Ellicottville and West Valley football focuses on the playoffs
WEST VALLEY –– Tim Bergan is beginning his 28th year as head coach of the Ellicottville and West Valley co-op team. He noted that many high school football coaches in Class DD “know what kind of a nightmare” playing his team can be and added that he is hoping that sentiment remains in place by the time his team finishes the fall 2013 season.
Coming off an improved 4 – 4 finish and Class DD playoff berth, Bergan said he is depending on his returning starters – eight on both offense and defense – to carry the Eagles into the postseason.
“There’s a lot of experience coming back this season,” Bergan said. “That gives us a lot of confidence.”
He said that the team’s fans can expect many of the same plays that were called in previous years. Bergan runs half back options and operates from the wildcat formation.
“High school coaches know what I’m about and they know I’m pretty consistent,” he said. “And they know we’re a nightmare to deal with.”
Among the returning players are Phalla Musall, a running back and second-year starter who rushed for more than 600 yards last year. He also started at corner in 2011.
The coach said that it is common for players to play positions on both offense and defense, on the Class DD team. He added that he believed that practice gives his team an edge, because players are versed in all aspects of the game.
“We don’t have a lot of students, so it’s essential that they play both sides,” he said. “It’s a challenge for them, but they handle it well. They have to be in great condition.”
Bergan called Musall “a tough little nut [to crack]” and said that this player will be a “big factor” in games against teams like Franklinville and Clymer.
Also returning is quarterback Cam Wilson, who is in his third year with the varsity team; Storm Wilson, a fourth-year tight end and defensive end; Calum Watt, who will move into a starting role at outside linebacker and Jake Rinko, a wide receiver and outside linebacker.
Following their season opener at home against Forestville on Friday, Aug. 31, the Eagles will travel to Clymer Central, an opponent who played for the Class DD championship at Ralph Wilson Stadium last year. They will then head back home for a matchup against Pine Valley.
For their non-league game, the Eagles will play St. Mary’s High School of Lancaster. Bergan said his players have no idea how to prepare for the unfamiliar St. Mary’s.
“That will be a shot in the dark for us,” he said.
Back at home, the Eagles will play Sherman/Ripley and then host Panama, which Bergan called a contender for a playoff appearance.
For the last game of the regular season, the Eagles will battle Franklinville. Ellicottville/West Valley lost to Franklinville by 2 points last year.
“It was one of those games where nothing went right,” Bergan said. “We had two touchdowns called back on us, which hurt us bad.”
That matchup will take place at homecoming and senior night.
Bergan said he anticipates a successful year for his Eagles. The team’s last championship was in 2004 and the coach said he knows that his players want very much to win it all.
“We have a great mix of players this year,” Bergan said.