Tom Tegeler kept it secret for a long time.
The New Paltz High School football coach was in constant contact with Charles Davis, who graduated from the school in 1982 and works as an NFL analyst on FOX. Davis presented the Huguenots with a chance to be spotlighted as part of Sunday’s NFL pregame show, and Tegeler graciously accepted the invite.
But the coach wasn’t exactly open about it. In fact, he didn’t tell his team until shortly before it took on Marlboro in the Section 9 Class B final on Nov 4.
“I kept it quiet for a long time,” Tegeler said. “(Davis) called me a while back and put the idea through his bosses. And tribute to Charlie, he didn’t want it to be a major thing. It’s good for the program, the district and the kids.”
The Huguenots are hoping the time in the national limelight this Sunday morning will become part of a victory celebration, after they square off with Pleasantville on Friday at 7 p.m. at Kingston’s Dietz Stadium in a state Class B regional final.
“I’ve never been on national television before. When (Tegeler) told us, it was really surprising. Really cool,” New Paltz quarterback Jimmy Verney said. “Not many people get an opportunity like this.”
In order to reach the regional final, New Paltz (8-1) defeated Marlboro 33-17, ending the Iron Dukes’ streak of five straight Class B championships. It marked New Paltz’s fourth section championship under Tegeler, though the Huguenots are eying taking the next step.
Of his first three teams that have won section titles, Tegeler is 0-3 regional play.
Hurdling Pleasantville would be “amazing,” Verney said.
“No New Paltz team has gotten past this round. Winning the section, we want to be the first team to do it,” Verney said. “The coaches have prepared us and I think we can do it.”
To move on, the Huguenots must beat a 10-0 Pleasantville team that has been similarly denied a regional win in its history.
Still, Tegeler has kept an eye on the Panthers. In scouting Pleasantville, he cited his opponent’s physical presence and quickness as well as the Panthers’ strengths on both sides of the ball.
“They fly to the ball and they’re sneaky good with the pass, even though they mainly run,” Tegeler said. “And they’re very aggressive on defense.”
On the flip side, the Huguenots’ strengths lie in their focus and attitude.
“We treat every game like a big game,” Verney said. “When it’s time to learn and put stuff in and execute, that’s what we do.”
Should New Paltz win, it will take on either Section 2’s Glens Falls or Section 7’s Peru in the state semifinals at Dietz Stadium on Nov. 19.
A.J. Martelli: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4836, Twitter: @AJM_PoJoSports
New Paltz vs. Pleasantville
When: 7 p.m. Friday
Where: Dietz Stadium, Kingston
Live updates: Follow Journal reporter A.J. Martelli on Twitter, @AJM_PoJoSports