If Somers thought last week’s preparation was a headache, it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier. In fact, getting ready for Cornwall might prove even more challenging than game-planning for Rye.
The Tuskers second straight Section 1 title has produced a rematch with the Green Dragons and their explosive offense led by Mike White, who recently committed to Marist. The dual-threat quarterback torched an undefeated Somers team last year, but the game was played on a somewhat uneven playing field. (Figuratively speaking, of course.) The Tuskers had all of three days between their Section 1 final against Sleepy Hollow and the state playoffs. They’ll have nearly twice as much time this year, but will it matter?
Cornwall has beat the Section 1 champ in its last three state playoff appearances (2009, 2011-12).
Class A state quarterfinal
Somers (9-1) vs. Section 9’s Cornwall (9-1)
When: Friday, 7 p.m.
Where: Dietz Stadium, Kingston
Key players: Somers — Tim Fazzinga (5-11, 185), Jr., FB/LB; Tim Cousin (5-10, 175), Sr., QB; Matt Morgante (5-10, 170), Jr., RB/DB. Cornwall — Mike White (6-0, 180), Sr., QB; Chris Bauer (6-2, 185), Sr., WR; Brandon Lupo (6-5, 290), Sr., T/DT.
Outlook: A week after Somers beat one of Section 1’s most explosive teams in Rye, it will have to face a similar opponent in Cornwall. This is a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinal, a game won 34-13 by Cornwall. Somers played that game on just three days’ rest after Hurricane Sandy caused havoc on Section 1’s playoff schedule. The Tuskers won’t have to face that obstacle again, but they can’t avoid the other obstacle that cost them last year’s game: Mike White. The Marist commit is back at QB and has passed for 2,190 yards and 23 touchdowns while rushing for another nine. White’s top target, Bauer, who was feared lost for the season, will make a surprise return this week. He suffered a punctured lung after catching a Section 9 record five touchdowns vs. Saugerties on Oct. 19. Still Somers’ secondary is a strength. Matt Arita and Tyler DeVito (pictured lower right) have combined for six interceptions the last two weeks.
Next up: The winner will meet the winner of Section 2’s Queensbury and Section 10’s Massena on Friday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. at Dietz Stadium in the state semifinals.
Somers coach Tony DeMatteo: “The kid that makes them go is White. He is a major, major problem. The biggest problem is when you defense what they’re doing, he pulls the ball down. You don’t know what he’s going to do.”
“They have a pretty quick kid at running back, No. 21 (Kevin Gangemi). He is pretty good. They’re a good team. And they’re running the ball more than you think.”
“They have some size. We were better last year, but so were they. They’re still an excellent team.”
On White: “This kid runs as well or better than the kid from Ossining (Justin Davidov). And he throws as well or better than (Rye’s Andrew) Livingston. So he kind of has the whole package. In that category, we’re going up a level.”
“As we’re getting ready for all the things that they do and we’re scrambling for time, I realized that last year was impossible. I’m not saying that’s the reason we lost. I’m not saying that and I never will. But last year we had no chance. This time, at least we’re going into the game and we’re prepared.”
“What we’re able to to do is practice it more. We are doing a little bit more this year than last year because we were a lot better last year. The reason we’ve had so much success is because the kids listen, they work hard and they’re executing the game plan.”
Cornwall coach Marcus Hughes: “I’ve met coach DeMatteo a couple times. He’s an excellent coach. He’s an icon in Section 1. Any time you know you play him, it’s going to be a battle. When I look at coaches from here to Westchester, he’s one of the best.”
“I know they don’t have some of the big boys they had last year, but Somers is big, physical, tough. We only have three seniors who start on offense. The rest all juniors. We have four seniors who start on defense and three of them didn’t start last year.”
“We’re both two very, very different teams, but last year was last year. This year was this year. I think we’re both two excellent teams.”
“Our offense is a little faster than it was in the past.”
“Our biggest question is can we match up physically against Somers. If we do that, I think we have a good chance to win.”
“Somers did a great job of mixing pressure with coverages (against Rye). We expect the same. Last time when we played them, they had a short week to prepare. Giving them that extra couple of days this time will help them.”