Valley Sports Report
THE VALLEY — Despite preseason predictions that Walton was the team to beat, Nick Aiello guided Tioga to its third consecutive Section IV, Class D football title, and is the 2019 Valley Sports Report’s “Coach of the Fall.”
Aiello, who has eight Section IV titles and one state title under his belt in the last nine years, led the Tigers to an 8-0 regular-season mark, including a hard-fought season-opening, 23-20, win over Walton.
In the postseason, the Tigers rolled over Delhi, then beat Walton again, this time in a 44-36 shootout, in the Class D title game.
Tioga made it 8-for-8 under Aiello in the state quarterfinals with a convincing win over Frankfort-Schuyler, then dropped a heart-breaking, 28-27, decision to defending state champion Clymer / Sherman / Panama in the semifinals. CSP went on to win another state title with a 47-6 win over Moriah.
The Tigers were 11-1 this season, running Aiello’s record to 91-22 in his first 10 years on the sidelines. He has a 22-2 record in Section IV playoffs, and is 10-7 in the state playoffs.
The ‘Super 7’ Coaches of the Fall are:
Nick Aiello, football, Tioga: See above.
Rich Pitts, girls soccer, Athens: In his four years at Athens, Pitts has taken the girls soccer program to the next level.
Not only has Athens continued its success in the NTL, with four more league titles under Pitts, but the Lady Wildcats have won back-to-back District 4 titles for the first time in school history. He is 61-11-4 in his time at Athens.
This season, Pitts guided the Lady Wildcats to a 15-3-2, including a 10-0-1 record in the NTL.
Jake Lezak, boys soccer, Athens: Lezak has built the Wildcats into a boys soccer powerhouse, not only in the NTL, but in District 4.
Lezak, who now has 234 career wins, guided the Wildcats to their six straight league title, and to their fourth consecutive appearance in the District 4, Class AAA championship game. The Wildcats are currently riding a 35-match league win streak, and have played 64 league games without a loss.
This year, Athens posted a 15-4 record under Lezak, including an 11-0 mark in the NTL.
Kesha Sinsabaugh, volleyball, Waverly: Sinsabaugh, who led Waverly to its first-ever Section IV title last year, led the Lady Wolverines from the sixth seed to the Class B title game this season.
The final dual-match win of her career came in the Class B quarterfinals against third-seed Lansing — it was the 100th victory of her career.
Kevin Gorman, football, Sayre: The Redskins posted an 8-3 record this season, and qualified for the District 4 playoffs for the second time under second-year coach Kevin Gorman.
The consecutive postseason appearances marks the first time the Redskins have qualified for the District 4 playoffs two years in a row since the state playoffs began in 1988.
In Gorman’s two years on the Sayre sidelines, his teams are 14-8 — the most wins in a two-year stretch since 1980-81. The last two-year span to top 14 wins was 1969-70.
Nate Culver, cross country, Waverly: It was a banner season for Waverly cross country under first-year coach Nate Culver, punctuated by seniors Sheridan Talada and Elizabeth Fritzen, and junior Collin Wright qualifying for the New York State Championships.
The boys team won a division duals title, finished first at the Tom Koons Valley Invite, Owego Invite, and IAC Divisional Meet, second at the McDaniel-Baxter Invite (Chenango Valley), and third at the Section IV State Qualifier, IAC Championships, Forbes Invitational (Oneonta), and Bob Greene Invitational (Newark Valley).
The Lady Wolverines won the Tom Koons Valley Invite and the IAC Divisional meet, placed second at the Owego Invite, and were third at the IAC Championships.
Heather Hanson, volleyball, Athens: Hanson guided the Lady Wildcats to the playoffs for the first time in a decade in 2018. They one-upped themselves this year, winning their first postseason match since the 2005-06 season.
A year after an 8-9 campaign, Athens finished 11-8 in 2019. They were eliminated from postseason by eventual state champion North Penn-Liberty.
IN PHOTO: Tioga’s Nick Aiello.
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