PV falls to River Dell in defensive battle

Valley moves to 2-3 on the season


Luke Visco

Pascack Valley and River Dell get set at the line of scrimmage. The Golden Hawks defeat PV 7-2 on Friday night.

Noah Silver, Assistant Sports Editor

Coming off of a 14-7 loss against Old Tappan, Valley looked to bounce back Friday night at home against River Dell.

However, the outcome was much of the same, as River Dell managed to edge out Valley by a score of 7-2. Both defenses showed up, each making consistent stops to give the ball back to their respective offenses.

“[Our defenders showed] tenacity, doing their job every single play,” Head Coach Len Cusumano said. “The gang tackling, I thought, was outstanding, [and they were] just doing the little things right. I thought they were pursuing the football. Our angles were very good, [and each defender had] the desire to make the play.”

Valley’s defense only let up a total of 188 yards, while Valley’s offense only garnered 123 yards. This was a defensive showdown as both offenses could not get anything going.

“We’re putting in a good gameplan and our kids are just executing and working hard,” Defensive Coordinator Adam Preciado said. “We are tackling well and we’re doing a good job to put our kids in a good position.”

One major turning point in the game came in the 4th quarter on a 3rd & 15 for the Golden Hawks offense, in which senior Desmond Von Tobel batted down quarterback Jesse Henderson’s pass. However, Valley got called for a roughing the passer penalty, riling up the crowd and PV’s coaching staff as it gave River Dell a first down. Three plays later, Henderson connected with receiver Ronan Laubert for a 7-yard touchdown – the only offensive score of the game.

“Watching it on film, [the penalty] looked pretty bang bang – it could have gone either way,” Preciado said. “We teach our kids to be physical and play to the whistle. I never get upset with aggressive penalties like that – I can live with it. It was just at a bad time, that’s all it is.”

PV quarterback Zach Traina threw for a total of 49 yards to go along with 18 rushing yards as the offense struggled to gain momentum. Valley’s biggest play of the night came on a 33-yard pass from Traina to junior wide receiver Dylan Hutchinson.

“We’re struggling to make plays right now,” Cusumano said. “There are certain moments where [someone] needs to go out and make the play. It falls on me, it falls on us as coaches to get guys in better positions, and we’re going to go back to the drawing board.”

Valley’s only points of the game came on an intentional safety by River Dell with 23 seconds left, in which its punter opted to down himself in River Dell’s own endzone as opposed to giving Valley’s offense favorable field position.

“[River Dell] gave us a lot of opportunities to take the game from them and we just didn’t go and take it. ” Cusumano said.

Christian Hay, River Dell’s typical starting quarterback, missed the game after getting injured during last week’s win against Northern Highlands. This allowed Henderson, the backup quarterback, to step in and throw for 117 yards and a touchdown, while gaining 24 yards on the ground. In addition, wide receiver Colin Quinn totalled six receptions for 80 yards.

“[Hay] was their starter, but he got banged up a little bit against Northern Highlands,” Preciado said. “We had heard about [the injury] during the week, but we prepared for [Hay]. I don’t think that really had an effect on the game.”

With the win, River Dell improves to 6-1, while Valley drops below .500 with a record of 2-3. Valley will conclude its season next week when it hosts Paramus, who comes in with a record of 3-4. In last year’s matchup between the two, PV came out on top 38-27.