By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Football Insider Staff
GOSHEN — It only took one quarter for the white Minisink Valley jerseys to get covered in dirt. By the end of their 34-19 non-league win over Goshen, the jerseys looked almost unrecognizable.
That’s the type of game it was. A hard-hitting, pad crunching game in the muddy fields at C.J Hooker Middle School on Saturday afternoon.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Warriors scored a touchdown on a Noah Smith 23-yard reception. Goshen quarterback Matt Giordano answered right back, going 7-for-7 for 87 yards and a touchdown pass 1:04 after the Warriors scored.
Both teams exchanged touchdowns in the first half before Minisink Valley scored two unanswered touchdowns in the third quarter.
“There were some things that didn’t go our way today,” Minisink Valley coach Kevin Gallagher said. “The team never lost focus, we stuck together and pulled out a victory today against a very talented Goshen team.”
Minisink Valley quarterback Ryan Johanson was happy with the performance of his teammates, and recognized he needs to make more improvements next week.
“We (Minisink Valley) play with a lot of pride and a lot of heart,” he said. “I made some stupid mistakes today, but I’ll fix them this week and prevent them from happening next week.”
Johanson went 24-36 for 291 yards and threw for three touchdowns. He also had six rushes for 62 yards and a touchdown. Noah Smith added two touchdown receptions for the Warriors.
Minisink Valley has started the season 4-0 for the second time in the last three seasons, but Johnason thinks the Warriors are overlooked. Goshen is 3-1. Both teams expect to make the Class A playoffs next month.
“There’s a lot of talented teams in Section 9, and we feel like we’re one of the best,” Johnason said. “But we like being underdogs because we have a chip on our shoulder to prove people wrong.”
John Mack had five receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown in the win.
“They were fiery, we were fiery. It was a battle between two great football teams, and there’s not a better feeling than winning a battle.” Mack said. “Our defense ‘bent but didn’t break’ and our offensive line did a great job picking up a lot of blitzes.”
Anton Juncaj was a big part of the ‘bend but don’t break’ Minisink Valley defense. Juncaj had seven tackles (five for a loss), three sacks and put pressure on Matt Giordano more than a dozen times.
In a fearless performance, Giordano went 26-43 for 358 yards and three touchdowns . Jake Kunis led the Gladiators with five receptions for 126 yards and a touchdown. Logan Mullane and Dom Pasquini each scored a touchdown for the Gladiators.
“Even though we lost the game, we showed up and proved a point,” Kunis said. “I think some people thought this game might be a Minisink Valley blowout. I think we proved a point and gained some confidence from this game.”