SOMERS, N.Y. — Roman Catalino’s phone has been ringing off the hook.
Somers’ athletic director hasn’t had many free moments after the year the Tuskers had in sports. Countless parents have been calling him about signing up for the athletic teams for the upcoming school year.
“Our kids want to be involved,” Catalino said. “I think [the success] does push them to want to be a part of a special situation.”
Winning is contagious and the Tuskers did a lot of it during the 2016-2017 scholastic year. That success earned them the honor of being named the top boys sports program in all classifications in New York State by capturing the Kerr Cup All-Sport Championship from the New York State Sports Writers Association. They were also selected as the top program in Class A.
It has been a team effort to achieve the success that Somers has attained, according to varsity football coach Tony DeMatteo.
“We’re all trying to help each other out and supporting each other,” DeMatteo said. “I really think that is the biggest reason that this has happened. There’s no jealousy and no, ‘We want our team to win and not yours.’ We want all the teams to win and we all bought into that.”
Somers also finished fifth in the overall standings, which includes both boys and girls sports, with 45 points. Shenendehowa of Section 2 was the overall champion. Each athletic team that advances to the state tournament earns points for a school and the further you advance, the more points you earn.
It was a great time to be a Tusker during the fall of 2016. Somers claimed state championships in football and boys soccer, and also garnered Section 1 titles in those sports along with a Section 1 crown in cross country.
“It’s a pretty big honor,” Catalino said. “To win two state championships in the fall with two different groups of kids says a lot.”
It was an eventful fall season for the Tuskers, but Catalino and Somers didn’t mind as their trophy case piled up the hardware.
“It was a lot of fun—it was busy,” Catalino said. “We finished up the boys soccer two weeks prior to football. We were kind of making celebrations for a long time into December.”
The legendary DeMatteo guided the Tusker gridiron gang to their first state title in program history. They defeated Greece Athena 25-17 in the Class A state final at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
“From a coach’s point of view, the philosophy of sports in this building has drastically changed since I first came here,” said DeMatteo, who took over the football program back in 2000 after coaching at Roosevelt in Yonkers for a number of years.
It was also a first stste title for the boys soccer team in coach Brian Lanzetta’s first season as a varsity coach. The Tuskers topped Grand Island 2-1 in the second overtime to make history.
“Somers is No. 1 in male athletes,” Lanzetta said. “I think a lot of it has to do with the youth programs coach Tony DeMatteo runs. And the FC Somers Club soccer program. It’s been many years that Coach D is running year-round football and FC Somers year-round soccer. Now it’s showing.”
There is a strong bond between the teams at Somers and they all support each other.
“The football and Somers soccer relationship is like no other,” Lanzetta said. “We had football boys supporting our game last night and it’s only summer league. That right there shows the relationship between the boys.”
Catalino said that all of the coaches have a close relationship at Somers.
“It’s not like they can get to each other’s games a lot of times, but it’s passing in the hallway, stopping in the office and just playing off one another to help each other has been big,” Catalino said.
Tusker Nation, the Somers student body fanbase, is regularly seen attending many of the athletic contests.
“The boys support the girls, the girls support the boys,” DeMatteo said. “[Tusker Nation] goes to all the different sports. The support is always there. Lanzetta was my son Albert’s best friend in this building. They used to hang out in my basement. I spoke at the sectional championship game for him and I spoke for the girls (basketball) team before they went up to the final four.”
The boys cross country team, which is coached by Mike Lacko, edged out Pearl River for the Class B section crown. The team was comprised of Mark Worsley, Michael Panzarino, Thomas Hannon, Nico Papalia, Nico Ferro, Matt Fusco and Greg Fusco.
Rising junior Nathan Han won a state golf title as a sophomore in the spring to add to the accomplishments. Somers also sent four atheletes to the state track championships in Matt Fusco, Greg Fusco, Panzarino and Numan Maloney. All four competitors finished in the top six to earn all-state honors.
Greg Fusco (1,600 meters) and Maloney (high jump) reached the state championships in winter track.
The girls teams contributed to the overall fifth-place finish. Somers won its first Section 1 title in girls basketball under new coach Marc Hattem and advanced all the way to the Class A state final four.
In winter track, Katie Melly qualified for states in the pole vault.
After a dominant athletic campaign this past school year, the Tuskers aren’t looking to rest on their laurels.
“Last year was amazing but we as a team are past that,” Lanzetta said of his squad, which just won a summer league title over the weekend. “We want to continue our business and win again. These boys, just like the football boys, put the work in year round. It’s business here at Somers with a lot of fun as well.”