Hudson Valley Football Returns to the Postseason

CONTACT: Steve Mullen (518) 629-8063
FOR RELEASE: Immediate, Monday, November 08, 2004

Several Section II Alums Help Vikings to Conference Championship Game

Despite losing 19 starters, including the national junior college player of the year from the 2003 season, the Hudson Valley Community College football team finds itself back in the postseason for the second consecutive year.

Hudson Valley (7-3/5-2 NFC) will visit Erie Community College (7-3/6-1 NFC) at noon on Saturday, November 13, in the first-ever Northeast Football Conference championship game.

"The kids are working hard every day to get better," said Hudson Valley Head Coach Bob Jojo, whose Vikings have won four straight games and five of their last six contests. "There's not a single guy or unit on this team that we can point to and say that's why we are winning. We have different players on offense, defense and special teams stepping up to make plays when we need them."

Unlike a year ago when only four former Section II players were on the Hudson Valley two-deep, the Vikings list 12 Section II alums, including seven starters, on this year's depth chart.

The starting offensive line, which includes three Section II alums – center Josh Nelson (Cambridge/Greenwich High School), guard John Rescott (Troy/Lansingburgh High School), and tackle Paul Furman (Amsterdam/Amsterdam High School), - has paved the way for 218.5 rushing yards per game during the Vikings four-game winning streak.

"Our offensive line has really stepped up this year and is getting better as a unit every week," Jojo said.

Freshman fullback Steve Zakrzewski (Hoosick Falls/Hoosick Falls High School) also is a big reason the Vikings ground game has been so successful.

Three former Section II athletes are starting on Hudson Valley's defense, which leads the conference in stopping the run. Hudson Valley has only allowed 82 yards per game on the ground.

Linebacker John Fuschino (Clifton Park/Shenendehowa High School) has 53 tackles and is second on the team with six sacks. Linebacker Justin Myers (Watervliet/Watervliet High School) has 36 tackles and two interceptions. Nose guard Raquan Sanders (Schenectady/Schenectady High School) has contributed 25 tackles, including nine tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

"There were a lot of talented kids in Section II last year," Jojo said "We want to get the best from Section II very year. The number of Section II kids we get goes in cycles, but for us to compete against teams like Erie and Nassau, we need to get Division I caliber players wherever we can find them."

Hudson Valley's football program was established in 1969. At the time, Hudson Valley was one of only two junior colleges in New York to field a varsity football team. Since then, nearly 300 Hudson Valley football players have earned scholarships to four-year schools and 18 have gone on to play professionally. The Vikings competed in the Coca-Cola Bowl in 1980, and played in The Graphic Edge Bowl in 2003. In 1996, Hudson Valley posted an 8-0 record, part of a dominant stretch that included 15 straight victories.