Oct 092019
 

By Matt Diano:

Aidan Bernal (Sr.); Two-Way Lineman – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

In his 2010 song, “Timing is Everything”, Country singer/actor Garrett Hedlund proclaimed, “When the stars line up and you catch a break, people think you’re lucky, but you know its grace.”…For the Gaels in their 28-12 regular season title clinching win over Cardinal Spellman last Friday, it was a case of creating their own fortune and it all started with a game-changing play from their senior captain [Bernal].

Trailing 6-0 in the first quarter and in danger of falling into a deeper hole, the 5’11, 205-pound senior knocked the pigskin loose right before a Pilot runner could break the threshold.  In doing so, he created a 12-point swing in momentum (KC scored on the ensuing possession) and the Dom Tassone mentored program was never looked on their way to clinching the top seed in the “A” playoffs for a second straight season.

The forced fumble was the first of two turnovers that the Ossining resident generated as he later added an interception to go along with his second double-digit tackle game of the year (10 stops—3 solo, 7 assist, 2 TFL).

Paid the ultimate compliment by Head Coach, Dominick Tassone, when he was hailed as the “Soul of the Offensive Line,” Bernal’s stellar effort at the pivot laid the tracks for five different Gael ball-carriers to combine for 118 yards and three touchdowns on the ground…Junior QB, Clayton Proctor (team-high 50 yards and two rushing TDs) was also afforded the protection in the pocket to complete 7 of his 9 pass attempts for an additional 114 yards and another touchdown…

All in all, with #52 setting the example, the OL has enabled the Kennedy offense to score 25.8 points and accumulate 292 yards per appearance, while the defensive unit is permitting just 8 points in their three contests versus fellow “A” schools.

KC will take a break from NYCHSFL competition in week #6 and instead go hunting for Westchester supremacy against Woodlands High School.

 

Kameron Robbins (So.); RB/LB – Holy Trinity Titans

For a school that has always enjoyed a rich history at the tailback position (NYCHSFL All-time rushing leader, Anthony Brunetti amongst them) week #5 witnessed the birth of a new legend for the Green & White in the person of the 6’0, 175-pound 10th grader out of Baldwin [Robbins].

Playing in his first Homecoming game as a Titan, the three-way starter put the rest of AA-2 on high alert as to what to expect during the next 2.5 seasons, as he led the Hicksville based program to their first victory of the season, 45-20, over Mount St. Michael Academy.

Unstoppable for much of the afternoon, Robbins averaged an extraordinary 14.6 yards on his 14 carries, ending the game with 205, as well as finding pay dirt on three separate occasions to awaken a Holy Trinity offense that came in scoring a little over 14 points per contest through their first four appearances in 2019…

Defensively, the super sophomore was a key part of a unit that did not allow the Mountaineers to complete a single pass (0-for-5) while holding their foes to 164 yards on the ground (11 below their normal production).

Having given first-year Head Coach/Titan alumnus, Kahmal Roy, his first career win on the sideline of his alma mater, Robbins and his teammates will be road bound this coming Saturday as they square off with Moore Catholic…With Robbins on one side and Mavs’ three-year All-League selection, Justin Lacks, on the other, this surely will be a clash of the future versus the present in terms of backfield stardom.

 

(Photo Courtesy of Geoff Walter)

Brandan Coward (Sr.); LB – Chaminade Flyers

Like the irony of calling tall people “Tiny” and large people “slim”, when it comes to #40 in Crimson & Gold, you should never let the name fool you; because if you do, you are going to pay the price…There is not a single atom in the 5’11, 200-pound body of the Flyer senior captain that is meek, passive, or unassuming; this was a fact he proved repeatedly last Sunday in Chaminade’s 42-14 win at home over St. Francis Prep.

Credited with seven solo tackles (not including three he recorded on special teams) and assisting on nine additional stops, the Westbury resident’s total of 16 (2 TFL) was a team-high; he has now reached double digits in four consecutive games after registering performances of 13, 19, and 15 in weeks 2-4 against Stepinac, Iona Prep, and St. Peter’s respectively.  His season output of 71 stops ranks 2nd (behind only Moore Catholic’s Artie Padilla) in the entire NYCHSFL and 7th overall in New York State.

