There’s Still a Buzz in Somers, Unlike Anything Before

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Somers Nation is hoping to produce an encore performance in 2017, something close to the three sectional titles it won last fall.

The buzz kicked up a notch last week as varsity camps opened up across Section 1; from field hockey to football and all points in between, including soccer, cross country and volleyball. There’s nothing like the fall prep sports that get the juices flowing in coaches, players, fans and media: Unless, you’re a hoops junkie or someone who hates icy winters as much as I do, at which point you can’t wait for spring sports to ramp up again.

But as summer, oh so regrettably, nears its end, football has captured the nation’s fancy; far more than the unfortunate desecration of national and local monuments across this great land.

While over at Lakeland High, they are gearing up for an unprecedented ninth-straight NYS Class B field hockey title (no, that is not a misprint), so you know the Hornets and legendary Coach Sharon Sarsen are all jacked up to commandeer their sprawling new digs.

The Section 1 soccer circuit has many in the region wondering if Somers High can replicate its banner 2016 campaign, in which the Tusker boys (22-2) were crowned NYS Class A champions for the first time ever; with a rookie coach – Brian Lanzetta — in place. In the near 30 years this scribe has covered the local sports landscape, that was one of the greatest runs, and least expected, of the last three decades.

And then to have Coach Tony DeMatteo’s football Tuskers (12-1) do much the same thing just two weeks later in Syracuse; well, it’s no wonder Somers’ unrivaled success earned the Tuskers the honor of being named the top boys’ sports program in all classifications in New York State by securing the 2016-17 Kerr Cup All-Sport Championship from the New York State Sports Writers Association. They were also selected as the top athletic program in Class A; in part because a third program – Coach Mike Lacko’s boys’ cross-country team – was also a sectional champion and a representative at states.

According to DeMatteo, who sits just 30 wins shy of becoming the all-time leader in state history, this great trifecta was a team effort on behalf of everyone involved; players, coaches, fans, boosters, etc.

“We’re all trying to help each other out and support each other,” DeMatteo said at the time. “That is the single biggest reason all this has happened, that and the work ethic of these kids. Everyone pulled for each other. There was no, ‘We want our team to win and not yours.’ Everybody wanted all the teams to win and succeed and everyone bought into it. The kids were always there for each other whenever they could be.”

Now, the pressure mounts as these teams come into the 2017 slate as the hunted, rather than the hunter. When the playoffs began last fall, neither the Somers boys’ soccer team, nor the football program, entered as the favorites to win the section, much less the state. In fact, it was the girls’ soccer team that was favored to represent Section 1 Class A in the state tournament for the fourth time since 2011, but the Lady Tuskers were nipped in the sectional title tilt, giving Somers the lone misfortune among the four teams to reach the finals in the fall of 2016.

Now, everyone will want a piece of Somers this fall, and the Tuskers will be gauged as the measuring stick in Class A, which suits them – all of them — just fine.

“There is no pressure for us to do it again,” said Somers senior QB Kevin Olifiers. “We like to think of this season and a clean slate, with which we have the opportunity to control our own destinies. We know that across the programs there’s a big target on our backs, but we have a “Bring It On” mentality. Each of the three returning championship teams have put in a lot of work in the offseason, and we are all looking forward to representing the Town of Somers to the best of our abilities.”

With many of the same pieces in place, and other newcomers waiting to pay the piper after the loss of many key seniors to graduation, don’t put it past the Tuskers to reap similar rewards this fall. From what we’re hearing, the three defending Section 1 champions are all favored to seriously challenge again, amping up the pressure on the ‘Roman Empire’ and Athletic Director Roman Catalino, who’s still teeming with pride and joy as he stalks the Somers complex with a renewed sense of vim and vigor this fall.

We’re less than two weeks away from finding out if Somers has an encore performance in store, and something tells me us media types will be flocking toward Tusker Nation between now and November. Good luck to all, including those in their way.

But can you just imagine the buzz a ‘Three-Team, Repeat’ would create?

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