Thomson: Somers in search of playoff breakthrough

Thomson: Somers in search of playoff breakthrough

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Thomson: Somers in search of playoff breakthrough

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LINCOLNDALE – Shortly after Section 1 had formed its playoff brackets and its path to a title became clear, the Somers football team devised a motivational tool.

“Our little joke was that this was a revenge tour,” junior captain Nick Gargiulo said during practice this week. “We had Lourdes, which knocked us out last year. We had Brewster, which beat us bad last year. And we had Yorktown, which beat us earlier this season.”

The tour rolls on for the Tuskers, whose latest foray into the state tournament will come against another old adversary. In fact, they will have a two-fold quest on Saturday: Beat Cornwall, the team it lost to in this very game in 2012 and 2013, and accomplish a program first.

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“There’s a lot riding on this game,” said senior captain Tim Sweeney, whose team will meet the Section 9 champ at 12:30 Saturday at Mahopac High School. “We’re really trying to make history. We’ve never made it out of the regional round here at Somers. The whole concept of revenge has really motivated us through the playoffs.”

In this case, the players’ vengeance is fueled more by their relationship with Tuskers past. Prior to last week’s 42-6 shocker over Yorktown in the Section 1 final, the coaches showed the team a video mashup of well-wishes sent from former Somers players. That included familiar members of the 2012 and 2013 teams that had championship seasons cut short by Cornwall in the Class A state quarterfinals.

“Watching that video was awesome,” Gargiulo said. “It showed the influence of the program. It showed us everyone loved coach (Tony DeMatteo) and the coaching staff. Now, going forward, we want to finish what they started.”

DeMatteo, now in his 47th year, hasn’t won a state playoff game in 20 years — since Roosevelt took the Class AA title in 1996. This will be his current program’s fourth try and perhaps its best chance.

This team can separate themselves from everyone else in the history of Somers by winning this game
Somers coach Tony DeMatteo

In its previous two meetings with Cornwall, Somers struggled to stop star quarterback Mike White, who threw for 636 yards combined and also had a 100-yard rushing game. Cornwall hasn’t been as dynamic this season despite winning a sixth straight Section 9 title. Starting quarterback Kieran Kreider didn’t even play in last week’s 31-0 victory over Goshen and his status is unclear for Saturday.

“I think they’re a very good team, but they don’t have that kind of quarterback,” DeMatteo said. “They have a good quarterback, but not a Mike White.”

The best of DeMatteo’s three previous state-playoff participants was probably his 2012 team. That season was not only derailed by White’s brilliance, but also a scheduling crunch facilitated by the destruction of Hurricane Sandy. Somers played Harrison, Sleepy Hollow and Cornwall in a 10-day span that year.

“There are no excuses,” DeMatteo said. “We have a full week like they do and then we’ll see what happens.”

DeMatteo has pressed his players to consider the importance of winning this week. He has pointed to Doug Packard and his son, Anthony DeMatteo, noting that both were members of the 2000 championship team. They are now 30-something assistants and Somers is still pursuing that program-changing win.

“This team can separate themselves from everyone else in the history of Somers by winning this game,” DeMatteo said.

Sweeney pointed back to the alumni, who expressed their desire to see the Tuskers keep playing deep into November.

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“It really speaks a lot to what a great family atmosphere we have here, even after the players leave,” Sweeney said. “That really got me excited and made me feel like the game was about more than just this team.”

Twitter: @lohudinsider

Somers quarterback Kevin Olifiers scores on a keeper against Yorktown during the Section 1 Class A football championship at Mahopac High School Nov. 6, 2016.

Somers quarterback Kevin Olifiers scores on a keeper against Yorktown during the Section 1 Class A football championship at Mahopac High School Nov. 6, 2016.

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