Panthers edge VC in ‘Valley’ game

By Mike Zummo
Posted 10/5/22

Sean Perrin came into Friday night’s game with a sprained ankle, and he spent the first half begging Wallkill football coach Joe Pillitteri to put him in the game.

Perrin entered the game in …

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Panthers edge VC in ‘Valley’ game

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Sean Perrin came into Friday night’s game with a sprained ankle, and he spent the first half begging Wallkill football coach Joe Pillitteri to put him in the game.

Perrin entered the game in the second half, helped get the Wallkill offense moving and scored a third-quarter touchdown, helping lift the Panthers to a 14-7 win over the Valley Central Vikings on Friday night in the annual “Battle of the Valley” helmet game.

“It means everything to us,” Perrin said. “Keeping the helmet for two years in a row hasn’t happened in a long time here. So that means a lot to us.”

This year’s annual meetup between the Panthers and Vikings had a little extra this year. Section 9 Class A was realigned as the Warwick Wildcats dropped to Class A and with the addition of Our Lady of Lourdes into the section, putting the Vikings and Panthers in the same division for the first time.

This time, the game was for more than just bragging rights.

“There’s playoff implications on it and we spoke about that during the week,” Pillitteri said. “It was a game we had to win if we want to get into the postseason. We’ve got to take things one at a time and keep winning football games. As we saw, this will have big implications for the future.”

After a scoreless first half, it was Perrin’s entrance into the game that helped turn the tide.

The Panthers and Vikings were scoreless after halftime. The Panthers’ best opportunity to score came late in the first quarter, but Wallkill quarterback Chris Bartolone was intercepted near the goal line by Valley Central’s Ashton Sledzianowski.

“We knew that we could stop the run with the four inside,” Valley Central coach Andrew LaVallie said. “This week our primary focus was to stop the pass and a couple of plays here and there that changed the game.”

After a scoreless first half, the Wallkill defense held the Vikings to a three-and-out, and Perrin entered the game. After three runs and a pass, Bartolone hit Mason Ondreyko for a 26-yard screen pass.

Perrin followed with a 16-yard run to the 17-yard line. Four plays later, he plunged into the end zone for a 6-yard touchdown run.

“I saw a lot of openings and was just doing what I do,” Perrin said. “I give it all to my line. Without them, I wouldn’t be anywhere. So, to my family in the stands, to all the people in the stands who came out to watch us, I do it for them.”

In the fourth quarter, the Panthers went back to the fade in the end zone, but this time Bartolone got the ball over the Vikings’ defense for a 17-yard touchdown pass to Ondreyko.

“I just had more confidence in it knowing that Mason could go up and make that play,” Bartolone said. “He’s that guy.”

It was all Panthers until late in the fourth quarter when John Wentink threw a long pass over the middle to Brendan Callahan, who was moved to tight end from center, setting up the Vikings’ only score.

“Him making a huge catch was a big deal for us,” LaVallie said.

Several plays after that, Julian Montrevil broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run for the Vikings’ only touchdown.

“He had a couple of opportunities,” LaVallie said. “We had a couple of holding penalties on the sideline that brought things back, but he got opportunities. He’s a fast kid. He’s a fast kid and we look forward to him continuing to perform.”

On the other side of the field, the Panthers delivered their first-year coach a win on his birthday, and Pillitteri was serenaded by the PA announcer, who announced the players put him up to it.

“They’re the absolute best group of kids,” Pillitteri said. “They work so hard and they’re resilient. I’m just happy to be a part of this.”

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