MAHOPAC, N.Y. – The Tuckahoe High School football team won the Section 1 Class D championship on Sunday with a 35-6 win against familiar rival Haldane High School.
The Tigers will face Chester High School from Section 9 in the regionals on Saturday at Dietz Stadium in Kingston. N.Y.
The Tigers and Blue Devils faced off earlier in the season and the game ended in a tie after four overtimes. Last year, Haldane beat Tuckahoe in the playoffs. So this year, Tuckahoe was determined to win the title back.
“We were miserable last year when we lost,” said senior Shyheim Nixon. “We were just miserable last year. It feels really good to bring it back home.”
Nixon, who started in his first game at quarterback for Tuckahoe, earned offensive MVP honors for the game. He was 6-for-7 passing for 165 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for a touchdown and snagged two interceptions on defense.
“I just had to focus. My coaches asked me to take the job as QB. I’ll do whatever to win,” Nixon said. “I just had to focus, tell the team I got your back. I’m just here.”
Haldane played Tuckahoe well through much of the first three quarters. But the Tigers exploded for 21 points in the fourth quarter to put the game well out of reach.
Head coach John D’Arco said the team finally settled down in the fourth, and that was the difference.
“We were so pumped up and we were so excited about this game, that I think we were a little tight in the first half,” D’Arco said. “We made some adjustments at halftime. We were too good of a team. They played us tough. They’re a good team. They always play us tough. We just took a little while to get our jets going.”
The two teams played for eight quarters earlier this season and D’Arco said he learned some valuable lessons that day. He admitted that he did not prepare his team well in the first meeting as the Tigers had just beaten defending state champion Dobbs Ferry.
But this time, the Tigers were ready.
“Only a fool makes the same mistake twice,” D’Arco said. “We were ready. I knew we were ready. And I kind of felt the outcome was going to be this way.”
Senior Nick Reisman had 26 carries for 182 yards and two touchdowns and earned defensive MVP honors, as well. The players wore bright orange pants on Sunday to remind them of their goal: the state championship at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
“That’s definitely the goal. That’s the goal every day. Every day we’re thinking about that,” Reisman said. “That’s why we’re wearing orange pants right now. Syracuse Orange. That’s our goal.”