CROSS RIVER, N.Y. – Jason Valvano arrived at 6:45 a.m. Friday in preparation for the first day of football practice ay John Jay-Cross River.
The 6-foot-2, 275-pound senior wanted to make sure everything was prepared for the morning session. When Valvano got to school, he found many of his classmates there also, ready to strap on the helmets and get on the field.
“I wanted to make sure everything was set up so we would have a smooth practice,” said Valvano, who will be starting for a third year.
Valvano is among the best linemen in Section 1. He, along with classmates Tyler Keech and Jack Lambert, headline a returning core from a John Jay team that went 7-3 last year and played in the Section 1, Class A championship game. John Jay lost its’ first two games in 2011, but ran off seven consecutive wins to reach the title game against Poughkeepsie.
John Jay will open its’ regular season at 7 p.m. Friday at Tappan Zee in Orangeburg (Rockland County).
Keech and Lambert are two of the most versatile and dangerous players on offense in Section 1. The duo played both quarterback and wide receiver. Both players were equally lethal throwing the ball or running with it, as John Jay averaged more than 30 points a game.
When the John Jay players stepped on the new turf practice field across the street from the high school at 7:30 a.m., Valvano realized immediately the team was focused.
“Everybody wanted to be here and was serious about being here,” Valvano said. “Everyone was hustling from drill to drill. We had our energy in the right place and practice ran smooth.”
Following the morning session, John Jay head coach Jim Clark, along with assistants Joe Mammoser and Ryan Velez, praised the team for an excellent showing.
As a result of John Jay’s approach to the first practice, Valvano said he felt the team was two weeks ahead of where it was last year during preseason.