WEST NYACK – Many of the Clarkstown South football players were following Twitter for updates on Thursday as their classmates on the boys soccer team nearly pulled off the upset of the year against top-seeded Mamaroneck.
The soccer players came up just short, but their surprising effort inspired the football team. The Vikings came out on Friday and dominated the fourth quarter on their way to a 35-14 win against sixth-seeded Spring Valley in the Class AA quarterfinals, setting up a rematch with powerhouse New Rochelle next week in the semis.
South will enter that game as the overwhelming underdog, but as the soccer team proved, predictions and expectations don’t mean much once you’re in between the lines.
“Our soccer team actually played the No. 1 team in the state yesterday, Mamaroneck, in double OT,” senior Kyle Samuels said. “We’re looking to repeat that. They did it as the 17-seed, and we’re the three-seed, so I think it’s possible. We’re going to go into it, play South football and hope for best.”
The Vikings responded after a sloppy first quarter in which a fumble led to a Michael Maynes touchdown and a 7-0 lead for Spring Valley. South scored twice in the second quarter to take a 14-7 lead, and Sam Mistretta came up with a crucial interception to prevent the Tigers from tying it just before halftime.
“I’m told to read the last guy on the line of scrimmage, and he actually gave me a run read,” Mistretta said. “At first, I ran up thinking it was a run play, but then I saw the receiver go out for a pass. I had to book it and run for it, and luckily, I got there in time.”
Spring Valley drove down the field to start the third quarter, tying it at 14-14 on Maynes’ second touchdown, but the fourth quarter was all Vikings.
Clarkstown South finished the game by scoring 21 unanswered points, playing its best football in the final 12 minutes.
“I think it was heart,” Samuels said. “This is my last game playing on this field, so before the fourth quarter I just said, ‘Seniors, this is our last time playing on this field. Let’s play like it.’ And I think we did.”
Player of the game: Kyle Samuels, Clarkstown South — Despite hurting his shoulder during the second quarter, the emotional leader gutted his way through the game, scoring two touchdowns and gaining 108 yards on just 10 carries.
Turning point: With the game tied at 14-14 and 8:47 left to play, South quarterback Matt Jung busted a 40-yard touchdown run to give the Vikings a lead they would never relinquish.
“All I saw was my man Pat (Naughton) leading the charge and leading me to the promised land,” Jung said. “I knew it right away. That put the momentum back in our favor.”
Stat line: Clarkstown South (7-1) — Samuels ran for 108 yards and two scores and Ryan Thomas ran for 87 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Jung and Mistretta also scored touchdowns. Spring Valley (6-2) — Maynes was the workhorse for the Tigers, rushing for 176 yards and both scores on 32 carries.
Quotable: “I’d say our biggest strength is our depth at the skill positions,” Mistretta said. “We’ve got a lot of kids, and if one of us needs a break, there’s always kids coming in who are very athletic.”