PLEASANTVILLE – Now they believe.
After each humbling loss during a bumpy regular season, Tuckahoe coach Tom Itri calmly reminded his players that a highly ambitious schedule would prepare them for the playoffs.
It was hard to argue with that logic after the Tigers won a fourth consecutive Section 1 Class D championship with a 24-12 win over Haldane on Saturday at Pace University.
“We had a tough schedule, but we knew everyone starts the playoffs 0-0,” Tuckahoe running back Christopher Corrado said. “Now, we’re 1-0.”
The lone win in the regular season came against these Blue Devils.
“It feels so great to live up to the expectations,” said Tigers quarterback Matthew Annunziata, who threw a pair of touchdown passes. “Winning a championship is awesome.”
Both teams struggled to find consistency.
Annunziata threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first half, connecting with Christian Pinto and Robert Kiernan to help Tuckahoe a 16-0 lead.
Haldane got stingy after the break.
Corrado finally got loose on the right sideline and sprinted into the end zone with 9:27 to play in the game. It was 24-0 after he tacked on the conversion.
Tuckahoe next plays Roscoe or Eldred of Section 9 at 10:30 a.m. on Nov. 14 at Sleepy Hollow.
Player of the game: Brandon Pares. Tuckahoe. The senior tackle and defensive end was the one player the Blue Devils had no answer for. He was created room to roam on the offensive side of the ball and forcing Haldane to pass or run wide on the defensive side of the ball.
Turning point: Right when the Tigers appeared to be losing momentum, Corrada went around the right side and won a race down the sideline. His timely 22-yard touchdown sprint and two-point conversion extended the lead to 24-0 with 9:27 to play in the game.
Stat line: Sam Giachinta had touchdown runs of three and 13 yards for Haldane. … Tuckahoe had all kinds of penalty issues and was flagged for five personal fouls.
Quotable: “We played some really good teams during the regular season,” Itri said. “Every week was another test for us. So the message was make it through all that and you will be prepared to achieve the ultimate goal.”