Sep 132018
 

This season the AA division features a new format since it has grown to 12 teams.  There will be 2 regional divisions, East & West consisting of 6 teams each.  Teams will play all of the teams in their respective region and then cross-over for 2 more AA Regular Season Games.  The top 4 from each region will then qualify for the AA Playoffs where the teams will be bracketed and cross over for playoff matchups (ie. 1 East v 4 West, 2 West v 3 East & 1 West v 4 East, 2 East v 3 West).

By Matt Diano:

Holy Cross

Head Coach

Tim Smith (4th Season As Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-4/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 26-22, to Xavier

2018 Overview

Now entering their second season as a “AA” program, the Green & Gold army would have a very strong regular season in 2017, earning the #3 seed for the postseason but ultimately getting bounced prematurely by a fired-up Xavier squad.

Gone in 2018 are many of the student-athletes who were paramount to the successes the Knights enjoyed last season.  Included in the lot of graduated seniors were a trio of state recognized warriors—Justin Felder (3rd Team RB), Mike Taylor (3rd Team DL), and Corey Allen (Honorable Mention Defensive Back)…Further subtractions from the roster were the likes of Tyler Hallerdin (second on the team with 129 rushing yards; contributed 27 tackles on defense), Brandon Orgill (tied for the team-lead with 16 receptions), Myles Taitt-Cooper (40 tackles; team-high 8 pass defenses), Thomas Tuohy (33 tackles, 4 PDs), and Russell Riescher (37 tackles, 2 QB bags).

What this means for Coach Tim Smith and his Knights is that it is more important than ever that those individuals who served in reserve roles a season, come into the new year fully prepared to battle.

In the midst of major roster turnover, if there is one position where the Knights do not have to fret, it will be under center where they will return their starter from 2017, senior, Michael Henglein.  As an 11th grader, the resident of Broad Channel, would have a productive campaign, completing 58-of-121 attempts (47.9%) for 932 yards and four touchdowns.   In fact, the only critique you could make of the 5’10, 181-pound field general is that he would like to limit turnovers (six INTs)…Without the safety net of a game-changing RB like Felder, it will force Henglein to take his game to the next level and serve as the poised composure that his band needs him to be in 2018.

Holy Cross 2017 College Commits

Losing the 1,600 yards (10th in NYS) and 21 TDs (9th) posted by Felder a season ago, Holy Cross will have to hope that senior, Chance Ward, can dig deep and find another level as he takes over as the most experienced tailback on the roster….As a junior, Ward, who at 5’10 and 195-pounds has the size and strength to barrel over defenders, would rush for 62 yards and be the only non-senior to score a TD on his 14 attempts.

Seth Orengo, who it should be noted, has been used in the past as a running option (7 carries for 41 yards) is the leader among returning players in receptions with 3 for 35 yards.  With the top-5 targets from last season now on to bigger and better, his numbers are sure to go up…Senior TE, Tyriek Dodd, only made one catch last season, but it went for 65 yards, so you know he has stretch the field potential.  At 6’5, 210, he should be able to establish position anytime he wants against smaller LBs and DBs.

With the majority of last year’s starting defense also consisting of seniors, there will not be much of an advantage to being on “D” as opposed to having possession.  In each case, Smith will be putting his faith in the hands of young men who will need to play with a chip on their shoulders to make up for what they lack in actual proven track record.

Perhaps the one trait that distinguishes the defense from the offense is that the former has a known foundation in the persons of linebackers extraordinaire, Donte Kenney and Joshua Rivera….Ranked 1st and 3rd on the team in total tackles last season with 81 and 49 respectively, the 12th grade duo also combined for four sacks (3 by Kenney)…As the expression says, as they go, so too will the remaining nine.

Floral Park resident, John Zarnowski (9 tackles, 1 interception), is the only other player who appeared to receive noticeable field time last season.  As such, he becomes the default commander of the back line.

Holy Trinity

Head Coach

Tony Mascia (28th Season at the School)

Last Season

Record: 1-7/Did not Qualify for the “AA” Playoffs

2018 Overview

A year removed from a disappointing 1-7 season, anyone who knows anything about Titan football is already keenly aware of the fact that last season was without question paradoxical….Under the leadership of Tony Mascia, who is approaching his third decade in Hicksville, Holy Trinity is not a program that is down often; and when they are down, it usually does not last particularly long….With these sentiments in mind, we would be incredibly surprised if we did not see a major bounce back from the Green & White army in 2018.

