For the third straight year, fourth time in five years and sixth time since Section 1 last produced a Class A state champion in 2003, Section 9 advanced in their state regional. The winner was Cornwall, which, after its dominant 34-7 win over Somers, is now 4-0 against Section 1 since 2009.
As you’ll read below, Cornwall’s dynamic QB Mike White had plenty to do with it. A year after he torched the Somers defense for 433 yards and three touchdowns passing, he controlled the game both in the air and on the ground, piling up 273 of his 341 yards and three of his four touchdowns passing and rushing before halftime.
As we know, Section 1 has been forced to overcome several detrimental factors in pursuit of a state title. A later start date than the remainder of the state has often forced Class A schools to play their three-tiered Section 1 playoff in just 11 days, although not this year. But that schedule has left the winner at a physical and mental disadvantage entering states. The last three years, they’ve also been forced to endure power-ranked regular season schedules that have proven brutal for the top teams.
Still, on Friday night, Cornwall continued to establish itself as the top Class A school in the region and a serious roadblock for Section 1 teams’ journey to the Dome. Since Marcus Hughes was named Cornwall’s coach in 2007 at just 27, his teams have won six of the seven Section 9 championships and have a 4-2 record against Section 1 opponents.
Here’s a look at the results from Class A state quarterfinal games between Section 1 and 9 schools since Nyack won the state title in 2003:
2004: Wallkill d. Nyack, 21-18
2005: Harrison d. Cornwall, 40-7 (Harrison lost in state semifinals)
2006: Cornwall d. Harrison, 13-10
2007: Ossining d. Cornwall, 13-0 (Ossining lost in state semifinals)
2008: Nyack d. Cornwall, 24-21 (Nyack lost in state semifinals)
2009: Cornwall d. Roosevelt, 31-21
2010: Harrison d. Wallkill, 35-13 (Harrison lost in state final)
2011: Cornwall d. Poughkeepsie, 44-19
2012: Cornwall d. Somers, 34-13
2013: Cornwall d. Somers, 34-7
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KINGSTON — Somers had nearly twice as long to design and study how it would defend Cornwall in Friday night’s Class A state quarterfinal. But short rest or not, the Tuskers’ problem remained the same as it was a year ago: Mike White.
The elusive Cornwall quarterback added more footage to his extensive highlight reel. The senior sliced Somers’ defense for four touchdowns and his Green Dragons beat the Section 1 champ again, 34-7 at Dietz Stadium.
Cornwall (10-1) advanced to play the winner of Queensbury (Section 2) and Massena (Section 10) on Friday, Nov. 22, at 8 p.m. at Dietz in next week’s state semifinals.
“It was frustrating,” Somers quarterback Tim Cousin said. “He’s a good player. He’s not going to Marist because he’s bad. He was making plays. We were just having a hard time containing him and he made a lot of plays downfield.”
White, who recently committed to Marist, threw for 212 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 129 yards and three more scores. His night included several unorthodox passes where he turned from quarterback into an escape artist.
On one 14-yard scoring toss in the second quarter, White ran left, spun away from the defense, avoided more tacklers as he sprinted across the field and then fired back to Chris Bauer in the left side of the end zone. It was one of three receptions for 87 yards for Bauer, the team’s leading receiver, who returned Friday from a punctured lung.
The dazzling display drove the Section 9 champ to an early 20-0 lead. Somers cut into that late in the first half on a 17-yard touchdown by junior Matt Morgante. Down 20-7, the Tuskers (9-2) quickly moved into Cornwall territory to open the third quarter on a 51-yard run by junior Joe Spor. But the drive eventually stalled on downs.
White answered with a nine-play, 76-yard march that was capped by a 37-yard keeper — a run good for a 27-7 lead.
”We saw last year how good he could be. We knew coming in he was a returning senior so we figured he was going to be even better,” Somers senior Matt Arita said. “We had a good game plan, but we didn’t execute. He’s a shifty kid. He’s underrated as a runner. We just missed a lot of tackles.”
Playing on three days’ rest, Somers lost 34-13 to Cornwall at Mahopac High School in last year’s state quarterfinals, a game that saw White throw for 433 yards. The Tuskers had nearly twice as long to prepare for the rematch, but little had changed.
“We kind of knew what was going to happen, but there was no answer to it,” Somers coach Tony DeMatteo said.