A Mamaroneck ball carrier tries to turn the corner against Harrison at New Rochelle’s Champions Camp. Mamaroneck was a newcomer to the camp this year. Photos/Bobby Begun

Area teams hit gridiron at Champs Camp

From July 29 to Aug. 2, area football teams went through what is likely one of the last big camps of the summer as some of the top squads traveled to New Rochelle High School to take part in the annual Champions Camp hosted by the Huguenots.

Teams from Tuckahoe, Harrison, Eastchester and Mamaroneck competed in the camp alongside the hosts for a week-long event that saw teams work individually and against other squads in heavily monitored scrimmages.

While many teams have had long histories at the camp, Mamaroneck was a newcomer this year. Head coach Anthony Vitti believes that the process was a rewarding one from start to finish.

“This was our first real attempt at doing something like this and we thought it would be a great way to get some extra work in,” said Vitti. “One thing we did was try to get some new people looks at new positions.”

In particular, said Vitti, matching up against teams like Eastchester and Harrison–teams that employ a triple option attack–proved educational, as it forced his players to see some packages that they haven’t seen over the past few years.

“It was definitely good for us to see these other offenses,” he said. “We don’t gameplan for this, but we could use the opportunity to teach the kids why they’re getting beat in certain scenarios if we do end up seeing this during the year.”

Tuckahoe, the smallest school at the camp, got the chance to go up against some teams from Class A, including Mamaroneck and New Rochelle’s backups. Tuckahoe, which is dealing with a small injury to quarterback Michael Castracucco’s wrist, used part of the time to audition backups for the three-year starter, and head coach John D’Arco, Sr. was pleased with what he saw. Running back Anthony Castracucco, Michael’s brother, and sophomore Chris Corroda, who played on the modified team last year, both acquitted themselves well, according to the head coach.

“Michael was just participating in the non-contact drills, so when we went up against the other schools, we had Anthony and Chris back there,” D’Arco said. “They far exceeded my expectations. I came in just hoping to get our handoffs down, but we were able to start working in some of our passing game with them as well.”

Although the elder Castracucco is expected to be ready for the start of preseason two-a-days, which begin on Aug. 19, D’Arco felt that both Corroda and Anthony Castracucco–who will be playing in the offensive and defensive backfield–got valuable time seeing live action during the camp.

With just two weeks before the official start the season, teams will look to finish up summer workouts on their own as they prepare for the grueling two-week stretch that precedes the opening weekend.

“We’ve been working on X’s and O’s, but now we’re going to go back and work on our conditioning,” D’Arco said.

“We’re done with the pads,” added Mamaroneck’s Vitti. “We’re going to do our lift tests and then give the kids a little time to recover before we start back up.”

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About Mike Smith

Mike Smith has been with Hometown Media Group since 2007, serving as the company’s Sports Editor. Mike has been commended for his work by the New York Press Association, winning awards in 2008 for “Best Sports Feature” and again in 2009 as part of a team that put together “The Game,” a breakdown of the Harrison-Rye football rivalry, which won for “Best Special Section.” His weekly column, “Live Mike,” offers his unique insights into a broad range of topics in the sports world. He resides in Eastchester, N.Y. and spends most of his free time serving as the player-manager for a competitive men’s baseball team in New York City. Reach Mike at 914-653-1000 x22 or sports@hometwn.com; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.