Saturday, September 13, 2014

Santavicca Shines In Huskers' Upset Of Somers

Twenty minutes before dosing off to sleep, a necessity before arguably the most pivotal game of his young varsity career, Nick Santavicca fielded a well-wishing phone call.

It wasn't a Yorktown affiliate or an ardent program supporter.

Nothing of the sort.

The night before Yorktown's titanic border town rivalry game against Somers, Santavicca's late encouragement came from former Somers alpha dog Matt Deiana.

Deiana culminated an illustrious five-year career at Somers with a roster spot in the prestigious Emfinger All-American Bowl in January 2010.

He also trained Santavicca throughout this summer, refining everything from ball skills to running style to the art of trucking through traffic.

Though you can bet your bottom buck Deiana was counting on a Somers win, he still hoped for an offensive outburst from the Huskers' go-to junior back.

"Matt just told me to go out there and crush it," Santavicca said.

"He said, 'I hope you have the game you've been waiting for. I hope you rush for 200 yards.' I just said 'I will Matt, I will. I got you."

Built strikingly similar to running back/defensive end Deiana at 5-foot-8 and 175 pounds, Santavicca bulldozed Somers for 155 yards on 18 carries, piloting Yorktown to a 21-7 resume win.

 Ducking his shoulder, mashing through gang tackles and keeping his cleats moving forward amid contact, Santavicca played possessed.

"They are a great team and extremely well-coached," Santavicca said of the perennially potent and reigning champion Tuskers.

 "For us to come out and hit them in the face and prove ourselves, it's an awesome feeling."

Football euphoria emerged when Santavicca got loose for a 5-yard TD scamper with 2:31 remaining. That drive propelled the revved-up CROP fan base into eardrum-shattering crescendo.

This was for bragging rights. This was before a jam-packed crowd, perhaps the largest witnessed at Murphy Field since the marquee and memorable Yorktown/Ossining game of 1990.

All week, Yorktown talked about being the unsung and under appreciated.

Equated with nary a shred of similar Section-wide recognition, the Huskers were eager to deliver a message.

"It's a statement win," said quarterback Ryan Baker, who orchestrated the Huskers' ground assault with 44 yards.

"This is what we expected. We expected to come out here and win. Everyone believed. It's only week II. We're not satisfied. We can't be satisfied. We won't be satisfied until we win the Sectional title."

Baker bolstered the momentum when he evaded tacklers and scooted in for a touchdown with 7:54 remaining in the second quarter, providing the Huskers with a 14-7 edge.

Setting the table for Baker was Santavicca, who broke an electric 59-yard run.

Timmy Forbes, who catalyzed the Huskers on both sides of the ball during Week I's thorough thrashing of Eastchester, rolled up 67 yards on 13 carries.

Somers was not without a fair share of opportunities.

Blurring free safety Chris Abetacola emerged with an interception. Sean Wagner came up with a fumble recovery. Somers' stout defense sullied Yorktown's offensive rythm early, but faltered during the second half.

Following Baker's second touchdown, the Tuskers were never able to slice the deficit.

A 55-yard field goal sailed short. Yorktown stymied the Tuskers' drive when Dom Cioffi deflected a Lombardo pass on fourth down in the third quarter.

Somers fed every down mountain-man in Tim Fazzinga, who rambled for 65 yards on 14 touches. The Tuskers were ultimately derailed by imbalance and stagnancy, leaning too heavily on the senior fullback/linebacker.

Yorktown's offensive line kept Somers' at bay in the trenches.

Logan Peters, Steven Veteri, Joe Blume, Joey Costella and Richie Campanaro each paved open pathways, allowing Santavicca's blend of shiftiness, power, and agility to erupt. Out-dueling the Tuskers by a 298-128 count, Yorktown won the battle on the carpet handily.

"We spread the ball out so that it opened up the middle," said linebacker Mike Dedvukaj.

"When you do that, you just leave it to the linemen to do their job. All five of them did very well tonight, I couldn't be more proud of them."

A 28-yard touchdown strike from Nick Lombardo to Casey Lox knotted matters at 7-all. Prior to that, Baker capped an effective opening drive with a 17-yard touchdown scamper.

Junior Scott Weaver came up with a dazzling one-handed interception while spiraling to the turf, pumping adrenaline into an already vivacious CROP crowd.

"You can't put this into words, you really can't," Weaver said.

"House (head coach Mike Rescigno) always talks about "family," about staying together and playing for each other. I think we're the closest, most tight-knit team in the Section."

Santavicca had his own family matters heading into the game. Somers iconic head coach Tony DeMatteo, who coached Santavicca's father and Huskers assistant coach Roger Santavicca at Roosevelt in the 1970s, has been a major influence on his career.

Santavicca's uncle, Ron Santavicca, also played for DeMatteo at Roosevelt.

DeMatteo lifted the Yonkers-based school into national prominence during the 1990s. To Nick Santavicca he is still "Uncle Tony." Santavicca regards DeMatteo as surrogate family without flinching.

Annually, the Somers matchup contains some extra juice for the bullish little back.

"Nick is just a freak of nature," said Baker. "He wanted to win. He willed us to win."

All day, word hung around town about the coaching duel between Rescigno and DeMatteo. It was an accurate depiction of the latest v.s. the Greatest.

Yorktown is cognizant that this is still just Week II. The commissioner won't be dealing out any trophies tonight. The rankings systems and prognosticators take on where they fall in the Class A landscape is irrelevant.

 There's plenty of football to be played. They know, as sure as Santavicca knows he'll be hearing from Deiana throughout the season, plenty of work lies ahead.