Valley throttles Demarest to advance to sectional semifinals

Indians to host Garfield next week


Ariela Alfonso

Jake Ciocca (27) and Sean Cuffe (10) celebrate an interception. Ciocca picked off Demarest quarterback Andrew Argenziano twice in Valley's 41-0 victory.

Spencer Goldstein, Sports Editor

The Indians put on a defensive clinic on Friday night, shutting down Demarest en route to a 41-0 home victory in the North 1, Group 3 sectional quarterfinals. The win marks Valley’s first playoff victory since 2015, as well as its first of the head coach Len Cusumano era.

The win also serves as Valley’s second against the Norsemen this season, as the Indians defeated them on Sept. 28 as well. But while the Norsemen were able to put up somewhat of a fight in September, Friday night’s game was never in doubt for the Indians, scoring three touchdowns in their first four drives to take a commanding 21-0 lead early on. 

“I thought we brought some great physicality tonight,” Cusumano said. “It’s tough to beat teams twice in a year so we were a little bit concerned initially, but the boys came out and got the job done.”

Valley’s defense was able to keep Demarest from gaining any sort of momentum, as the Norsemen never got past Valley’s 49-yard line. Demarest quarterback Andrew Argenziano completed just four of 12 passes for 11 yards, and was also intercepted by senior Jake Ciocca twice.

“We all just did our jobs,” Ciocca said. “We gameplanned all week and just executed. Coach [Cusumano] put me in a good position to make plays and that’s what I did.”

Running back Ben Marinaccio highlighted Demarest’s offensive attack, but the Indians were ultimately able to keep him contained, allowing him only 50 yards on 13 carries. Slowing down Marinaccio was key for Valley’s defense, as he rushed for 119 yards and two touchdowns last time the two teams met. 

“[We were] making plays and tackling very well,” Cusumano said. “I thought our defensive game plan worked and [defensive coordinator] Coach Preciado did a great job. We were very consistent and [we] were able to handle their guys up front.”

Demarest also had no answers for Valley’s offense, as the Indians were able to march up and down the field at will. Senior workhorse Jake Williams scored three touchdowns – all in the first half – to go along with 106 yards on 19 carries. 

“The offensive line blocked amazingly tonight,” Williams said. “They gave me the holes and [made] it so much easier for me.”

Senior quarterback Stephen Begen was effective in the passing game, completing eight of 14 passes for 75 yards, including a touchdown to senior wide receiver Craig Moorehead on a well-placed pass to the back of the endzone. 

Leading 21-0 at halftime, the Indians started the second half with a bang when senior Andrew Martinez took the second half kickoff 77 yards to the house to increase the team’s lead to four possessions.

“I had the momentum moving forward [since] it was a short kick and I trust all ten guys that are blocking for me all the time,” Martinez said. “It was exciting to get in that endzone right out of the half.”

With the win, the Indians advance to the North 1, Group 3 sectional semifinals to face seventh-seeded Garfield, who defeated second-seeded Rahway 18-7 on Friday night. Valley’s boys were buzzing in the locker room upon finding out about the game’s result, as it grants them another home game as opposed to traveling to Rahway, which would have been the case had Garfield not pulled off the unexpected upset.

“It’s awesome to get another home game,” Martinez said. “It’s great to be back on our field again since we [seniors] thought it was our last game ever on that field.”

In order to capitalize on next week’s home field advantage, the Indians know they will have to turn in a strong week of practice leading up to the game.

“We had a lot of energy this week in practice and we have to keep that up,” Ciocca said. “We came out firing this week and it helped us out a lot so we have to keep the energy up and just do our jobs and I think we’re kind of unbeatable right now.”