State-Ranked (No.9) Tuskers to Face No.11 Rye in NYS Semis #RoadtoCuse
By Ray Gallagher, Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
MAHOPAC — When Somers grid Coach Anthony DeMatteo has needed the tough, between-the-tackles yards this season for his state-ranked (No.9) Tuskers (11-0), he often calls No.33’s number. Senior captain Derek Marcus has been that guy DeMatteo has called upon to do much of the grunt work en route to the NYSPHSAA Class A semifinals, so it felt especially good when Marcus got loose for a pair of touchdowns — while setting up a third — as the Tuskers took a 28-0 halftime lead en route to their 48-14 quarterfinal conquest of state-ranked (No.7) Section 2 champion Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake (9-2) last Friday.
“Yeah, I feel like I needed one of those games to get going,” said Marcus, who has a team-high 10 scores for the season. “The coaches were money with the play calling, and the lineman creating huge holes really helped me out and made me look good. I think this will really carry over into the Rye game.”
Ah, the Rye game. Somers’ win, coupled with state-ranked (No.11) Rye’s 31-21 win over Section 9 champion Minisink Valley (No.14), sets up this Friday’s 5:00 p.m. state semifinal rematch at Middletown High School against Coach Dino Garr’s Garnets (11-1), whom the Tuskers edged 26-23 for the sectional title on Nov. 12 #Slugfest.
Rye, a first-time at-large entrant into the state tournament, a three-time state champ and three-time finalist, is said to be fully healthy now, so the Tuskers will need their finest week of preparation and their best game-day effort if they are going to forge their way to the Syracuse Carrier Dome #RoadToCuse for what would be Somers’ first state finals appearance since winning it all in 2016.
“Oh yeah, I’m sure we will give it everything we have at practice this week,” said Marcus, who finished with 45 yards on six carries, including TD jaunts of 32 and four yards. He added two catches for another 36 yards “Everyone on the team realizes what’s at stake.”
Somers senior safety Michal DiFilippo, who had an interception and a fumble recovery in the first half, played a huge role in providing QB Matt Fitzsimons (14 of 18, 178 yards) with short fields to work with. It was “Fitz” who plunged in from a yard out for a 21-0 lead after Marcus was stopped at the one.
If there was any doubt about the outcome heading into the break, Somers senior RB Ravi Dass Jr. put an end to any speculation. Dass Jr. finished eight carries for 68 yards, including a 36-yard jaunt to paydirt, which preceded a 52-yard punt return to the house for a 42-7 lead.
Dass Jr. and the rest of the RB stable followed mighty offensive lineman Nicky Crecco, Ryan Cole, Johnny Crecco, George Forbes, Anthony Carino, Timmy Azimi, Francesco Gioffre and Jake Polito, plus tight ends Dylan Faller and Ethan Krauss.
With six tackles apiece, senior captains Trey Mancuso and Krauss led a stingy Somers defense, which held the Spartans to 40 first-half yards. Luke Savino went 4-for-4 on PATs despite a biting wind.
“Coming into the game we knew what we had to get done and we did that,” Krauss said. “The game plan was on point on both sides of the ball, and no doubt Somers has one of the best coaching staffs in the state. Without them, we couldn’t have had such a great game plan coming into the game. Our defense is one of the best in the state and our point differential (394-81) shows that.”
Matt Kapica and Stefan Swee, who capped the scoring with a 44-yard, fourth- quarter TD, also scored for the five-time Section 1 champion Tuskers, who are appearing in the state tournament for the fourth time since 2012, fifth since 2000.
“The win was satisfying but now we will move on and focus on Rye,” Mancuso said. “Give it up to our coaches for a great game plan on both sides of the ball. They had us ready and we executed. They keep us focused on directly what’s in front of us.”
This is Rye’s ninth foray into the state semis and 10th entry into the state tournament since 1993. It’s no secret: There’s mutual respect but no love lost between two of Section 1’s finest football programs.
“We have another war on our hands,” said first-year Tusker boss DeMatteo.
The other side of the bracket features Section 6 champion Jamestown (No.2 in NYS) and Syracuse-based Section 3 champ Christian Brothers Academy (No.18). The winners of Friday’s semifinals will head to Syracuse for Friday, Dec. 3rd title tilt at 3 p.m.
Ray has 33 years experience covering and photographing local sports in Westchester and Putnam counties, including everything from Little League/Travel Baseball to varsity high school prep sports and collegiate coverage. He has been a sports editor at Examiner Media since its inception in 2007.