When I spoke to him Tuesday night, Ron Stover said Tuckahoe is the standard by which his Chester program measures itself. It’s no secret why.
In seven previous trips to the state playoffs, Chester only advanced once — in 2011, a year it beat Haldane thanks in large part to 3,000-yard back Saxon Smith. Chester reached the state final, but, as luck would have it, that path never went through Tuckahoe.
The other six trips did, and they were…not kind, to put it bluntly. In fact, Tuckahoe is 6-0 against the Hambletonians. The Tigers have three shutouts in those games and have outscored Chester 233-44, an average of 38.9-7.3.
In this week’s rematch, Tuckahoe will try to add to this lopsided list:
Tuckahoe vs. Chester, Class D state quarterfinals
2003: Tuckahoe, 48-6
2004: Tuckahoe, 14-0
2006: Tuckahoe, 47-0
2008: Tuckahoe, 47-20
2010: Tuckahoe, 43-0
2012: Tuckahoe, 34-18
Class D state quarterfinal
Tuckahoe (5-4) vs. Section 9’s Chester (8-1)
When: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
Where: Mahopac High School
Key players: Tuckahoe — Mike Arborn (5-11, 210), Sr., OL/DL; Michael Castracucco (6-1, 175), Sr., QB/LB; Enoch Penney-Layrea (6-0, 200), Jr., RB/DE. Chester — Lawrence Young (5-8, 155), Sr., RB; Matthew Perry (6-0, 205), Sr., RB; Angel Suarez (5-8, 160), Jr., WR/RB/CB.
Outlook: Chester is in its eighth state quarterfinal in the last 11 years. It’s only win came against Haldane in 2011. The Hambletonians are otherwise 0-6, all against Tuckahoe. Ron Stover, the former Sleepy Hollow head coach, brings his team into the game having won eight straight after its season-opening, 33-28 loss to then two-time defending Class C champ O’Neill. The offense is run-first, but the distribution is balanced. Young leads the team with 1,014 yards and 16 touchdowns while Perry has contributed 715 yards and 13 scores on the ground. Tuckahoe has struck a balance between the power running of Penney-Layrea and the speed of halfbacks Anthony Castracucco and Daryl Taylor. Of course, Michael Castracucco (pictured lower right) threw three touchdowns last week alone. The Tigers, last year’s state runner-up, could face one of their stiffest tests against Chester, which actually beat Section 9 Class C champ Burke Catholic 34-8.
Next up: The winner will meet the winner of Section 2’s Cambridge and Section 7’s Moriah on Friday, Nov. 22, at 4 p.m. at Dietz Stadium in the state semifinals.
Tuckahoe coach John D’Arco: “He’s got a decent team this year. I think they’re pretty decent. Physically, we’re pretty physical. Going the wars against the Rye Necks and the Bronxvilles, we held our own. But Chester has some good skill people.”
“He knows he’s not going to be able to pound the ball on us the whole game. I think he’s going to try to throw the ball. They have a decent passing attack. We’ve put in some different coverages to help with that. We think they’re going to attack us on the perimeter.”
“I don’t think they’re as big as we are and I don’t think they’re as physical. I wouldn’t call them physical, but I think they have a good offense. They put points on the board. I think they average 35 or 40 points a game. Right away, you’re going to say, ‘Oh my God.'”
“We’ve played them a lot. Usually, they’ll hang with us for a quarter or two. In the past, and hopefully history repeats itself, physically they have more trouble hanging with us for four quarters.”
Chester coach Ron Stover: “Tuckahoe is the team that we actually measure ourselves by. Their the standard we measure ourselves by. John does a great job with them year in and year out. They’re really well-coached. They are solid from top to bottom.”
“They’re very athletic. Their kids are taught well. That’s the thing about them. Every year they have the same exact formula: They’re very physical, they’re very athletic and they’re very sound.”
“We have a very explosive team. We average about 50 points a game. Our offensive and defensive lines have been very good this year. I think we’re a bit more balanced this year than other years. We had a great back (Saxon Smith) in 2011 who ran for over 3,000 yards, but I think we’re a bit more balanced this year.”
“Like most small schools, we have to play the hand we’re given. We run first, but we have a good quarterback. He’s pretty good, too. We can throw, but that’s not our game really.”