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Hero's Welcome: Somers Football Team Returns Home As State Champs

The 2016 Somers varsity football team moments after coming away with the first state title in program history. Photo Credit: Contributed
Charter buses carrying players and coaches from the state champion Somers football team were escorted back to campus by the Somers Volunteer Fire Department. Photo Credit: Somers Volunteer Fire Department
One of the charter buses pulling into campus after arriving from Syracuse. Photo Credit: Somers Volunteer Fire Department
Somers football players celebrate their 25-17 win over Greece Athena of Rochester in Friday's New York Class A state final at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Photo Credit: Contributed
Somers football players moments after securing the win at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Photo Credit: NYSPHSAA
The Tuskers went ahead 19-10 in the third quarter on a 33-yard touchdown run by Matt Pires. Photo Credit: NYSPHSAA
Matt Pires is congratulated by teammates after the 33-yard third-quarter TD. Photo Credit: NYSPHSAA
Somers players take the field at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Photo Credit: NYSPHSAA
Somers' Tony DeMatteo, the winningest coach in Section 1 history, takes in the atmosphere at the Carrier Dome prior to kickoff of the Tuskers' game. Photo Credit: Contributed
Somers 12th Man group cheers on the Tuskers Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Messiah Horne of Somers picks up yardage. Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman

SOMERS, N.Y. -- It didn't take long for the historic feat of the  2016 Somers High School football team to be celebrated in town.

Just hours after the Tuskers downed previously unbeaten  Greece Athena High School of Rochester 25-17 Friday in the New York State Class A state championship game at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, charter buses carrying team members and coaches were escorted by fire trucks from town's fire department.

A video of the team's triumphant return to town was posted by the Somers Volunteer Fire Department on Facebook and can be viewed by clicking here.

The Tuskers (12-1) got two touchdowns each from Messiah Horne and Matt Pires. Horne was named game MVP. Pires received Most Valuable Back honors.

Somers put the game out of reach on a 45-yard punt return for a touchdown by Messiah Horne early in the fourth quarter. The point-after kick put the Tuskers on top 25-10.

Greece Athena pulled within eight points on a 2-yard touchdown pass with 1:18 remaining in regulation. Connor Gill then made a key recovery of an on-sides kick attempt for Somers.

The Tuskers had gone ahead 19-10 in the third quarter on a 33-yard third-quarter touchdown run by Matt Pires off a reverse.

Somers jumped out to first a 6-0 lead in the first quarter and led 12-7 at the half. Pires' first-half score was off a 45-yard pass from quarterback Kevin Olifiers.

Greece Athena then returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown, taking its only lead of the game at 7-6. Horne's 4-yard TD run midway through the second quarter gave Somers the five-point halftime lead.

Greece Athena star QB Ta’von Granison left the game with an injury in the second quarter. Granison had passed for more than 1,700 yards in the team's previous 12 games while rushing for more than 1,000. Granison returned to action in the third quarter.

Somers' Nick Gargiulo was named most valuable offensive lineman. Teammate Erik Hagenah was most valuable defensive lineman. Garrett Wilson won the sportsmanship award.

Greece Athena (12-1) entered the game averaging 36 points scored per game.

Somers ends the season with a 10-game win streak that started after its lone loss, 34-13 to archrival Yorktown in Week 3. Somers avenged that setback by beating the Huskers 42-6 in the Section 1 title game -- an astonishing 57-point turnaround.

The Tuskers are now 3-3 all-time in state tournament games.

DeMatteo, who spent 31 years as head coach at Roosevelt in his native Yonkers before taking over the varsity program in his adopted hometown of Somers, got to the Carrier Dome in 1996 with Roosevelt, winning a state title, but that marked his last state title game appearance until Friday.

"We've tried to develop a family, which I think we've accomplished," DeMatteo told his team before the game in an emotional pregame speech.

Those words were rang even truer just a couple of hours later as the Tuskers walked back into the locker room as state champs.

* For the roster of the 2016 Somers Tuskers, click here

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