Sturdy Byram Hills Topples Westlake; Carmel Rips Fox Lane; Lakeland Bests Greeley
By Ray Gallagher
Examiner Sports Editor @Directrays
& Rob DiAntonio @RJD_Photos
SOMERS 28, MAHOPAC 7
On a gorgeous night for football, one could sense by the fact that the local media – Local Live, LoHud, Halston Media, News12 and yours truly, the Examiner – were out in force last Saturday night at Mahopac High School where three generations of DeMatteo’s staged their version of a family affair.
Somers Coach Tony DeMatteo not only coached against his son, Mahopac Coach Dominick DeMatteo, but he also plotted a game plan to stop his grandson, Mahopac quarterback Anthony DeMatteo, plus his youngest grandson, DJ, an aspiring coach and budding junior varsity football player in his own right. Tony DeMatteo and his other son, Anthony, a highly regarded assistant coach on Tony’s staff, accomplished what he and his Tuskers set out to do, taking a 28-7 league win in both teams’ season opener.
The family vibe was alive before and after the game when embraces were par for the course and both sides expressed hereditary harmony, but it was all Somers between the lines. Tony D was admittedly spooked by the notion of his swarming Tusker defense attacking his grandson in a win, the 355th of his career, he’d rather forget.
“I didn’t like it and haven’t liked the idea of playing against Anthony and coaching against Dominick since Day 1 when I first found out (Mahopac was dropping down to Class A and then playing in our league),” Tony DeMatteo admitted.
But they all knew it was a probability, given the fact that Tony’s chasing the all-time NYS record for coaching victories (Bethpage’s Howie Vogts, 364) and now sits just 10 triumphs shy of becoming the state’s all-time leader. As is often the case in his legendary career, DeMatteo’s defense set the tone, holding Mahopac scoreless until late in the fourth quarter when Anthony DeMatteo (8 of 17 for 103 yards) found WR Andrew Cohen on a fourth-down, desperation TD strike.
Leading up to that, Somers had a litany of big-play strikes, including the play of the game just before halftime, which changed the entire tenor of the game. Somers senior QB Jackson Kossow, a budding star, fired deep down the near sideline for junior WR Matt Kapica, who was defended well by Mahopac sophomore Joey Koch, another young stud in the making. Koch batted the pass away, but it hung in the air long enough for Kapica to make a diving grab at the two-yard line with 40 ticks before half. Somers senior RB Jack Kaiser took over from there, doing what he’s done since his game-breaking sophomore season, bulling in from two yards out for a 14-0 halftime lead. Kaiser scooted for 154 yards and two scores in all.
Kossow went for 108 passing yards, including a 32-yard score to running back T.J. Deagan, and added another 62 yards and touchdown on the ground.
“We came out a little slow,” Kossow said. “Now that we have a game under our belt and the nerves from not playing in so long out of the way, we are ready for the next five games.”
Somers will host Brewster next Friday, March 26 at 7 p.m. Mahopac’s next game is TBA after Lourdes was put on COVID-19 pause.
“We’re very excited to play Brewster this week,” Kossow admitted. “I talked to (Franco) Milano (Brewster’s two-way stud lineman). and we think it’s gonna be a good battle.”
BYRAM HILLS 26, WESTLAKE 7
Byram Hills standout senior running back Matt Weiler rushed for three touchdowns in a 26-7 season-opening win over Westlake but the play of the game came from one of Weiler’s teammates.
Daniel Ahern, the Bobcats’ punter, boomed a 60-yard punt which Weiler chased down and stopped at the goal line, pinning Westlake inside the 1-yard line late in the third quarter. After three unsuccessful rushing attempts, Westlake had to punt and Weiler returned it to the Wildcats’ 26-yard line to set up a short field for the Bobcats.
“He played varsity basketball and was on their championship team,” Byram Hills coach Doug Carpenter said of Ahern. “He did a great job managing, showing up to practices and still going to basketball. He didn’t miss a beat and it’s a testament to him.”
“It was definitely a great play and Daniel our punter made a great punt,” Weiler added. “Coach Carp kind of harps on special teams being important.”
Five plays later, Weiler rumbled into the end zone from two yards out. David Gold’s PAT gave the Bobcats a 19-7 lead with 9:08 left in the fourth quarter.
“As coach said during the week, we haven’t had a game-like scrimmage, so we knew there were going to be a couple hiccups,” Weiler said of overcoming a slow start. “We just continued to talk about getting stronger as the game went on and I think we did that. In the second half, we came out and played our best football of the game.”
Weiler squashed any hopes of a Westlake comeback with an electrifying 68-yard touchdown burst around the left edge to extend the lead to 26-7 with 3:19 to play.
