SOMERS, N.Y. – With Charlie Balancia and Nick Rossi returning from injuries, Somers is getting healthy at the right time.
Both contributed in their returns and the Tuskers defeated host Fox Lane 28-7 on Oct. 4 to improve to 4-1.
Balancia, who rushed for 108 yards on 10 carries, suffered an MCL injury in a Week 2 loss to rival Yorktown.
“It felt amazing to finally be back from injury,” said Balancia, a senior captain. “Standing on the sideline watching is very hard to do.”
Their teammates were happy to have them back.
“It’s huge,” Somers’ Kenny McGrane said when asked about the return of Balancia and Rossi. “They’re obviously incredible players and what they can do on the field is unmatched.”
The Tuskers put the Foxes in a quick hole just 26 seconds into the game when Jackson Kossow hit McGrane on a 73-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage. Fox Lane bit on the play-action fake, leaving McGrane wide open as he jetted down the sideline and dove for the pylon. Somers missed the extra point and led 6-0.
“We’ve been running the ball very well, so we faked the run and I was wide open,” said McGrane, a senior captain.
Fox Lane responded when Spencer Rowley found Luca Friedman on a 25-yard touchdown pass over the middle on fourth down. Rowley’s extra point gave the Foxes a 7-6 lead with 27 seconds left in the first quarter.
Somers had the answer when Balancia weaved in and out of Fox Lane defenders to get the Tuskers in business on a 37-yard run down to the 18. Jack Kaiser, who rushed for 79 yards on 14 carries, went up the middle on a 10-yard touchdown run. Kossow found Rossi on a two-point conversion pass to put Somers up 14-7 with 3:34 left in the first half.
“We knew that we weren’t playing well,” McGrane said of the first half. “But if we just did what we were told to do and followed our assignments, we knew we had the personnel to beat them.”
Somers had a Balancia touchdown run called back on a hold before halftime.
“I think we’re making too many basic mistakes,” Somers coach Tony DeMatteo said. “This is the second week in a row that we got a holding penalty in the red zone. If we’re up 21-7 at halftime it’s a different ballgame. But because we got that called back, now it’s 14-7. I think we’re just not playing smart football right now.”
Fox Lane opened the second half with a big kickoff return and moved down to the Somers 21 but two straight incomplete passes resulted in a turnover on downs.
The rest of the second half was a struggle for the Foxes on offense. Fox Lane star running back Michael Washington couldn’t get much going against a swarming Tusker defense.
“Our coaches do a great job game planning,” McGrane said. “They watch hours and hours of film. They know what we had to do to stop them and we did it.”
Somers added to their lead when Kossow found McGrane again on a 10-yard touchdown pass in the left corner of the end zone late in the third quarter. The Tuskers led 20-7 after three.
“We have enough skill where we can open it up,” DeMatteo said. “I was very happy with the passing game. We’re going to throw even more.”
Kossow capped off the scoring for Somers with a 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.
Dominic Cheek and Charlie Grinrod each made nine tackles to lead the defense. Cheek added a sack.
Somers faces a big test against 5-0 Nyack for its homecoming game at 7 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 11.
“Our homecoming game against Nyack is extremely important to us for playoff seeding purposes,” Balancia said. “We want to play as many home playoff games as possible and the only thing standing in our way of that right now is Nyack. We have to want it more than them during the entire week of practice.”