Player's Diary #5: Andrew Weininger

Now we're all caught up. Here is this week's Andrew Weininger's column, as he prepares to face Edgemont and Matt Bernstein's brother, Ben. This column was written for The Journal News, a Gannett newspaper in Westchester County, NY. Weininger has been kind enough to share his columns with Badger Nation.

The Sleepy Hollow game marked the end of a week of distractions. There were newspaper articles daily bashing our team and television reporters all over our school. A few of my teammates made a mistake and they paid the price. They didn't deserve all the added media punishment.

All of these things could have ruined our concentration and led to a loss against Sleepy Hollow. But we turned a negative into a positive. Our team focused and had the best week of practice of my four years on varsity. In one week our new starters had to gel with our regular starters. And they did!

The 35-8 score proved that we overcame the negatives of the week.

The game was a huge opportunity for a lot of younger players to step up and start in their first varsity game.

Jeff Noletti and R.J. Hopwood were both extremely prepared to step in and fill our void at quarterback. Jeff started the game and led us to our first touchdown, but during that drive he re-injured his collarbone, which sidelined him for the rest of the game.

On our next drive R.J. confidently walked into our huddle and the offense didn't miss a beat. He led us to our next three touchdowns. The highlight of the day came when he connected with Nick Galasso for a beautiful 30-yard touchdown right before the half to give us a 22-0 lead.

Kyle Hannon and Jason Collabella joined starter Luigi Rogliano in the backfield and each had a great game. They ran really hard, refusing to get tackled. They combined to rush for 380 yards, including a career high 228 yards by Luigi.

Our backfield played great, but its success had a lot to do with the fact that Kevin Sun (tackle) and Josh Haynes (tight end) stepped into the offensive line and did everything the coaching staff asked of them. Matt Monfort, Eric Herron and Ryan Lambiasi continued their excellent play. It seems like they knock someone down on every play.

On defense, Jesse Madigan made his first start at end and put constant pressure on their quarterback. Matt Cippolla, who's only a sophomore, made his first varsity start at strong safety. He fit right into the secondary, they didn't give up a pass completion in the first half.

Myself and everyone else works year-round lifting weights, running and practicing to play in big games. That is why I am so excited about tomorrow. We are going to have a tough test against a very good football team.

For the past five years we have been one of the premier teams in class B and Edgemont has been the premier team in class C. They won three straight state championships from 1998-2000, including sectional and regional championships last year. We have also experienced a lot of success being state runner-ups in 1998, state champions in 1999 and section and regional champions in 2001.

But, over those years we never played each other. Actually, tomorrow will mark the first ever meeting between us.

There is a lot riding on the game. It will surely determine the league title. The winner will be seeded No. 1 going into the playoffs and will play two home playoff games.

Edgemont will be one of the top teams that we see all year. They have size and speed, the key combination. The size in fullback Jake Wittenberg and lineman Billy Andrews and the speed in halfback Ben Bernstein.

They like to try to run you over with Wittenburg who is 240 pounds, behind Billy Andrews who is 300 pounds. Then they will use misdirection with Bernstein who is very fast and agile.

We are going to have to play very well on both sides of the ball to win the game. The key is to tackle Wittenberg low, because he will not be stopped by simply grabbing onto his jersey. To stop Bernstein, we will have to have to always know where he is and then have 11 guys running to him.

I am so excited about playing in the game. There is a lot riding on the game. It is the top two teams in the Class B poll. It will be on television. And there will be a big crowd. Tomorrow is what I play football for.

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