Wayne Valley’s Historic Football Season

Amanda Vogt, Sports and Clubs Editor

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They call them the Road Warriors. Our Indians were never even projected to make it past the first round in the state tournament. After multiple wins, their season continued for almost an entire month longer than expected, culminating in their new title of State Champions. Since they were the lower seed, the Indians played every state game on foreign turf, and fought for a victory each time. In three out of the four playoff games, they started off losing, but quickly gained the upper hand through their hard work and grit. 

Wayne Valley Football made team history, with a final record of 11-2 for their fall season. This impressive record makes this team only the fourth team in Wayne Valley’s history to win eleven games in one season. In addition to the coaching staff, senior captains Tommy Moran, Jake Deluccia, and Ricky Ruggerio led the 2019 football team to MetLife stadium for the championship.

In order to make MetLife a reality, the team had to work harder than ever before during the regular season. Head coach Mr. Kutzleb recalls that, “The hardest part of the journey to the championship was the journey itself.” Their first win took place during the first week of the season, all the way in Andover, Massachusetts. However, come week two, Valley lost to town rival Wayne Hills on our home turf. Still, they were able to put that loss behind them as they upheld a five-game winning streak, dominating opponents like Nutley and Indian Hills (and these two games were both shutouts). About a month and a half after their first loss, the Indians came up short once more in a tough loss against Northern Highlands. The team concluded their regular season with another win before moving on to the state tournament.

The Indians were placed at the fifth seed in their bracket, which includes a lot of tough teams. Their first challenge was to defeat the fourth seed, Wayne Hills, on their home field. In the last eight times that Valley and Hills faced off, Hills had the upper hand. Nobody thought that our Indians had even the slightest chance of an upset. When it came time to play, Valley had no trouble defeating the Hills team with a 13-6 win. 

In the state semi-final round, the Indians traveled to Philipsburg, which was the first-seeded team in the bracket. Not only is Philipsburg a tough team, but they hold the all-time record for the most high school football wins in all of New Jersey. Once again, people doubted that our Indians would come out on top, and once again, they were proved wrong. The game remained scoreless until the third quarter, when the Indians scored a touchdown and put up 7 points. No additional points were scored, resulting in another Wayne Valley win. 

The final round of the state tournament was held in Old Tappan. They were placed at the second seed in the bracket. The Indians previously defeated this team 21-14 during the regular season, and they hoped to repeat the outcome. However, Old Tappan is also responsible for knocking Wayne Valley out of the playoffs twice in the last five years. For the third time this tournament, the Indians silenced the doubters and put 21 points on the board topping Old Tappan’s 17 points. Their last 7 points came within the final seconds of the game. This victory crowned the team state sectional champions for the first time in almost thirty years. This impressive win specifically stood out in head coach Mr. Kutzleb’s mind: “Everyone was so excited…and thrilled that all the work we put in paid off. What made it more special than any other win is that I was able to celebrate not just the team, but some of my family as well.  Both my wife and dad were able to come onto the field afterwards and it made the win that much better.” This victory paved the final part of the path that they needed to follow before entering MetLife stadium. 

On November 30th, the Indians fought for the last time in the 2019 season in Metlife Stadium. Something that the players had only dreamed of previously had become a reality; they now faced Northern Highlands, a team that they previously lost to. They knew that they would have to fight during every last second if they wanted to come up on top.

The first quarter began with a rocky start for Wayne Valley. Within the first ten seconds of the game, Northern Highlands already put up 7 points. After that, Northern Highlands continued to dominate by extending their lead to 17-0. Right before halftime came along, the Indians were able to get on the board with a touchdown, and the score increased to 17-7.

Everyone could easily see that a fire erupted in the Indians when the third quarter began. However, no points were scored in those twelve minutes. The fourth quarter was their last chance for a comeback. The defense did a tremendous job at stopping Northern Highlands from continuing to score. Soon, the Indians brought the score up to 17-14 with a rushing touchdown, leaving Northern Highlands with only a 3-point lead. With the clock running down, the Indians scored a third touchdown, and they held onto their lead for the rest of the game with a final score of 21-17. Wayne Valley walked out of MetLife with the title of State Regional Champions for the first time in recent school history. 

Head Coach Mr. Kutleb summed up the 2019 fall season by exclaiming, “This year, there was not one instance where anyone acted like they were better than the rest of the team. The players were very coachable and made every effort to do what their coaches asked of them. We’ve accomplished so much and I will never forget this team. The players, the coaches, and each game all had something special about it.”

 

Congrats to Wayne Valley Football for their wildly successful 2019 fall season!!