In the wake of Thursday’s column on why I think there’s a need for a developmental league — or its Piner-created brother, as outlined by “Dm50” — Tappan Zee’s history is instructive.
There was a point a decade ago where TZ found itself at the depths of Section 1 football. There was the low point, in 2003, when the program folded midseason. The Dutchmen returned in 2004, dropping into Class C and giving up its eligibility for postseason play. They went 1-15 those two years and were not wanted again in 2006 (understandably so) when Section 1 had an even number of Class C/D teams.
Tappan Zee then spent the next two years competing as nomads against an independent schedule that included a few Section 1 opponents and other unattached schools. After some success there, the Dutchmen returned to Class A, but found the program reeling again after going 4-13 over a two-year span. AD Liam Frawley was integral that offseason in creating a developmental league for 2010. The alternative to Section 1’s championship play meant no postseason play or postseason honors, but it was popular nonetheless. TZ had the league’s best team and has not stopped winning since. It rejoined Class A in 2011 and has gone 18-7 since, including 7-1 this season.
The Dutchmen now find themselves in the Class A semifinals against undefeated Rye, a program they couldn’t have any less in common with historically. Consider that since the state playoffs were instituted in 1993, Rye has won seven Section 1 championships, reached six state finals and won three state titles. In that same time span, Tappan Zee has played in exactly one sectional playoff game — last week’s 50-14 win over Sleepy Hollow.
When I asked him this week how the football program moved from Point Z to Point A — or close to it — the normally loquacious Frawley offered an atypically short response: “The answers are all Andy,” he said. Andy DiDomenico, a 1992 TZ graduate, was named the head coach in 2006, becoming the fifth coach in five years. But he has established stability ever since.