My story and Frank Becerra’s video on Somers’ win over Poughkeepsie, plus reaction from Somers coach Tony DeMatteo, Poughkeepsie coach John Castellano and Somers junior Matt Morgante:
POUGHKEEPSIE — There were no 280-pound giants patrolling Somers’ sideline, and there certainly weren’t six or seven of them. Although it’s clearly no longer 2012, the Tuskers produced a typical opening-night performance to spoil John Castellano’s Section 1 return Friday night at Poughkeepsie High School.
The defending Class A champ quieted Castellano’s new team and won easily, 27-6, behind a strong defense and a pair of touchdowns from junior Matt Morgante.
In the process, Tony DeMatteo improved to 40-4 on opening day during his coaching career at Roosevelt and Somers.
“We definitely think it’s a typical team with Coach D. Obviously, we don’t average 6-foot-4, 280 or whatever, but you’re not going to see that again,” said Morgante, one of the few returners with starting experience. “I think our line played great tonight.”
Of course, whatever adversity Somers faced was brief.
Running the wing-T offense Castellano had used to win 180 games and two state titles as coach at Nyack, Poughkeepsie chewed up the game’s first 5:20. The Pioneers led 6-0 after Cary Nicholson’s 3-yard, third-down plunge, but they allowed Morgante to escape virtually untouched and tie the score on the ensuing kickoff.
Somers added another touchdown on Tim Cousin’s 17-yard pass to fellow senior Josh Riger. Morgante and Erik Carnazza contributed rushing touchdowns in the second half to cap a night when 11 different Somers players touched the ball.
The defense surrendered 93 total yards, but just 42 after the opening drive.
Castellano coached for one year at Roosevelt on DeMatteo’s staff and was not surprised his mentor had Somers prepared.
“I have three words for you: He’s Tony DeMatteo,” Castellano said. “That’s all you need to know.”
Castellano took over the Poughkeepsie program on Aug. 5 from popular coach Ken Barger, who was suspended as part of an investigation into improper academic practices.
“I think you measure Somers on what happens next week,” said DeMatteo, whose team hosts Rye on Sept. 15. “You measure Poughkeepsie on what happens three or four weeks down the road.”