River Dell High School freshman football team remains undefeated after 35-16 win over Pascack Valley

Through five games in the 2021 regular season, the River Dell Golden Hawks freshman football team is undefeated. River Dell cruised to a 32-6 win over Parsippany Hills in the regular-season opener, followed by a close 23-22 victory over West Essex. The Golden Hawks registered back-to-back shutout wins, 21-0 over Westwood and 32-0 against Demarest. This past Saturday, the Golden Hawk's latest win was a 35-16 victory over Pascack Valley.

In his 13th year coaching River Dell High School football, Head Coach Mike Aliano said this is one of the deepest rosters he has seen in a long time. "We have almost close to 30 kids on the freshman level, I have been here for 13 years and high 20's or 30's hasn't been there since my first, second or third year." "We're fortunate to have all those kids and each kid played a role in it."

"We started way back in June, four months into the season and a long haul for everybody." "We're getting kids even now coming out and want to be a part of the team." The kids have put a lot of work into it, we practice six days a week, and there's a lot asked out of them, but they step up to the plate. We might not have the biggest kids year in and out, but we have the toughest kids.

"I'm fortunate enough to have other coaches on the staff, John Budka and Sam Halabi and Steve Iafrate, and they all do their part and big contributors." "We have a pretty good turnout when it comes to the freshman games, and there is a good turnout from the parents, and we have a booster club." Our schedule isn't the easiest as far as our summer schedule, six days a week of practice, and the parents are beneficial and had other kids come through the program and understand that a lot.

"Just like a lot of other sports, we teach their kids a lot more than just football, growing up as a kid and they are learning the new ways of being a freshman in high school." "Adapting to high school is different than Middle School and you have to put in the practice after school." Many kids who aren't doing anything are missing out on multiple levels and opportunities to be part of a team. It's a proven fact that playing sports is better for you academically, and you learn other essential things such as time management and managing your ordinary life.

Luke Schwanewede on preparing for the 2021 regular season, "Looking back, it was a grind; usually, practices are four days a week and early in the morning with a lot of work." "Now we get one day off a week, then sometimes after practice, we'll do lifts and watch the film." It feels great to be representing the high school, your town, and your community." You're part of a more significant thing with the other high school grades, interacting with the older kids and building relationships.

A back and forth first half against the Panthers at Pascack Valley High School, the Golden Hawks trailed 16-14 at halftime. Quarterback RJ Weiss scored the first touchdown on a one-yard run. Pascack Valley responded with nine straight points on a safety and touchdown. River Dell managed to trim the deficit on a score from Chris Kelm combined with a two-point conversion pass from quarterback RJ Weiss to Chris Kelm.

RJ Weiss on the message from Head Coach Mike Aliano at halftime, "He told us what we had to do, what we were doing wrong and telling us we could beat Pascack Valley."

The Golden Hawk's defense improved significantly in the second half by pitching a shutout. Chris Kelm scored his second touchdown to put River Dell in front 21-16. RJ Weiss thew a touchdown pass to Mason Nagle, and RJ Weiss completing the scoring with a second rushing touchdown to seal the 35-16 victory.

"We shut them out on defense, our defensive line was great and made them punt a couple of times," RJ Weiss explained. "Coach(Mike Aliano) made amazing calls, we got an onside kick which was great and we are thinking we could win now and have good odds." We had one more play, trying to run the clock out, and I always am in victory formation, but it was a dive option, and the whole offensive line crashed down, and I ended up scoring on the play.

Head Coach Mike Aliano on the win, "We knew going into it was almost like our Super Bowl, they're a good program and had our number on the freshman level for the last couple of years." "They came out swinging, we were just trying to keep up with them and made some adjustments at halftime and proved to be the right adjustments and we came out with the win at the end which was great."

Mason Nagle on the victory, "We had a really good week of practice and preparation leading up to this game and knew going into this game one of the best team's we were playing all year and, in the mindset, we're going to win this game."

After three straight road games, the Golden Hawks return home on Saturday, October 9th, squaring off against Nutley High School with kickoff set for 9:00 a.m.

Head Coach Mike Aliano on the keys to a win, "We haven't played them before, you just try to prepare as far as what their varsity scheme is and on a freshman level you got to get better at what you do." "We're looking forward to playing Nutley and have big week of practice coming up."

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