Tuskers Make Quick Work of Pioneers

Tusker Rob Fazzinga rushes for a touchdown. Credits: Skip Pearlman

SOMERS, N.Y.— The Somers High School football team opened its season Friday, Sept. 1, at home looking every bit the state champion it is.

The Tuskers fired on all cylinders on offense and defense in a 48-12 laugher against Poughkeepsie.

It didn’t hurt that the visiting Pioneers, as Tuskers coach Tony DeMatteo said best, weren’t quite ready to face the state champs.

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That was putting it mildly.

“We had a pretty good preseason, and they didn’t get their coach until June, so I think they did a good job for the situation they’re in,” DeMatteo said. “Not really a good opener for us, but I am happy with the way we performed.”

Somers lost a pair of top stars in Matt Pires and Messiah Horne (55 touchdowns and 3,700-plus yards combined). But this returning team is talented and deep, and wasted no time proving it.

The Tuskers dropped 35 points on the Pioneers just nine minutes into the game, getting the starters some rest and the backups some early work.

Meanwhile the defense forced five turnovers. Ryan Elliott led the way with three, returning two for touchdowns with his final score making it 35-0 with 2:53 left in the opening quarter.

“The ball was thrown to my area, and the guys set up the blocks for me,” Elliott said. “We have nine returning starters on defense and we’re coming out just as we did last year. Defense is a real strong point, and we feel like we’re ready to prove that.”

Quarterback and team captain Kevin Olifiers threw two touchdown passes to Jack Gilroy in the first quarter, and Cameron Pepe scored on a 9-yard run. Rob Fazzinga had a touchdown run in the third quarter, and Nick Maestri added a scoring run to make it a 48-0 game, before Poughkeepsie scored two meaningless touchdowns in the fourth.

“We came out firing—on the defensive side especially,” Olifiers said. “We sustained drives, and drove it down the field when we had to.”

Gilroy, another captain, agreed. 

“I thought we came out looking like the veteran group that we are,” Gilroy said. “We had our foot on the pedal until we took out the starters, so I thought we did a pretty good job executing.

As far as long-term goals, the bar has been set high.

“I think everyone on this team has one common goal, and that’s a New York State championship,” Gilroy said.

Olifiers was asked if the team took in the moment of enjoying opening night as the defending state champs.

“We took in the moment, and now we want to kind of get that moment off of us,” he said. “This is a new team, a lot of new players, and we want to create our own identity, so the past is the past. We’re looking to move forward and make our own magic happen. This team can accomplish anything it wants to—especially with the man at the helm, coach D. The greatest coach in the country. So anything he says, we can do.”

To no one’s surprise, DeMatteo says the team needs to continue to improve to get where it wants to be.

“Our quarterback, Kevin Olifiers, had a really good night, and everyone stepped up,” DeMatteo said of the opener. “Defensively we also played well. But they’re not Rye. So we’ve got our work cut out for us. I just think we need to play better.”

Somers is scheduled to visit Rye Friday, Sept. 8, at 7 p.m. The Garnets beat up on Byram Hills in their opener, 34-12.

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