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Pawling Will Test Tuckahoe As Playoffs Loom

TUCKAHOE, N.Y. – The Tuckahoe Tigers have experienced growing pains this fall, moving in a new cast of players after last year’s Class D state championship team graduated most of its starters and with the postseason playoffs a week away, Saturday’s visit by upstate Pawling will test how far they have come.

“We are a young team, really because most of the starters graduated and this group had to step up,” Tigers coach John D’Arco said after last week’s Homecoming victory over Hastings. “The kids are getting more consistent. We’ll see how we do now.”

Tuckahoe (4-2) is fortunate in that all Section 1 Class D teams qualify for the playoffs because there have been four or less over the last decade. The Tigers, who won the state title last year with a 10-1 record, will most likely be seeded No. 2 behind Haldane (5-1), so this week’s meeting with Pawling (2-4) will help prepare them for the playoffs.

“We have to play all four quarters and not make mistakes,” Tigers running back and linebacker Shyheim Nixon said. “We can’t take any plays off if we want to beat good teams.”

Pawling is a Class C team and has played well this year despite its losing record. The upstate Tigers have lost to Hastings, Dobbs Ferry, Woodlands and last week to Bronxville 41-28, proving they could score against a good team. Tuckahoe’s two losses have come to Bronxville and Dobbs Ferry.

Sophomore quarterback Mike Castracucco handles the offense and has grown into the job. He has a strong group of backs to carry the ball, including Nixon, Kayvon Reid, Mike DiLago and Mike Reisman and a dependable receiver in Gary Moss.

Pawling runs almost exclusively, gaining 250 yards per game with running backs Oliver Mold (464 yards and 9 touchdowns) and Cameron Thomas (404 and 4 TDs) doing most of the work. The defensive side of the ball has been the most suspect, especially against teams that have a good passing game. The Tigers, who have allowed 23 points per game, can go deep into the playoffs if they be can be more consistent on defense.

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