The way that high school football offenses are run has transformed in recent years, and Tappan Zee is no exception.
The Dutchmen transitioned from an old school, run-heavy, single-wing attack to more of a spread look last season, which helped them get off to a 5-1 start. But they finished with three straight losses, and now they’re looking to find more balance in 2016.
“That was totally based on personnel,” coach Andy DiDomenico said of the spread offense that TZ ran last year. “We had a traditional quarterback and some skill guys outside. This year, we are kind of a hybrid between our traditional single-wing and some spread elements that we brought in last year. Again, we made the changes based on personnel, but feel like we’ve preserved the best of both.”
Last year’s quarterback Liam Donohue threw for over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns in nine games, and he’ll be replaced by 6-foot-6 senior Henry Garrison, who DiDomenico described as a “tough runner” with a “strong arm.”
A trio of backs in Nick Violetto, Matt McGivney and Kevin Dennehy will give the running game versatility, while split end Ryan Holder can be “a big-play guy” in the passing game who’s “explosive in the open field,” according to DiDomenico.
The Dutchmen are set to host rival Nyack in their opener on Friday night at 7 p.m., a game that is expected to have extra buzz because of Dominick DeMatteo’s coaching debut with the Indians. He’s the son of legendary Section 1 coach Tony DeMatteo, and comes to Nyack after nearly a decade at Arlington.
“I think one of the most important things I bring to the table as a first-year head coach at Nyack is that I’m not a first-year head coach,” DeMatteo told The Journal News when practices began on Aug. 15. “I was a head coach at Arlington for nine years and I’m going into my 20th-something year coaching.”
Tappan Zee understands that DeMatteo’s debut creates more intrigue, but DiDomenico’s focus is on building up the reputation of his own program.
“For them, I’m sure it does,” he said of the added anticipation. “For us, we beat Nyack last year for the first time in 21 years in the craziest game I’ve ever been involved in. We’d like to prove that it wasn’t a fluke and establish a real rivalry for the future.”