New additions give Tigers options in 2013

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Fullback Enoch Penney-Lareya carries the ball up the middle in a preseason practice at Tuckahoe High School. In addition to playing in the offensive backfield, Penney-Lareya will line up at defensive end.

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.”

Anthony Castracucco hits a hole during practice at Tuckahoe High School. Castracucco and his older brother, Michael, will be key contributors this year.

Anthony Castracucco hits a hole during practice at Tuckahoe High School. Castracucco and his older brother, Michael, will be key contributors 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.

Head coach John D’Arco, Sr. talks to the team during a break at practice. D’Arco said the Tigers might feature more vertical threats this year. Photos/Bobby Begun

Head coach John D’Arco, Sr. talks to the team during a break at practice. D’Arco said the Tigers might feature more vertical threats this year. Photos/Bobby Begun

“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.”
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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.