SLATE HILL – Minisink Valley head coach Kevin Gallagher has two simple rules for his football players.
He asks them to give him their best effort at all times. And he asks that they try to get a little bit better each day.
“We always put 110 percent into everything we do and always put a lot of effort into everything,” senior two-way lineman Dean MacWilliams said. “Even if we don't do everything right, we do everything 100 percent.”
It's the ultimate sports cliché – the Warriors are taking things one day at a time – but the Minisink Valley football team really means it. And it's working.
Minisink Valley had its 2015 season end in double overtime against Monroe-Woodbury in the Section 9 Class AA semifinals. With plenty of returning starters and a solid work ethic, Minisink Valley is 2-0 with wins over Newburgh Free Academy and Roosevelt, and feeling confident heading into Friday's non-league game against Kingston.
Minisink Valley practiced on Monday afternoon and Gallagher walked among his players as they stretched, offering encouragement and motivation. It's an intense yet supportive environment. Mistakes aren't crises, but learning opportunities.
“I think we just have the right attitude coming in and out of practice,” senior fullback and linebacker Demetrius Moore said. “After games, we don't mess around or anything.”
“They work hard,” Gallagher said. “They're not afraid to work hard and they have the will to prepare.”
Gallagher credits a few groups for making the strategy work. Parents of players have bought in, as has the school administration.
The football coaching staff from modified on up is chock full of Minisink Valley grads. The varsity and jayvee teams also spend time together on the practice field.
So there's a tradition here. By the time players reach the varsity, they know the expectations.
“I think it's a little of the kids who came before and also the attitude of the coaches,” Moore said. “They help us out throughout practice to try our hardest.”
Football isn't easy. It's an arduous, never-ending process of watching game film, explaining concepts and implementing those ideas in practice. The Minisink Valley players work hard to make that happen, and their coach couldn't be happier.
“I tell people that I have the best job in America,” Gallagher said. “I have a great staff and great kids and they make this a pretty good place to be.”