Sep 182019
 

By Matt Diano:

Derrin Hansen (Sr.); OL/LB – Xaverian Clippers

A bona fide game-changer on both sides of the line of the scrimmage, the 2018 All-Catholic selection (for defense) showed exactly why pundits consider him one of the supreme two-way players in the NYCHSFL by impelling the Clippers to their first win of the 2019 season, 32-0, over St. John the Baptist this past Friday.

Recording double-digit stops for the third straight game (including the 2018 playoffs) and the fifth overall time in his three-year varsity career, the 6’2, 195-pounder out of Staten Island would be the main reason that Mike Jioia’s troops are celebrating their first shutout of an opponent since the second week of the 2017 season (48-0 against Kennedy Catholic).  Adding to the prestige of this feat is the fact that it was the first time since the 2015 AA quarterfinals that the Cougars were held scoreless.

Credited with 12 tackles (giving him a double-A best 26 this year), his second sack in as many weeks, and a forced fumble, the senior classman set the example for a D-Unit that was playing with a chip on their shoulder after allowing 26 points in their previously referenced opening weekend loss to SJS.

Turning over attention to the other side of the ball, Hansen anchored an offensive line that was so adept at “paving highways” that seven different ball carriers combined to rush for 166 yards and score four times on 31 ground attempts (5.4 average/hand-off)…The four rushing touchdowns, which came courtesy of Shane Greene (101 yards, 2 TDs on 16 carries) and James Resker (15 yards, 2 touchdowns on 4 keepers) were the most posted by the school since they logged five in that 2017 triumph over KC.

Hansen and the Clippers will be determined to continue their universal dominance this coming Saturday when they host a struggling but still very capable Holy Trinity…When the two programs squared off last year, it was the Titans jumping out to a 20-0 edge before hanging on for the 26-22 win.

 

Kaiwan Taylor (Jr.); RB – St. Peter’s Eagles

As was stated by the iconic philosopher, Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until they get hit.”…For the Eagles of St. Peter’s, that blow came in the form of three unanswered touchdowns (one in each of the first three quarters) by the Fordham Prep Rams to turn what had previously been a 12-0 deficit into a 21-12 advantage for the visitors from Bronx.

So, with their “backs against the wall”, to quote Head Coach, George Mahoney, what would the new plan be?  The answer was found in the person of his 5’9, 200-pound, 11th grade tailback…

Riding Taylor like the workhorse he has shown himself to be in the past, the Eagles got themselves back in the game late in the 3rd quarter when the two-year starter in the backfield blasted through tacklers on 3rd & Goal to reach the end zone for a 10-yard TD run.  He followed-up the touchdown by converting the 2-point try on the ensuing snap bring his team within a single point (21-20)…Earlier in this drive, Taylor demonstrated immense grit and toughness when he shed multiple defenders on 4th&9 in his own territory to preserve possession.

Fast-forward to what proved to be the game-winning series (5:51 on the clock in the 4th) and again it was the gentleman in the #24 jersey “donning a number of proverbial hats” in order to ensure victory for his school…Commencing the drive on their own 6-yard line, Taylor ran the ball five straight times, advancing the prolate spheroid to the STP 16…Exhibiting the highest level of selflessness, KT then put another facet of his skill set on display, transitioning from the role of carrier to that of primary/lead blocker…Throwing a pair of “bulldozing blocks” to borrow from Coach Mahoney, Taylor cleared out the edge, enabling senior, Michael Politi (2 carries for 80 yards, 1 TD) to erupt for gains of 35 and 45 yards, taking the latter to the house for the clincher (Politi 2pt conversion accounted for 28-21 final score).

All in all, Taylor, who concluded the contest with 130 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, was directly responsible for 50% of the 28-point output from the Staten Island-based program…His first touchdown (20-yarder) + 2pt conversion combo occurred on the opening drive of the 1st quarter.

Officially in the win column (1-1), St. Peter’s will be relying on Taylor to carry the load, both literally and figuratively this weekend, as they go hunting for an upset on the road versus 2x AAA League/State champs, Archbishop Stepinac.

 

Eber Ponce (So.); RB – Mount St. Michael’s Academy Mountaineers

You can’t call it beginner’s luck when the person in question is as naturally talented as the 5’9, 177-pound sophomore out of the Bronx…

A neophyte to the highest degree of the definition, Ponce was not only playing in the second varsity game of his career; he was playing just his second game of football EVER!!!

