Column: Food for thought


The Tuckahoe football team celebrates a 42-8 Class D championship win over Haldane on Nov. 9. Deep playoff runs by fall teams always offer excitement for fans—and a few extra pounds for Sports Editor Mike Smith.
Photo/Mike Smith

When the calendar hits November, there are some high school sports certainties on which I’ve begun to rely. Tuckahoe battling Haldane for the Class D football title is one. More often than not, I know I’ll be watching teams like Mamaroneck field hockey and Bronxville girls soccer competing against the other top teams in the state. But, above all, the one truth I’ve come to realize is unavoidable is this one: I will not be eating healthy during the playoffs.

There are plenty of stats from Saturday’s Section I championship day that I can rattle off; Tuckahoe quarterback Mike Castracucco threw for three touchdowns, Rye’s Shane O’Malley carried the ball 36 times for 176 yards. But perhaps the most impressive stat on the day belonged to me—or my waistline—as I was able to put away three hamburgers, three sodas, two hot chocolates and four coffees during the eight hours I spent at Mahopac High School.

It should be said that I don’t have the most refined palate. I’m pretty much a meat and potatoes guy who could subsist on a steady diet of children’s menu offerings at chain restauraunts, but traveling around to various venues for football games makes even someone like me wish for a little variety in the spread.

Now, this isn’t an indictment of Mahopac’s volunteers. The food offerings were pretty much in step with the majority of places I’ve been—although Cicero North in Syracuse, where the field hockey championships are held, does offer a delicious pulled pork sandwich—but spending the better part of a day in the cold weather leads to some unfortunate dietary choices on my part and ultimately leads to a Sunday spent in the gym trying to work off the previous day’s transgressions.

Now, I know what you’re thinking; just pack a sandwich or a healthier alternative, right?

In addition to the necessity to fuel my body over the course of three championship games, though, there’s another motivating factor in my raiding of the concession stands, namely the need to stay warm.

It wasn’t terribly cold on Saturday, but standing around in 40-degree weather can, over the course of a few hours, leave even the bravest of individuals in search of a way to warm his weary bones. For me, the easiest way to stay warm was to fill myself with hot food and drink, anything I could do to take my mind off my increasingly frozen toes.

Note to self: invest in ski socks.
Even between games, it’s not always easy to find a decent food option. I’ve spent enough time up in Kingston, where many of the football quarterfinal games are played, that I could probably earn a frequent-eater card at the Stadium Diner located just a short walk from Dietz Stadium.

From the looks of it, my weekend diet isn’t going to be changing any time soon. With two hometown teams left in the state playoffs, Saturday will mean another trip for me; either up to Mahopac to cover Tuckahoe’s game against Chester or to Kingston to see the Class C Rye Neck Panthers take on Burke Catholic. As always, I’m rooting for our teams to make deep postseason pushes, hopefully all the way to the state finals in Syracuse.

I hear they’ve got some pretty good barbeque up there.

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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; follow him on Twitter @LiveMike_Sports.