Nov 012018

By Matt Diano:

Joe Randazzo (Sr.); RB/LB/PK/Athlete – Moore Catholic Mavericks

In his hit song, “I do Everything”, Jamaican R&B recording artist, Masego, talks about all of the things he can do…Well, with all respect due to this gentleman, kindly “hold Joe Randazzo’s ‘Root” Beer’.”…Because when you look at all that the 6’1, 230-pound senior out of Staten Island did this past Sunday in helping the Mavericks snap a two-game losing streak (63-22 over St. Joe’s by the Sea), you see that in comparison, you did not really do much after all.

Already a rather busy guy while tending to the defensive (LB) and specials teams (serves as both the place-kicker and punter) duties, Ranzazzo has seen his activity level increased even further during the past three weeks of the regular season, as injuries in the offensive backfield have forced him to embrace a new role…And whereas in weeks 6 and 7, the need was for him to serve as a ball carrier (15 carries for 70 yards, 1 TD between the two games), the 2018 finale would call for him to be more of a battering ram…And, like you would expect to see out of any senior at this time of the year, Randazzo did not disappoint in this selfless role, as it was his repeated “crushing blocks” to quote Head Coach, Nick Giannatasio, from the H-Back position that paved the way for the Mav’s three thoroughbreds—Justin Lacks (13 carries, 155-yards, 3 TDS), Mausari Miller (9 carries, 121 yards, 3 touchdowns), and Dashawn Lawton (2 hand-offs for 23 yards + 1 score) to combine for a total of 299 rushing yards and seven touchdowns in just 24 minutes to give MC the 50-16 lead at the intermission.

Not satisfied with allowing his teammates to have all of the fun and hog the box score, Randazzo himself would account for seven points of his own, as he ran in a pair of two-point conversions, completed a pass for another 2-pointer, and then connected on 1 of his 2 PAT attempts.

The defensive side of the ball would also treat the 12th grader well, as one week after establishing it, he would equal his career-high for tackles with 10 (5 solo, 5 assisted), including one stop for negative yardage.  He would also be credited with creating his second turnover of the season when one of his double-digit pops resulted in a caused fumble…Again, these feats were accomplished in just one half of playing time.

Randazzo rounded out his week 8 smorgasbord of assignments by averaging 33.3 yards on his seven kick-off attempts.

Finishing 3rd in the Western Conference, the Mavericks will be on the road for the Double-A quarterfinals when they face #2 seed in the East, Holy Trinity….With both programs emphasizing a smash mouth brand of football, it would be logical that between blocking on “O” and chasing down Titan ball carriers on “D”, this weekend will not be any more relaxing for the Moore Catholic captain/Honor Student.


Nick Guglielmo (Sr.); PK – St. Peter’s Eagles

In the legal profession, there is a saying that “possession is 90 percent of the law.”..For the Eagles football team, that statement could be amended to say that 90 percent possession is their law…And given the rare talents of their senior kicker out of Staten Island, you can best belief that St. Peter’s has and will continue to manipulate times of possession as they see fit.

A master of what Eagles’ head coach, George Mahoney, calls “nasty kick-offs”, on more than a few occasions this season, the 5’11, 160-pound specialist has made it possible to play the football equivalent of “make it, then take it”, by producing some of the most un-fieldable kicks in the history of the sport…And, when you are playing an opponent that has lightning speed and big-play potential on every snap, as was the case last Friday night when STP faced-off with Mount St. Michael Academy, then the best defense is to not needing any defense at all!!!

Securing a playoff berth (4th in the AA Western Conference) by virtue of the 42-18 road victory in the regular season finale, the Eagles successfully stole two possessions thanks to Guglielmo’s wicked onside kicks….And, this additional opportunity would yield an offensive explosion as St. Peter’s posted their second highest point total of the season (topped only by a 49-14 win over St. Joe’s by the Sea during week #2).

Adding to Guglielmo’s growing reputation is that even in situations where he did not specifically seek out an onside attempt, he still enjoyed a 100 percent efficiency rate in negating the potent Mountaineer return game.  On his four remaining kickoffs, one was a boomer through the back of the end zone that led to a touchback.  The other three had so much spin and pace on them that MSMA were unable to handle them smoothly and were instead forced to pounce on the pigskin rather than attempt a run back.

Not just a one-trick pony, it bears mentioning that when utilized in traditional fashion, Guglielmo would also excel, as he converted on all six of his point after touchdown attempts, dissecting the goalpost with each try.

As St. Peter’s prepares themselves for their quarterfinal showdown with defending league champs/owners of the #2 overall offense in the entire NYCHSFL, Kellenberg Memorial, you know that Guglielmo’s wizardry will be a factor.


Matt Geruso (Jr.); RB – Xavier Knights

While this week may all be about Halloween, the plight that any younger brother faces when strapping on the pads is whether or not he will live up to the family name and earn the right to sit at the “adult table” during Thanksgiving….Further complicating the situation for the 5’10, 185-pound junior is that he entered the 2018 season with the misfortune of playing the same position as a sibling who garnered All-City Honorable Mention distinction in 2017.

However, if the past three weeks have been any indication of what the rest of his scholastic career will resemble, then there is absolutely no doubt that Matt Geruso is well on his way to filling the cleats of older, brother Jonathon (1,460 yards + 14 touchdowns last season the ground), in the Knights’ offensive backfield. 

A key component to Xavier’s title-winning season last year on the junior varsity level, what stands out about Geruso 2.0 is that the bigger the game, the more he seems to show up.  This ability to rise when circumstance warrants is one that cannot be taught; it is a gift with which you are blessed and for Head Coach, Chris Stevens, the church of #8 is one that he will worship at for the next year and a half.

