HASTINGS-ON-HUDSON, N.Y. -- Valhalla High School football coach Kevin Martins hopes to get his Vikings off on the right foot and first-year coach Chris Wagner would like a good start for his Hastings High School squad when the teams meet at Reynolds Field in Hastings for Saturday's season opener at 1:30 p.m.
"Hastings is a well-coached team," Martins said. "We are trying to build a good program here, so getting off to a good start is important. We're working hard and trying to be consistent and this will be a good test."
Valhalla starts quarterback Miro Ronac-Gionne and running backs Christian Alvarado, last year's leading ground gainer, and Michael Linanne. The nucleus returns with experience after last year's 3-6 record, with hopes of a winning season.
Valhalla's defense, which must improve over last year, will be keyed by linebackers Jared Mason, Richard Lezcano and Tyquan Raines. The Vikings have the players to score points, but must play consistent defense to stay in games.
Hastings will play without longtime coach Joe Vaccaro, who retired last spring and was replaced by Wagner, who had several great seasons with neighboring Dobbs Ferry, winning several Section 1 titles and a state title in 2006.
"I want to have the team prepared to win games," Wagner said on the opening day of summer practice. "We have a program that the coaches and players are commited to and we are confident that we can win if we execute and do the right things."
Hastings leads with four returning seniors; two-way linemen Mike Inciofane, Jesse Greenwald and Chris Minozzi and running back Alex Brizer. Junior quarterback Rob Hevia played as a sophomore and returns to lead the offense with running back Devin Nunez in the backfield.