SOMERS, N.Y. – The Somers High School football team celebrated its Senior Night in a big way with a 41-14 thrashing of Walter Panas on Friday night.
Somers jumped out to a 27-0 lead in the first half thanks to a huge first quarter from senior Joseph Festo, who had a touchdown catch and a 65-yard punt return touchdown, eluding at least four tacklers on the right sideline.
This was “definitely” the best game of his high school career, Festo said, and he got a bit of motivation from his opponent. Panas is in League 1 of Section 1 Class A and Somers in League 2, so the game did not count in league standings. But the rivalry was evident before and after the game.
“We saw them all talking on Twitter and we're like, ‘We’ll save it for the game,’” Festo said. “We knew.”
Festo’s fellow senior Stefano Bicknese added a 44-yard touchdown run on a sweep in the second quarter to extend Somers’ lead to 21-0. Festo caught a 27-yard touchdown pass a few plays later to pad the lead even further.
The Tuskers’ biggest lead of the night was 34-0 in the third and fourth quarters.
Somers committed an unusual number of penalties in the first half but still opened up a big lead. Festo nearly had another punt return touchdown with a little less than three minutes in the second quarter, but a block in the back negated it. On the next play, Joe Lombardo rattled off a huge touchdown run, but a penalty called that one back, as well.
In total, Somers had three touchdowns called back in the first half because of penalties. Head coach Tony Dematteo said the Tuskers must clean that up before the playoffs.
“We’ve been getting a lot of penalties,” Dematteo said. “We’re over-aggressive. The penalties that we’re getting are downfield blocking, and the kids are really trying.”
Panas got on the board a minute into the fourth quarter when senior James Jackson punched it in from the 1-yard line. The Panthers could learn from this loss for the final portion of the season, head coach Daniel Patronik said.
“You can’t come into any game and start beating yourself up with mistakes like we made,” Patronik said. “This was a crossover game, but we’ve got a big game next week against Lakeland. So we’re going to regroup and take that shot at them and see where we end up, see where the chips fall.”
The win dropped Panas to 4-2. Somers remained undefeated at 6-0. It also gave Dematteo his 298th career win as a head coach. The Tuskers face Eastchester next week, and Somers could get Dematteo his 300th win in the first game of the playoffs.
But Friday was all about the seniors and their final regular season home game.
“I told them, ‘How do you want to be remembered? This is your last game ever on a Friday night. There’s not too many Fridays in football,’” Dematteo said. “Is that the boys of fall? How do you want to be remembered? That was the theme of what we wanted to do tonight, how they wanted to be remembered.”