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Tuskers making an Impression

Posted Friday, October 01, 2010 by Robert Lombardo

Because he never knows what next year may bring for him or his players, Tony DeMatteo focuses on reloading. Forget rebuilding.

"What I try to tell them is that whether you have three-year starters back or you have all new kids, the only thing that causes a kid to choke is if he doesn't know what he's doing," the Somers coach said.

This year, DeMatteo has looked wise -- even for him. The Tuskers must know what they're doing. They enter tonight's homecoming game against 3-0 Poughkeepsie with a 3-0 record themselves despite not playing a single returning starter through three weeks.

"I told them, don't worry that we don't have anyone back," DeMatteo said. "If you get everything down, you'll succeed."

That challenge seemed unattainable back in the spring after graduation gutted the starting lineup beyond the bare bones. The only returning starter was senior Victor Prato, who tore his meniscus this summer. The two-way tackle had surgery and was finally cleared to return on Monday. He still has to reach the minimum number of practices to compete, meaning Somers will line up on its turf at 7 tonight relying entirely on its new group.

Of course, last year's senior-laden team lost to Poughkeepsie, 14-10, in a Class A quarterfinal in what was a stunning and humbling ending after having outscored its previous six opponents 244-6. For the Pioneers, the win was retribution for a 62-12 drubbing by Somers the year before in the same round.

DeMatteo doesn't believe the last two years have an impact on this year. Even seniors who have shined so far -- like fullback D.J. Giuntini, who broke 100 yards in each of the last two games, quarterback Anthony Lombardo, and linemen Mike Cleary and Colby Tragni -- were backups last year and had little to no impact two years ago.

So reloaded? Yes. And refocused. But is Somers ready to prove even more?

"I think we've reached our goal to this point," DeMatteo said. "Each week we've gotten a little better. Are we going to be good enough to win on Friday? I don't know. But we're definitely better."

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