My story on Somers, which won the Class A championship again, this time getting the same result on championship weekend at Mahopac with a whole new set of faces:
MAHOPAC — When it faced a must-stop fourth-and-goal at the 5, the Somers defense looked nothing like a year ago. The jerseys were about all that connected the two teams.
These Tuskers had just three starters back in their return to the sectional final. But when it needed a goal-line stand in the fourth quarter against perhaps the section’s highest-powered offense, all those new Somers names proved they were worth remembering, too.
The Tuskers stuffed Rye inside the 1 to preserve a one-touchdown lead with less than four minutes to play. They went on to beat the previously undefeated Garnets 20-7 to claim their second straight Class A championship.
“Since preseason, these kids have been told they weren’t even going to be .500. They weren’t even going to make the playoffs,” said Somers coach Tony DeMatteo, who won the section for the third time in 14 seasons at the school. “There’s no credit to me, my coaches, the town — nobody. This championship belongs to those 44 kids and what they decided to do.”
On the pivotal stop, Rye ran a reverse with junior Tim DeGraw. He carried the ball to the 1 where he was rocked by junior Tim Fazzinga and senior Johnny Chrysogelos. The hit forced a fumble recovered in the end zone for a touchback by Chrysogelos.
“That’s really been the focal point of our season — our defense,” said senior quarterback Tim Cousin, whose team won its eighth straight since a 20-13 home loss to Rye on Sept. 15. “We pride ourselves on that. We have athletes that are going to make big plays when it counts.”
Cousin broke open a scoreless tie in the third quarter when he eluded a near sack and hit Josh Riger for a 60-yard touchdown.
Cousin threw for 62 yards and the score and rushed for another 74 on eight carries. His counterpart, Rye’s Andrew Livingston, who led Section 1 in passing yards and touchdowns, went 10 for 20 for 178 yards, a touchdown and an interception, but he was under duress early and often.
“In Section 1, as far as I’m concerned, there’s a new sheriff in town,” DeMatteo said in reference to his quarterback. “He proved it the last two weeks.”
Somers recorded three sacks of Livingston in the first half, two of them by Erik Carnazza. Rye’s Shane O’Malley had success on the ground, rushing for 176 yards on 36 carries, including 23 in the first half.
Before Livingston heated up, Somers grabbed a 14-0 lead on Marc Fiocco’s 25-yard touchdown on the final play of the third quarter. Rye responded with a three-play, 92-yard strike, but Somers stopped the Garnets when it counted late.
“It’s awesome,” Carnazza said. “We proved everybody wrong and did it again.”
(EDITED, 11/11, 4:02 p.m.: The second paragraph was edited. I incorrectly referenced Somers as having played last year’s championship game at Mahopac high School.)
• Here’s Frank Becerra’s video from the game: