Somers Beasting; Undefeated Brewster, Panas Feasting

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Through four weeks of action, the Section 1 Class A grid circuit is bursting with local energy as eight teams covered in these pages vie for one of eight Class A playoff berths. Someone is bound to be snubbed by the unpredictable Piner System that will determine the would-be’s from the wanna-be’s when Week 7 goes into the books.

Tusker RB Stefano Bicknese races unscathed for his 9th TD of the season in 23-14 win over Poughkeepsie last Friday. Photo by Ray Gallagher

Undefeated Somers is in to win it after essentially shutting down defending Section 1 Class A champion Poughkeepsie, 23-16, last Friday night before the eyes of Tusker Nation. It was a pretty convincing win, one that should erase any doubt about Somers being the team to beat this November. Coach Tony DeMatteo, who won for the 296th time in his fabled career, has assembled a wrecking crew; one with depth, size, smarts and speed… all the essential championship elements, including a run-stuffing force in senior ILB Joe Lombardo, who is averaging over 10 tackles per game.

“They’re a great bunch of kids, who are responding to coaching better than any team I’ve had here other than maybe the first year I came here (2000 Class B championship team),” DeMatteo said. “These kids want to get better. Each and week, they practice hard… I love ‘em.

“Stefano is an outstanding player,” DeMatteo said: “Because he’s got it right here in the heart. He’s a worker. Every rip we run, he’s down the field 20-25 yards. He’s in unbelievable shape, and he just keeps working. We had to deal with a very explosive football team tonight, so I’m very proud of the defense. We ran to the football, so I was real happy with that.”

Brewster is out to prove it is for real after stomping Saunders, 20-0, last Friday on Homecoming Day for the Brew Crew. Yorktown, despite being 2-2, is still in the playoff hunt after taking down Eastchester with relative ease, though the 26 points allowed is disconcerting despite the 46-26 throttling of the Eagles. Hendrick Hudson is alive and well at 3-1, well within striking distance of a playoff berth after defeating Riverside, 54-8, in what amounts to a scrimmage win in terms of bonus points.

Panas, though its opponents are a combined 3-13, is 4-0 after shredding Yonkers last Saturday, so the Panthers won’t be accumulating many bonus points on account of its opponents. Likewise, Lakeland is 3-1 after hammering visiting Fox Lane, 35-7, last Friday.

So here’s your hollow Week 4 NWE/Putnam Examiner Grid Poll (complete with halfway grades).

Week 4 NWE/Putnam Examiner Grid Poll

No.1 SOMERS – I will go back to what I said in Week 1: (and I quote) “If you saw any of Somers during this pre-season, you can’t help but come away believing that this could be their year.” Nothing I saw, with my own two eyes last Friday night, leads me to think any different.  In a showdown of undefeated Class A favorites, senior RB Stefano Bicknese was his usual self, jetting for 138 yards and two touchdowns on jaunts of 22 and 37 yards, giving him nine rushing TDs for the season. The 6’ 190-pound captain now officially has a leg up on Class A Player of the Year; I could care less what anyone else may think.

“A lot of people doubted us,” said Bicknese, who also forced a fumble after the Pioneers hit a long pass play right after an on-sides kick recovery. “Coach always talks about never giving up, and, you know, I got beat. The kid ran a great route and beat me, so I just caught up and stuck my hand in there and popped it loose. It feels great to beat a great team like this. We want the league now, then hopefully the section and then keep going.”

Defensive end Dan Campbell was an unstoppable force off the edge, recording three sacks. RB/DB Connor Vlasaty recovered a block punt for a touchdown while K Joshua Riger split the uprights for a 29-yard field goal. The state-ranked (No.20) Tusker defense held No.14 Poughkeepsie to a season-low 14 points after it had averaged 42 points a game over its first three games.

Thanksgiving weekend in Syracuse is always a pretty good deal, particularly when your publisher is footing the bill at a four-star hotel (ok, motel) and you have a sideline pass to one of the locals playing at the Carrier Dome. Somers has a shot to force my hand, particularly when you look at both John Jay and Poughkeepsie as being very vulnerable right now. Having seen most everybody who is anybody in Class A through four weeks, I’d say we could be looking at Harrison vs. Somers if I had to bet… gun to my head because I’m out of the predicting business (too many enemies to make).

“We’ve got beasts all over the field, and our line is always working so hard, it makes it much easier for us backs to get yards in tough situations,” senior FB Alex Corpolongo said. “We’re going to take this one game at a time, but we’re just at a point right now where we don’t feel like anyone can stop us. We’ve got so much talent and heart this year, we refuse to come up short. ”

Barring something unforeseen, win No.300 will come in the opening round of the playoffs for Coach DeMatteo, who should run the table now (@ Ossining, vs. Panas, @ Eastchester) and secure one of the two No.1 seeds awarded in Class A.


No.2 BREWSTER – Can’t help but feel good for first-year Coach Ed Mulvihill and the undefeated Bears (4-0), and I wish I could have been there to see the Brew Crew welcome the ol’ ball coach, Brian Walsh back to Bear Country (he of the two NYS championship appearances and three sectional titles from 1996-99). Representation stretched from 1950s to present day the place went crazy when Walshy has his number called. It was really Brewster’s finest moment in many moons.

Remember when the interviews were going on for the new head coach at Brewster this past off-season, there were soooo many critics; some who even went to the school board meeting and spoke publicly about the “wrong decision” to hire Mulvihill. The group felt Brewster needed new blood. Turns out, what they actually needed was old blood and roots in the community to bring back the pride of Brewster football.

That old blood is pumping through the Bears right now as they herd their way toward a potential 7-0 regular season, but there remain several hurdles along the way, including Eastchester, Byram Hills and Gorton (all winnable games). In the 20-0 win over Saunders, super soph Matt Gargano hit on a 19-yard TD run on first possession of second half and QB Brian McNeill rushed for a touchdown and threw a fourth-quarter touchdown pass to Gargano, a youngster with some wiggle. The Brewster D held Saunders to just 28 total yards of offense in the first half mauling, led by beastly Frank Golinello, who can flat-out stuff the run.


No.3 YORKTOWN – In Yorktown 42-26 win over Eastchester, senior QB Nick Mariano led the offense with 126 passing yards while spinning three aerials for scores. RB Nick Bonitatibus had his coming out party, rushing for 112 rushing yards, including an 87-yard sprint to paydirt. The Huskers (2-2) will travel to rival Lakeland in Week 5.

Yorktown’s O-line got it done, according to Mariano. “They definitely opened huge holes for me and the running backs. Dave Varian, Austin Tobia, Mike Puchalski, Genti Muriqi and Chris Arrogoni definitely got it done. ”

Yorktown hopes to toss its crosstown rival a serious beatdown and continue with the theme best progressed by former Coach Ron Santavicca, who, to Lakeland’s lament, used to say, “We own this town!” Unfortunately, the non-league game doesn’t mean a thing in terms of playoffs. I imagine it would be an even bigger deal if it did, but that would require progressive thinking on Section 1’s part.

“That’s what we are hoping, if we play like we have been playing the last three games we have a pretty good shot of winning,” Mariano said. “It’s a rivalry game so no matter what the teams records are or how much better one team is, it’s going to be a physical game no matter what.”


No.4 HEN HUD – Hen Hud’s 54-8 win over Riverside was merely a tune-up for Week 5 make-or-break game against a Sleepy Hollow that just won its biggest game in recent memory, a 43-36 win over highly-touted John Jay CR (2-2), who now, unfathomably, finds itself in playoff jeopardy.

The emergence of RB Brandon Porro is big for the Sailors. His three TDs and 50 yards rushing provide another element to the Sailor attack besides QB Joe Fraietta, who ran for a touchdown and threw another, and Carson Cole. Porro showed versatility by running for a touchdown, snagging a TD pass and blocking a punt in the end zone, which he recovered for a score. QB Eddie Tandy was on the mark, going 5 for 5 for 31 yards and a touchdown. Sailor Brendan Koutnik is another name we hadn’t heard previously in the scoring column, but he ran for six and caught a touchdown.


No.5 OSSINING – The Pride (2-2) poured it on Pelham, scoring 33 first-quarter points in a 39-20 win over the winless Pelicans. Ossining played Yorktown to the wire, so we’re giving the Pride major props for that. Speedster Solomon White sparked some serious shenanigans when he went 89 and 86 yards on kick returns for touchdowns. QB Justin Davidov hit on 3 of 3 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown and rushed for another. Hosting Somers this Friday, the Pride better bring it or this could get ugly early.


No.6 PANAS – In Panas’ 42-6 win over host Yonkers, senior RB Jimmy Jackson triggered the run with a 72-yard kick return. Junior RB John Brophy scored a TD for the third consecutive game, and senior QB David Tiru had rushed for another. Panas’ biggest test of the season comes this Friday against host Tappan Zee (2-2), who will be thoroughly prepared, having previously faced both John Jay and Harrison. A slip here could cost the Panthers (4-0) dearly, as top-ranked Somers looms in Week 6, making Week 5 a must win.


No.7 LAKELAND – In Lakeland 35-7 win over Fox Lane, the Hornets (3-1) had their ground and pound thing going at full tilt. RBs Jimmy Flaherty (168 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries), Anthony Capozzi and Anthony Kaplan (two touchdowns apiece) ran with vengeance and helped Coach Rob Cappelli get his 50th career win as head coach of Lakeland.  The Hornet defense had it best game of the season, forcing two interceptions and a fumble while sacking Fox Lane quarterbacks four times. They’ll need a similar effort against versatile Yorktown.

“They have every right to feel good about themselves,” Lakeland QB Brian Prunty said of the Yorktown game, which could vault the Hornets in this poll. “They’re a great team. We know we need to come out and match their intensity. If we do that and follow Coach Cappelli’s game plan it should be a great game.”

Kid’s been taught well, my friends. Respect thou opponent!







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