Below is Rick Carpiniello’s column from Tuesday’s paper. Like some of you, Carp deemed Somers’ task “impossible” because of its condensed playoff schedule. The Tuskers’ loss to Cornwall was their third game in 10 days.
I encourage you to read Carp’s column and leave us your take. First, a few sobering facts about the impact condensed playoff schedules have had on Section 1 football representatives in the state tournament.
SECTION 1 STATE TOURNAMENT FACTS
• In 16 Class AA tournaments, Section 1 has sent six teams to the state final and produced two champions (1996 Roosevelt, 2003 New Rochelle).
• In 19 Class A tournaments, Section 1 has sent eight teams to the state final and produced three champions (1993 North Rockland, 2000 Nyack, 2003 Nyack).
• In the eight combined instances of condensed Section 1 playoff schedules in Class AA (2005-06, 2011) and Class A (2005-07, 2011-12), Section 1 has not sent any teams to state finals. Obviously, it has also yet to produce a state champ.
• Section 1’s state playoff record in those games is 3-8
HOW THEY FARED ON SHORT REST
North Rockland (Class AA)
Quarterfinals: W 22-6, LaSalle
Semifinals: L 28-0, Monroe-Woodbury
Harrison (Class A)
Quarterfinals: W 40-7, Cornwall
Semifinals: L 20-10, Amsterdam
New Rochelle (Class AA)
Quarterfinals: L 14-7, Monroe-Woodbury
Harrison (Class A)
Quarterfinals: L 13-10, Cornwall
Ossining (Class A)
Quarterfinals: W 13-0, Cornwall
Semifinals: L 49-20, Lansingburgh
North Rockland (Class AA)
Quarterfinals: L 13-10, Shenendehowa
Poughkeepsie (Class A)
Quarterfinals: L 44-19, Cornwall
Somers (Class A)
Quarterfinals: L 34-13, Cornwall
By Rick Carpiniello
MAHOPAC — The mission was impossible for Somers High’s football team.
And before this starts to sound like an excuse, be very certain of this: Cornwall, the Section 9 champ that beat the Tuskers 34-13 in the state Class A quarterfinal Monday, would have been an absolute handful for Somers, or anybody in any class in Section 1, on a complete week of rest. Or more.
But for Somers to have to play its third game in 10 days; and to have played a championship game, then turn around with three days’ rest, and one day of actual practice, and play a team like Cornwall … well, it just wasn’t going to happen.
That’s not an excuse. That’s fact.
“We prepared as well as we could and we played really hard,” Somers coach Tony DeMatteo said. “But we made some mistakes that we probably wouldn’t have made if we had some time to practice. You can’t play a football game in two days. You just can’t do it.
“They were a very good team. But they had eight days to get ready for us, we had two to get ready for them. It’s ridiculous.”
Blame? Well, the popular and very legitimate blame is on the three-games-in-11-days Class A playoff system, which coaches will put on the superintendents, and indirectly on the athletic directors, since Section 1’s season starts later than the other sections in the state.
So, for a 29-team conference like Section 1’s Class A, the only other options would be a six-game regular season or a four-team playoff — and that would have meant no playoffs for 6-1 Poughkeepsie or 6-1 Saunders this year, to name two.
“The whole problem would be cleared up if we started on time,” DeMatteo said. “It’s not the early starting date, it’s starting on time. What Section 1 is doing to these football kids is disgraceful. It’s absolutely disgraceful.”
Then came the monkey wrenches, in the form of Sandy and a nor’easter. Both storms hit during the week. None of the other classifications were playing during the week but A. All the other classes got all their games in pretty much on schedule, despite the destruction, the lack of power, and the snow.
You can’t blame anybody for Sandy and the snow.
Obviously, only one team was going to be affected to the max even in good weather — the Section 1 Class A champ.
Here’s what Somers endured:
It played its final regular-season game on Saturday, Oct. 20, had four days off, then played its first playoff game on Thursday, Oct. 25. Somers was scheduled to play again on Tuesday, Oct. 30, but Sandy scuttled that (and some practices) and caused repeated postponements to Saturday, Nov. 3. That’s when Somers played a very physical semifinal with Harrison, then had four days off, including a snow day, a postponement and a field change for its Thursday, Nov. 8 final against Sleepy Hollow.
Then came the three days off and Cornwall, which got an extra day of rest out of the delayed state quarterfinal, but will pay the price by having to come back on three days’ rest for the semifinal against Burnt Hills Friday.
“The coaches do a great job of preparing us,” Somers lineman Dylan Owen said after a game he left twice with a shoulder injury. “And our team, we do a great job of taking it in, and doing the helmet(-only) practices. But if we had a little more time, I felt we could have done it. We played our hearts out and did everything we could.
“We were definitely banged up a little bit, having so many games on such short notice. But we put it all on the field, and what happened is what happened.”
Kids being kids, these kids weren’t thinking they were, as DeMatteo put it, “gassed.”
“We had enough left,” lineman Robert Pontbriand said. “Obviously the short week throughout the entire playoffs hurt us, but it wasn’t really that we had nothing left. We had enough left. We were good to go.
“It’s not like we were running on empty fumes.”
Added Joe Lombardo: “I’m not going to make too many excuses about that, but I’m sure no team wants to have that. You just couldn’t prepare as much as you want to.”
Somers ran into a slinging quarterback named Mike White, who was armed with skilled receivers and backs and immense linemen, and those linemen sure were engaged by the Somers group of Pontbriand, Owen, Dan Campbell, Jason Falasca, and Sean and Steve Jennings. Somers’ big guys dominated the section through 10 straight wins.
“We were nicked up; we were tired,” DeMatteo said. “We did the best we could, given the situation.
“I told them at the end of the game, their effort was tremendous. There just wasn’t enough time. I’m proud of what they accomplished, what they did for me, and how hard they practiced and worked. These kids make me want to coach forever.”
Or at least four more days.