The sight of Tommy Castelluccio on the artificial turf with a painful knee issue only eight plays into the new season was unsettling.
In a matter of weeks, the concern escalated to worry.
Somers was just beginning to introduce a new cast to starring roles when it lost Castelluccio, who ranks among the top defensive players in the section. And in short order, the struggling Tuskers lost running backs John Delfa and Matt Pires to long-term injuries.
Winning suddenly got a lot harder.
“I think it’s just a quirky thing,” Somers head coach Tony DeMatteo said. “The problem, in my opinion, is the way the schedule was set up so weaker teams play similar opponents.
“Rye is healthy. Yorktown is fine. We’re all beat up. Instead of having six really difficult games, if we had three strong opponents and three regular opponents we might be able to recover.”
It’s been hard for the sidelined players to watch from a distance.
“Tommy, he’s a three-year varsity player and his whole heart and soul were in the season, so it was devastating for him to be out so early,” said Tuskers defensive end Aldo Kaczmarkiewicz said. “Delfa and Pires we might get back. They’re all just trying to help out the team any way they can, but it’s been hard.”
Unless the landscape changes unexpectedly, Somers is facing an uphill climb to the playoffs.
“We’re looking down the barrel of a shotgun.” DeMatteo said.
Despite a lack of experience, the Tuskers were seeded third by the Section 1 scheduling committee behind Rye and Yorktown. They were a premiere Class A team each of the previous three seasons.
Somers was competitive until the end of loss to Rye in Week 1, came back in Week 2 to beat Panas, and suffered a humbling loss in Week 3 to Lourdes.
DeMatteo also planned to keep four other players on the sideline due to injury concerns Friday when Yorktown paid a homecoming visit.
“We’re relying on kids who don’t have a lot of experience,” he said. “You do the best you can. We prepare all out, and we’ll see what happens.”
The learning curve is very steep for some, and mistakes are proving costly against contending teams.
“It’s very difficult because the new guys don’t get that easy game to break in,” said Kaczmarkiewicz, who’s found a silver lining. “We have so many hard games, so that will help prepare us for the playoffs and give everyone good experience.”