We all know about the two big-time rivalry games lined up for Friday night: New Paltz at Marlboro in a Class B showdown and Newburgh at Monroe-Woodbury in a match-up of Class AA heavy hitters.
So those are the main events.
But there is a pretty good under card lined up for Friday under the lights. Wallkill hosts Roosevelt in a pivotal Class A game. Cornwall remains the favorite in Class A, but Wallkill and Roosevelt are next in the pecking order, and very dangerous.
Wallkill, proud, gritty and tough, has advanced to the Class A title game six straight years, winning the title in 2010. Cornwall has won back-to-back Class A championships and seven of the last eight shiny plaques. Roosevelt, which moved from Class AA this season, wants to be on top of Class A with Wallkill and Cornwall.
“We’ve watched the film on them all week and, obviously, we know Roosevelt is a good opponent,” said Wallkill quarterback Joe Pillitteri, who has completed 34-of-62 passes for 618 yards with five touchdowns and two interceptions this season. “We feel like we are playing all right, right now. I don’t think we have reached our peak. We have shown flashes and I’m looking forward to us playing all four quarters.”
Wallkill opened the season with a 42-24 loss to Valley Central and defeated Port Jervis 20-13 last week. Pillitteri hit Nick Rohl on a 51-yard touchdown pass with 1:26 to pull off the wild win at Port Jervis. Meanwhile, Roosevelt has pulled a page out of Wallkill’s playbook, circa 2010.
Like that championship Wallkill team, Roosevelt has forced an abundance of turnovers – 10 to be exact already this season. That includes six interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Roosevelt, located in Hyde Park in Dutchess County, has returned two interceptions and a fumble for touchdowns.
“Our defense is playing very well,” Roosevelt coach Brian Bellino said. “It’s been crazy. They are very opportunistic. I’m a defensive guy, I love it. We have been able to make things happen.”
As for parading into Wallkill on Friday, Bellino knows it isn’t going to be easy.
“They told me Port Jervis is a tough place to play, but Wallkill is crazier,” Bellino said. “We went there a few years ago and they made us look silly. At Wallkill, you have to walk through the fans and all that. It’s definitely crazy, but it’s a good atmosphere.”
Over the last two years, bruising running back Josh Villafane has anchored Wallkill’s offense. Villafane graduated and the Panthers have gravitated a bit more to the pass. Pillitteri has plenty of options to connect with down the field. Sean Puleo, Rohl, Nick Gomez and Brandon Purdy have all caught touchdown passes this season. Purdy has 170 receiving yards and Gomez has 148.
“We’re very excited about this, it’s our first home game,” Pillitteri said. “Roosevelt is athletic and very skilled. This would be a good time to put it all together and come out with the win.”