The game was tied 7-7 at halftime but a Westlake penalty followed by an Eli Ratzan sack forced the Wildcats into a punt. Byram marched down the field and Weiler willed his way into the end zone on a 1-yard plunge but the kick was no good as the Bobcats took a 13-7 lead midway through the third quarter.
“We weren’t freaking out at halftime. We just said, ‘Hey, listen, we’ve got to do a couple things better,’” Carpenter said. “And it’s the first game in a season where we’ve had a short preseason, no camps and we’re going to make a lot of mistakes. We’ve just got to be able to improve as the game goes on. Our defense did a really nice job settling in.”
Penalties didn’t help Westlake’s cause in the second half.
“I thought field position killed us,” Westlake coach John Castellano said. “We started the second half with a kickoff return to the 42-yard line. So we’ve got half the field taken care of and they called us for a clip. The next kickoff, they called us for another clip and then they punted the ball inside the one. So three possessions in the third quarter started inside our 15-yard line. You’re limited to what you can do offensively when you’re starting inside your 15-yard line. But listen, I’m proud of the kids. I told them before the game, ‘The fact that you woke up this morning and had a chance to play high school football, you should thank the good lord for that.’ That was our whole mindset going in. I think you saw the two best teams in the conference today. For three quarters this was a good football game.”
Steven Franco kicked off the scoring for the Bobcats on a 19-yard touchdown run three minutes into the game. Byram senior quarterback Hayden Fruhling had key passes to Weiler and Franco on the drive. Fruhling also picked up some key first downs with his legs throughout the game.
“Westlake I thought did a really good job trying to take away Weiler,” Carpenter said. “Within our reads and our progressions, Hayden did an awesome job taking what was there and making great decisions. He’s a big, physical runner and he worked so hard in the offseason to totally change his body. He’s confident in his ability to run.”
Westlake answered when Joe Piazza plunged into the end zone from a yard out. Josh Gelman’s extra point tied the game up with 3:47 left in the first quarter. The drive was sparked by quarterback Matt Sardo, who hit Carter Falkenberg and Andrew Llamas (interception) on passes, and had a 28-yard run of his own.
Sardo took a big hit from Weiler before the half and looked noticeably affected by it in the second half. The quick, shifty signal caller was unable to find traction in the second half as Byram held the Wildcats scoreless in the final 24 minutes.
“Their quarterback Sardo is really good,” Carpenter said. “We knew that he was going to be a special kid but I also thought that he had a really nice supporting cast too.”
After 16 months without football, the Bobcats and Wildcats were grateful to be able to take the field again.
“It means so much,” Carpenter said. “At one point, we were just asking if we could get a practice. To be out here is amazing. Quite honestly, it’s a testament to Dominick DeMatteo from Mahopac and the rest of the Section 1 football coaches. Dominick is a mentor to me and like an older brother. I love him. I thank him and I know our kids and our community do too because he’s really kind of the one that rallied the troops.”
“After all that time off from football, it was kind of sad,” Weiler added. “We’re just definitely grateful for this opportunity to be out here and play with our best friends and play the sport that we love.”
Byram (1-0) returns to action when it heads to Hendrick Hudson for a 7 p.m. game on Friday night.
“Obviously COVID can throw some curveballs in there but we are going to be able to crown a Class B section champ,” Carpenter said when asked of the Bobcats’ goals. “Westlake’s got a really good team and they’re going to make a push to get out of their league and get to that championship game. We have to turn our attention to Hen Hud. Hen Hud’s really good and they have very talented kids and a coach that’s been to a state championship (John Catano). They’ve got a winning record against us in the last 10 years and we’ve got to be ready to turn it around on a short week.”
Westlake (0-1) will look to get in the win column when it travels to Nanuet for a 1:30 p.m. contest on Saturday. Castellano said the Wildcats didn’t get a group of basketball players to practice until later on in the preseason after a run to a regional title, which put them a bit behind schedule.
“The bottom line is that we didn’t get a lot of offseason work,” Castellano said. “I was proud of the kids with the way they handled themselves today. We’re going to get better each week and if we can play the way we did in the first half today, hopefully we’ll be back here in five weeks.”
CARMEL 51, FOX LANE 14
A tumultuous off-season never factored into Carmel’s 2021 plan.
Veteran Rams Coach Todd Cayea returned for year 26 of his historic career to earn the 153rd win of his career, despite an off-season that had Cayea on the outside looking in after he was let go last spring following a fiery exchange with the Rams’ former varsity boys’ basketball coach. Rams assistant grid Coach Jimmy Nguyen was appointed to take over the program last May, despite Cayea being named Section 1 Coach of the Year in 2019 after leading the Rams to an 8-2 season, concluding with a Class AA championship loss to eventual state champion New Rochelle. Support for Cayea funneled in after the change of leadership, which prompted Cayea and his supporters to push for reinstatement.
