By MIKE SMITH
Over the years, Tuckahoe’s football team has established itself as a program that prided itself on the ability to move the football on the ground. Last year proved no different as the Tigers–buoyed by some standout backs–rumbled all the way to the Class D state title game. This year, the Tigers are looking to duplicate that success, but this time, they’ve got a few wrinkles up their sleeve.
With a third-year quarterback in Michael Castracucco and some key transfer students, Tuckahoe may be poised to unleash an aerial assault this year, throwing the ball more than they have in previous seasons.
With Jordan Thomas, a 6-foot-1 transfer from Woodlands, and Ramni Higgins, a 6-foot-2 transplant from the Bronx, on the outside, head coach John D’Arco believes that teams expecting the same old Tuckahoe offense might be surprised in 2013.
“We’ve never had that double threat at wide receiver,” said D’Arco. “And I think our passing game is going to be a big part of the offense this year.”
With a veteran like Castracucco under center, D’Arco feels his team will have the ability to go away from its bread-and-butter and attempt more vertical strikes than ever before.
“In the past, we’ve been more of a 70 to 80 run, 30 to 20 pass team,” he said. “We might get closer to 60-40 this year.”
This isn’t to say that Tuckahoe will completely move away from the run game, however. Darrell Taylor, who played wing for the Tigers last year, will step into the top running back slot and is poised to be a true breakout runner, according to D’Arco.
“He’s about 5-foot-7, 160 pounds, but he’s real quick,” said D’Arco. “He’s a burner.”
Defensively, the Tigers will call on Mike Arborn, who logged over 100 tackles last year, to be the linchpin of the unit. Playing middle linebacker, Arborn was outstanding in the Tigers’ Aug. 31 scrimmage at Hastings. Alongside fellow linebacker Anthony Castracucco–Michael’s younger brother–and defensive end Enoch Penney-Lareya, Arborn will be key in leading a Tuckahoe defense that will have to contend with larger Class C schools on the schedule.
Tuckahoe’s campaign against the bigger schools will kick off on Sept. 7 when they take on a Rye Neck squad that went 7-1 last year. The Panthers return a backfield that includes all-state selection Jakob Calvini and a defense that notched six shutouts last season.
“We’re expecting a real tough match-up, those guys are going to be finalists in Class C, probably,” D’Arco said. “We’ve had a nice rivalry with them, and their coach Nick Ianello does a great job, so we’re expecting a good game.”