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Answering the call

Tri-Valley holds off Pine Plains to advance to semifinals

Richard A. Ross
Posted 11/1/22

GRAHAMSVILLE – NBA legend Allen Iverson’s nickname was “The Answer,” a label duly earned by his ability to respond to the sundry defensive challenges presented to him on the …

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Answering the call

Tri-Valley holds off Pine Plains to advance to semifinals


GRAHAMSVILLE – NBA legend Allen Iverson’s nickname was “The Answer,” a label duly earned by his ability to respond to the sundry defensive challenges presented to him on the hardwood. But that label could now be readily adopted by the Tri-Valley Bears, in particular their escape artist, stalwart quarterback Austin Hartman.  Hartman put on an offensive showcase as the Bears kept finding responses to the no-quit Pine Plains Bombers who seemed to keep scoring, particularly in the second half. Riding the talented duo of quarterback Sidney Stracher and receiver Giovanni Ramirez, PP kept their cause alive with five TD strikes. It was enough to give the Bears’ fans and coaches grounds for nail-biting right up until the whistle signaled the 45-38 T-V quarterfinal win. 

As good as Stracher was, Hartman raised this ante an extra notch with four rushing TD’s and an eight-yard strike to a leaping Ian Mullen. All in all, it was a hard-fought game. Stracher, the Bombers’ leading rusher and one of the premiere running backs in the eight-man football circuit, had moved to QB a week prior when senior Richard Lamping went down with a season-ending injury. Coach Rob Scott was missing four of his original starters in this crucial fray but from their play, none of that was obvious. 

It was the first playoff victory in the Kevin Crudele era as head coach and a coda to a perfect unbeaten home field season. With the victory, the Bears, who a week ago left SW’s Bulldog stadium dismayed and downtrodden, found their collective answer by punching their ticket to the semifinals to play Pawling on November 5 at 1:00 pm. 

When it comes to how well a team will perform in the playoffs there are always countless questions. For the Tri-Valley Bears coming off that tough loss against Division rival Sullivan West, the biggest question was how the Bears would rebound in the playoff opener.

With grit, class and resiliency, Tri-Valley provided the answer and quite frankly, Hartman deserves that nickname emblazoned on the back of his jersey.

Tri-Valley won the toss and deferred and though Stracher had a nice return of Zach Kitaychik’s booming kickoff, T-V senior Dylan Poley intercepted a third down Stracher pass and ran it back 55 yards to give the Bears a 6-0 lead with 8:24 remaining. The Bombers nixed the conversion and proceeded to score on a 58-yard strike from Stracher to Ramirez. Stracher ran in the conversion and PP took its only lead of the game at 8-6 with 4:51 to go in the first stanza. Undaunted, the Bears came right back riding Hartman’s running antics. Throughout the game, he twisted, turned and escaped tackles to take off on his patented open-field jaunts. With 1:23 to go in the quarter he took it in from the one to give the Bears a 12-8 lead. PP stopped the conversion again. 

The Bears defense bore down, and T-V got the ball back early in the second quarter. A nice cut-back run by Ian Mullen brought the ball to the 25 and you-know-who raced into the endzone from there at 9:36. The scoreboard now read 18-6 and for the third time the Bombers stopped the conversion. 

Stracher threw his second interception, this one picked off by Talan Scanna. Hartman had a TD run called back on a block in the back. The teams held each other off until Hartman found a leaping Mullen in the endzone with a nine-yard strike with just 33 seconds remaining in the half. 

The Bears took a seemingly commanding 24-8 lead only to have Stracher hit Ramirez with a TD pass as time expired in the half with T-V’s lead narrowed to 24-14. 

At the start of the third quarter facing a third and ten at the 45, Hartman pulled a Houdini-like escape of tackles and got a crucial first down. With 7:55 to go he dashed 25 yards for this third TD of the game. Kitaychik’s PAT split the uprights and the Bears now led 31-14. 

In a game that could be described as punch-counterpunch, Stracher and Ramirez connected again on a 10-yard pass to make it 31-22 with the added conversion at 3:35. Twenty seconds later, Kitaychick returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards and added a PAT to extend the lead to 38-22 with 3:14 left in the third quarter. Again, the Bombers answered back, this time with a 55-yard pass to Ramirez with 1:18 to go in the quarter. The conversion made it 38-30. 

T-V’s offensive verve continued and with 3:07 left in the game Hartman ran in his fourth TD, a one-yard twisting dive. Kitaychik made his third PAT and the Bears led 45-30. But the drama wasn’t over. Facing a fourth down, Stracher found Ramirez yet again with 1:33 to go and added the conversion to make it a seven-point deficit. 

Everyone knew an onsides kick was coming. The ball did not travel the requisite ten yards and PP was flagged for interference on the kickoff. T-V ran out the clock and exulted in the win. 

Coach Crudele noted, “That was a hard-fought battle. I felt like we had control of the game. Not at one point did we have our heads down. Being healthy and being prepared is what’s going to get us to that sectional championship through Pawling and to a title.” Tri-Valley improved to 6-2; Pine Plains ended its campaign at 3-4.

Tri-Valley Stats: Total offense 404 yards on 56 plays, 7.2 yards per play. Passing 4/12/59 with one TD. Rushing 44/345 7.8 yards per rush. Austin Hartman 24/277/11.5 yards per rush with four TD’s. Dylan Poley 8/17; Zach Kitaychick 1/11. Penalties 8/45; 22 First downs; Third down conversion 5/10, 4th down conversions 2/3. Defense: Talan Scanna seven tackles; Austin Hartman 6 tackles. 


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