M-W'S COACH D'ALISO GRABS HIS 150TH CAREER WIN
WALLKILL-Monroe-Woodbury football coach Pat D'Aliso simply shook the hand of the referee that was on his team's sideline after the Crusaders secured a 34-6 victory over the Panthers Friday night just like it was an ordinary win.
But for D'Aliso it was win number 150 for his career that capped off a perfect regular season for the defending Class AA champs.
"Overall it means a lot of great coaches and players put me at this point," said D'Aliso.
Twenty-two of D'Aliso's victories came when he was at Pulaski High in Section Three. While at Monroe-Woodbury he's been blessed with having Bernie Connolly, a great coach in his own right, by his side.
"Anybody that knows anything about football knows what an integral part of our succcess Bernie has been. He has been with me since day one. He's a great coach and even better friend," D'Aliso said about his long-time compadre.
D'Aliso almost escaped a water-cooler bath on the chilly night because before the game he figured he had only 148 wins. But the New York State Sportswriters Association forgot to add in last year's postseason triumph over Saratoga to D'Aliso's total which the NYSSWA had originally received from Phil Dusenbury after the 140th win. Once the players got wind of the milestone after the game, Mike Septh and Chris Johnson sprinted to their bench and dowsed D'Aliso with water.
"What am I going to do, run from it?" D'Aliso said as he watched his players charge the cooler. "Where am I going to go?"
If D'Aliso can snatch three more wins, his Crusaders will be in the state championship game late next month. They begin their playoff charge Saturday night at 8 p.m. against the same Washingtonville team they sent home in last year's semifinal.
"It's too difficult to tell with injuries where we will be in a month," said D'Aliso. "Anything can happen in this game and right now we don't even know if we will get past Washingtonville."
Last year's team became the first Section 9 team to win a regional game and fell one victory shy of the state title game. But this year, Section 9 has the rotating bye because Sections 7 and 10 don't have any AA teams. Thus, the winner of the Section 9 title would be just one victory away from playing for it all.
"The bye is a false sense of security," D'Aliso said. "Whoever you play (after the bye) is likely the best team in the eastern part of the state."
So is this team as good or better than last year's?
"This year's team is different defensively than last year's," D'Aliso added. "It's tough to tell which team is better. What I do know is the guys out there now focus better."
Don't expect it to get any easier than it was for the Crusaders Friday night. Neil Ingenito picked off a pass on the Panthers' first drive. Five plays later Johnson was in from 5-yards out. The extra point failed, but the Crusaders had a 6-0 advantage.
Wallkill's next drive was spurned when Chris Dollbaum sacked quarterback Zach Henke on third down and the Panthers were forced to punt. The next play saw Greg Sullivan toss a 70-yard strike to Septh for a 13-0 lead with Anthony Coccaro's PAT boot.
Following another three-and-out, Johnson blazed 65-yards on M-W's next play for a touchdown. The extra point made it 20-0 at the half.
Neil Ingenito plunged in from three yards out on the first series of the second half. On the play before he had motored 67-yards but ran out of gas before the end zone.
Stanley Surin rounded out the scoring for the visitors when he scored from 3-yards out with 4:43 left in the third quarter.
Rob Gomez corralled a one-handed touchdown grab for the Panthers with 2:16 left in the game.
Wallkill's overall record fell to 1-7. The Panthers finish their season next Saturday at Rondout Valley.
Monroe-Woodbury ((8-0) gets the home locker room at Dietz next weekend in the AA playoffs. Warwick will ironically play host to Kingston in the other AA playoff game.