QB Ryan Razzano will lead the Titan offense

As the saying goes, “One’s team loss is another’s gain” and in the case of Holy Trinity, that gain will come in the person of senior quarterback, Ryan Razzano.  A two-year starter under center for McGann-Mercy before the school shut its doors this past June, while the circumstances surrounding his arrival are painful to any person who truly appreciates the value of a catholic education and wishes to see it survive, you likely won’t hear the Titans crying over it.  In fact, if anything, they will probably thank the Heavenly father for the sacrifice that has delivered them this dynamic dual-threat field general…Equally blessed in all of his appendages, the 5’10, 180-pounder from Manorville may only have this season to make his mark in the NYCHSFL, but from all the things we have heard, we feel confident he will succeed in becoming a household name.

In addition to the firepower that Razzano will bring to HT in all facets, the Titans will also welcome back their leading rusher from a season ago, senior Jalen Rivers.  As the program’s primary option in the ground game in 2017, the Westbury native would accumulate 247 yards on the ground and find the end zone on three occasions on 58 touches from scrimmage….Fellow seniors–Chris Porcaro, Jason Brown, Spencer Nixon—as well as emerging junior, CJ Riccobono, will all be called upon to provide that second wave of speed/power from the offensive backfield….Aside from Rivers, it is Riccobono, despite his young age, who possesses the most experience, carrying the ball 21 times for 48 yards as a sophomore in 2017…Porcaro and Brown combined for seven carries in their respective junior years; expect WAY MORE production from them in their final appearances as Titans.

True to the tradition, HT will again be incredibly stout on both the offensive and defensive lines…..Led by a trio of two-way seniors—-John Stroughn, MiAndre Hughes, and James Russo, Mascia and his staff are counting on an ability to own the trenches this season as a means of reversing their misfortune from last year…Now a year more mature and hopefully more brutal in their dominance, this threesome will unite with the likes of sophomores, Jonathan Morales and Elijah Tobin in spearheading an attack that will be hungry to improve upon the approximately 150 yards of total offense it averaged last season.

As noted above, a program that prides itself on developing their student-athletes into COMPLETE players, many of these same names above will be standouts on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Stroughn led all Titans in tackles last season with 63 (an average of 7.9/game) and added sack and four quarterback hurries to his resume….Rivers finished 2017 with 28 stops, two sacks, and four QB hurries of his own….Nixon was a known commodity from his LB position, making 27 tackles as a junior….Brown (21 tackles, 1 INT) and Porcaro (16 tackles) will join Rivers in solidifying the secondary.

Sophomore WR/CB Jaden Sinclair, and Junior TE/LB Brian Holder, were identified by Mascia as fresh faces on the varsity this season that could be quick to become playmakers.

Senior PK, Tim Kiggins (6-for-9 on PATs; 2-for-2 on FGs) will again be a trusted asset in putting points on the board for HT.

Kellenberg Memorial 

Head Coach

Kevin Hanifan (23rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 11-0/2017 NYCHSFL “AA” League Champions, defeating Fordham Prep, 54-19, in the title game

2018 Overview

Living proof that a championship season is never any further than a year away at any given time, the 2017 Firebirds went from winning one game in 2016 to being at the top of the AA mountain following a remarkable undefeated season (11-0). They were so dominant that they boasted both the top offensive and defensive units in the league….Out-scoring their foes by an astounding ratio of 425 to 150, the Hanifan mentored Marianists won every game by 10 or more points and really poured it on during championship weekend, defeating an incredibly talented Fordham Prep squad (featuring four All-State players, including the NYCHSFL’s career leader in passing yards and TD throws) by a lopsided score of 54-19.

While no coach ever wants to burden their team with the pressures of a repeat bid, the truth is that this KMHS squad possesses such a uniquely special group of returnees (have won titles in each of the past two years—JV in 2016; Varsity in 2017) that even if a single word was not uttered, the expectation is obvious that it cannot be ignored.

