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Valley Sports Report
TIOGA CENTER — Tioga senior Emmett Wood, a two-time New York State Player of the Year, is looking forward to becoming the next player in the gridiron pipeline from Tioga to Morrisville State, and signed a National Letter-of-Intent to play there in a brief ceremony Tuesday afternoon in the high school foyer.

“I think Morrisville has been a good fit for Tioga guys,” said Wood. “Hutch (Zach Hutchinson) did so well there, and Cole (Williams) is there now. I get to run behind Cole again; that’s something I’m looking forward to.

“I went (to Morrisville) for a couple of practices,” he noted. “All the guys were super nice right away, and very welcoming. It was nice.

“There were a few other options,” added Wood. “But Morrisville seemed like the perfect fit.”

Wood, who was a terror at linebacker for the Tigers, made his name as a running back. He finished his career with 7,367 yards (fifth all-time in N.Y. State) and 99 rushing TDs. He was a two-time New York State Coaches Association Class D “Player of the Year,” and the 2021 New York State Sportswriters Association Class D “Player of the Year.”

Wood said Morrisville’s coaches have told him he’ll be in the backfield.

“I definitely want to run the ball,” he said. “I’m going to miss defense, but offense is definitely where I want to be.”

Wood is hoping to earn playing time as a freshman.

“The plan is to start right off the bat.

“I was hoping to get there and nobody was going to know who I was, so I could get a re-start, but as soon as I got there, the guys were like ‘coach has already been talking about you,’ so that’s not happening,” laughed Wood.

“I’m looking to earn a starting spot next year, but I’m willing to do whatever helps the team,” added Wood.

Tioga coach Nick Aiello believes there are a couple factor that will make Wood successful.

“I think his mentality is to work for what he wants. I think he’ll do that in the weight room, and on the football field.

“He loves football, and that’s a big piece to it at the next level,” said Aiello. “You really need to have a a love for the game because it’s tough. You go in as a freshman, and you have to prove yourself against guys who have been there for two, three or four years.

“I think he’s going to excel for those reason, and especially because I know he’ll put the work in,” Aiello noted.

“Like any freshman, he’ll have a lot learn in terms of Xs and Os, but I think he loves it enough that if he gets a little taste of success, he’s going to have a really great career,” added Aiello.

Wood believes he has some physical work to do before next season, while Aiello believes a great deal of the adjustment to the next level for Wood will be mental.

“I think I need to get quicker,” said Wood.

“I feel like the only things I did wrong this year were I got tracked down, or I had my ankles taken out when it looked like I had a clear shot,” he noted. “I need to quicken up.

“And, I need to see the field a little bit better,” added Wood. “In the state championship game, especially, they were all so consistent at tackling at the ankles, and I hadn’t see that all year, so I wasn’t handing it the way I should have. That’s going to change, though, I’m already working on it.”

“I think the football IQ part is a little different when you get to that next level, but at the same time he’s going to be playing one position, and not a whole bunch like he did here,” said Aiello.

“I think getting acclimated into the college environment is difficult.

“And, I think being low man on the totem pole is tough for a lot of incoming freshmen, but you have to bide your time, and keep working hard,” added Aiello. “You have to be ready when you get your chance; that’s the biggest thing at the next level.”

Wood is excited about his next step.

“I’m just ready to go,” he said. “I feel healthy … I’m just gonna keep working.”

Wood will major in Criminal Justice.


IN PHOTO 1: Tioga senior Emmett Wood. IN PHOTO 2: From left: Jim (father) and Lee Wood, Emmett Wood, Shelly (mother) and Joe Mint. IN PHOTO 3: Seated, from left: Jim (father) and Lee Wood, Emmett Wood, Shelly (mother) and Joe Mint. Standing, from left: Eve Wood (sister), Dom Wood (brother), and Giovanna Rossi. IN PHOTO 4: Seated, from left: Jim (father) and Lee Wood, Emmett Wood, Shelly (mother) and Joe Mint. Standing, from left: Tioga coach Nick Aiello, Eve Wood (sister), Dom Wood (brother), Giovanna Rossi, Tioga assistant coaches Adam MaCauley, and Kevin Evanek. … PHOTOS BY TIM BIRNEY.

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