Between now and midday Friday, I’m going to take a look at each of the remaining Section 1 playoff games, complete with a breakdown from the opposing coaches.
Let’s get started with the Class A semifinals, which include three perennial playoff contenders and the darkest of darkhorses in Tappan Zee, which—get this—just played in and won its first playoff game since the inception of the state playoffs in 1993. (P.S. That is your fact of the week, courtesy of the estimable Tom Doherty.)
Class A semifinal
No. 2B Ossining (6-2) vs. No. 4B Somers (7-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Ossining High School
2013 meetings: None
Last meeting: Somers won 33-22 on Oct. 5, 2012
Key players: Ossining — Justin Davidov (5-11, 180), Sr., QB; James Johnson (5-11, 160), Sr., WR/DB; Solomon White (5-7, 160), Sr., RB/DB/KR. Somers — Tim Fazzinga(5-11, 185), Jr., FB/LB; Matt Morgante (5-10, 170), Jr., HB/DB; Connor Vlasaty (5-7, 160), Sr., RB/DB.
Outlook: Both teams rallied to squeak by in the quarterfinals, but that does not make them any less formidable. Ossining managed to surrender over 600 yards of offense and 59 points and still win thanks to its dynamic offense. Somers has better balance and will probably just try to overpower Ossining. These programs have played some playoff classics in the past. Johnson and Shea Holebrook—last week’s hero—are Davidov’s top option. Davidov leads Section 1 in yardage and touchdowns accounted for. He has thrown for 1,404 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushed for 1,008 yards and 13 scores. Somers’ offense relies primarily on the run. Although Morgante (ankle) is not at full strength, Fazzinga, Vlasaty, Erik Carnazza and QB Tim Cousin lead a deep group of ball carriers.
Next up: The winner will meet the winner of No. 1B Rye and No. 2A Tappan Zee at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Mahopac High School for the Section 1 championship.
Ossining coach Dan Ricci on Somers: “Obviously, it’s tradition, Tony DeMatteo, a good defensive, disciplined team. They have really good fundamentals and are sound. I don’t think they have the personnel they had last year, but they’re always extremely well coached. They’re in the right spots.”
“We pose some matchup problems for them with our skill guys, and they pose some matchup problems for us with their defensive schemes. They’re used to winning so they’ve been there. I have a bunch of kids who have never been to the playoffs, but I think we have a shot.”
“They’re more of a straight ahead running team and a Wing-T team, which we match up pretty well with. John Jay was more deceptive. John Jay has a really good offensive scheme. We tried some different defensive stuff, but we’re going back to basics against (Somers). We worked a lot on tackling drills. A lot of last week was broken tackles. We think we can do a better job defensively. We’re not as bad as we looked. We’re just going to have to do a better job because it’s not that easy to score against Somers.”
Somers coach Tony DeMatteo on Ossining: “They’re very explosive. They have a lot of weapons. Offensively, they’re going to be very hard to stop. They have some backs who can run. They don’t have one receiver, they have three. But the X-factor is (Davidov).”
“He’s the most dangerous when he drops to pass. When he starts running around he could take off and your never know what he’s going to do. The best thing to do with that kid is to keep him on the bench. We have to move the ball against them and try to shorten the game.”
“If we break a few runs on them, I’m going to have my backs take a knee.”
”(Davidov) is like the Johnny Manziel of Section 1. It’s almost impossible to defense him.”
“I think we can play with them. This team is an amazing team that I have this year. They’re not nearly the team we had last year, but they’re great kids and they work hard.”
Class A semifinal
No. 1B Rye (8-0) vs. No. 2A Tappan Zee (7-1)
When: Friday, 7:15 p.m.
Where: Rye High School
2013 meetings: None
Last meeting: Rye won 30-22 on Oct. 12, 2012; Rye is 11-1 all-time vs. Tappan Zee
Key players: Rye — Andrew Livingston (6-1, 170), Jr., QB; Tim DeGraw (5-10, 145), Jr., WR/DB; Shane O’Malley (5-9, 170), Sr., RB/LB. Tappan Zee — Giuseppe Maddalena (5-10, 170), Sr., QB/LB; Tommy Morales (6-0, 190), Sr., RB/LB; Paul Holder (6-1, 210), Sr., FB/DL.
Outlook: Livingston’s gaudy stats have gotten a lot of attention, but Maddalena took a back seat to no one in the quarterfinals, rushing for six touchdowns in an easy victory over Sleepy Hollow. Tappan Zee’s run-first single-wing offense should be a fascinating contrast to Rye’s pass-heavy attack. Maddalena is the top option, but the bruising Morales is a strong complement. DeGraw, Chris Santangelo and Jay Little comprise one of the section’s top receiving corps. O’Malley will need to shoulder the load at running back with leading rusher and two-way starter Conor Murphy (ankle/calf) likely out for the season.
Next up: The winner will meet the winner of No. 2B Ossining and No. 4B Somers at 7 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Mahopac High School for the Section 1 championship.
Rye coach Dino Garr on Tappan Zee: “They’re very comfortable with an offense you don’t see. I guess you can say it’s somewhat similar to the Wing-T, but it just makes you very hard. It’s like going againsts Harrison, who runs the triple (option).”
“They’re physical. They have size. They come at you and they execute well. They do a good job driving the ball. They can run the ball and they’re very happy with three or four yards.”
Tappan Zee coach Andy DiDomenico on Rye: “They’re a super balanced team. They’re fundamentally sound. They’re tough. They’re aggressive. Obviously, the quarterback is the X-factor and the receivers can make a ton of big plays. We’re just hoping to limit those opportunities.”
“We would hope (to apply pressure), but a fundamentally sound team starts on both sides of the line of scrimmage. We know they’re going to protect the kid, but hopefully we can get to him a little bit, give him some happy feet, and make some plays when the ball is in the air. I’ve seen the film and seen a lot of big plays they’ve made on the ball in the air.”