The owners of a mind-blowing running attack that accounted for 3,446 yards and 49 touchdowns a season ago, the Blue & Gold machine brings back their top-4 rushing options, including the “Red Headed Assassin”, Matt Sluka….One of the profiled student-athletes in last year’s preview, even with all of the flattery we gave him in the lead-up to his junior season, the Roslyn resident still managed to exceed even our grandest visions…A 2nd team All-State honoree in his first season as the Kellenberg starting signal caller, Sluka would lead all Empire State quarterbacks in rushing yards (1,619) and touchdown dashes (24).  In fact, his yardage total ranked him 7th overall regardless of position…And as if he was not already borderline invincible with his legs, let it be noted that he is pretty darn proficient with his arm as well.  Last season, he completed 61.3% of his pass attempts (57-for-93) and tossed an additional 10 TDs to have a hand in 34 of the team’s 61 total touchdowns….As icing on the cake, he successfully converted 32 of his 40 PAT tries to further add to his mind-blowing point total…With all of this in mind, it came as no surprise when he was named the 2017 AA Offensive Player of the Year.

Kellenberg returns both the AA Offensive & Defensive Players of the year in Dan Wilson & Matt Sluka

It is not out of the realm of possibility to think that Sluka could potentially win every game single-handedly, but thanks to the best “supporting cast’ in all of New York State, he is not going to have to even try…Instead, like a murder’s row, one-by-one, the likes of Frankie Roder, Jordan DeLucia, and Jake Deakin, will all take turns chewing up major yardage and finding the house time and time again….If not for playing on the same team and having to share carries any one of these three talented backs could have easily been an All-State candidate himself under different conditions…Roder was 2nd to Sluka in all major rushing categories for the Firebirds, concluding his junior year with 809 yards and 15 touchdowns on 120 carries….DeLucia, who missed four games during the season due to injury, was second on the team with an average carry of 11.2, accumulating 618 yards and scoring five times on his 55 handoffs….Deakin, who may only get spot touches this season as he takes on a greater responsibility as a starting linebacker, will no doubt be effective if/when his number does get called.  Carrying the ball 33 times in 2017, he gained 152 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

When Sluka does decide to let the pigskin fly, he will do so knowing that three of the team’s top-4 receivers from last season will again be on the back end of the pitch and catch….Matthew Mongelli was #1 in all receiving categories as a junior in 2017, catching 17 balls for 426 yards and four touchdowns….Fellow rising senior, Sean Boll, would be second on the list, making nine grabs for 92 yards and one TD…DeLucia, who is a full-service RB, finished 4th on the team in catches with seven, but was so electrifying with the ball in his hands that three of those seven resulted in touchdowns.  He wrapped up 2017 with 203 receiving yards to give him over 800 yards of total contribution.

Anchoring the offensive line will be returning starter, Thomas Cipolla….Samir Umar, who saw time in a reserve role last season will be asked to step up and help Cipolla open up holes for the who’s who of KMHS running options referenced above.

Refusing to state a weakness, but saying that there is opportunity available for guys to emerge, the KMHS coaching staff will be faced with the task of replacing invaluable linemen in the persons of Center Pat Harinski (2017 All League), LT Brendan Higgins, OL/DL Brendan Whitehead (45 tackles/4 sacks; now playing collegiately at Sacred Heart) and DT Elijah Eddy (28 stops/1 sacks; currently playing for Pace), and you might as well throw LB Shawn Hughes (2017 AA Championship game Defensive MVP; 2nd on the team with 56 tackles in his senior year now playing at Western New England) into that mix as well….Seniors–Matt Olsen (22 tackles, 5 sacks) and Thomas Brzezinski (13 stops)—gained experience last season and should be counted on to do even more on the lines in their final season in Uniondale.

The graduation of defensive back extraordinaire, Aidan Fitzgerald (top-5 in NYS with six interceptions) is also a bit of a blow to the Kellenberg defense, but one that the coaching staff believes it can fill with the coming of age of their rising juniors and returning seniors…One name that is already circulating as the program’s next ball hawk is senior Alain Telfort.  As a junior, he recorded 14 tackles and an interception….Peter Taliercio (17 tackles, 1 sack, 3 pass defenses) is another name that opposing quarterbacks better best be aware of in the KMHS secondary.

The great news if you are a member of the Firebird faithful, is that while the new faces are learning to gell and/or grow into their increased roles, Kellenberg will be blessed with a consummate prime time performer in the person of reining AA Defensive Player of the Year, Danny WIlson…..The co-#1 overall student-athlete in the Kellenberg class of 2019, Wilson is exceptional in all endeavors.  A three-sport star who will play lacrosse at the United State Naval Academy, there is nothing on an athletic field/court that the Levittown native cannot and will do in order to ensure victory…..The team leader in both tackles (71) and sacks (9), what sets the future Midshipman apart from many of his peers is that his freak athleticism affords him the versatility to pretty much play any position on the field.   He is an unblockable pass rusher, a proficient run stopper, and if needed, is quick enough to drop back and become an extension of the secondary (had 3 pass break-ups in 2017)….Simply put, he Is to the defense, what Sluka is to the offense; a warrior that can take over the game whenever the occasion requires it.

