With one now healthy and the other given a green light to throw, Somers’ Matt Pires and Kevin Olifiers expected to be productive. But this productive?
Even they have been impressed.
“I’m even surprised with the way I’ve been playing,” said Pires, a senior wide receiver. “So far I’ve been loving it. I’m going to keep it going.”
Through two weeks, Olifiers and Pires had already combined on five touchdown passes. They entered Friday night’s test at Yorktown as Section 1’s most prolific passing duo, a label not often associated with players from Somers’ run-first offense.
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Pires’ performance hasn’t really surprised the Tuskers, who knew he was talented. Pires broke his ankle early last September and missed the rest of his junior season.
“I’ve known he was a great athlete,” Olifiers said. “Getting hurt last year wasn’t a great thing for him, but, now that he’s come back healthy, not a lot of teams knew what he was capable of. Now that we’re splitting him out wide, he’s tearing it up.”
Somers expanded its pass offense this offseason and so far it has been remarkably effective. Olifiers and Pires combined on three pass plays in Somers’ 28-6 win over Sleepy Hollow on Sept. 9. All three passes went for touchdowns. Pires also returned a punt for a score, accounting for all four scores.
Overall, Pires has six receptions for 163 yards and five touchdowns. His performance so far has led the coaches to draw comparisons him to Joe Festo, a wide receiver who emerged as a senior in 2012 and caught 40 passes for 795 yards for a Class A championship team.
Festo was named a first-team all-star by The Journal News/lohud.
“I know Joe Festo personally and I’ve talked to him about it,” said Pires, whose older brother, Mike, played baseball with Festo. “He’s definitely a role model to me.”
Pires’ emergence and his connection with Olifiers may be as much a matter of opportunity as it is health. Olifiers, a junior, is in his first season as the full-time starter. He split snaps last year with Grant Tragni, who has since graduated. In his debut as the full-time starter, Olifiers has been an efficient 13 for 21 for 240 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions.
“Now we take every rep together, even in practice,” he said. “We take every rep 100 percent.”
Both players have seen their confidence soar. They also see no end to their success.
“I don’t think it’s a two-week special,” Olifiers said. “I think we can continue this.”