On Friday September 8, Somers began their home schedule and trailed Clarkstown South 6-0 with six minutes left in the half. An unexpected place for the state champs, events conspired to merit the slow start. “We had a tough practice week with the heat. We were out of our routine,” said Coach Anthony DeMatteo. “We’re a very structured program and we do things to the minute. So we were a little out of sorts - especially coming off a tough game last week.” But with a bang, the trunks got into the swing, and sanity ultimately came back to the Somers universe.
Mason Kelly busted through the line for a 65 yards touchdown, and the Tuskers piled on from there with a 42-13 victory.
Nonetheless, the game began just as abruptly. Johnny Olivieri ran the opening kickoff to the Somers 18, and the heat was back on. Colin Holder then ran a second down keeper to the four and connected with Jacob Teitel for the touchdown.
Less than two minutes in, the home crowd was certainly expecting a response. Unfortunately, a stalled drive to midfield was all they got.
Even so, the change of possession left no doubt that the defense was back on the clock. A couple of short yardage plays set up a third and long, and Ryan Cole’s sack had Clarkstown punting from inside the 20.
A shanked punt to the 37 was no help either, and Somers looked ready to roll. Not yet, the Tuskers went three plays, and it was the defense’s turn again. Aided by a fumble and a bad snap, Somers had Clarkstown punting again when the Tuskers gang tackled Teitel on a dump over the middle.
35 seconds left in the first, Somers still wasn’t with the program. Only three plays this time so DeMatteo reiterated the Somers brand. “Our offense has really exploded over the last few years,” he said. “I’m really proud of that. But at the end of the day, our defense is what makes us tick. It’s our identity. It’s our attitude, and when the ball isn’t bouncing our way, we rely on our defense to keep us in the game.”
Clarkstown did get more bend out of the Somers defense in return, but another Ryan Cole sack essentially stopped the Vikings in their tracks at the Somers 43.
Taking over at the 9, Dean Palozzolo went sideline for 11 yards and signaled that the Tuskers were back in rhythm. Mac Sullivan then ran a couple of keepers for a first down to the 35 and Kelly was primed to bring down the house. He took the hand off in the backfield, cut inside to the hole and went untouched into the end zone at 5:06.
The Luke Cukaj extra point gave Somers the lead, and four plays later, the Tusker offense officially began to hum. On first down from the 33, Miguel Iglesias lined up left, took the hand off, and rolling right, the designed play had Luca Ploger wide open for a 67 yard touchdown pass.
A fumbled snap led to a two point conversion to Logan Ruby, and Clarkstown would have gladly settled for another three and out. Instead, Kelly intercepted and ran the ball into the end zone.
But a hold on the return negated the touchdown, and taking over the 17, Sullivan’s subsequent touchdown scramble was also called back. A third and 11 eventually faced, Sullivan stood tall in the pocket and didn’t panic on the collapse.
The ball away, Palazzolo was on the receiving end with 35 seconds left in the half and definitely felt the force. “I feel like we have a chemistry that just can’t be stopped,” the receiver beamed.
Now a 22-6 game, the Tuskers came out firing in the third. Ploger ran the kickoff to midfield, and Somers didn’t let a 4th and three bother them. Sullivan went play action, and hit Landon Pepe for a 19 yard gain.
A first down at the 22, Kelly added dance to the Tuskers musical number. He started right, cut outside and shook multiple defenders on the sideline to give Somers a 29-6 lead. “That’s why we have him back there. We open up the holes, and he hits ‘em,” said Nick Crecco.
In fact, the heavens were so entertained, a light show came from above and caused a one hour delay before the game could proceed. Despite the inconvenience, DeMatteo praised Clarkstown for wanting to complete the game, and upon return, the Vikings confirmed that they had more in mind than throwing in the towel.
Olivieri again ran back the kickoff to the Somers 18, and a few plays later, Holder hit Teitel in the end zone and for a 29-13 game.
Of course, Somers didn’t blink. Will Marcus recovered the onside kick, Sullivan threw a quick screen left to Palazzolo, and there was no stopping the receiver on the sideline.
The 35-13 lead pretty much did in the Vikings, and Sullivan made sure. He hit Andrew Violante for another sideline touchdown pass, and DeMatteo was onboard after his quarterback’s slow start. “He ended the game really strong,” concluded the coach.