Lincolndale, NY – Ask anyone to create a list of high school football programs in Section 1 that exemplify consistency and excellence, and Somers High School will be at or near the top of that list. After watching several hours of Somers film, the conclusions are easy. Players are disciplined, they consistently execute assignments and they finish off plays which is a reflection of the coaching staff that is led by Section 1’s winningest coach, Tony DeMatteo.
I watch at least 3 hours of film a day that is split between high school, college and the NFL. It’s a process that helps me create a mental library to help project what I think a player can be based on core positional traits. There are few players that I get excited about as freshman because of how much development occurs between 9th and 12th grade. Yes, there are rare occasions where a player is just special and a must see; however, it is rare.
Jack Polito (Class of 2023, OL - 6’3 - 260lbs) is one of those rare players that requires you to hit the rewind button when watching his film because you simply don’t believe he was a freshman last year. His “play strength” and “competitive toughness” are evident play after play. Polito is what I call a “displacer” which is simply the ability to move defenders and create a new line of scrimmage. Yes, I can put on a tape and see offensive lineman move defenders but to be able to do that as a 9th grader is not something you see frequently.
As a 6th grader, Polito’s gym teacher, made a bold projection which was that the young Polito could potentially be on varsity as a high school underclassmen, and that he could eventually be as good as former Tusker Nick Gargiulo who is one of the best offensive lineman to come out of Section 1 in the last 10 years and is now playing at Yale.
DeMatteo echoed that statement along with his thoughts on some of the desirable traits Polito possesses. “He has the potential to be just as good as Nick Gargiolu,” said DeMatteo. “The kid has a switch when he gets on the field. It just turns on. Kid is always running to the ball and pancakes people.”
With the hundreds of players DeMatteo has coached over his decades in football, college coaches would be wise to get Polito into a camp to see him live. College camps provide an opportunity to see players up close which can confirm what they have seen on film. It also allows coaches to evaluate body types and how players move during position specific drills.
No player has ever started as a freshman for DeMatteo. During Polito’s freshman season, he didn’t really grasp the historical significance of this accomplishment.
“At the time it didn’t seem real,” said Polito. “It didn’t really sink in until after the season was over that I was starter.”
DeMatteo was direct and honest with Polito when he earned a starting position.
“Listen, I’ve never had a freshmen start for us. This is your position to lose,” said DeMatteo.
As players enter high school, they are developing rapidly. Prior to high school, Polito was not exposed to any serious training and credits the Somers coaching staff for helping him learn how to lift weights.
“I never really lifted before 9th grade. I just did push-ups and sit ups. The staff has really helped me develop physically,” said Polito.
Polito continued to speak highly of the Somers coaching staff’s knowledge of weightlifting technique and that it has sparked a potential interest in a possible major in college.
“The weight training definitely got me interested in Exercise Physiology and Exercise Science,” said Polito.
With the season being pushed to March 2021, we will need to wait to see Polito in his second season. It is difficult to make an early projection on a player so young; however, if Polito continues to develop at a pace that matches his natural size and play strength, there is no reason to doubt that he is anything less than a scholarship player at the Division 1 level.