SHRUB OAK, N.Y.— Lakeland’s football squad opened up with quite the challenge when it hosted Somers, one of the top contenders for the Section 1 Class A crown, in its opener on Sept. 2.
The Hornets laid it all on the line but the visiting Tuskers were as advertised and defeated Lakeland 41-12.
“That is a very good football team, they’re awesome,” Lakeland coach Rob Cappelli said of Somers. “They are very big and physical. Our kids played hard. We only played a few seniors. A lot of our guys played varsity football for the first time, so I was pleased about that. The boys worked hard.”
Unfortunately for Lakeland, hard work isn’t enough when you are playing someone that’s hard to catch.
“They are very fast,” Cappelli said. “It’s hard to simulate their scheme in practice, it’s impossible. So when you get out there, you have to figure some things out. Overall, we had some nice drives. The hardest thing was getting them off the field. They converted on third and long and fourth and long situations and that really hurt us in the first half and we couldn’t get them off the field. We weren’t able to move the chains enough.”
Somers’ star running back Messiah Horne showed off his blazing speed with a 25-yard touchdown run 15 seconds into the second quarter that put Somers up 21-0.
Lakeland got on the board when it capitalized off a Somers fumble, scoring one play later on a 50-yard touchdown strike from Dylan Semenza to Patrick Morelli, who was streaking down the sideline, making the score 21-6 with 3:24 left in the opening half.
Semenza was 7 of 12 passing for 83 yards while rushing for 17 yards on four carries.
Lakeland got the last score of the game by either team when Louis Costanzo ran 60 yards for a touchdown down the sideline with 6:29 left in the fourth quarter.
“I feel great for him,” Morelli said. “Louis is a great kid, he works hard every single day. He’s one of the hardest working players I have seen.”
Cappelli also said it was nice to see Costanzo score. He ran for 85 yards on six carries.
“Pat Morelli had a great game offensively,” Cappelli said. “I thought Sean Makar ran very hard, Dylan Semenza did some nice things. Our offensive and defensive lines, I was proud of them, they fought. They were outmanned and I thought overall, Ray Stretz, Austin Cassese and Lochlann Tompkins sat in there and did a really great job on the interior for us.”
Makar ran 10 times for 23 yards and registered three catches for 11 yards with teammate Michael Capozzi registering 24 yards on five carries.
Brian Farole and Justin Rivera made six tackles apiece and both recovered a fumble for Lakeland. Taylor Berta also recorded six tackles while Cassese registered four tackles for the Hornets.
Lakeland hosts Tappan Zee at 7 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 9, in its pink game.
“That was probably our toughest opponent we are going to face all year,” Morelli said of Somers. “We obviously have a lot to improve on. We are going to get better. We are going to keep fighting. I don’t think this changes anything. We still expect to go to the playoffs. We are going to fight every single week.”