Grid Notebook

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Somers QB Kevin Olifiers led Tuskers to playoff triumph.

Somers, Yorktown Moving, Groovin’ on Class A Circuit No.6 Tuskers, No.1 Huskers Each a Win Away from Championship Rematch; Carmel Ousted in Class AA

Go ahead, admit it: You wrote them off, too. To a man, the SOMERS Tuskers were pretty ticked off at those that doubted the reigning NYC Class A champs after the sixth-seeded Tuskers (6-2) pulled off a 21-3 victory over previously undefeated, third-seeded host John Jay last Friday. But to be totally honest, even the most ardent Tusker fan had good reason to doubt whether or not Somers could avenge a Week 5 21-7 loss to John Jay and advance to this Friday’s Class A semifinals (7 pm).

But advance they did, doing so behind a punishing ground game, bolstered by QB Kevin Olifiers (14 carries for 81 yards and a TD), FB Tyler Carr (10 rushes for 69 yards) and HB Rob Fazzinga (13 rushes for 45 and a TD), each of whom ran with the kind of purpose that had been missing for spells this season, including the Tuskers two losses to state-ranked (No.11) Jay and No.16 Our Lady of Lourdes, who will host revenge-seeking Somers in the semis.

“That basically sums it up, there were a lot of games where we were only playing well on one side of the ball,” said Olifiers, who looked like a leader of men. “But today we came out and executed on all sides of the ball. Hard practice and the fear of never playing for Somers, or with each other, again drove us these past weeks.”

Olifiers drove home the final margin, sneaking in from 1 yard out with 10:47 left in the game, capping a drive that featured the bruising style of Carr, who split time between bowling dudes over and dragging others about.

But it was return man Drew Cassin, who had the big play of the night, answering a Perry Shelbread field goal with a 99-yard kickoff return to the house for a 14-3 lead with just 2:23 to go before halftime. Film will show that Cassin’s had a foot on the goal line, but the ref, who was right there on standby, let the play ensue.

Fazzinga’s 2-yard TD run gave the Tuskers a 7-0 lead 1:53 left in the first quarter, and it was evident from jump street that it was a different Somers team than the one that had been manhandled by the Indians during a short work week for both teams during the Jewish holidays.

“No fear, no pressure, just a bunch of kids who stepped up for the team,” Yale-bound Somers senior OL/DL Nick Gargiulo said.

Somers played with a sense of purpose, and so long as it continues to do so, it’s entirely possible this season rolls on and on. The Tusker backs and QB ran like they hadn’t all season (rushing for 270 yards), the O-line – LT Gargiulo, LG Chris Dictintio, C Jack Farrel, RG Liam O’Login, RT Rob Curma and TE Jack Gilroy — blocked and owned the trenches, and the Somers defense had stops for every wrinkle Jay threw at them. In the previous meeting, Jay QB Bryce Ford and RB Thor Adamec combined to rush for 292 yards on 59 carries, but the duo was limited to just 99 yards on 19 carries in the rematch. The 6’6” 285-pound Gargiulo had two sacks and wholly engulfed Indians all night long. Dominick Cheek (sack), Cassin, Conor Jaykus and Vinny DiFilippo all had an INT.

“We finally realized what we could do and now it’s a wrap,” said Gilroy, who moved the chains with several big grabs from Olifiers. “This team has a bunch of dawgs that woke up today.”

Yorktown RB Brett Makar finds yet another massive crease created by a highly-functional O-Line in Huskers’ Class A playoff rout of TZ.


By halftime, Yorktown RB Brett Makar had rushed nine times for 92 yards and a pair of scores while QB Tommy Weaver had connected on 4 of 5 passes for 102 yards and TD to Naim Sinanaj… game, set, match! The top-seeded Huskers, ranked No.2 in the state, would go on to a 42-10 quarterfinal triumph of No.9 Tappan Zee last Friday when Yorktown will host Rye at 7 p.m. next Friday night in the Class A semifinals, a rematch of a Week 4 doozy Yorktown pulled out with some late, come-from-behind heroics.

