Camp files: Somers
Coach: Tony DeMatteo
Conference: Section 1 Class A
2011 record: 6-3, lost to John Jay-CR in the Section 1 Class A quarterfinals
Five observations from camp
1) Bash brothers in the backfield: Most teams usually feature a power back (thunder) and a scatback (lightning) in their backfield. In Somers' case, it is ALL about the thunder.
Senior fullback Joe Lombardo (6-0, 195 pounds) and senior running back Stefano Bicknese (6-0, 185 pounds) form one of the most devastating backfield duos in Section 1. Think of them as two bowling balls rolling down the same alley with the opposition playing the role of pins.
In 2011, Bicknese was second on the Tuskers in rushing with 641 yards and seven touchdowns on 86 carries. Lombardo, meanwhile, wasn't too far behind with 86 carries for 586 yards and five touchdowns.
Bicknese described his running style as such: "I'm more between the tackles, lowering my shoulder, dipping down, dropping someone to make a play."
Bicknese's then offered an opinion on Lombardo's approach.
"Lombardo loves to bash people," Bicknese said. "Together, we get pretty hyped up before the games."
According to teammate Pete Mueller, the tandem is pure torture for the other team.
"They are two premier athletes and they really dominate," Mueller said. "The more the line works for them, the more yards they get. I think they are going to have huge seasons."
2) From the hardwood to the gridiron: Thus far in his high school athletics career, senior John Decker has been known for his exploits on the basketball court. The 6-1, 175-pound senior was a high-scoring standout for the Tuskers this past winter. In 2012, he will try and light-up the scoreboard on the football field, too.
Decker, who chose not to play football last season, has re-entered the fold and become the front-runner to start at quarterback. Juniors Tim Cousin and Matt Arita are also vying for time in what figures to be a bit of a timeshare under center.
What sets Decker apart from the rest is his arm. So much so that Somers — which runs a traditional run-first Wing-T offense — has talked about throwing the ball a bit more this season.
"(Decker) has surprised a lot of people," Mueller said. "He came in from the year off and was a little questionable about playing. But he's committed to the team and he's throwing the ball pretty well and people are happy with him."
Lombardo is certainly sold.
"We have big expectations for (Decker)," he said. "He's slinging the ball around is going to be very good."
3) Top receiving targets: If Somers follows through with its plan to air it out this season, the top two receiving targets will be split end Joe Festo and Mueller, a tight end.
All the players raved about Festo, 5-9, 165-pounder in the mold of Wes Welker.
"Joe Festo could have a really huge year — especially with the way we have been working on throwing the ball," Mueller said. "He has some of the best hands I've ever seen and he gets out of his routes really great."
Lombardo has sensed a certain chemistry between Festo and Decker.
"They have a combo like no other," he said. "Joe Festo doesn't drop anything, so it works out perfectly."
Mueller is another intriguing target for Decker. At 6-5, 225 pounds, he has the potential to be a nightmare matchup in the red zone. Ironically, Mueller's only catch of 2011 went for a touchdown.
"Hopefully, my impact this year is a lot more," he said. "I think it will help out the run game a lot more because teams will have to play us differently."
4) Down in the trenches: For a Class A team, Somers has some pretty good size down in the trenches. Bookend offensive tackles Steven Jennings (6-4, 275) and Robert Pontbriand (6-5, 260) should provide Decker plenty of time to survey the field. On the interior, guards Dylan Owen (6-4, 220), Dan Campbell (6-5, 220) and center Sean Jennings (6-4, 250) will gash open the running lanes for Bicknese and Lombardo.
"The kids are all huge," said Mueller, who will be another crucial blocker. "Everyone plays really hard and they trained really hard in the offseason."
The defensive line is anchored by nose guard Jason Falasca, a 230-pound senior who can blow up plays at the point of attack. Mueller and Campbell will serve as the bookend defensive ends, while Pontbriand and Owen will see time at defensive tackle. The Jennings brothers provide depth inside.
5) Odds and ends: The Tuskers will field an opportunistic and wildly athletic secondary. Bicknese, who made two interceptions last year, anchors the unit at strong safety. Connor Viasaty will play alongside Bicknese at free safety. The cornerbacks are Chris Marasco, Chris Scavelli and Festo … Lombardo will anchor the linebacking corps alongside Alex Corpolongo, who is a definite player to to watch … Bicknese actually competed at Monday's preseason session with a hard cast on his right hand. He broke it two weeks ago but plans to be 100 percent healthy and cast-less by Week 1's showdown against rival Yorktown. "I should be getting the cast off in about a week and I'll be good to go," said Bicknese, who actually carries the ball in his left hand.
Players to watch: Joe Lombardo (Sr., FB/LB); Stefano Bicknese (RB/SS); Pete Mueller (Sr., TE/DE); Dan Campbell (G/DE); Jason Falasca (Sr., NG); Joe Festo (Sr., WR/CB)
Names to learn: John Decker (Sr., QB); Connor Viasaty (Jr., RB/FS); Steve Jennings (C/DT); Sean Jennings (T/DT); Alex Corpolongo (Sr., RB/LB); Chris Marasco (WR/CB); Matt Morgante (So., RB); Robert Pontbriand (Sr., T/DT); Chris Scavelli (Sr., RB/FS)
Season outlook: In what is a deep Section 1 Class A field, Somers just might have the luxury of playing the role of underdog. And they wouldn't have it any other way.
"I think we are considered underdogs but we like that," Mueller said. "It makes us work harder."
Lombardo was pretty confident in his assessment of where the Tuskers stand in Class A.
"I think we are one of the premier teams, but I guess we will see how the season goes," he said.
Look for Somers to battle at the top alongside defending champ Poughkeepsie, runner-up John Jay-Cross River, Harrison, Ossining, Rye and Yorktown.
In particular, players pinpointed a September 28 game against Poughkeepsie as a must-win. The two teams have built up quite a little rivalry over the last three years, playing a total of four times. Poughkeepsie holds a 3-1 advantage in the series, defeating the Tuskers in 2011, 2010 and 2009. Somers' lone win came in a 2010 bowl game.
"We have to get them back," Decker said of Poughkeepsie. "We had a tough loss up there last year."
The Tuskers also hope to meet John Jay-CR against — preferably in a do-or-die scenario. The Indians dealt Somers Somers a season-ending loss in last year's Section 1 Class A quarterfinal.
9/7 at Yorktown
10/5 at Ossining
10/12 Walter Panas
10/20 at Eastchester
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