Wednesday Morning Quarterback: PV loses vs River Dell but silver linings still remain

Line shines in season opener

Noah Schwartz, Sports Editor

Pascack Valley lost a tough game on Friday night at River Dell by a score of 22-21. It was a hard fought affair, with an extremely exciting finish in the fourth quarter, when River Dell won it with a touchdown and two-point conversion in the last minute. PV, for the second consecutive year, lost its opening game to the Hawks, who are now ranked No. 2 in the region by NorthJersey.com. There are a number of takeaways for PV.

First of all, PV can relish in the fact that they controlled the line of scrimmage all game, led by the play of the offensive line. Charlie Looes, Andrew Demboski, Jerry Madden, Brandon Lin, and Matt Curcurato consistently opened holes up for running backs Jake Williams and Stephen Soravilla, who combined for over 200 yards on the ground. Williams ran for 145 yards and two touchdowns, and Soravilla ran for 58 yards. The open lanes for the backs helped PV run more offensive plays than River Dell, and gain 17 first downs.

“The offensive line did a great job. We have a lot of experienced guys…I think we got off the ball well but I think we can still do better. And we will look to improve on that for next week,” Pascack Valley coach Len Cusumano said following the game on Friday.

Starting in his first varsity game, sophomore quarterback Stephen Begen completed 6 of his 9 pass attempts for 42 yards, and also rushed for a touchdown from two yards out.

“He was poised, but made a couple mistakes here and there. I thought he took great leadership in the huddle, and got us out of certain situations on third and long.  Overall, I think Stephen did a great job,” Cusumano said about his sophomore signal caller.

PV also put forth a strong effort on special teams against the Hawks. Senior Austin Piorkowski blocked a punt in the first half which was recovered by Chuck Viteritti. Viteritti also blocked a PAT after River Dell’s first touchdown. Despite being relatively new to the position, placekicker Jake Ciocca went 3-for-3 on PATs.  If Ciocca continues to convert on his kicks, he could prove to be an important weapon for the Indians, especially in close games.

Not everything was positive for Valley, however, as a number of factors led to the one point loss. The fourth quarter was full of controversial plays, and quite frankly, included some important mistakes from PV that contributed to the loss. Multiple penalties, including a pass interference call and an offsides penalty on River Dell’s final drive, proved to be quite costly, providing free yardage and opportunities for an already potent River Dell offense. On the offense side of the ball, PV turned the ball over three times, including a turnover on downs late in the fourth quarter, when PV could have iced the game by converting on a fourth-and-4.

Although Valley did not play the error-free football, they might have squeaked out of Oradell with a victory, if not for a key non-call with less than a minute to play.  On second-and-goal from PV’s nine yard line, River Dell quarterback David Estevez took the snap, and rolled out to his right with the PV pass rush right on his heels. Estevez attempted to elude the rush, but a PV defender grabbed him and tried to throw him down. Just before Estevez hit the ground, he threw a weak pass, which landed near the sideline.  Although it appeared as if there was no receiver in the area and he was purely getting rid of the ball to avoid a sack, the officials did not throw a flag for intentional grounding. If the intentional grounding had been called, River Dell would have been faced with a third-and-goal from the PV 14 yard line.

PV, with an 0-1 record thus far, faces Old Tappan at home on Saturday at 1 p.m. Old Tappan, ranked No. 1 this week by NorthJersey.com, beat Valley last year 33-20. It is the second consecutive week to start the season that PV faces the No. 1 team in the NorthJersey.com rankings, as River Dell held the honor last week, but dropped down to the No. 2 spot this week following their narrow victory against PV.