By Matt Diano:
When: Saturday November 18th, 2017
Where: Mitchel Athletic Complex
Time: 11 am
History of the Season Series:
-Xaverian swept the regular season series, winning 14-13 on September 30th before expanding the margin of victory to 20-6 on November 3rd.
-In both of the Clippers victories, junior standout running back, Roberto Auguste, had breakout performances, running for a combined total of 380 yards (205 in game #1) and scoring two touchdowns apiece in each of the head-to-heads.
-Xaverian QB, James Resker, had struggled with turnovers, tossing three between the two games. However, when he does avoid INTs, he is proving to be quite capable in the air, competing 57 percent (16 of 28) of his throw attempts. His role grew considerably in the rematch in November, as his pass attempts doubled from nine to 18 and his yardage tossed increased from 88 to 170.
-After being limited to just eight yards on two grabs in the first game, Senior, Timmy McCabe, was stellar in November, making four snatches for a team-high 75 yards.
-Two-way athletic freak, Isaiah Amazon, proved his ability to impact a game on either side of the ball, catching a 50-yard pass in the first meeting and following it out with an amazing defensive showing that saw him notch a sack, cause two fumbles, and make five stops, in the rematch.
-Philip Iacono has led the Xaverian defense in tackles per game in the series, averaging 8.5 stops per….He also logged an interception in the second game….Sophomore Derin Hansen is not far behind, as he has consistently recorded eight tackles in each contest.
-After surrendering 120 yards on the ground in the first game, the #1 ranked Clipper defense held Spellman to just 57 yards rushing in the November rematch….
-For the Pilots, the senior duo of Noah Stewart and Steven Manfredi, wreaked havoc in their team’s two losses…Combing to record 18 TFL in the two games, Stewart (23 stops; nine for a loss) and Manfredi (22 tackles, nine for a loss) have been bright spots despite the overall outcome.
-In the November defeat, Justin Medina, was spectacular in the defensive backfield, picking off a pair of passes for Spellman…In the initial meeting, he had a pick-6…Between his INT return for a TD in game #1 and his TD rush in the second game, he is personally responsible for 12 of the 20 points that Spellman has scored in the two contests.
Two teams who have had made a history of getting to the title, the last time that at least one of these schools was not participating in the “A” finals was 2012….Since that point, the Xaverian has reached championship weekend in four of the past five years, finishing as runners-up in 2013 and 2014 before winning it all (against Spellman) in 2015….Spellman is making their third straight trip to the title game, having lost 31-12 in the aforementioned 2015 finals to Xaverian, and then following it up with a 32-22 defeat in last season’s championship to Moore Catholic….The Pilots are looking to win their first “A” crown since having a run of two in three years in 2006 and 2008.
On paper, it is no secret who is heavily favored in this game….In addition to entering the weekend undefeated in league games this season, Xaverian boasts both the top-rated offense (27.9 points per game) and the best defense (10.6 points allowed) this season. These numbers are even slightly misleading when you consider that their lone loss was in a non-conference game in the first week of the season where 20 of the 95 total points they gave up were put on the board.
The Clippers will be expected to stay with what has worked so well for them in the past; AKA, heavy doses of handing the pigskin off to their junior stud RB, Auguste….A leading candidate to be the recipient of the Offensive Player of the Year in the “A” Division, Auguste tops the field in just about every rushing category possible. His 144 carries are almost 50 more than the next guy on the list, his 1,126 yards are more than double the next man, he is the only person to average over 100+ per game (125.1), and not shockingly, his 13 TD runs lands him the #1 spot.
While they have not had to utilize the pass game very much (approx. 12 attempts per game) in 2017, when the ball is in the air, signal caller, James Resker, has delivered, as he too stands alone on the leaderboard with 845 passing yards, a 56.2 percent completion percentage, and seven TD hurls….It is quite a major advantage when option B is just as lethal as your primary weapon….Assisting Resker in compiling his impressive numbers just happen to the #1 and #2 ranked receivers, McCabe (17 catches for 295 yards and four scores) and Jason Perlstein (15 grabs, 239 yards, and two touchdown receptions). Amazon has also been a great weapon out wide, racking just under 27 yards per catch to total 269 on only 10 grabs. His three TD snatches are second only to McCabe.
Lacking some of the star power that is present on the opposing sideline, for Spellman, the name of the game on Saturday has to be “total team effort”….They do not possess a break away, take over the game offensive player the way that Xaverian can ride Auguste….What they do have though is a number of steady and consistent student-athletes that if they work together, can make special things happen for the Pilots….We have already talked about Medina’s exploits as a defensive back; however, he also happens to be their #1 option out of the offensive backfield as well, running for 467 yards and four touchdowns this season. Complementing him will two additional 12th graders, Darrell Okpo and Michael Booth…Okpo, who scored a 25-yard TD in last year’s title game, leads the squad with five rushing TDs and is second in yardage with 260…Booth, who as one of the best linemen in the division (reigning Player of the Year at his position), is more accustomed to opening the holes than running through them, has been spotlighted a bit as a back, compiling 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 31 carries…Finally, even though he has not been used much in this capacity, you cannot sleep on the possibility than an individual like [Noah] Stewart might be asked to make a contribution on the ground. Carrying the ball just 14 times for 57 yards, Stewart may not seem like a weapon, but his 47 yards in the 2016 title game solidify him as a very genuine factor.
Because we perceive Xaverian to have more of a quick strike offense, our feeling is that similar to game #1, if Spellman can make the game into a defensive war, they could very well steal it….On the contrary, if Xaverian/Auguste is allowed to dictate terms and put up 20+, they likely will be heading home with the trophy for the second time in the past three seasons.