By MIKE SMITH
As one of only two Class D teams in Section I, Tuckahoe comes into each season with the section title game against Haldane circled on the calendar. Since 2012, the Tigers have been undefeated in the annual game and continued that streak on Oct. 31 when they downed the Blue Devils 24-12 at Pace University.
It didn’t take long for Tuckahoe to assert its dominance on Saturday, as the Tigers came out firing for their second win of the season against their Class D foe this year, taking a 24-0 lead well into the fourth quarter before the Blue Devils rallied for two late scores.
“Our game plan coming in was not very different than in our first game,” Tuckahoe coach Tom Itri said. “We had success running the ball, and we wanted to limit the turnovers and the penalties.”
Although the Tigers couldn’t quite shed the penalty bug, as they were flagged for five personal fouls in the game, they were able to control the line of scrimmage and found success on the ground and through the air.
Sophomore quarterback Matt Annunziata had two first half touchdown passes, one to Christian Pinto and the other to Robert Kiernan, to provide a boost for the Tigers’ offense.
According to Itri, Annunziata was fired up for his first sectional contest under center, especially considering his Haldane counterpart, fellow sophomore Tyler Giachinta, figures to be an integral part of the Blue Devils’ program for the next two years.
“We started all week with [Matt], talking about [Haldane’s] sophomore quarterback and saying we wanted to see who the better guy was going to be,” Itri said. “He really rose to the occasion and proved he was the better guy, at least that day.”
For the Tigers, who spent much of the season taking on larger Class C schools, all roads led to the Class D crown.
“We called [our schedule] ‘Murderer’s Row,’ and every school was bigger than us, no matter who we played,” Itri said. “But we know that now that we got to this point, we’re not going to see teams as big as Hackley or Chester.”
Tuckahoe will be back in action in the regional finals on Nov. 14 when they take on the winner of the matchup between Section IX Downsville-Roscoe and Eldred on Nov. 7 at Sleepy Hollow High School.
Although the Tigers are prepared to take on Downsville, which beat Eldred twice already this year, they will first focus on getting physically prepared for whomever they play next week.
“We are going to use this week to get everyone healthy and towards the end of the week, we’ll start preparing for Downsville,” Itri said. “In case they don’t win, we have a whole week to prepare for Eldred.”