By Justin Rodriguez
Section 9 Football Insider
Slate Hill — Linebacker Frank Wise is usually easy to spot on the Pine Bush sideline.
He’s the undersized guy, checking in at 5-foot-5, 170 pounds, who is always full of energy. Wearing his No. 1 jersey, Wise constantly encourages and motivates his teammates when he isn’t making plays.
On Friday night, Wise made the biggest play of the night, helping fifth-seeded Pine Bush to a 2-0 (that is not a misprint) win over Minisink Valley in the Section 9 Class AA playoff quarterfinals. His safety with 1:02 left in the third quarter represented the only scoring of the game.
Pine Bush (6-2) moves on to play top-seeded Warwick in the Class AA semifinals at 7 p.m. next Saturday at Middletown’s Faller Field or Dietz Stadium in Kingston. Warwick put away Middletown 34-7 on Friday night. In other Class AA quarterfinals, Newburgh put away Washingtonville 41-0 and Monroe-Woodbury defeated Valley Central 38-7.
“The safety ended up being a difference maker,” Wise said. “Instincts just kicked in. As soon as that play ended, I felt a burst of energy. I think the entire team felt it. We were just ready to go. I’m just an enthusiastic person and I try to keep everyone up. I’m glad I could make that play.”
Wise, a junior, corralled Minisink Valley quarterback Ryan Johanson for the rare game-winning safety. The fourth-seeded Warriors (2-6) started that drive on their own 6-yard line. Wise’s safety highlighted a lights out performance by Pine Bush’s defense.
The Bushmen held Minisink Valley to 53 yards of offense. Pine Bush beat Minisink Valley 13-10 in overtime on Sept. 28 and as the sixth seed knocked out the third-seeded Warriors in last year’s Class AA quarterfinals.
“Frank is a coach on the field, he is an extension of us,” Pine Bush coach Jim Wright said. “He knows the game plan, he watches a ton of film. Frank’s work ethic is unreal. I wish I could put that work ethic and attitude in other kids. He is a big-time leader for us.”
Pine Bush held off Minisink Valley by maintaining possession of the ball on offense for the final 6:14. The Bushmen sealed it when Minisink Valley, out of timeouts, jumped offsides on a fourth-and-five play at the Warriors’ 29-yard line with 1:56 remaining. Four of Minisink Valley’s six losses came by a combined nine points.
“When you come out on the right end of a game like this, of course, you are happy,” Wright said. “When you don’t win, you kind of question your decisions and what you do with every single play you have. But I’m pleased right now. We are all happy right now.”