No.6 Somers vs. No.1 Yorktown: Down with the Sickness II Reigning NYS Champion Tuskers to Meet Huskers in Friday’s Title Rematch
Everyone who’s anyone along the Section 1 grid circuit is down with the sickness that will ensue this Friday night (7 p.m.) at Mahopac High School, the site of the Class A title tilt between reigning NYS champion Somers (7-2) and vengeance-seeking Yorktown (9-0), who will meet for all the marbles for a second-straight year after each escaped with narrow semifinal victories last Friday night.
The sickness will be highlighted across the bunches of Cornhusker green and Tusker red, illuminated by the infamous student bodies; ‘The Crop’ vs. ‘Tusker Nation’. Consider this your warning: Get their early because this one features a lot more than just football.
It’s DeMatteo vs. Rescigno, yet again; the Taconic commuter vs. I 684 travelers; it’s one jacked up football town vs. another. It’s the muscle of Somers OL/DL Nick Gargiulo vs. the speed and brawn of Yorktown RB/LB Brett Makar.
This is everything a football fanatic can sink their teeth into, and Mahopac will rock like it hasn’t in nearly a year this after top-seeded Yorktown took care of business with a 23-19 win over visiting No.5 Rye, and No.6 Somers eked out a 10-7 win over No.2 host Our Lady of Lourdes.
The rematch features a title-starved Cornhusker club, which hasn’t won it all since 1998, the last of four Section 1 crowns between 1993-98 against a Somers outfit poised to win its fourth title in six years.
Rescigno understands all too well that 1998 was 19 years ago, and nobody gets sicker at the reminder. Yorktown, which won state titles in 1993-94, earned a spot in the Section 1 final for the third year in a row, but championship games haven’t been kind to the Huskers, who, two years ago, were beaten handily by Rye. Last year, Somers ran roughshod over the Huskers en route to a state title after losing to Yorktown head-to-head in the regular season.
“I’ve got to figure out a way to ramp this week’s practices up to make them difficult and war like,” Rescigno said. “We have to be ready for that because that’s what Somers brings, a war! That’s what we’re in for.”
Yorktown will go to war with General Makar leading the charge after carrying the ball 34 times for 201 yards and a score, plus two catches for 28 yards and eight tackles at linebacker, a sack and interception on the other side of the ball. His will to win and lead by example is a driving force, according to Recigno.
“I’ve never coached a player like Brett in my life,” the coach said of the senior captain. “The best part is the fact that his will to win is contagious and your team becomes like him and it’s amazing to watch. Every kid on the team has taken on his will to win. You won’t find a better group of kids throughout the section. You got kids fighting for each other throughout the week and scout teamers who will do anything to help this team win.”
And that will to win nearly cost Makar as he chugged for extra yards in the fourth quarter, thus coughing up the ball, but Makar atoned for the infrequent flub on the final play of the game by intercepting a Rye Hail Mary pass in the end zone as time expired.
“We preach family and we had his back no matter what happened,” Yorktown RB Brandon Meyreles said. “We were gonna fight to the finish.”
“No way I was going out like that,” Makar said. “No way!”
The Garnets were in position for the Hail Mary on account of a last-second penalty called against Yorktown when the state-ranked (No.2) Huskers stormed the field with one second remaining as Rye Coach Dino Garr had signaled for a timeout. The scoreboard clock read zeroes and the Yorktown bench rushed the field, but officials still imposed the head-scratching call. With the ball 15 yards closer to the end zone, the Hail Mary chances increased exponentially, but Makar rose above the masses to pick it off at the goal line.
“It took about 30 years off my life,” Rescigno said if the waning moments. “It seemed like it would never end.”
Rye took a 13-9 third-quarter lead and appeared to be stealing some momentum when Husker QB Tommy Weaver took over. The junior signal caller displayed touch and toughness throughout the second half, rushing for a 12-yard score and a 16-13 lead early in the fourth. Weaver, who ran for 90 yards and passed for 126, then found TE Alex Ujkaj for a feathery-soft 40-yard touchdown pass with 3:35 left.
“We’re 9-0 right now and we feel like we’ve been overlooked the whole season,” Makar said. “Every game we play seems like we’re the underdog, and we just want the respect we deserve. Rye’s a great program, one of the best teams in Section 1 ad their Coach Dino Garr belongs in every football hall of fame there is, but our team just came out here and fought for Yorktown and this community. You know as well as anyone what this community deserves. I love this town and I wouldn’t want to grow up anywhere else. I hope I can finish it for them.
“We’re ready for Somers, bring it on,” Makar added. “We went into last year’s finals just happy to be there; hell, no, not this team. We’re ready for four full quarters of hell. We’re going to give it our all. I don’t want this thing to end.”
SOMERS is ready to push on as well, the state-ranked (No.15) Tuskers having avenged a regular-season loss to No.12 Lourdes. Somers has RB Cameron Pepe thank for much of that after he rushed 35 yards off a slot jet sweep for the game’s first score and booted a 37-yard field goal for the game’s final points with 5:17 remaining. The Somers defense, which has held firm now for several games, buckled down from there. As a side note, Somers’ special teams has really developed; including its kicking/punting game and returns.
Somers is simply doing what Somers does at this point in time; taking nothing for granted and putting preparation — under prodigious Coach Tony DeMatteo — ahead of everything.
“The mindset in the locker room is when we lost those two games in the regular season everyone wrote us off, so technically we aren’t supposed to be here,” stalwart Tusker DE Jack Gilroy said of the Tuskers, who have now avenged regular-season losses to Lourdes and John Jay CR. Gilroy was a major factor, exploding for six tackles, including three for loss, and pair of sacks. “So why not keep winning and keep proving people wrong. Obviously, Yorktown is a great team, who has a lot to play for, but everyone around Somers knows the meaning of this game and how big it’ll be. We’re ready!”
NWE/Putnam Examiner Grid Poll
No.1 YORKTOWN – I just can’t see it going south for a third-straight year. I think 1998 is potentially a distant memory come 10:00 p.m. this Friday.
No.2 SOMERS – You boys in Tuskertown know I love y’all and I wouldn’t bet more than a dime against ya, but Yorktown has to end its 19-year championship drought at some point, and if they don’t do it this year I can’t imagine when they will. That said, I’ll hedge my bet: Last possession wins.
No.3 CARMEL – 2nd half against Clarktown South will long haunt these Rams, but I think they all would have signed in blood for a 7-2 season, and the everlasting image of patriotism they displayed on a weekly basis, including their Week 9 romp of North Rockland.
No.4 MAHOPAC – When you turn a 3-6 2016 season into a 6-3 2017 campaign, you’ve done just about as much as you could to build for the future, particularly when you consider the late start the Indians got due to the untimely circumstances of replacing their coach in June.
No.5 PANAS – Judging from the final score, the Panthers’ 56-6 season-ending loss to John Jay didn’t quite mean much.