St. Francis Prep 

Head Coach

Rich Carroll (3rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-5/Lost in the “AA” Semifinals, 41-14, to Fordham Prep

2018 Overview

Fresh off of their first winning season since 2013, when we proclaimed in last year’s preview that it was going to be a year of redemption for the Terriers, we were not kidding…Going from winless in Coach Rich Carroll’s first season at the helm to .500 in a year’s time, there is a momentum disseminating all throughout Fresh Meadows and we see every reason to think that 2018 is going to be next the next chapter in the climb back to the glory days of Carroll’s mentor, the legend, Vincent O’Connor.

A program that averaged nearly 186 yards per game and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground last season, there will be no slowing SFP down this year either, as the school returns two of their top-3 runners, have a senior who is one of their most improved players from one year to the next, and will welcome a potential impact sophomore who will turn some heads in his varsity debut.

Providing the 1-2 punch in the backfield for the Terriers will be junior quarterback, Omarion Jones, and senior tailback, Nazareth McFarlan….A human highlight film from under center, 5’9, 152-pound resident of Jamaica, Queens [Jones] led all St. Francis players in rushing yards last season, averaging 7.4 yard per carry to conclude the year with 580 yards and three touchdowns….A devil of a passer, in reference to the 666 yards he threw for as a 10th grader, Jones added seven more touchdowns to his total on 46-for-95.  Should he raise his completion percentage by 5-7 points, he will go from freak athlete playing QB to genuine all-purpose field general.

Coach Rich Carroll enters his 3rd year as Terriers Head Coach

McFarlan, who is a bona fide triple-threat as a runner, receiver, and kick returner, will be all kinds of dangerous in his final season wearing the Red & Blue jersey….Third on the team in 2017 with 401 rushing yards (5.6 average on 72 carries) and second with four TDs on the ground, the Queens Village product also enters the new season as the team leader in receptions from a year ago with 13 catches for 119 yards and 1 TD.   If you are not already sufficiently impressed, let it be known that he also averaged double digits as both a kick-off and punt returns.  The icing on the cake is that he plays on the other side of the ball too, and tied for the school lead with three interceptions as a junior.

Adding to the running options this season will be senior, Luca Capo, and 10th grader, Aubrey Mitchell….Getting spot carries last season, Capo totaled 60 yards and scored one touchdown on 16 rushing attempts.  With the likes of Chris Auricchio (423 yards, 7 TDs) and Marc Anthony Dalce (222 yards) having graduated, Capo’s work load will increase drastically.

In staying with what we suggested regarding Jones incorporating more of a balanced approach in his arsenal, McFarlan will be complemented by fellow seniors, William Manderson (WR) and Christopher Hine (TE).

At the time of publication, the final details on offensive line personnel were still being ironed out, but we are sure that whomever gets the call to block for the talented assortment of gentlemen above will do a fine job opening the holes and providing a clean pocket.

There will be a certain degree of crossover between the two sides of the ball as guys like McFarlan, Jones (18 tackles, 3 INTs), and Manderson (15 tackles) will again be a part of the defensive backfield rotation…Senior CB, Jaylen Velez (47 tackles, 1 sack) and Junior center fielder/FS, Robert Padavona will be another name to focus on in the secondary.

The linebacking corps will be faced with replacing several graduated seniors who were the lifeblood for the defense last season—3rd Team All-State selection, Shawn Bendeck (8th in NYS with 121 tackles), Dalce (67 stops), and Auricchio (31 tackles, team leading 3 sacks)…While It was expected to be a battle until the opening whistle to determine who would step in to fill this voids, one name that was mentioned with a lot of weight behind it was that of sophomore newcomer, Daniel Chung…..Seniors, Matthew Galante (6 tackles) and Christian Bahr-Lopez (10 stops) are a little undersized, but are listed on the roster as LBs and do have 2017 game experience in which to fall back on.

Max Cassamajor and Xavier Castro, who recorded 22 and 13 tackles respectively and combined for two sacks, will be the anchors of the defensive line…Flauderson Fergilus (10 tackles as a sophomore) could/should see additional reps as an 11th grader.

