Because I often covered the games Kevin didn’t over the years, I’ve written more stories on Tuckahoe (and Dobbs Ferry) than probably any other Section 1 football team, especially in the postseason. I’ll say one thing about John D’Arco: He is not prone to overrating his team.
I remember back a few years ago when the Tigers won an emotional game in the state quarterfinals. I sensed the emotions behind the win for them and thought it would provide them with great momentum. He thought otherwise, saying the team had played its absolute best and that it may have peaked that very night. It turned out he had been right. However, those years when Tuckahoe reached the Carrier Dome and played for (and once won) the state title, D’Arco really liked his teams.
I mention this because the Tuckahoe coach really likes his team again. This is not an understatement. He truly believes it.
“We could have more talent on this team than when we won the state” (in 2008), D’Arco said.
That 2006 team was stacked, with Lowell Robinson, Joey Melendez and Tristan Alexander to name a few. But the 2010 team returns a remarkable 18 seniors, which is eye-popping when you consider the roster will fall somewhere around 30 or 32.
“This is a culmination of three or four years of work for us,” D’Arco said.
Among them are some very talented guys, namely Jarret Sommer, who, in addition to manning two keys roles at fullback and linebacker, has a chance to break the school’s all-time rushing record after adding to his totals with 938 yards and nine TDs as a junior. Two big linemen will help pave the way for Sommer: Kevin Chen and Joe Jocapino. Chen ranks among the section’s top centers and packs much more punch than your typical Class D lineman. Jocapino has legit size. At 6-foot-2, 235, he could play on any offensive line.
Tuckahoe’s offense will feature an added dose of diversity this year. Senior QB Kevin Garabitos returns, but he will be joined by freshman QB Mike Castracucco, the cousin of one of last year’s captains, P.J. Castracucco. D’Arco likes the younger Castracucco so much he wants to find a way to sneak both he and Garabitos on the field together. He and the coaches devised a Wildcat formation that will allow them to do so, with Garabitos sliding into the backfield as more of a runner.
The Tigers have been hard at work this summer. They attended a passing scrimmage at Stepinac recently, and went to camp at Valhalla earlier this summer. They’ve also worked with Valhalla, Briarcliff and Croton-Harmon, and D’Arco believes they will be prepared for the season.
The schedule isn’t easy. Tuckahoe will face some of the best in Class C: Hastings, Rye Neck, Dobbs Ferry, Valhalla, Haldane and Bronxville. In a perfect world, D’Arco said, Tuckahoe would enter its Week 6 date with Bronxville riding a hot streak. It has split the previous four meetings with the Broncos but would very much like to prove itself with a better showing than last year’s 40-0 defeat.