It began late last summer in Tuckahoe with two-a-day football workouts in the sweltering heat and ended last week on a muddy baseball field in upstate Binghamton.
What will be known for years to come as the "Year of the Tigers", the magical sports calendar at Tuckahoe High School inhabited by small group of athletes from a tiny village that would win two New York State championships in baseball and football. The Tuckahoe baseball team also won an area Section 1 title giving the tigers claim to local bragging rights in three sports.
Alex Melendez, Jason Feuer, Jaime Maldonado and Jarrett Sommer were the members of the football and baseball state champions, but the thread that tied the title teams together was the coaching tandem of John D'Arco and his son John Jr., who led both teams to ultimate victory.
"These kids were special," John Sr. said before the team left for Binghamton Last Friday where they won the state title in a rain-delayed final that took two days to finish. "They played baseball with a football attitude and that aggressiveness made them winners."
The Tigers football team, led by Melendez at quarterback, went undefeated in Class D and lost just one game all year to neighborhood rival Bronxville, a team that went on to win the Class C state football title. After losing to Bronxville, Melendez shed some tears but showed resolve.
"We wanted to beat Bronxville so bad," Melendez said. "But we're going to win the states we have to keep pushing."
The D'Arcos kept their players balanced and channeled the adolescent energy to a long-term goal.
"They showed poise through the baseball playoffs," D'Arco Jr. said. "We trailed in a couple of game, including the championship game, but they never lost their confidence. I'm gonna miss the seniors. They gave us great memories."
The Tuckahoe baseball team, with its football and baseball champions leading the way, will be honored by the village with a parade, a fitting end for the "Year of the Tigers". The parade is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Depot Square in downtown Tuckahoe.
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