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Tuskers wear down Sailors

Posted Friday, September 17, 2010 by Robert Lombardo

FOOTBALL — Locked in a 7-7 tie at halftime, Somers and Hendrick Hudson appeared to be somewhat evenly matched.

But Somers outscored visiting Hen Hud 28-0 in the second half to pull out a 35-7 victory Sept. 11 in its season opener.

One look down the tiny Sailors roster and the count only reaches 23 players. But on the Somers roster, when you reach the 23rd player, counting starts to become tiresome. Simply put: the Tuskers overwhelmed the Sailors in the second half with sheer numbers.

Somers senior quarterback Anthony Lombardo said it came down to conditioning.

"[Hen Hud] was dead tired (in the second half)," Lombardo said. "They have 23 people, we have over 50. It's our numbers and how we train in the off-season."

Most of Hen Hud's players go both ways, and many of them cramped up in the second half, according to Head Coach Paul Natale.

"I think we just wore down," Natale said of the second half. "But I like the effort the kids gave. They gave everything they have."

It was a struggle, offensively, in the first half for Somers, which had multiple chances inside the Sailors' 30. The Tuskers fumbled three times and committed some costly penalties. But despite the miscues, Head Coach Tony DeMatteo felt they were still in control of the game.

"I just told the kids [at halftime] that they can't play like this and win games," DeMatteo said. "Then we came out in the second half, settled down and got things going."

Lombardo admitted the team had some nerves in the first half.

"We just needed that fire," he said. "Once we got into halftime, we just talked it up and we were ready to go."

Four minutes into the third quarter, Lombardo found senior tight end Thomas Campbell on an 8-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7. Lombardo said he was about to put his head down and run, but saw Campbell pop up at the last second. Senior fullback D.J. Giuntini got the Tuskers into the red zone with a 40-yard run.

Lombardo believes Giuntini's (nine carries, 73 yards) run turned the tide and the offense was in sync from that point.

"That's when we started picking it up," Lombardo said. "That's what we needed for the team to get fired up."

Four minutes later, Lombardo stretched the lead to 21-7 on a 16-yard keeper.

Somers senior lineman Colby Tragni knew they didn't play up to snuff in the first half.

"We didn't really play like we wanted to play in the first half," Tragni said. "We've got to come out and punch it down their throats (in the second half). We've got to play tough defense."

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Tragni intercepted a screen pass and took it 55 yards to the house. Jordan Devito and Campbell put pressure on the quarterback and forced him into an errant pass.

At first, Tragni hesitated after making the interception but senior center/defensive tackle Michael Cleary woke him up when he barked, "Let's go!"

"Then I just ran as hard as I could," Tragni said.

"That put the game away," DeMatteo said of the interception.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Sailors got on the board first in the second after senior A.J. Small broke an 89-yard touchdown run off tackle.

"A.J. played tremendous for us," Natale said of Small, who also had 10 tackles. "It's the first year he's playing running back and he's doing a great job. He's a great blocker, too. He was a guard last year."

The Tuskers responded on a Matt Debellis 14-yard touchdown run with 5:57 left in the first half. On the previous play, Lombardo connected with Giuntini on a 17-yard swing pass.

Somers junior C.J. Silva (three carries, 42 yards) closed out the scoring with a 30-yard touchdown scamper with 8:11 remaining.

Sloppy play overcame both sides, at times. Hen Hud fumbled on the first play from scrimmage. Somers was shaky on numerous punt returns, fumbling more than once.

DeMatteo was very content with the play of Lombardo, who started his first game at quarterback. He was 8 for 12 for 105 yards through the air and rushed for 56 yards on eight carries.

"He's throwing the ball to the right receiver, he's getting his reads down and he's running when he has to," said DeMatteo, who was also pleased with Giuntini, Debellis, senior Rob Tomasulo and senior Rob Mendoza (five carries, 20 yards and three catches, 30 yards) in the Tuskers' rushing attack. "He's a load. He's a quarterback-fullback."

Somers' Thomas Barcia went 5-for-5 on extra points. David Arturi had a sack.

The Tuskers (1-0) host Walter Panas (0-1) on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m.

"We just need to come to practice and try to get better," Lombardo said. "Last year, we didn't get better at practice, we kind of gradually got worse. This year, we've got to focus on practicing fast and getting better everyday."

Hendrick Hudson (0-1) travels to Lakeland (0-1) on Sept. 16 for a 6 p.m. start.

Natale credited seniors Dakota Mastroddi and Brian Juliano for their play in the secondary. But while he feels the defense played well, he knows they must improve on the other side of the ball. Senior quarterback Casey Peterson was getting pressured too much and not given enough time to throw.

"Offensively, we've got to get a lot better," Natale said.

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