St. John the Baptist  

Head Coach

Ralph Carusillo (5th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 3-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 35-6, to Fordham Prep

2018 Overview

Much like Holy Trinity, the Cougars of St. John the Baptist are a program that is not accustomed to a losing a season….Runners-up in 2014 and semifinalists in 2015 and 2016, in his time at the helm of the West Islip located program, Head Coach Ralph Carusillo has cultivated a culture of winning, hard-nose football.  It is an attitude that permeates through the souls of every student-athlete he coaches and because of it, even when the chips seemed to be down, SJB has always found a way to make something happen….Winners of three of their last four regular season games in 2017, as small a feat as this may appear, the fact that momentum was able to be established could prove to be a great omen for the Cougars as they head into the 2018 season.

Gone to graduation might be the team’s #1 (Daniel Parker; 762 yards/6 touchdowns) and #3 leading rushers (Michael Palermo II; 457 yards/2 TDs), but thanks to the coming of age/development of some of their role players from a year ago, coupled with a major position change or two, the St. John the Baptist staff expressed nothing but confidence as they attempt to bounce back from last year’s 3-6 tally.

A school that is famous for its ground attack, the Cougars will turn to Jayden Louis, Bobby Spano, and David Amelemah to keep the tradition of rushing excellence alive for another season…Among this group, Spano possesses the most experience, running for just under four yards per carry (67 yards) on 17 hand-offs last season….Amelemah gained 33 yards on 13 rushing attempts, and Louis, who was only a frosh last season, appeared to be the most naturally explosive, finishing the season with 22 yards on his 5 rushing attempts….Another name that you cannot sleep on given his imme

nse ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands is senior, Nick Delcore…SJB’s starting QB during his junior campaign, Delcore will make the transition over to wide receiver in 2018, but it would not shock us to see the occasional reverse being run given his effectiveness with his legs.   Delcore finished last season second on the team in rushing yards with 491 and scored four touchdowns.  Hence, it is hard to imagine him not being used in some capacity as a running option during the course of the season….Larrry Conde, who was referenced as being in the DL rotation on the other side of the ball could be an insurance policy should any of the names above falter or get injured.  Aside from Delcore, Conde is the only player on the Cougar roster to reach 100 yards on the ground in 2017, concluding the year with 121 on 28 carries.

While we are still expecting a heavy dose of running, the addition of Nicholas Mazziotti as the new field general could certainly open up the passing game a bit more…Carusillo has certainly made more than a fair effort to surround his first-year varsity QB with an assortment of capable targets….The group will feature the previously mentioned Delcore, but Christian Maisel (1 catch for six yards as a freshman) is an individual who the coaches feel is ready to take on more responsibility from the tight end position.  Look for him to definitely become more visible within the offense in his sophomore season.

Coach Carusillo enters his 5th Season as Head Coach

Calling strength (so prevalent that Carusillo mentioned it twice) one of the characteristics of this year’s group, anyone who has followed SJB football over the year’s knows that it does not get much stronger than the average Cougar lineman….Listing three two-way linemen among his key players, the onus will fall on Jack Standwill, Matthew Stroble, and Jacob Carman to be human road graters….Mark Pillitteri, Alan Rodriguez, Thomas Jaycox, and Nicholas Rohrs will all provide depth and additional manpower to the O-line.

Defensively, Tim Gasparik (MLB) and Anthony Ermelino (OLB), as well as Jeremy DeJesus (OLB), DE Anthony Bossone, DT Nickolas Licata, and the tandem of Sebastian Lebron/Jacob Melendez will be among the prominent performers you are just learning about…Gasparik finished 2nd on the team last season with 77 total tackles (9.6/game); Ermelino notched 39 stops and added .5 sack; Licata made 33 tackles and had an interception.

Rounding out the remainder of the impact players on “D” will be some individuals already mentioned—-Conde (DE; 32 tackles/1.5 sacks), Amelemah (CB; 50 tackles/2 INTs), Maisel (4 tackles as a reserve strong safety), and Delcore (FS; credited with 1 tackle last year)

 

Xavier 

Head Coach

Chris Stevens (17th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-7/Lost in the “AAA” Semifinals, 28-7, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

Perennial semifinalists who won it all in 2015, it takes a special kind of player to suit up for Coach Chris Stevens.  An unapologetic throwback to the golden age of the sport, when Stevens is your coach, you are going to learn how to embrace the grind and what the definition of toughness truly is.