Undeniably an individual who is talented enough to be the primary running option for most teams in New York State, Geruso is to be commended at how well he has accepted a lesser role as a ball carrier behind senior/two-time POTW honoree, Dan Vittiburga (2nd in AA in both rushing yards and touchdowns with 991 and 16 respec

tively)….But, despite having to split carries, he has still managed to have an incredible 11th grade campaign, as his 586 yards on the ground ranks in the top-10 of the double-A division….And, at the level he has been playing at down the stretch, should Xavier make a deep run in the playoffs, there is every reason to believe that he could reach the 1,000 yard milestone.

Establishing a new personal-best of 157 yards (on only eight carries), including a 45-yard trek (that made the score 28-0) to the house in the Knights’ 40-0 win over St. Francis Prep, Geruso has now hit the century mark in three consecutive game, as he previously tallied 125 against Holy Trinity on October 13th and followed it up with a 104-yard, career-high two TD affair the following weekend versus Mount St. Michael Academy….With an average of just under 129 yards on running during this three-week period, it goes without saying that at present, Geruso, is operating on par with any and all of the top performers in the NYCHSFL.

When not the one to carry the ball, Geruso is still making invaluable contributions, as Coach Stevens was quick to credit his strong acts as a lead-blocker as another reason that Xavier’s point production is skyrocketing at the ideal time.

The Knights will kick off the postseason with a date on the road against Western Conference regular season champions, Xaverian…Since week #6, the host Clippers are allowing just 11.3 points per game.  Hence, if upset-minded Xavier intends to make it three years in a row that they knocked off a higher seed in the opening round, they will need Geruso to continue his trend of being that proverbial dominant 1-2 punch alongside Vittaburga.  If both play up to their abilities, Xavier has to like their chances.


Jayden Lambert (Sr.); RB/DB – Iona Prep Gaels

Competing in a preview of what will be this weekend’s #2 vs. #7 quarterfinal match-up in the Triple-A playoffs, the 5’9, 175-pounder out of Mount Vernon showed that the Flyers of Chaminade High School will have another in an already long line of Gael threats with which they will have to contend.

A member of an offensive rotation that is so deep and strong that he perhaps has not had the quantity of looks that he would have received at another program, Lambert would demonstrate this past Saturday that it does not matter if you get four or 40 touches as long as you make each one count to the fullest.

Carrying the ball a season-high four times in Iona Prep’s 47-14 road win over their Marianist foes this past Sunday, Lambert came within six yards (71) of tying his career-best, which he established late in the 2017 season by running for 77 yards and four TDs in a win over Monsignor Farrell…The senior classman would also add a pair of touchdowns on his limited carries to notch his first multi-score game since the aforementioned coming out party last season against the Lions.

The two-year team member/2018 captain would also turn in a remarkable game on the other side of the ball, as his interception, one of two on the day for IP collectively, would give possession back to the Gaels, ultimately serving as a catalyst to another score…He would add seven tackles, and was personally responsible for keeping a point off the board when he blocked the PAT attempt following one of the Flyers’ two touchdowns.

Having already proven that he enjoys a speed mismatch against the Flyer defense, do not be surprised if this Saturday has feelings of déjà vu and the two-season track star continues to be a threat to rip off big runs.

The POTW selection is the second accolade of the week earned by Lambert.  Yesterday, he was named as his school’s student-athlete of the week in acknowledgement of his full-service afternoon.


Doug Simmons (Sr.); DE/OLB – Archbishop Stepinac

Like a volcano sitting dormant, it was never a question or if, but rather when the 6’0, 211-pound senior would erupt.  And when it happened, those of us who have been watching him the past three seasons knew that it would be explosive and it would leave a “trail of lava and ash” in its wake.

Entering the final week of the 2018 regular season with just six sacks following a junior campaign that witnessed him lead all of New York State with 18 QB bags, the fuse would go off for Simmons.  And when it sparked, it ignited what was perhaps the best overall showing by Head Coach, Mike O’Donnell’s defense this season, as they emerged, 23-20 over Cardinal Hayes….As a result of the victory, the once given up for dead Crusaders (started the year 0-3 in league competition) have now worked their way back to a top-3 seed and will host Christ the King in a AAA quarterfinal round contest.

Relentless all night in their pursuit of Cardinals’ All-State signal caller, Sofian Massoud, Stepinac D-Unit would log double-digit sacks, as four different members of the front-7 would each post two or more bags during the course of the 48-minute clash…Headlining this quartet would be Simmons, whose four-sack effort tied his previous career-head which he set during the first weekend of the 2017 season.   He would add three additional QB hurries last Sunday night to ensure that the only ghosts that haunt the Hayes’ field general this week were the memories of his [Simmons] #56 jersey inflicting hit upon hit. 

Two weeks removed from establishing a personal-high for total tackles in a single-game (12) in the 35-17 win over Monsignor Farrell, Simmons would break that record by recording 13 stops in the season finale.

The 20 put on the board by Cardinal Hayes was their lowest amount of the season.  In fact, dating back to the semifinal round of the 2017 season (13-12 Stepinac triumph), Stepinac has now limited the always dynamic Cardinal offense to their two fewest point totals in the past calendar year.

Simmons, who now leads the entire NYCHSFL in both sacks (10) and hurries(8), as well ranks in the top-4 on the Crusaders with 58 stops, will look to stay hungry as he and AS go in search of his second triple-A team title….When he played against Christ the King during Week #7, he mustered only a single quarterback hurry.  Hence, it is inevitable that he will have a chip on his shoulder in his quest to “bring the pain.”

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