“Yeah, we definitely would love to get off to a better start,” said the 6’1” 183-pound Makar, who finished with 106 yards on 10 carries, leading a ground game that amassed 272 yards on just 26 carries, including another 88 yards on four carries and a TD from Weaver, who is quickly emerging as a top-end signal caller in Section 1.

“Rye is a very well coached team that makes few mistakes, so we have to come out fired up from the get go,” Makar added. “These games are the reason you put that jersey on representing Yorktown. It was a dog fight last time and we expect the same this game. They have a great program and we’re looking forward to this opportunity. We have got to put together a full four quarters, take a deep breath and play Yorktown football.”

Weaver fired two TD passes to boot. Nick Campanaro added a rushing score and electric RB Brandon Meyreles added three catches for 94 yards, including a 49-yard TD strike and finished with a team-high 132 all-purpose yards.

No.5 Rye ended No.4 PANAS’ dream season, 26-7, last Friday. Panther QB Brandon Hodge threw a touchdown pass to Taji Hargrove, but the sledding was tough for the Panthers (6-2) against the best No.5 seed Class A has seen in quite some time.

In Class A non-playoff action, LAKELAND (2-6) defeated Sleepy Hollow, 35-27, the Hornets working a come-from-behind (20-point) win. Hornet QB Michael Capozzi rushed 15 times for 141 yards and a touchdown. Justin Rivera added two touchdowns and Tommy Barnett and John White also had rushing scores for the Hornets.

HEN HUD (4-4) whacked Byram Hills, 32-15, behind a career day from QB Manny Carbone, who threw three TD passes and rushed for a pair of scores.


No.4 CARMEL played, perhaps, its worst half of football in a 34-13 loss to No.5 Clarkstown South. Tied at 7-all going into the break, the Rams (6-2) had breakdowns across the board, leading to their elimination from the playoffs. The usually-reliable secondary was torched and the Carmel offense sputtered behind five turnovers, ranging from INT’s to strip sacks and fumbles. It was an awful ending to what was a solid season going in.

In non-playoff action, MAHOPAC QB Ryan Dugan took what was supposed to be a short pop and went 99 yards for a score in the Indians 36-18 win over Fox Lane. Mahopac (5-3) will wrap things up in a bowl game against Port Chester this Friday. There are some things to work on this week, like shoring up the run defense: Fox RB Andrew Brown ran for a staggering 338 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries.


No.6 PUTNAM VALLEY had its playoff hopes come to a crashing halt in a 31-6 loss at No.3 Valhalla last Saturday, getting torched through air in the process. Viking QB Ralph Gonzalez hit on 14 of 20 passes for 274 yards and four touchdowns, including two bombs to Michael Ferrara, who finished with six catches for 173 yards and two scores. The decimated Tigers, who are pretty banged up at this point, will lose a lot of seniors and could be facing a tough rebuild in the days ahead.

Valhalla will play No. 2 Pleasantville at Pace University at 7 p.m. Friday in the semifinals, with the winner advancing to the finals to face either No.4 Ardsley or No.1 Westlake.

HALDANE (6-2) is quietly have a terrific season as they prep for the Class D title game with Tuckahoe on Nov.3. The Blue Devils are fresh off a 30-14 win over Pawling last Saturday, doing so behind QB Brandon Twoguns two touchdown passes to Matt Champlin and Liam Irwin. Sammy ‘The Bull’ Giachinta topped 1,000 yards rushing for the season, becoming Haldane’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2011.

NWE/Putnam Examiner Grid Poll

No.1 YORKTOWN – Suddenly, it gets real, as real as real can be with Rye and the Somers/Lourdes winner standing between Coach Big Mike’s Huskers and their first sectional title since 1998.

No.2 SOMERS – Yeah, I think the Tuskers will be back in the finals, and yeah, they are legit title contenders again; what would/could be their fourth in six years.

No.3 CARMEL – Will be tough to get that 2nd half against South out of your heads but dwelling on it won’t help you finish strong, which this senior class has earned the right to do.

No.4 MAHOPAC – Five wins is more than anyone could have expected; I don’t care what the few remaining holdouts say.

No.5 PANAS – Great season for the Panthers; just not in that elite Final 4 class yet… hoops around the corner.

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