By Matt Diano:
For any senior classman, when you reach week #6 of the regular season, it begins to dawn on you that the finish line is inching closer by the second. For some, the realization that the journey is close to reaching its destination is a cause of for added pressure and tightening up. For others, it is a reason to reflect on all you have accomplished while simultaneously acknowledging that there is still business to be completed. Like a diamond, for this second group, the pressure does not hinder them, it brings out the best in them…Kyle Angus belongs to the latter!
Putting forth what was without debate the finest overall performance of his two-year career, the 6’1, 190-pound running back needed just eight total touches to record a mind-blowing five TDs in the Friars’ 56-32 Homecoming triumph over their visitors from the Bronx, Cardinal Hayes….In doing so, he became the first St. Anthony’s player (excluding TD passes) to score five touchdowns in a single game since Rob McCann accomplished the feat in November of 2014…Unlike McCann, who caught all five of his TDs, the all-purpose tailback would showcase all of his tools, running for three touchdowns and making a pair of TD grabs to demonstrate the balance of his repertoire.
Scoring the first 6 of his 30 overall points on a 62-yard 3rd&19 swing pass on the Friars’ opening possession, Angus caught the ball near the sideline but then cut back towards the middle of the field where he ran undisturbed the rest of the way to give STA the early 7-0 lead…His second touchdown of the 1st quarter came two minutes and 40 seconds later, when following a Cardinals kickoff return to even the score at 7 apiece, Angus would put the finishing touches on a 5-play, 84-yard drive by plunging the ball in on a 7-yard run to make the score 14-7.
With his team now enjoying a comfortable 35-14 lead at the break, Angus would pick up where he left off, running a carbon copy route of his first TD on the second play of the 2nd half and taking it 47 yards to the house for his second touchdown reception of the evening…He later tacked on two additional third quarter TDs on runs from distances of 51 and 1 yard to account for his full array of tallies.
All in all, Angus carried the ball five times for 68 yards and added another 119 yards on three grabs to conclude the game with a season-high187 all-purpose yards….On the season, he has now rushed for 239 yards on 47 carries (tied with QB, Greg Campisi for team-lead with 7 TDs) and made 22 catches totaling 392 yards (4 touchdowns). His 11 combined touchdowns leads the “AAA” division and ranks him 3rd overall among all NYCHSFL competitors.
Up next for Angus and the Friars is the game that all LI/Westchester football fans have been waiting weeks to see go down…A clash that will determine the top seed in the triple-A playoffs, St. Anthony’s will have the luxury of playing on the friendly confines of Cy Donnelly field when they bang heads with Iona Prep…The top-2 highest scoring teams in the NYCHSFL, Iona Prep comes to South Huntington averaging 43.8 points per game; the host Friars counter with a 41.2 PPG average…DON’T BLINK, because points will be quick and plentiful on October 19th.
If you wanted to know the last time that the Crusaders entered a weekend stuck in a four-game drought, you would have to turn back your calendar all the way to the 2006 season. However, this was precisely the circumstance that the Westchester based program faced when they hosted Monsignor Farrell last Saturday night…But thanks to the 5’11, 175-pounder Mount Vernon resident, that slide would not reach five, as Harris would come up big in the second half to aid Stepinac in their 35-17 win over their guests, Monsignor Farrell.
One of the most naturally blessed athletes anywhere in New York State, Harris is capable of beating you in so many diverse ways and during week #6, he would put this versatility on full display.
Trailing 20-17 at the time, the 2018 Super-11 selection (signifying him as one of the top student-athletes in the Hudson Valley region) would be a definitive momentum shifter late in the 3rd quarter when he made a jumping catch 40 yards down field in tight coverage and then turned on the burners to trek the final 20 for what would be the game-winning score as the O’Donnell mentored school took a 21-17 lead…The Harris touchdown catch (one of three grabs he made for 82 yards) would ignite a streak of 21 unanswered points, enabling the Crusaders to pull away during the last 16 minutes of regulation.
Respected and feared as much for his special team prowess as he is for his pass-catching talents, Harris (with his school’s advantage having been increased to 28-17) emerged with what could best be considered the final nail in the Lions’ coffin half way through the 4th quarter when he fielded a punt on his own 30 and raced from sideline to sideline before cutting back to the center en route to going all the way for the 70-yard TD return for his second score of the half…Earlier in the game, he also returned a kickoff 60 yards to raise his cumulative output to 130 in this facet of the game…Factoring in his production as a receiver, his grand total was 212 yards.
With there still being plenty of time to earn a top-4 seed in the postseason, Stepinac would look to build off of their first league win of the season when they host Christ the King on October 20th.
Famous author, Napolean Hill once wrote, “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed. And in the case of the 6’1, 215-pound Staten Island resident, no words could be more genuine.
A gentleman who proved that gaudy statistics are not a prerequisite in order to be considered for POTW honors, in the words of his Head Coach, George Mahoney, Cullen “did a bit of everything” in leading the Eagles to the 15-0 victory over Xaverian this past Friday night.
On the offensive side of the gridiron, the STP senior would be utilized as a spot ball carrier, taking the hand-off only six times in total, but maximizing each opportunity to finish the game with 41 yards on the ground (6.83 average per touch)…While he himself may not have been afforded the euphoria that accompanies punching “one in for the six”, Cullen’s contributions were undeniably valuable as his efforts came during two extended drives in the 1st and 4th quarters that eventually translated into all of the Eagles’ points on TD runs by teammates from Eric Torres and Kaiwan Taylor.
Defensively, Cullen has emerged as a game-changer during the past three weeks. Starting the season as more of a pass coverage OLB, since making the conversion to the Mike linebacker, both the individual and the team have enjoyed an elevation in overall performance…Free now to “wreak havoc all over the field” as it was expressed by Mahoney, Cullen would be credited with five tackles, 1 TFL, four QB hurries, and even managed to recover a fumble in helping his school even their record to 3-3 on the year…With him at the center of the D-Unit, St. Peter’s not only pitched their first shutout since the 2014 season, they also limited a very capable Clipper offense (entered averaging 248 yards of total offense and 21.2 points per contest) to a meager 163 yards of cumulative output (their second lowest of 2018).
As a whole, the reassigning of Cullen has transformed the Eagles defense from a group that was surrendering nearly 30 points per game through three weeks into a dominant, shutdown brood that has allowed just 20 points total in weeks 4 through 6 (6.7/average).
Cullen and the new look STP “D” will face a huge test this coming weekend when they go on the road to face a Kellenberg juggernaut that is putting up 40 points and 400+ yards per outing.
If there was ever a student-athlete born to be a future NYCHSFL player of the week honoree, it is a young man with the name Nazareth…And, much like Christians travel far and wide in order to visit the birthplace of the savior, the two-way player who hails from Queens Village would go on a journey of his own during week #6, propelling St. Francis Prep to their first win of the season, 28-21, over rival Holy Cross, on October 14th.
Eight days removed from rushing for a career-high 143 yards (on 21 carries) in a loss to Fordham Prep, the 5’9, 188-pound senior would again be at the top of his game last Sunday, surpassing the century mark for a second consecutive weekend and the third time in his career (ran for 114 yards against Mount St. Michael almost exactly one year prior; Oct. 15th versus Mount St. Michael Academy,)…Darn-near mirroring his personal bests from week #5, McFarlan was a workhorse for the Terriers, handling the prolate spheroid 24 times (more than double his closest teammate) for a gain of 142 yards, with one TD…The crux of an offensive scheme that strives to break their opponents’ will with long, sustained drives, McFarlan would immediately take some of the wind out of Crusader sails when he orchestrated a 9:00 1st quarter drive.
Running for 401 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, McFarlan has already exceeded his production in one category (currently has 420 yards rushing in 2018) and needs just two more scores to establish a new landmark in the other…Not surprisingly, he is the #1 person across the board for SFP in all run-related matters.
Rounding out his afternoon, McFarlan also made his presence known on defense, recording five stops to equal his tackle total from all of 2017, with 32.
Jackson Tucker (So.); QB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea Vikings
Don’t look now but it appears that Mike Corona’s Vikings have their own mini Peyton Manning clone in the person of 5’9, sophomore field general [Tucker]…Trailing the majority of the game (with the exception of an early 6-0 edge), SJS would join St. Francis Prep in breaking into the win column (1-5) during week #6 when a 30-yard Hail Mary by Tucker landed in the leaping arms of senior WR, Ryan Simermeyer, to catapult the Staten Island school to a dramatic 40-35 victory.
Needing “only 42” more 4th quarter rallies to tie the future NFL Hall-of-Famer’s record for career comebacks, the parallels between Tucker and Manning extends beyond a mutual clutch gene…Rather, just like the legendary Colts/Broncos field general [note: now 2nd in career passing yards to Drew Brees], the SJS 10th grader is proving himself to be a master at chewing up opposing secondaries with laser precision…Following a 17-for-29 (58.6%) passing game on October 12th that saw him throw for 263 yards and hurl three TDs, Tucker presently tops all AA quarterbacks in both total aerial yardage (1,354) and completion percentage (59.6%; 102-for-171). His 10 TD tosses puts him in a four-way tie for runner-up honors among the double-A elite.