“I won’t back down,” Cayea said often, citing the words of Tom Petty.
The Carmel school board buckled and approved the move in February, doing right by the players, the coach and the program.
“That’s all water under the bridge,” said Cayea, who saw junior QB Kevin Dall assume a seamless roll under center in Friday’s season-opening assault of host Fox Lane. “Being out here where I belong with the kids and these coaches changes everything, makes it right.”
Dall, in his first varsity start, rushed for a pair of scores, part of a six-carry, 46-yard effort on the ground. He also hit on 8 of 11 passes for 56 yards. Carmel saw several players find paydirt, including a 27-yard run by RB Andrew Fiore, another by Josh Massi (seven carries for 32 yards) and Nicholas Rosaforte. Joseph Risley took a pick-6 to the house and kicker Nick Sodano, among the top booters in the nation, booted a 42-yard field goal.’
LAKELAND 20, GREELEY 0
Lakeland Coach Mike Meadows saw his vastly improved Hornets score on their first two possessions, taking advantage of short fields and a crisp game plan to make short work of the visiting, undermanned Quakers on opening day last Saturday. Lakeland took a 20-0 lead into the break when WR Mark Cummins deftly hauled in a 30-yard completion on his back to set up the final score of the half by Danny Libretti, who was all over the place on both sides of the ball (14 tackles, 7 carries for 30 yards and 2 TDs). Lakeland QB Tyler Santucci connected on 11 of 18 passes for 178 yards (1 int.), the vast majority going to Cummins (5 catches for 121 yards).
Hornet RB Adamo Labriola creased the Quakers for 111 yards and one TD on 18 carries. Lakeland’s Mike Mulhern (3 catches for 35 yards and 8 tackles and a sack) was a two-way force. And Vincent Scaldone added six tackles.
Yorktown hosts Lakeland in a huge league clash next Friday at 7 p.m. The Hornets, who haven’t beaten their crosstown rivals in quite some time, are out to prove something.
“We are insanely excited to go out there and show everyone what we are about,” Cummins said “We all have a big chip on our shoulder and know we have a lot to prove. Yorktown is a great team, but we have full confidence that we can go over there and handle business.”
BREWSTER 46, BEACON 0
In this, his junior season, 6’4” 230-pound Bears QB Chris Donohue is expected to make a big splash, and the three-year veteran signal caller wasted no time in the Bears’ opening day win over visiting Beacon Saturday.
Donohue ran for a score and fired another as the Bears went up 26-0. He added a second TD strike to Jason Cardone and watched as senior RB Christian Rhodes (7 rushes, 168 yards) found paydirt twice on a pair of electrifying runs of 83 and 48 yards. Will Martinez (14 carries for 109 and 2 TDs) added another element to the run game, and the Brewster defense was stout, indeed, behind All-Section DE Franco Milano, a regular wrecking crew en route to Stony Brook. Milano led the Bears with seven tackles, three for a loss with a strip sack, which he recovered.
“The whole defense played tough and the offensive line led by Milano, Chris Triolo, Mike Triolo, Austin Matra and Dom Rienzi opened up huge holes for the running backs,” Bears Coach Ed Mulvihill said. “I was happy with our execution considering the lack of practice time. They have been a great group to work with so far this season. We’re looking forward to practice this week. Somers looked like they were in mid-season form in their game against a strong Mahopac team, so we have our work cut out for us.”
JOHN JAY CR 21, YORKTOWN 0
It’s been a long time since Yorktown was shutout on a gridiron and just as long since John Jay has shut a team out. In a rivalry where’s there’s no love-lost, John Jay’s pads pounded louder last Saturday night at Charlie Murphy field and the visiting Wolves defeated Yorktown for the first time since 2013, having lost the prior four exchanges by a combined 142-69 count, including a 2019 playoff setback.
John Jay offensive line Coach Joe Mammoser saw his hogs up front — Grady Halaifonua, Matt Ferrer, Daniel Gonzalez, Nick Pelazza and Will Stein – get the better push. The Huskers and first-year Coach Pantelis Ypsilantis were forced to play without the services of two-way senior Keith Boyer after a first-quarter injury to their versatile star.
John Jay hosts Panas Friday.
SLEEPY HOLLOW 40, PANAS 10
Panas freshman RB Travis Carlucci took an 84-yard kick return to the house on his first varsity touch, but it wasn’t nearly enough as the rebuilding Panthers wore down in the second half Saturday at home. The youngster looked electric, though, and has some goods to build around.