Trading the hardwood for the gridiron in his 10th grade season, if you did not know any better, you would never believe how new to the sport the MSMA tailback was; simply put, in the Mountaineers’ 36-21 win this past Friday night over Kennedy Catholic, Ponce looked every bit the part of an individual who was born to shine on the grass/turf.

One of two 100+-yard contributors for the Mount in week #2 (fellow sophomore, Camren Brown; 142 yards, 2 TDs on 14 carries, being the other), Ponce posted team-highs in rushing attempts (20) and yardage (171) in propelling his school to their first victory of the season in the non-league A/AA crossover game contest.

In addition to chewing up large chunks of yardage, Ponce’s breakout evening was highlighted by the scoring of his first two career touchdowns…Darting for 50+ (51, 54) on both TD runs, Ponce also added a successful 2pt conversion to single-handedly account for more than 1/3 of the school’s point total…

Clutch, as well as explosive, with the result still very much undecided (Kennedy rallied from a 22-0 deficit to make it a one-score game in the 4th), Ponce “iced” the “w” for Mount St. Michael when his 20-yard gainer on 3rd down moved the chains and enabled the program to further exhaust the clock.

Road warriors during the first two weekends of the season, Ponce and the Mountaineers will make their home debut on September 21st when they square off with Holy Cross…When these two foes played last season, it was an instant classic, with the Knights prevailing 35-32.

 

Jordan Delucia (Sr.); RB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

One of those rare individuals who everything he touches turns to gold (or in this case, Blue & Gold), the returning All-State, senior tailback out of Bellmore could potentially be nominated every week of the 2019 season based on the consistency of his stat line.

Fresh off of a 256-yard, three-rushing-touchdown afternoon in an opening weekend loss to 2018 AAA runners-up, Cardinal Hayes, the 6’0, 208-pound dynamo showed no signs of slowing down this past Sunday, registering his second straight 250+ yard-game performance (the third 200+ game of his scholastic career) in the Firebirds’ 44-14 triumph on the road over St. Francis Prep.

Putting the “fire” in Firebirds during the initial 12 minutes of play, the perennial honors student (96 unweighted average; heavily recruited by Ivy League schools before committing to the admission’s process at Harvard) took the ball to the house from distances of 25 and 9 yards out to give KMHS a 13-7 lead at the end of the 1st quarter.

About as true of an all-purpose back as you will find in the Empire State and in the nation, Delucia got the opportunity to showcase his excellent hands halfway through the second quarter when he caught a screen pass and took it 20 yards untouched to increase the Kellenberg advantage to 27-7.

Saving his most impressive trek for last, the three-year varsity starter followed up a KMHS’ three-and-out on defense at the onset of the second half by taking the hand-off and turning the corner en route to an 85-yard pilgrimage to the promised land for his fourth overall TD of the contest to make the score 37-7.

No doubt on pace to exceed 300 yards on the ground and add to his already mind-blowing total of seven touchdown in two appearances, Delucia sat out the 4th quarter.

JD and the Firebirds will remain on the road for the second weekend in a row when they travel to Staten Island to face Moore Catholic…A clash of the #1 (Delucia; 1,380 yards) and #3 (Justin Lacks; 1,161 yards) ranked runners from a season ago, September 22nd is sure to be an early preview in the race to claim Offensive Player of the Year distinction.

 

Joey Carino (Sr.); QB – Archbishop Stepinac

In what can best be labeled as a consummate “redemption” effort, the last time that the 6’2, 198-pound two-year starter for the Crusaders faced Chaminade, he turned in what was statistically his lowest performance of the season (116 yards, 3 Interceptions, 0 touchdown passes)…This past Saturday, he could not have been any closer to perfection, captaining the two-time defending league and state titlists to a 42-7 over the host Flyers.

Connecting on 12-of-16 pass attempts for 221 yards, including a new personal-best five touchdown tosses, the former Syracuse University lacrosse commit turned future Albany Great Dane signal caller, accomplished in one half (only played one series into the 3rd quarter) what it takes most mortals to achieve in a full 48-minute outing.

Marching the boys from White Plains up and down the field with utter poise and command, Carino orchestrated successful drives on the school’s first three possessions, hitting Myles Walker (3 catches for 82 yards, 1 TD) from 22-yards out for the first score of the game and then playing pitch-and-catch with Quentin McCauley (4 grabs for 86 yards, 3 TDs) on 34 and 22-yard strikes to make the score 21-0 at the end of the 1st quarter.

