KINGSTON – Charles Davis met with the New Paltz high School football team before the big game Friday.
Much like the FOX NFL analyst and New Paltz alumnus did before the Huguenots’ first regular season game, he delivered a speech, stressing teamwork in his pregame oration.
“He said to play for each other and not give up,” Huguenots wide receiver Joey DiMarco said. “We did that for most of the game, but towards the end we didn’t come through.”
New Paltz’s season may have ended to Pleasantville on Friday in the Class B region final at Dietz Stadium in a 56-20 loss. But the Huguenots learned this season that, working together, anything is possible.
Teamwork is what led New Paltz to end Marlboro’s streak of five consecutive Section 9 Class B championships. It marked their fourth section title in program history. Teamwork carried the Huguenots to a 4-0 record in their league during the regular season, and a five-game win streak entering the region final.
But when the team lapsed in teamwork, it led to their downfall.
“We started to fall apart, that’s really it,” said quarterback Jimmy Verney, who returned a kickoff for a touchdown and threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to DiMarco against Pleasantville. “Everyone started arguing and we can’t have that kind of stuff, especially against a good team like this.”
Verney added that the team will aim to keep working on cooperation during the offseason.
Nonetheless, the nation will get a chance to see how well New Paltz worked together during the season on Sunday.
Davis landed the Huguenots a spot on FOX’s NFL pregame show, which will air before the New York Jets’ game against the Los Angeles Rams. The Huguenots were hopeful that the appearance on FOX would be a sweetener to a win over Pleasantville.
Yet, even though they lost, they’re still grateful for the airtime.
“It’s pretty cool that we get to be on national TV, but it would have been better if we’d won,” Verney said. “Still a pretty cool experience.”
Davis said he was working the Jets and Rams’ game, which allowed him the opportunity to attend the game — which was appreciated by the team.
“He’s a class act, he’s a true professional. He’s always been great to me and I’m honored that he was here,” said New Paltz coach Tom Tegeler, whose team finished the season 8-2. “I wish we could have given him a better showing, but he’s part of the New Paltz family.”
While teamwork is what the players hope to improve upon going into next season, Tegeler stressed more physical strength. As a coach, he has won four Section 9 titles, but has not gotten past the regional final.
In order to do that, he said, “We’ve got to get stronger.”
“(Pleasantville) was physically stronger than us,” the coach said. “We’ve got to bury ourselves in the weight room and we’ve got to know this isn’t good enough. We’ve won four championships now and we’ve got blown out in all four Section 1 games.
“If we want to take step up to the next level we’ve got to get stronger and more commitment in the weight room.”
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports