By Matt Diano:
The proverbial straw that stirs the Mountaineers offensive drink, even in the team’s two previous losses to AA title contenders Kellenberg Memorial (week #1) and Holy Cross (week #2), the senior signal caller from the Bronx left no doubt to the range of his immense talent…This past Saturday, his individual heroics would finally be rewarded a victory as MSMA improved to 1-2 behind a 44-26 win over 2016 Single-A Catholic Champions, Moore Catholic.
Barely missing the 100-yard rushing mark the previous weekend when he gained 91 on 15 carries (1 TD) in the aforementioned loss to Holy Cross, the 5’10, 150-pound 12th grader would not be denied of the milestone in week #3, averaging 11.2 yard per carry on only 10 touches to finish the game with 112 yards, Two of these 10 carries were broken for touchdowns as Jimenez logged scoring runs of 10 and 47 yards. His pair of TDs were two of the six overall recorded on the ground by the Mount as five rushers combined to gain 396 yards.
With another huge game coming up in week #4 against undefeated Fordham Prep, Jimenez, who will step onto the field averaging 6.6 yards per carry for the season (212 yards on 41 touches, 3 touchdowns), will have the opportunity to put Mount St. Michael’s back in the title picture…The Rams are coming off of a game that witnessed them surrender 311 yards and three scores on the ground. Hence, they may be feeling vulnerable in the run-stopping aspect of the game.
Hailed in our season preview as possiblu the most gifted Firebird field general since All-State quarterback Bobby Seck, week after week, the 11th grader from Roslyn Heights is proving that the hype is warranted and most certainly deserved….
Entering week #3 having thrown for a pair of touchdowns and ran for a third, the two-time grade level team Most Valuable Player turned Kellenberg’s 47-10 victory over St. John the Baptist into his own personal combine workout, dazzling those in attendance at Mitchel Field with both precision passing and explosive runs in sending the Marianist School to their first 3-0 start in over 15 years.
Utilizing all of his limbs to the maximum of his abilities, Sluka’s total production under center measured 339 yards, as he tossed for 188 on 6-for-11 passing and ran for an additional 151 on only 11 carries (13.7 average). He would also have a hand in four of the Firebird’s seven total touchdowns, hurling a pair and running two others in all by himself.
Sluka’s first score of the night would also be the initial score of the game, as he would power his way in from 1 yard out to give Kellenberg the 6-0 advantage. The flair of his contributions would only grow in magnitude as he closed out the opening 24 minutes by scrambling and then firing to hit Matt Mongelli on a 25-yard strike to make the score 27-10….Knowing that they had the always tough Cougars on the ropes at the onset of the second half, Sluka would pick up where he left off connecting with Jordan DeLucia on a 19-yard TD pass which all but officially put the “w” on ice for KMHS….Saving the best for last, Sluka’s fourth and final touchdown of the night came via one of the best highlights you will see all season. Keeping the ball on a QB option, Sluka would dash 20 yards before being met by a SJB defender. Left with no other choice, he would utilize a killer stiff arm and then cut back, going 10 yards in reverse, before finding a fresh hole and cruising 50 final yards down the opposite sideline to the house. While the box score credits the red-headed assassin with a TD run of 55 yards, in truth, he easily ran close to 90 yards in order put that 6 on the scoreboard.
On an evening where he did just about everything else, Sluka also successfully converted 5 of 6 PAT attempts, meaning that between his rushing and kicking, he single-handedly out-scored the opponent, 17-10.
Kindya may have played his final game in the Maroon & Gold, as he suffered a most likely season-ending injury during the 4th quarter of their 21-17 comeback victory over Chaminade during week #3….However, as pained as we are to see him no longer be able to strap on the pads and do battle in the trenches, if there is a silver-lining, it is that if you had to have your senior season ended prematurely, it is doubtful that your final appearance could have been more impressive than the effort put forth by the 6’1, 225-pound leader of the offensive line.
A captain, anchor and road-grader during every moment of the 2017 season, under his leadership and direction, the O-line has been so outstanding that the Farrell running attack has averaged 290 yards and 2.3 touchdowns per game behind their beastly blockers…First-year starting tailback, Vin Wagner (POTW honoree during week #1) has especially benefitted from running behind Kindya, surpassing 200 yards twice in three attempts to run for 634 of the Lions’ 868 yards thus far.
Last Saturday, with Kindya playing the majority of the contest before going down with the previously cited ailment, the Lions were unstoppable on the ground, averaging 12+ yards per carry to gain an incredible 314 yards, including touchdowns runs of 52, 47, and 1 yard from Wagner and junior QB, Mike Regan…The 1-yarder by Regan (also had the 47-yarder) capped off a six minute, 80-yard game-winning drive to enable Farrell to prevail in the clash of unbeatens.
A true ironman, if not for Stroughn elevating his game in the 4th quarter, it is very likely that the defending AA runners-up would have seen their 2017 record fall to 0-3….Starting and playing the entire game on both sides of the ball along the line, the 6’1, 235-pound junior provided all of the little intangibles that enabled the Hicksville based school to climb out of a 14-0 fourth quarter hole by rallying to score 15 unanswered points in the final eight minutes to defeat Xavier, 15-14.
Lining up at guard when his team had the ball, Stroughn’s run-blocking would aide in yielding a season-high 82 yards of ground production. He would also contain any pressure that the Knights attempted to apply up the middle, giving senior quarterback, Joseph Hall, the necessary time to step into his throws and hit Armani Cruz for a pair of homerun passes for scores to cut the deficit to 14-12.
