CORTLANDT MANOR, N.Y. – The Somers High School football team used a strong second half to defeated longtime rival Yorktown, 28-6, Friday night at Walter Panas High School.
The win brought Somers coach Tony DeMatteo one step closer to the historic 300-win mark, as he now has 293 career victories as a head coach.
The game featured a tightly contested first half that ended with a 7-6 advantage for Somers. Yorktown kept it close thanks to two one-handed, acrobatic interceptions by Yorktown’s Brian Prestreau in the end zone.
The Tuskers came out strong in the second half after DeMatteo delivered a halftime speech in the locker room.
“I just let them know that they’ve got to calm down, relax,” DeMatteo said. “Do what you were taught. If it doesn’t work, it doesn’t work. You go home, your mother’s still going to love you. You’ve got to relax. Just go out there and play.”
The coach admitted after the game that his team, which has several new varsity players, was a bit skittish in the season opener.
“We had a little stage fright tonight,” DeMatteo said. “We were just doing so many things wrong in the first half and I was just pleased with the way they came out in the second half, and we really played ball in the second half.”
Somers was able to open the game up at the start of the fourth quarter, thanks in large part to a back-breaking 48-yard interception return by Joe Lombardo. That made the score 21-6 in Somers’ favor.
“Our coach actually talked about that play a ton of times, and I just saw it coming,” Lombardo said. “I read it pretty nice.”
Depth was an issue for both teams, particularly because of the heat. The Tuskers and Huskers rotated in lots of players, which played right into the strategy DeMatteo usually employs.
“I thought that helped us because we play them anyway,” DeMatteo said. “Everyone was cramping. They had their problems. We had ours. But we roll our guys, so I was comfortable when a guy came out that we could get another guy in.”
A win in the season opener is all well and good, but defeating a neighboring rival adds an extra dimension to it.
“They’re right next to us, so we just wanted to come out and get the W,” Lombardo said. “Hopefully, that will keep us going for the next game.”