Every once in a while there is a game that goes down in infamy. In 1981 it was the San Francisco vs. Dallas NFC Championship game where Joe Montana threw the game winning touchdown to Dwight Clark to win the game 28-27. In 2008, it was the Superbowl as underdog New York Giants took down the undefeated New England Patriots in dramatic fashion. Then, just last week in our backyard’s, Pequannock and Kinnelon slugged it out for four quarters in a scorefest of all scorefests, as the Pequannock Golden Panthers edged out the Colts by a score of 55-54 in what some are calling the best game ever played.
Quite frankly, almost anyone could have gotten the Player of the Week from this game. Pequannock’s quarterback was a total field general while running for one touchdown and throwing for two more while leading his team to the win. Kinnelon’s Connor Chiuchiolo caught nine passes for 258-yards and three TDs, while Aaron Anello caught four passes for 164-yards and three more TDs. Pequannock’s John Tachon, heroically caught the game saving interception in the endzone, while Dan Jachera and Brendan Monaghan combined for four touchdowns and a ton of yards.
But in the end, Morris Sussex Football awarded Week 6 Player of the Week to Kinnelon quarterback Kyle Presti – despite coming up a two-points short of a victory. Although coming out on the losing end of the game, it was Presti who showed an incredible amount of courage under fire. Just like a scrappy prize fighter, Presti seemingly absorbed many bout ending blows, only to jump right back up and, in crowd rallying fashion, fire an array of body blow’s that put Pequannock right back on the ropes.
Presti threw for an amazing 495-yards and six touchdowns in the game where both teams accumulated 109-points. MSF caught up with Presti to talk about this thrilling game, what the make-up of this team is all about and what Kinnelon hopes to achieve this season.
Morris Sussex Football: Heading into this game, did you expect it was going to be the epic battle it was?
Kyle Presti: We knew that Pequannock was going to be a good battle. The game had playoff implications and a rivalry dating back to 8th grade. Pequannock has a great overall team, so we knew the game was not going to be easy, and it proved to be just that. Although we did not expect the game to have a total of 109-points between the two teams, we knew the game was going to be a tough and it was. We just happened to come up short.
MSF: Even though you lost, what good can the Colts take away from this game?
KP: There are definitely some positives and negatives that come out of this game. We now know we have the ability to score points and keep up with other teams in a shoot out. We did not roll over when Pequannock took the lead, instead we fired back and I think that shows a lot about the character of our football team. However, we still have areas in all three phases of the game to improve on and we have to fix them quickly if we would like to have a shot at the playoffs.
MSF: What was your team’s goal coming into this season?
KP: Our overall goal is to bring another State Championship to Kinnelon. But in order to do so, we have smaller goals each week. Goals like getting better every day at practice, winning every week, and making the playoffs. We take each week seriously and try not to look too far into the future because every opponent has the opportunity to put a roadblock on our journey.
MSF: Who on your team has stepped up as leaders on your team?
KP: We have three captains on our team; myself, Liam Nelson and Connor Chiuchiolo. I think that the three of us have stepped up to take responsibility as leaders of the team. Other players such as Chris Hausler, Travis Rode and David LoCascio have taken a leadership role to help lead the team this year.
MSF: Who is the biggest gym rat?
KP: Chris Hausler put in a lot of time at the gym this offseason, so I am going to pick him as the biggest gym rat. There are numerous other guys that enjoy lifting, but Chris loves it the most.
MSF: Who would you not want to get tackled by in a game?
KP: I would not want to be hit by Liam Nelson in a game. After watching him since we played rec football, he has delivered a good amount of tackles where I remember thinking, “I feel bad for that kid”.
MSF: Who loosens your team up with humor and what was the funniest thing he did or said?
KP: We have a few guys that loosen the team up with laughter. Those guys include Kevin Rotolo, Aaron Anello and Mike Shokouhi. These three guys always have something to say. Aaron Anello is famous for his halo jumping, Kevin for his touchdown dances, and Mike for his “Prince of Persia” sign that is held in the crowd and for the club he has to wear on his hand for every practice and game.
MSF: Who was the best player you’ve played against as a varsity player during your career?
KP: It is really hard to pick just one player. I have played against some great players while in high school. Ryan Decker from Mountain Lakes, Luke Robertson from North Warren, Travis Canty from Butler, and George Scalley from Dover are just some of the great players I have faced.
MSF: How does the fact that a lot of the current varsity players have a state championship ring from their sophomore season?
KP: It helps motivate us to have the satisfaction of winning another state championship. We know what it takes because we watched how Sean Robbins, Sean Walsh and Joe Presti lead the team. We understand the hard work and dedication that is needed to win a championship and it makes us want it even more.
MSF: What is the goal for the Colts the rest of the way?
KP: The goal is to win out and hopefully receive a little help from some other teams so we can make the playoffs. If we reach the playoffs there will be new goals set, but for right now, our main focus is winning the next two weeks in order to have a shot for the 2014 playoffs.
MSF: What will it mean to this team makes it to the playoffs?
KP: It would mean everything to us. We have worked hard all year, and to not make the playoffs for a second year in a row would be devastating. We feel we have a good team, despite our three losses. We want a shot at the playoffs because we feel we can do some damage in the post-season.
MSF: You look like you have something else you want to say.
KP: I would like to thank my teammates for helping me achieve this award because without them I would be nothing. It is very often that they make plays that make me look good. Although it may be my name in the newspaper, or receiving awards like this one, I just want them to know that without them I would not be the player I am today. I will never forget this team for the rest of my life.