CLASS D STATE CHAMPIONSHIP, at the Carrier Dome, Syracuse, Friday, noon
From the first time I spoke to him this year at Champions Camp at New Rochelle High School, John D’Arco believed Tuckahoe had the talent to win a state championship. He believed the Tigers could start strong and win their first six games and he was correct. He believed his team was two touchdowns short against Bronxville and he was correct. He believed his team was a heavy favorite against Haldane, then Chester, then Moriah and he was correct. They won all three games by three touchdowns or more.
It was a lofty standard the Tuckahoe coach established for his team. In fact, it couldn’t have been loftier. But D’Arco’s faith has nearly been rewarded. The Tigers have a chance to make their coach look awfully smart tomorrow at noon.
Tuckahoe’s dominance has been evident all year but the stat that stands out most to me is this: 3,342 yards rushing. If your team rushes for 334.2 yards per game in any league at any level you have a good shot at winning football games. Well, the Tigers bring that rushing attack against Cal-Mum tomorrow and have a very, very good shot at winning the football game.
The Raiders are very, very good. Their only loss came against the Section 5 Class C champ. Their coach, Mike Monacelli, has won four state championships, including two in C and two in D. And their three-headed rushing attack of Jon Cappotelli (the tailback), Trevor Haut (the fullback) and Tyler Lauffler (the scatback) is very productive in its own right — good for a 290-yard-per-game average.
Defensively, Cal-Mum like to play the role of aggressor, sending rushers through the middle play after play to force mistakes. But I’m not sure how that will fly against Tuckahoe, a big play team from just about every spot on the field. I have a feeling this approach will either work — forcing Tuckahoe into mistakes — or fail miserably. There may be no in between.
I know D’Arco hopes for the latter. When I talked to him late Wednesday night, the Tuckahoe coach knew Cal-Mum has been known for its aggressiveness under Monacelli. You couldn’t see it through the phone but I could sense the hint of a smile. Why not? The Tigers should be nothing if not confident at this point in the season. If Bronxville does what’s expected of it on Sunday, Tuckahoe could play its way into a rarefied position, when the Class D state champ can claim it’s the second-best Class C team in the state. Wow.
OK, OK, I’m getting ahead of myself. But you get the drift.
PREDICTION: Tuckahoe 33, Caledonia-Mumford 13. D’Arco is right. I’ve seen football here the last eight years and this is Tuckahoe’s best team. I expect the Tigers to prove as much tomorrow beginning at noon. Then we can look back and give some kudos to the man who saw it all coming.