Valley aims to return to playoffs for third straight season


Molly Heintze

Jake Williams finds an opening against Ramapo

Spencer Goldstein and BJ McGrane

Head Coach: Len Cusumano

Last Year’s Record: 3-6

Key Returners: Stephen Begen (Sr. QB/S), Jake Williams (Sr. RB/LB), James Della Pesca (Sr. TE/LB), Andrew Martinez (Sr. WR/CB), Jake Ciocca (Sr. WR/S), Sean Deady (Sr. OL), Sean Duffy (Sr. OL), Chase Rickert (Sr. OL/DL), Joe Cuti (Sr. OL/DL), Desmond Von Tobel (Jr. LB), Drew Carney (Sr. FB/LB)

Key Losses: Charlie Looes (OL/DL), Andrew Demboski (OL/DL), Stephen Soravilla (RB/DB), Jesse Lagrosa (OL, DL), Jake DeMilia (WR, DB)

Key Newcomers: Nick Mazza (Jr. OL/DL), Anthony Velasco (Jr. OL/DL), Jared Cohen (Jr. TE), Daniel Haag (Jr. TE), Sean Cuffe (Jr. RB/DB)

Strengths of team: Depth and experience.

“We have a lot of pieces that can really help out this year and I think we have a little bit more depth that’s going to be helpful for us,” Cusumano said. “[We also have] a lot of big game experience that I think is going to help. The group has a great attitude and I think they really enjoy being around each other.”

Areas that need improvement: “We really don’t know until the season starts,” Cusumano said. “Your scrimmages can only give you so much information but when it’s for real in a live game experience then we really can tell what our weaknesses per se might be.”

Outlook: Quite a few seniors will be returning for the Indians, including the team captains: Begen, Williams, and Della Pesca. Begen is in his third year starting at quarterback for Valley, Williams is entering his third season as a “workhorse” at running back, and Della Pesca has committed to Temple.

“We have a good group of seniors that have really risen up,” Cusumano said of the offensive line. “Some are returning starters.”

As for the newcomers, Cusumano is very impressed with the linemen. Cusumano described Mazza as a “big, tough, strong kid,” and said that Velasco “has done a very good job of applying himself in the weight room.” He said that Cohen and Haag “can really help [the team] at the tight end position,” and that Cuffe is a “really speedy kid who does everything you ask for.” Cusumano also said that Cuffe is “a kid that you’re really impressed with when you watch him play.”

Coach’s comment: “Expectations are always high,” Cusumano said. “Obviously we want to play in December. There’s always a high expectation for us; we want to make sure our guys are doing the right thing both on and off the football field.”