramus defense. Starting tailback Jake Williams scored one of Valley’s two touchdowns, but rushed for just 30 yards on nine carries.  If the Indians hope to have success in Demarest, they will need to get more production out of their rushing attack.

“I thought we followed our rules fairly well,” Cusumano said of his offensive line. “Now it’s just kicking it into that next gear and just developing that physicality on the offensive line.”

As a result of the lopsided score in Paramus, the Indians had no choice but to turn to their pass game to try to make up ground.  One of the lone bright spots in an otherwise forgettable game for PV was the play of junior Stephen Begen under center. Begen has completed 19 of his 30 passes on the season for 176 yards and a touchdown.  He has yet to throw an interception. With an experienced receiving corps, the Indians could turn to their aerial attack once again in Demarest, especially if they fall behind early.

“I thought Stephen was going through his progression well,” Cusumano said.

Demarest enters play at 1-2 with its lone win coming against Pascack Hills in a 28-16 victory.  Luckily for Pascack Valley, the Demarest offense is not nearly as high-powered as Paramus’s offense a week ago.  The Norsemen have scored just 42 points in three games this season.

“Demarest is a program that’s continually progressed over the past couple years. Coach Mottola does a great job there with their kids,” Cusumano said.

In recent years, the Indians have had mixed success with the Norsemen.  The last time they played in Demarest in 2016, the Indians emerged victorious in a 48-42 shootout.  However, last season, Demarest blanked the Indians’ 35-0 at Pascack Valley.

“So we’re up for a challenge,” Cusumano said. “No doubt about it.”