I’m halfway through today’s tour of area camps. My first stop was late this morning at Spring Valley, where the upbeat Tigers were working on their offense and gearing up for that Week 1 clash with rival Nyack.
Before I get into Spring Valley position by position, I’ll share a few quick impressions. First off, senior QB Shaquille Gould can really sling it. He’s one of the best pure throwers I’ve seen this summer. He throws a tight spiral on nearly every throw and has more than enough arm strength to use the entire field.
Head coach Andrew Delva has a lot faith in Gould, a three-year starter who threw for over 1,000 yards as a junior. “He has a great knowledge of the game,” Delva said. “He’s like having another coach on the field.”
Spring Valley is also very confident about the status of the offensive line in front of Gould. Four of the five starters return, led by senior Calvin Heurtelou, a 6-foot-3, 267-pound left tackle who has receive Division I attention after attending a couple camps this summer, including Rutgers. Coach Delva said he has been impressed by the increased strength of his players this summer, but none more than Heurtelou, who can bench 385 pounds.
Heurtelou will be joined across the front by three other senior returners: LG Nelio Leonard, RG Edwitch Laqguerre and RT Victor Marryshow. The center spot is a competition right now between Chris Smith and Justin Walker.
The skill positions will feature new faces as the running back tandem of Reggie Allonce and Geraldo Cetoute both graduated after rushing for over 600 yards apiece. Daniel Chang will slot in at fullback with support from St. Joe’s of Montvale transfer Donald Lewis, a junior FB/LB who will play both ways. A player who Delva expects to surprise people is RB Darryl Reeves. He rushed for less than 100 yards as a junior but has improved to the point where he could be an impact runner.
Spring Valley returns one key receiver: senior Romarick Dalce. He will also start at defensive back, where the Tigers return one of their top players in senior Andre Fils, and another of the team’s top athletes in Trevor Street.
The transfer Lewis and DL John Johnson will anchor the front seven, but Spring Valley should have quality depth behind all its starters. In just his second year, the 28-year-old Delva now has a roster of 38 players, having increased excitement for the team around the community. Spring Valley actually hosted a jamboree on Aug. 15 with 51 Pop Warner teams from around the tri-state area.
“We want to have a strong connection with our Pop Warner system,” Delva said. “If you look at the top programs, like North Rockland or Nyack, they all have strong ties with their Pop Warner programs. I want young kids to see my face and to know what this program is all about.”
Spring Valley’s immediate goal is to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2004. Even sooner, the Tigers would like to compete with Nyack, a team that is more their rival than the other way around. Delva, who played at Spring Valley, couldn’t even remember the last time Spring Valley beat Nyack.
The Tigers hope they can compete with the Indians this year, and believe they can win by cutting down on mental mistakes that plagued them last season.
“The team feels like if we can beat Nyack we can lift a big monkey off our backs,” Gould said. “Everyone thinks we can beat them this year. I think we can, too.