And while the deep ball into the corner of end zone with 1.8 seconds showing on the clock will be the moment that gets remembered forever, let it be known that as great of a play as it was, it represented only one of the four total touchdowns in which Tucker played a role in. In addition to the game-winning score, Tucker had previously connected with Simermeyer earlier in the game, and also hit junior, Kyle Gaor, for the latter’s first TD of 2018….As an added bonus, Tucker was the Vikings’ leading rusher as well, accumulating 54 yards on seven carries while punching in his second running TD of the year.
When Tucker and Joe’s by the Sea returns to the field this Friday, they will do so against the current first-place team in the “A” division, Kennedy Catholic….A clash of styles, the host Gaels will attempt to slow down SJS’s bomb squad by relying heavily on their two-headed monster [Surrett and Proctor] of a ground attack…Allowing an average of just 61 yards in the air against Catholic school opponents, KC has yet to face a QB as polished as Tucker, so it will be interesting to see how their defensive backfield responds to the pressure.
We don’t know if the 5’9, 163-pound senior from the Bronx is a fan of the Karate Kid, but one thing is for certain, he certainly subscribes to that same, “strike first, strike hard, no mercy” philosophy made popular by fictitious sensei, John Kreese.
Zoned in from the opening whistle, it would take Simmons no time at all to set the tone for the kind of memorable day it would be for both himself and MSMA in their 35-0 goose-egging of Cardinal Spellman in a battle for Bronx bravado.
Recording the first rushing touchdown of his scholastic career when he broke for a 65-yard gainer on the Mountaineers first possession of the game, Simmons would only carry the ball on four separate occasions, but inflicted maximum damage to the Pilots’ defense, concluding the game with exactly 100 ground yards. Used almost exclusively as a defensive player last season and having never run for more than 79 yards in a contest this year, the triple digit effort last Saturday was the first of its kind for the Mount student-athlete. He was one of two Mountaineers on October 13th to reach the century mark, as teammate/Week #1 POTW honoree, Conrad Perry, led all RBs with 189 yards.
And like all of the charges under the command of Head Coach, Mario Valentini, the job is only half done when you put points up on the board. Instead of resting on one’s offensive laurels, the focus immediately shifts to “D”, where Simmons would also show himself to be spectacular.
A major factor in MSMA’s ability to earn the program’s first shutdown since the 2013 season (34-0 over now defunct Bishop Ford), one of Simmon’s pair of interceptions would come in the end zone, keeping the shutout in tact…A physical presence as well as a ball hawk, his six solo tackles last Saturday were tops on the team.
The reigning “AA” Defensive Player of the Year commenced last Sunday afternoon by leading the Firebirds onto the field in his traditional manner, sprinting with Old Glory waving proudly in his arms. The pregame ritual, which the Levittown native has doing since the second week of the 2017 season, would hardly be the last time he would be at the forefront of a charging Blue & Gold platoon during Kellenberg’s 42-14 shellacking of host Chaminade during the 2018 Marianist Bowl…The victory, which snapped a five-game losing streak in the series (KMHS last won in 2010) marked just the third time ever that the Firebirds bested the Flyers on the gridiron.
Energized and/or inspired by the large contingent of family members in attendance, the future United States’ Naval Academy Midshipman would play one of, if not the most complete games of his varsity career, tying his personal-highs for tackles (11) and tackles for loss (3)…In truth, while those numbers certainly stand out in their own regard, they almost fail to do justice to the 6’3, 195-pound, three-sport athlete (2018 Varsity basketball Most Valuable Player; 2017 CHSAA Lacrosse State Champion)…For those watching the game in person, the three tackles for a loss (plus a sack) with which Wilson was credited seemed on the low end…#88 spent so much time in the Chaminade backfield that he might as well have asked his parents to hire a moving truck so he could set up permanent residency there.
The heartbeat and backbone of the #1 ranked defense in the double-A division (#2 in the entire NYCHSFL), with Wilson setting the example, the Firebirds are allowing just 10.3 points per outing. And remarkably, this statistic skewed by the fact in all six of their victories in 2018, the starting 11 often did not play the full 48 minutes. For instance, before subbing in their second and third strings in the 4th quarter, KMHS had held Chaminade scoreless while only giving up 102 yards of total offense through three quarters.
Having passed their biggest test of the season thus far, Kellenberg will put their 17-game immaculate streak on the line this coming Saturday when they return home to play St. Peter’s under the lights.