LINCOLNDALE, N.Y. — Somers varsity football coach Tony DeMatteo has been hosting preseason camps for years, but this season’s summer training at the high school was different.
Neighboring Mahopac’s varsity team as well as powerhouse New Rochelle were invited to practice on Monday through Thursday afternoon for the Tuskers’ Block and Tackle Camp.
“With the concussion issue and all the problems with football, we teach these kids not to use their head and use all the techniques with the shoulder,” DeMatteo said. “The one sport where the right things have to be taught is football, so the more they practice, the better off they are.”
Dominick DeMatteo, Tony’s son, is Mahopac’s new varsity football coach and knows how much it aids his Indians to compete with the defending Class A state champions in Somers and the defending AA section champions in New Rochelle.
“It helps us on so many different levels I don’t even know if I can put it into words,” Dominick said. “It’s one thing to say you strive to be the best, it’s another to put yourself in a situation where you’re working towards it.”
The interactive camp ran segments in which each of the three teams practiced blocking and tackling technique separately before combo periods. These activities pitted two squads against each other via inside-run plays, seven-on-seven drills and one-on-one work in the secondary.
At the end of each afternoon, there was an 11-on-11 scrimmage between the rotating teams.
“One of the things that’s tremendous is the collaboration amongst the staffs,” Dominick DeMatteo said. “With the leadership of my dad, Louie DiRienzo (New Rochelle head coach), and myself, all of our assistants are working together and we’ve created a great atmosphere for these kids.”
The new-look Indians, who plan to right the ship after a down season, are nothing but smiles after a rigorous four days of competition.
“We’re very optimistic about the upcoming season because we have strong numbers on the varsity,” Dominick DeMatteo said. “But to try and assess where we are now would be very premature. Right now I’m very impressed with our vibe. We’re a very positive, upbeat and intelligent group. The kids are just soaking everything up so I’m having a blast and the future looks bright.”
Returning senior quarterback Ryan Dugan reflected on the team’s camp and how this year’s team is growing this summer.
“We competed,” Dugan said. “We had some guys coming in for the first time trying to learn and we had a lot of stuff thrown at us. We did well with the offense in a short amount of time, and everyone adjusted well. We definitely got a lot better going here. It was a lot of fun.”
Mahopac will continue practicing through the preseason before an August team scrimmage. The new season should bring more change to a developing offense that now has more seniors.
“I’m going to be more involved with my preparation this year,” Dugan said. “(Mark) Langella did a great job but there is nothing you can do. We got a great coach (DeMatteo) and he’s got us going this early. Last year a lot of juniors were playing, so now they’re seniors and we got a lot of experience under our belt.”