By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Coming off a winless season, running back Jake Miller and his Wallkill teammates are looking for redemption this fall.
However, Wallkill won’t just be measured during the season under bright Friday Night lights. The Panthers have already begun to earn respect in Section 9 during the offseason and hope to continue that trend at 10 a.m. on Saturday at the Hudson Valley 7-on-7 Shootout at Warwick High.
Twenty teams will participate in the popular event, including Newburgh, Warwick, Monroe-Woodbury, Valley Central, Wallkill, Red Hook, Middletown, Pine Bush, Ellenville, Rondout Valley, Eldred, Saugerties, Tri-Valley, Washingtonville, Cornwall and defending champion Burke Catholic.
“I believe that we are going to go out there and compete,” Miller said. “We feel like we are a lot further along than we were this time last year. I’m actually excited about this team and to have Coach Vegs (Brian Vegliando) back. He is an outstanding coach and will push us to be better.”
Vegliando brought credibility to the once proud Wallkill program, returning as head coach in January after a four-year hiatus. After serving as an assistant in Wallkill’s program for six seasons, Vegliando replaced Dave Der Cola as head coach in 2009. Vegliando went 36-15 at Wallkill, winning the Section 9 Class A title in 2010.
The Panthers were Class A runners-up to Cornwall in Vegliando’s four other seasons. Vegliando is a former Wallkill football captain, graduating in 1997.
“I think any coach will tell you that we don’t care about what other people think of us, we care about our own development,” Vegliando said. “The 7-on-7 is a good opportunity to put in some offensive and defensive plays, see who is gelling at different positions and who gets better each time out. I’m happy with the progress that we have made. We have a pretty young team, but they have committed to everything that I have asked them to.”
The Hudson Valley Shootout will be divided into two divisions, large schools (Class AA and A) and small schools (Class B, C and D) with championship games in both groups. According to Warwick coach Greg Sirico, the championships will start at approximately 2:30 p.m.
Teams field a quarterback, a center and five skill positions on offense and only linebackers and defensive backs on defense. Quarterbacks have three seconds to release the ball after the snap and it is two-hand touch. The winners advance to the state 7-on-7 tournament on July 14th in Utica.
No matter if you were a Section 9 champion last year or a struggling outfit, every team looks forward to the Hudson Valley Shootout.
“The 7-on-7’s serve as the start of summer football,” Newburgh coach Bill Bianco said. “It’s a great chance to compete against other teams. Kids like playing much better than practicing. Any time you win or lose it elevates the competition, so I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
Sirico started the Hudson Valley Shootout and is ecstatic that it has grown into a premier event.
“It’s a great lead up to the season and it’s always fun,” he said. “I’m thankful that I have received so much support from the administration for this event. You are going to see a lot of great football on Saturday. It’s a nightmare for defensive coordinators, that’s for sure.”
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