Friday’s games —
Somers 27, Poughkeepsie 6
Tappan Zee 28, Eastchester 27
Arlington 14, Ramapo 6
Our Lady of Lourdes 34, Putnam Valley 28
Newburgh 46, Iona Prep 21
Game recaps —
Somers 27, Poughkeepsie 6: At Poughkeepsie, junior Matt Morgante returned a kickoff 84 yards for a score and rushed for 71 yards and another score. The defending Class A champ allowed Poughkeepsie to march 51 yards on 11 plays to open the game, but allowed just 32 yards of offense from then on.
Tim Cousin threw a 17-yard TD to Josh Riger to give Somers a 13-6 lead in the first quarter. Morgante and Erik Carnazza added rushing TDs in the second half. They were two of 11 Somers players to touch the ball on offense.
“A lot of guys didn’t play but were on the team but saw the success we had,” said Morgante, one of few returning starters. “We enjoyed it so much and wanted to get back. We were working our butts off during the offseason. We knew it was a big game. We have great coaches. They prepared us hard for this game. We came out hard and it was a great result.”
Somers coach Tony DeMatteo improved to 40-4 in 44 games on opening day. He credited Morgante’s kickoff return for sparking the Tuskers. It came on the kickoff immediately following Poughkeepsie’s opening TD, a three-yard run by Cary Nicholson.
“I think that it was critical that kickoff return,” DeMatteo said. “Things weren’t going our way. They drove right down the field. To respond that way was very important for this new team.”
Somers spoiled the Section 1 return of John Castellano, a two-time state champ at Nyack who returned as a head coach after two years coaching the defensive line at national power Don Bosco Prep. Castellano was only hired on Aug. 5. He installed the Wing-T offense in a short amount of time in the wake of a tumultuous summer for the Pioneers, who, to make matters worse, graduated 20 of 22 starters and lost sophomore star Devonte Hamilton to prep school.
Both Cousin and Poughkeepsie QB Markel Green left the game with cramps. Cousin did not return and Green left after returning for one series, but both coaches said their QBs were fine.
(I’ll have video later on DeMatteo and Castellano, as well as more from Morgante.)
Our Lady of Lourdes 34, Putnam Valley 28: At Our Lady of Lourdes in Poughkeepsie, Dean Rotiger threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns, according to MSG Varsity. The sophomore quarterback helped the Warriors build a 20-0 lead until Putnam Valley’s Jelani Bell-Isaac caught a 62-yard touchdown pass from Zack Nolan.
The Tigers rallied to tie the game 20-20 and later pulled within 28-26. Alex Bronzo rushed for touchdowns of 30 and 46 yards and Ryan Mello had an interception and recovered a fumble.
Arlington 14, Ramapo 6: At Arlington, the Admirals went ahead 14-0 in the first quarter of Duff Pannell’s debut as the new head coach at Ramapo. The Gryphons sliced the deficit to 14-6 on strong running by Rojay McDonald and a touchdown pass from Ahkim Santana to James Desroches. Their defense held Arlington scoreless over the last three quarters.
Tappan Zee 28, Eastchester 27: At Eastchester, Giuseppe Maddelena rushed for a five-yard touchdown — his second TD of the game — with 3:53 remaining to help put Tappan Zee ahead 28-27. Maddelena rushed for 77 yards and completed three passes for 63 yards and another touchdown.
Ryan McWilliams sealed the win with an interception at the goal line with 28.9 left in the game. Maddelena and Tommy Morales also made key stops to keep Eastchester from taking the lead.
“Those guys are the heart and soul of our team. Giuseppe’s a three-year varsity player. Tommy’s one of those kids who sprouted up between his sophomore and junior years,” TZ coach Andy DiDomenico said. “I think we’ve had some pretty good linebackers in my eight years, and the coaching staff argues, but I think he’s right up there as one of the best.”
It was Tappan Zee’s first game since the graduation of last year’s Rockland player of the year, Joe Letizia.
“Joe was great, yeah, but it doesn’t take one man to play football, man,” Maddelena said. “There’s 11 men on the field. You’ve got to do everything on the field together. It takes one 11 for us to win.”
The Dutchmen said they were motivated by the suggestion that they would miss Letizia, the county’s all-time leading rusher.
“We’d all be liars if we didn’t say we read the blogs and the papers,” DiDomenico said. “I think the reports of our demise are a little premature. They wanted to send a message that Tappan Zee is still here.”
Senior Anthony Gallucci rushed for over 137 yards and a touchdown and went 10 for 15 for 104 yards passing with a TD and an INT (on the game’s final play). He intercepted a pass and returned it 34 yards to set up a controversial play just before halftime. Gallucci’s pass into the end zone ended in a jump ball between Eastchester teammate Andrew Schultz and Tappan Zee’s Mike Mante. It was initially ruled an interception, but officials overturned the call to give Eastchester a 19-14 halftime lead.
The Eagles committed several key mistakes, including a lost fumble on their first touch of the game.
“We gave them a short field twice, for two of their touchdowns. Two blown coverages. I don’t blame anybody but ourselves,” Eastchester coach Fred DiCarlo said. “Give Tappan Zee credit. They played hard for 48 minutes, but I give total blame for ourselves. Not disciplined enough. I’ll take the blame as coach.”