Well aware that any further scoring by Xavier might put the game out of hand, Stroughn would energize the Titan defense, making nine tackles (2 TFL), notching a sack, and putting so much pressure (2 hurries) on the opposing quarterback that Xavier failed to complete a single pass in four tries. By holding their visitors from Manhattan scoreless during the last 12 minutes of play, the defense set the stage for the offense to steal the “w” and break Holy Trinity (1-2) into the win column.
Fresh off of suffering the first loss as a starter of his varsity career to Stepinac in the second weekend of the 2017 season, Campisi was not always perfect (he threw two interceptions) in his most recent outing last Saturday. However, like a true leader and money-performer, he was lights out when he needed to be, throwing for one score and running for the game-winner to lead the Friars to a 14-7 win over Iona Prep in the marquee game of week #3.
A defensive battle where penalties seemed to play a part in derailing multiple drives for both teams, Campisi would complete 16 of his 24 pass attempts for 150 yards….A consummate dual-threat signal caller, the future Harvard lacrosse player also took off with his legs seven times to gain an additional 27 yards….While these numbers may not seem overwhelming at first sight, we caution you to look not at the quantity and instead focus on the quality of his production.
With this team trailing 7-0 at the time, the junior field general capitalized off of a huge INT return by STA linebacker, Tynan Hillery, hitting star wide-out, Heron Maurisseau-O’Neal with a 10-yard bullet to even the score seven seconds into the 2nd quarter.
Well aware of the stakes and how this game would undoubtedly factor into playoff seeding, both defenses dug deep, keeping the game deadlocked for the next 33 minutes…But alas, someone needed to step up and embrace the hero role and that person was Campisi, who on the final drive of the game made at least three or four plays that preserved the eventual winning march.
Taking over possession at their own 28 yard line with approximately eight minutes remaining, Campisi’s first game-changing display came a little more than two minutes into the drive when he connected again with Heron Maurisseau-O’Neal on a 38-yard pass to put the Friars in business at the Gaels’ 22-yard line….Three unsuccessful plays that resulted in STA moving seven yards in the wrong direction would set the stage for the greatest of Campisi’s works. Facing 4th-and-17, Head Coach Rich Reichert elected to pass up a 46-yard field goal attempt and instead put the game in the hands of his 11th grade quarterback. His faith and confidence was rewarded two-fold as Campisi kept the drive going when he scrambled, cut back, and found a hole, picking up the needed yardage and more to set up a 1st and goal….Having gone above and beyond to move the chains on that priceless and clutch run, it was only fitting that a few snaps later, it was Campisi that posted the game-winner, calling his own number on a QB keeper to plunge the ball across the line from a single yard out.
Through three weeks, Campisi is completing 68.5 percent (50-for-73) of his passes for 523 yards and three touchdowns. He has added an additional 174 yards and three scores on 28 carries with his legs.
Having already played Stepinac and Iona Prep in back-to-back weeks, St. Anthony’s continues this monster part of their schedule when they faceoff with undefeated Monsignor Farrell under the lights Friday Night on September 29th.
In the AAA season preview, we posed the question, “is there life after Bobby Wing for the Eagles?” The answer is an emphatic yes and a big reason for it is the quick emergence and development of their junior quarterback from Brooklyn, Badyna.
Throwing for an average of 281.5 yards and one touchdown apiece in each of his first two games of the season (both hard fought losses to current undefeated teams—Stepinac/Farrell), as if it had not already happened, week #3 would be the definitive coming out party for #12, as he posted his best statistical game despite playing without two of his preferred targets (Chris Ledlum and Shakim Douglas; both scratched late because of injuries) in a 34-19 non-league victory over Poly Prep.
Seeing his team leading only 7-2 at the half, Badyna may have only been playing in his third varsity game, but he performed like a cool, collected, and polished veteran during the final 24 minutes of play, launching three second half touchdown passes to clinch the first win of 2017 for the boys from Staten Island.
Following a 30-yard field goal make by Poly Prep to cut the deficit to just two points (7-5), Badyna wasted little time in regaining the momentum, targeting John Martello multiple times, including a 16-yard TD strike that culminated the drive in the final 10 seconds of the third quarter to increase the Eagles’ advantage to 14-5.
Points would be flying up on the board in the fourth quarter as the two programs combined to score five touchdowns….Of the three touchdowns scored by St. Peter’s, two were direct lines from Badyna to Frank DiMattina, as the duo hooked up for a 55-yard missile for the first score of the quarter to make the score 21-5, and then continued their own personal arms race when no more than 90 seconds later, they responded to an 80-yard Blue Devil TD by again playing pitch/catch for another TD to reestablish a comfortable 15-point advantage (27-12).
On the day, Badyna completed 13 of his 21 attempts for 249 yards (144 to DiMattina) for the aforementioned three touchdowns….For the year, his growing stat line presently reads as follows: 54-for-96 (56.2 percent completion rate) for 812 yards and five touchdowns…These numbers currently have him ranked 3rd overall in NYS for total passing yards and 4th for average per game (270.7).
While it appears that the learning curve does not/never did exist for him, Badyna will continue to get tested as the Eagles will square off in week #4 against defending AAA titlists, Cardinal Hayes…Already safely on the radar, if Badyna plays as well against the Cardinals as he did against Poly Prep, his stock may just explode out of the atmosphere and into a new dimension.