The wait is over!!! After playing the role of bridesmaids in each of the past two seasons, the Pilots of Cardinal Spellman finally find themselves atop the NYCHSFL world, following a 20-18 victory over top-seeded Xaverian, in the “A” Division final….The victory avenged a pair of losses (14-13 on September 30th; 20-6 on November 3rd) during the regular season.
Surviving a serious scare in the semifinals that witnessed them have to climb out of a 14-0 4th quarter hole to Kennedy Catholic by scoring 16 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes of play, the Pilots were forced to sweat it out yet again in the title contest when a Xaverian 94-yard touchdown pass from James Resker to Timothy McCabe with 2:55 remaining put the Clippers up 18-14.
However, like a team that refused to lose on this day, the William Cawley led cohort would find an answer on their final drive of the game, when reigning Offensive Lineman of the Year, Michael Booth, channeled William “Refrigerator” Perry by pounding in the winning score from the 1-yard line with 25 ticks remaining in the game to earn his school the right to hoist the hardware for the first time since 2008…The winning score was set up by a clutch QB keeper by senior quarterback, Isaac Yearbook, who on 4th-and-5th, dove at the goal line and got just enough to earn the 1st down and keep hope alive….Earlier in the drive, it was a 29-yard completion from Yearwood to Junior WR, Lance Powell, on 3rd and three that served as the biggest gainer of the series, putting the ball on the Xaverian 27.
A contest of conflicting halves, everything would go right for the Pilots during the opening 24 minutes, as they built a 14-0 advantage by scoring on their first and last drives of the opening half….
Yearwood, who was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the “A” finals gave the Pilots the initial 6-0 lead with 7:10 remaining in the 1st quarter when he threw a beautiful ball to Powell for a 20-yard TD reception…A pattern all day, it was a 13-yard scramble by the signal caller on 3-and-10 that preserved this successful drive as well.
The score remained unchanged until the very last moments of the half, when after missing a 29-yard field goal, Spellman would step up in a massive way on defense, forcing a three-and-out and then blocking the ensuing punt attempt to take possession of the pigskin on the Clipper 5-yard line with approximately 40 seconds left on the clock….On the first offensive play following the special teams’ block, Noah Stewart would dart up the middle for the TD. A Yearwood 2pt conversion run accounted for the aforementioned margin at the midway point.
Entering title weekend with a perfect record in league play, Mike Jioia’s Clippers had no intention of going down quietly, as they came out of the locker room on fire, cutting the deficit to 14-6 on their first drive of the second half when 11th grade, stud running back, Roberto Auguste, finished off the nearly eight minute drive by bursting through for a 3-yard TD run…Prior to the Auguste TD trek, it was Emmanuelle Olagunju’s 23-yard rush that advanced to the ball to the opposing 6-yard line.
Xaverian, who was seeking their second crown in the past three years (defeated Spellman in the 2015 final), would further climb back into the contest when after standing strong on defense, they made it 2-for-2 in productive 2nd half drives, when Thomas Resker capped off their second possession with a 4-yard rush with 10:06 to play in the game…They would attempt to tie the game with a 2pt pass attempt, but the throw would never make it out of the hands of the quarterback….
Taking their first and only lead of the afternoon on that previously cited 94-yard bomb in the final 3:00 of regulation, the epic comeback story seemed to be ready to write itself…After all, as the owners of the #1 overall defense in all of Catholic football, most times when the game is put in the hands of the Clipper “D”, that game goes into the books as a “w”….But alas, as made famous by the movie, “Little Giants”, one-time is all you need, and today was that one-time for the Pilots…The afternoon belongs to them!!