It was a different year and similar circumstances. But there was a different conclusion when Valley Central and Wallkill met during their annual Battle of the Valley rivalry football game Friday.
Chandler Toth, a junior, started his first varsity game a year ago as quarterback against A.J. Dembroski, a Wallkill senior during his final season opener.
Toth’s inexperience showed after being elevated directly from the modified team, where he played as a freshman. And his first varsity loss would be the first coaching victory for Wallkill’s Shane Regan.
Toth found his way as the season progressed and passed for more than 2,200 yards to set a new school record. After Dembroski graduated, the Panthers named Anthony Quattrochi, a sophomore, the starting quarterback, and he was schooled by Toth Friday with what experience brings to your game.
Toth went to work early and hit Frank Torres with a 75-yard bomb with 9:37 remaining in the first quarter.
Quattrochi connected with a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, but the Vikings’ defense had final say in the second half by keeping the Panthers scoreless and bringing the helmet back to Valley Central with a 42-14 victory.
“It’s amazing. I can’t even describe it,” said Toth, following the victory. “The defense was unstoppable in the second half, held them to zero, and the offense started clicking.”
A.J. Williams, who rushed for 193 yards, made it 14-0 three-yard first-quarter touchdown run. Early, though, in the second Quattrochi started to move, hitting Tom Norton with an 11-yard touchdown catch. Toth passed for another touchdown to make it 21-7 before Wallkill’s Dillon Tucker pulled down a tipped ball and scored on 30-yard touchdown catch.
Valley Central led 21-14 at the half. Shaq Atkins then put the Panthers away for good with an 85-yard kick-off return to make it 28-14.
“We needed a little spark on special teams, which killed us in the first half,” said Ron Introini, Valley Central’s coach.
As Valley Central’s defense shut down the Panthers, the Vikings scored a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter when Toth, who passed for 292 yards, completed another touchdown pass and ran for a six-yard score.
“It’s a completely different team. We made some mistakes, and the guys did not hang their heads,” said Introini. “Offensively, we ran the ball a lot better than we have.”
It was different ending for Regan than it was a year ago, but he started the game with a new quarterback who found his early footing and fought well in his first varsity start.
“I thought (Quattrochi) played pretty well. When he had time, he made good decisions,” said Regan. “The offensive line had some first game jitters. They played that way for a while. We made some adjustments, and they played better. Up front we could have done a better job.”
Valley Central plays Pine Bush on the road Friday at 7 p.m., and Monticello travels to Wallkill for the Panthers’ home opener at 7 p.m.
By Bond Brungard