Underdogs the past two years, no matter what their record might be heading into the postseason, the Knights are usually the last team you ever want to see in a quarterfinal game.   In a day and age that has seen the game become overly reliant on big yardage plays, what we like about Xavier is that they have proven that you do not need freak athletes in order to enjoy a winning tradition.  On the contrary, as we learned from the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare,” slow and steady when executed diligently can also be a victorious formula.   In other words, why break for a 70-yard run and constantly makE your defense work overtime, when you have the option of pounding out 15 to 20 play drives that eat up clock and dissect the will of the opposition.

All of the above having been stated, there are no turtles on this year‘s roster and the Knights sure as heck will not be underdogs in 2018…After two years of sub-500 seasons, this season will be one where the boys of West 16th Street reaffirm themselves as an upper-echelon school with visions of Gatorade baths and trophy ceremonies.

An offense that rarely throws the ball, on the few occasions that is becomes necessary to air it out, senior, Evan Murphy, is the likely choice to be the person who undertakes this responsibility.  Having never attempted a varsity pass prior to last week, the 6’2, 185-pounder from the Big Apple went a perfect 3-for-3 for 66 yards in the 2018 opener.

Stepping in for last season’s workhorse, Jonathon Geruso (16th in the NYS with 1,640 yards; 14 touchdowns) will be an ensemble of adept rushers who together could/should surpass last year’s ground production of 2,342 yards and 20 touchdowns…At the top of this wealthy list of potential backs will be the team’s #2 rusher from a season ago, Demetrios Demetriades (team-best 6.2 yards per carry on his 67 handles to finish his junior year with 422 yards and two TDs)…Fellow senior, Daniel Vittiburga, will also enter the new year with some valuable game experience, as he carried the pigskin 28 times for 78 yards and took it to the promised land on two occasions as an 11th grader…Furthermore, the graduation of one Geruso just means there will be more opportunity for another, as now it will be junior, Matt [Geruso] who will be featured in the backfield…Murphy too (25 yards on 8 carries) is no stranger when it comes to looking for a hole to exploit.

The Knights feel they have what it takes to get in Championship form like they did in 2015

Once again, because air strikes are not prevalent within the scheme they incorporate, there is no designated go to target for the Knights.  In many cases, the same personnel you see running the ball will also showcase their versatility by acting as pass catchers…The perfect examples of this from last week were senior, Kevin Connolly, and junior, Frank Bernie…Connolly would run the ball once (for a gain of 34 yards) but proved to be most valuable as a receiver, as he was on the back end of 2/3 of Murphy’s completions to end week #1 with 66 yards courtesy of his hands…Bernie had a 12-yard run complemented by a 5-yard catch.

If ball-control and time of possession are characteristics of the offense, then the staple of the “D” is an unrelenting desire to take the field every weekend with a mission of allowing negative yards of total offense…During the championship season of 2015, a weekly theme on the players of the week piece was a Knight defensive player who racked up double digit tackles and had a hand in pitching a shutout…And, having already earned one goose-egg in the first weekend of the season, we truly are of the opinion that the 2018 Xavier defense is going to live up to the standard of excellent that Stevens has instilled.

Filled with returning talent anywhere you look, of the top-11 tacklers in 2017, eight are back to go it again this season.

The Grand Marshall of the hit parade for a second consecutive season will be last year’s leader in stops, Valery Gwardyak, who made 79 tackles as a junior…The Staten Island boy, in association with Mitchell Robinson (29 tackles, 1 sacks, 2 PDs) will set the tone for the LBs…Junior, James Donaldson, is a newcomer who should compete immediately for playing time.

John Walsh (54 tackles, 1 sack), Milton Guzman (39 tackles; co-team-high 3 sacks), and Jordan Sosa (38 tackles; also had 3 sacks), all had monster junior seasons along the DL…Giovanni Bernie (13 tackles), also entering his last season as a Knight, will see his role increase in 2018.

Connolly (3rd on the team with 65 tackles), and his senior classmates, Langston Williams (44 tackles, 2 sacks, team-best 2 INTs), Murphy (8 tackles, 1 pass break-up, and Demetriades (29 stops, 2 PDs), will unite with talented junior Christopher Mafuffi in locking down the secondary.

The 2017 Xavier junior varsity were the 2017 league champions.  So, while some members of the youth movement were noted, let it known that we are without hesitation stating that a multitude of other rookies will become household names by the time we flip to November on the calendar.   

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