Whew! No shortage of confidence in Tegeler. But then his enthusiasm and connection to his players is such that one knows he can back up the prediction. Especially with returning veterans like quarterback Kyle Januskiewicz, wideout/safety Jon Diaz, fullback/middle linebacker Thomas Covino, tackle Kyle Roberts, running back/linebacker Pete Ferrante, tight end/defensive end Jon Schmitt, wideout/defensive end Erik Simonson, wideout/cornerback Chad Wells, tackle Trevor DelCato, center Tom Hull, lineman Alex Wilson, running back/cornerback John Ferrante, a couple of good-looking players up from JV’s in running back Darryl Clark and backup quarterback Ricky Drosdowich, plus big-body transfer Anthony Taffano and newcomer Roland Scott (cornerback).
With last season’s team, Tegeler thought it would be a “down year,” but despite the 4-7 overall record, still lost to the eventual Section champs from O’Neill just 13-7 in the Class B semifinal -- after beating them in the regular season -- and just 7-0 to Class B runnerup Highland during the season. Plus, the Huguenots produced a first-team All-State player in linebacker Gordie Pine, and due to injury and personal issues never had their top three offensive players -- quarterback Diaz, running back Logan Peterson and wideout Jamaal Clark -- on the field at the same time after game one. “I think the guys really believe in the program, the whole program, and last year, more than any other, proved it,” says Tegeler.
“I think this is the most in touch with a team I’ve been since ’07. There’s lots of seniors, but it’s more than that,” says Tegeler. “This team, with the Ferrante’s and a few others whose fathers or older brothers played for New Paltz years ago, kind of provide a great communication with those older teams, like it feels like a community team for the first time. I have a deep feeling of responsibility, besides being committed to the team and enjoying them, to make that connection to the community.”
As usual Tegeler will have the assistance of defensive whizzes Sam Phelps and David Dones to smooth over the rough patches in the defense, while Tegeler handles the offense.
“We’ll use the spread offense again, since we’ve had lots of success with it over the past couple of years (three straight appearances in the Section Final Four, winning once and finishing second to Highland once),” says Tegeler, “and I don’t envy any team having to lineup against Diaz out on the wing, Simonson and Schmitt at the ends, Covino, the Ferrante’s and Clark out of the backfield, Roberts in the middle of the line and Kyle (Januskiewicz) throwing the ball. We have a lot of skill players this season. And (in an understatement) I really like our chances.”
New Paltz opens the season at home against Sullivan West on Friday, Sept. 3 at 7 p.m.