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Friday, April 16, 2021

Sports > High School >> Football

Unsteady grid start

Football begins for a trio of county teams as issues remain

Mar 18, 2021

By Richard Ross - reporter/photographer

Tri-Valley's Austin Hartman extends the ball over the goalline plane for a TD against Roscoe last season. Hartman will take over a the quarterback position this year.
“Uncertainty is the only certainty there is. And knowing how to live with insecurity is the only security,” offers American University Mathematics professor John Allen Paulos. Indeed, in this bizarre age of the Covid-19 pandemic uncertainty and insecurity are front and center in so many aspects of our lives.
Clearly, sports, more specifically football is not exempt from the new rules governing our lives. Ever since the onset of the pandemic last March, the entire world of high school sports has been turned topsy-turvy with cancelled seasons, delayed starts, changing schedules, shutdowns and a bevy of protocols to govern the sports that do actually reach the playing stage.
Now, here we are heading towards the third week of March about to witness the first rumblings of the relocated football season.
In trying to decipher what has and is about to take place, the Sullivan County Democrat Omnipresent Sports Podcast interviewed Tri-Valley Football Coach Greg Botsford and Fallsburg Coach Dominick Scanna.
Life-long friends and former teammates who graduated from Tri-Valley in 1993, the two iconic mentors head up gridiron programs in neighboring districts. Both weighed in on their backgrounds, their histories with their respective programs, the problems wrought by the pandemic, their current team compositions and their hopes and aspirations for this strange season.
Already there have been snags that have interfered with the much-anticipated season. First there was the weather. Heavy snowfall preempted early outside practices which in turn wrought havoc with the first week of scheduled games which did get to be played.
For Fallsburg, a Covid incidence forced a shut down of the school which nullified their early agenda. Then both Millbrook and Eldred cancelled their season causing schedule changes to be made. This coming weekend finally looks to see the start of action for Tri-Valley which will host a non-league game against Ellenville. Sullivan West and Roscoe will go at it in a league tilt down at Faller Field in Middletown. The latter game begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, while the Bears will get underway at 2 p.m.
Fallsburg meanwhile has been subjected to another 10-day delay because of another positive Covid test result. To say that things remain uncertain for all our remaining local teams would be an understatement.

Tri-Valley Coach
Greg Botsford
Greg Botsford has been the head coach of the Tri-Valley Bears for six years and has 13 years of experience in the program. He has coached JV baseball for 16 years and been a varsity coach in baseball for two years.
Two years ago, Botsford mentored the Bears to a Section 9 Championship and last fall got his team back to the title game again, only to lose a heartbreaker to Ellenville, the team they will face this week in their opener. Botsford views this game more as a scrimmage since non-league games will not count in this year's standings which will be based on a point system.
Non-league games offer no points. Games cancelled due to Covid-related issues will afford each of the affected teams one point. League game winners earn two points, losers no points. At the end of the season the leading team from each division will head to the playoff game to be played on the field of the team with the higher standing. Botsford hopes the Bears can make it three title games in a row.
“In the offseason after last year's success, we got more kids to come out but with the fall season being cancelled, the numbers dropped,” said Botsford. “Frankly, I wasn't sure if we'd have football at all. Our goal is always to be better at the end of the season than we were at the beginning.”
Earlier this week, the Bears actually got out on a field for the first time even though it wasn't their regular practice field. Concerns about disrupting that field which has to be ready for baseball prompted a temporary move to another locale on the campus. The regular football field will be in use this Saturday. A soccer game has already been played on it.
T-V has 20 players on board including three freshman, ten sophomores, seven juniors and three seniors. Two players will be ineligible this weekend. Austin Hartman will replace Keegan Streimer at quarterback. Streimer is a senior but is ineligible to play due to his participation on the Manalapan New Jersey team this past fall.
T-V will follow up this week's non-league game with league tilts against Sullivan West, Ellenville, Roscoe and Fallsburg.

Fallsburg Coach
Dominick Scanna
Coach Dominick Scanna has been coaching football at Fallsburg for six years. “It hasn't been easy,” says the dedicated coach who views his team as a family. In those years the Comets have seen only three victories but last year really inspired hunger as Fallsburg reached the playoffs and gave Ellenville a run for their money.
“We want to win. We got a taste of winning and we want to be a successful program like Tri-Valley. (Both coaches were extremely complimentary of each other.) “We're very excited to get going,” Scanna noted.
This latest postponement is very frustrating to the kids. That said, Fallsburg has good numbers this year with 26 on the roster. Fallsburg does not have the youth program that Tri-Valley has and many players must first learn the fundamentals of the game.
However, Scanna said during the pandemic they've really learned a lot about the Xs and Os of the game of football.
When it comes to a love of the game, the kids and a willingness to build a positive framework for his players that will carry them forward into life, Scanna, last year's Sullivan County Democrat Motivational Mentor recipient, goes beyond the pale.
For example, he recently spent time snow blowing the field to give his team some space to work on basics besides the confines of the gym.
Personnel-wise, Scanna has his eyes on his enthusiastic crew. Of particular interest is sophomore New Rochelle transfer running back Demari Hamilton who has been coached by Ray Rice.
Fallsburg missed out on its opener against Onteora. This week was supposed to be against Ellenville which will now play T-V instead.
Eldred cancelled its season nixing a third game for the Comets meaning nearly half the season will have been eradicated. The quarantine inhibits practices which must number ten before a game can be played. The Comets will play their first game at Roscoe on April 3.
Both Botsford and Scanna talk freely about football in the offseason but keep things close to the vest during the weeks of actual contention. They both rely on Hudl for the insights that will allow them to put their best game strategies forward for each opponent.
Be sure to check in on the March 23 issue of the Sulllivan County Democrat to read about the football games played this weekend, and to listen to the full interview with both coaches, check out our podcast channel on SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, TuneIn, Spotify and Overcast.

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