Picking up precisely where he left off in the 2nd quarter, the National Honor Society inducted student-athlete teamed with yet another of AS’s deep wide-out corps, making it three unique targets nailed for TDs when he fed the pigskin beautifully to Nazir Hibbert from a distance of 31-yards away to make the score 28-0 with 8:33 to go in the opening half…The game well in hand for the Crusaders, Carino tacked on his fifth and final touchdown hurl of the half in the last 30 ticks, making it a hat trick for McCauley with a six-yard throw over the middle to make the game 35-0 at the break.

In the midst of his huge afternoon, Carino, who currently sits atop the NYCHSFL (all divisions) with eight touchdown passes this season, reached the 3,000-yard milestone in his three-year varsity tenure.  For his career, he has now completed 175 of 291 attempts (60%) for a total of 3,013 yards and 35 touchdowns.

Dating back to last season, Carino will look to extend Stepinac’s current nine-game streak when he and the Red, White, and Blue juggernaut return home for another AA/AAA melee against St. Peter’s on the 21st.

 

Alex Williams (Jr.); WR – Iona Prep Gaels

After losing their top-5 pass-catchers from a season ago to graduation, one of the questions we had heading into 2019 was where would the production come from at WR in New Rochelle?  That question has now been answered thanks to the emergence of this 6’4, 205-pound junior standout.

Bestowed the privilege of playing in MetLife Stadium as part of the Battle For the Bridge triple-header (NY vs. NJ), Williams put forth the finest effort of his two-year varsity career in spurring the Gaels to the 41-21 conquest of Pope John XXIII.

Establishing new career-bests in all receiving categories with five catches for 134 yards and two touchdown receptions, the Harlem resident needed just two games this season to surpass his totals (7 catches, 64 yards, 1 TD) from the entire 2018 season…Thru two weeks, he is second in the AAA division with nine grabs, and his 175 yards receiving ranks 4th per MaxPreps.

Described by IP Head Coach, Joe Spagnolo, as the “Catalyst that jumped started the offense all day,” Williams really made his presence felt approximately four minutes into the 2nd half when he caught a ball, shook off one defender and then side-stepped past another for a 25-yard TD that made the score 20-0…The Iona Prep 11th grader later added his second 25-yard touchdown snatch of the quarter with 1:08 remaining to make the score 34-7.

On an afternoon where everything seemed to go his way, the only obstacle that prevented the Gael student-athlete from having an more outstanding showing was be a penalty call against Iona Prep that negated a 45-yard TD in the 2nd quarter.

Looking forward to week #3, Williams will try to make it three straight years (and four games in a row) where a Gael has posted a 100+ yard receiving day against the Flyers of Chaminade High School.

 

Robert McGee (Sr.); QB – St. Anthony’s Friars

After 21 wins and three regular season crowns (2016-2018) with Greg Campisi under center, there is a new field general in town [South Huntington] and his name is Robert McGee!!!

Despite making just the second start of his varsity career on the grandest of stages [MetLife Stadium], the 6’1, 200-pound senior out of Shoreham proved to be unflappable in seizing bragging rights on behalf of the Evil Empire behind a 16-14 comeback victory over Delbarton.

Equally potent, whether it be via arm or his legs, the Penn State lacrosse recruit had a hand in 199 yards of total offensive production, as well as be at the forefront of both of the Friars’ two touchdowns last Saturday morning…Completing 11 of his 15 aerial attempts (to four different receivers), McGee gun-slinged his way to a 122-yard passing day.  On the ground, he called his own number 21 times, gaining 77 yards.

Epitomizing the “ice water in the veins” maturity that defines greatness, McGee was at his best during crunch time…His team trailing 14-10 with 8:02 remaining in regulation, he responded to the adversity and pressure in an immaculate manner, connecting on all four of his passes, including a 27-yard bullet over the middle to Justin Houston (4 grabs, 55 yards) for the deciding touchdown.

Earlier in the interstate affair, McGee recorded his first rushing TD of the year, when he plunged a 2-yard keeper into the end zone to knot the score at 7-7 in the second quarter.

In recognition of his full body of work, the STA signal caller was the recipient of the game’s Most Valuable Player award!

Up next for St. Anthony’s is a September 21st rematch of last year’s AAA semifinal game, won by Cardinal Hayes, 26-25.

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