HEN HUD 16, NANUET 0
The drop down to Class B could prove extremely beneficial to Coach John ‘Big Cat’ Catano’s Sailors this season as they espouse upon new waters in 2021. Among the smaller schools in Class A the last decade, Hen Hud is embracing the opportunities to thrive in Class B and did so behind a pair of TD trots from Ryan Travis and Nick Cepeda.
PLEASANTVILLE 39. PUT VALLEY 0
The Panthers kicked off their season with a 39-0 blowout win over host Putnam Valley on Friday night. The Panthers, who were ecstatic to be back on the field, jumped out to a 29-0 halftime lead.
“Being back was special, to say the least,” Panthers coach Tony Becerra said. “With all the uncertainty about the status of high school football last summer and then into the fall and winter, to finally be on the field competing again was satisfying, especially for our seniors.”
The Panthers, who rushed for 325 yards and had close to 400 yards of total offense, were led by senior Matt May’s 162 yards on 18 carries and two scores. Freshman Daniel Picart (7 carries, 93 yards) had two touchdown runs of his own. Junior quarterback Michael LaCapria completed four passes on seven attempts for 58 yards and had a 22-yard touchdown pass to Brennan McDermott (3 catches, 44 yards). Kieran Cotter added nine carries for 63 yards.
Becerra gave credit to his offensive line for the productive day on offense.
“We were extremely pleased with the play of our offensive line,” Becerra said. “Our line coach, Brian Maceyak, did a great job getting these guys prepared in such a short amount of time.”
Pleasantville’s defense was led by senior Michael Balducci’s nine tackles in the shutout. The Panthers had five sacks. Quinn Egan and Massimo Stinziani each had a pick while Joseph Alesawy pounced on a fumble recovery. Stinziani also added a safety.
“Our defensive performance can be summed up in two words: preparation and pride,” Becerra said. “Our defensive coaches, coach Maceyak, George Lamar and Pete Christie, put a premium on our defensive preparation starting with alignment. When the defense, as a unit, is confident that they’re lined up correctly, they can play aggressively. When we went into halftime giving up no points, the team took great pride in trying to end the game that way.”
Ryan Miller booted a 25-yard field goal for the Panthers to complete the scoring.
The Panthers will look to move to 2-0 when they host Pearl River in a league contest at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday while Putnam Valley welcomes Ardsley at 6 p.m. on Friday night.
BRIARCLIFF/HAMILTON 33, EDGEMONT 13
B/H got off to a fast start with a 33-13 win over visiting Edgemont on Saturday afternoon. The Bears built a 33-7 halftime advantage.
Bears quarterback Marc Milano was 6 of 16 for 176 yards and two touchdown passes. His primary targets were Jaylen Savage (3 catches, 126 yards, 1 receiving TD) and Jackson Mauro (3 catches, 50 yards, 1 TD). Brandon Rispoli rushed 11 times for 115 yards and a touchdown. Savage added a rushing touchdown and an interception. Kyle Proctor had a rushing touchdown.
Briarcliff/Hamilton (1-0) returns to action when it hosts Croton-Harmon at noon on Saturday.
BRONXVILLE 28, VALHALLA 0
The Vikings were shut down by visiting Bronxville, 28-0, in Art Troilo Jr.’s coaching debut with the Vikings. Quarterback Michael Dawson was injured on the first play of the second half and did not return. Valhalla trailed 28-0 at halftime.
Troilo, who replaced longtime coach Stephen Boyer, had many years of success with Harrison and last coached in 2013. The Vikings, last season’s Section 1 Class C champions, will look to rebound when they travel to Rye Neck for a 2:30 p.m. game on Sunday.
MAMARONECK 33, WHITE PLAINS 0
The Tigers went on the road and lost to Mamaroneck 33-20 in its opener on Friday night.
Mamaroneck held a 27-6 lead midway through the third quarter before White Plains mounted a comeback. White Plains’ Chris McGuire rushed for a touchdown while quarterback Spencer Englert found Daniel LaSalle for a touchdown strike to trim the deficit to 27-20. Mamaroneck, however, responded with a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter to seal the win.
Englert and LaSalle connected twice for touchdowns through the air for White Plains, which will host Port Chester at 6 p.m. on Thursday in Week 2.
DOBBS FERRY 50, HALDANE 26
Haldane jumped out to a 6-0 lead on host Dobbs Ferry when Darrin Santos scooped a fumble and went 64 yards to the house just two minutes into the game, but the Eagles methodically pulled away throughout the fourth quarter.
Consecutive TDs by Doug Donaghy, who hauled in a nine-yard pass from QB Daniel Santos (11 of 19 for 139 yards in the air), and a 21-yard TD run by Darrin Santos, brought the Blue Devils within a point (21-20) midway through the third quarter, but the Eagles scored three unanswered TDs to pull away.
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