When not stuffing the run (the Terriers gained just 79 yards on the ground), Coward was just as disruptive as a pass rusher, logging two of the school’s seven sacks.

A superstar in the pool who helped Chaminade to 4th and 5th place finishes at the NYSPHSAA Federation Championships as the lead-off leg of the 4×50 and 4×100 freestyle relay squads, Coward showed that he is quite capable of scoring some points on the gridiron too, returning an interception 30 yards in the 4th quarter for the Flyers’ final touchdown…Earlier in the day, he had a 1st quarter (second snap of the game) fumble recovery on the opposing 31-yard line that set up the first score of the game (32-yard TD pass from Ryan Walsh to Donovan Wood).

Coward and the rest of the Flyer defense will face an immense challenge in week #6 as they are slated to play two-time defending champions, Kellenberg Memorial, in the 2019 Marianist Bowl…Facing a rival that is racking up over 34 points and 425.6 yards (284.8 on the ground) of total offense, it goes without saying that it will be imperative that Coward continues to show up in a major way if Chaminade hopes to get revenge from last year’s 42-14 loss at the hands of the Firebirds.

 

Nick Ruvolo (Sr.); ILB – St. Joe’s by the Sea Vikings

For the first time since the 2012 season, the Vikings are off to a 5-0 start and a key reason has been the sensational play of the 6’2, 205-pound Staten Islander…

Beginning his three-year varsity career as a wide receiver (33 catches between the 2017 and 2018 seasons), it is no coincidence that the resurgence of the SJS program has come in the same year that Ruvolo switched focuses towards being an anchor on “D” from the MIKE linebacker position…Since making the full-time transition to other side of the line of scrimmage, Ruvolo has been at the forefront of an effort that has seen Joe’s by the Sea go from a squad that allowed 40+ points per game in 2018 to a group that is surrendering less than 20 for the first time since 2008.

This past weekend, in the school’s 29-26 comeback victory over St. Peter’s in a war for local bragging rights, it was the ability of the defense to make halftime adjustments that served as a difference-maker…Trailing 12-7 at the break, the Vikings held the visiting Eagles to just 76 yards of total offense during the final 24 minutes of competition, making it possible for their offensive counterparts to rally for 22 unanswered points to make the score 29-20 at the midway mark of the 4th quarter.

The heartbeat of this second half lockdown, Ruvolo, tied his career-high of 10 tackles (all solo) and added his third sack is as many weeks.  After five games, he currently sits atop the team leaderboard in both categories, with 37 total stops and the aforementioned three QB bags…The SJS 12th grader even got a chance to showcase those prized hands that served him so well as a former receiver, intercepting a pass on a St. Peter’s 2pt conversion attempt.

As the Vikings try to extend their winning streak to six in a row when they host Mount St. Michael Academy this weekend, anticipate another impactful day for #87 against a very run-heavy Mountaineer scheme.

 

Devin Grant (So.); QB/Safety – Holy Cross Knights

In what may go down as the game of the year in the tri-state area, it was the 6’2, 165-pound, sophomore quarterback putting a fitting exclamation on the 30-29 victory over New Jersey’s Hanover Park, last Friday Night.

His team trailing by one point (following his second touchdown pass of the night) with :02 remaining on the clock, Grant called his own number on a QB keeper and cruised across the goal line for the winning 2pt conversion…It was the perfect ending for a young man who enjoyed a breakout performance in willing his team to the “w”.

HC trailing 14-0 midway through the third quarter, Grant became the spark that ignited the offensive fire when he dashed 45-yards to the house to get the Knights on the board.

Now down 21-16, Grant’s 40-yard TD completion to senior Ladon Hicks with approximately three minutes remaining in the 4th gave the Green & White their first advantage of the night, 22-21.

One minute and 40 seconds later, it was the host Hornets turn to issue a response, which they did on a nine-yard touchdown run to regain the lead, 22-21…This set the stage for the dramatic final saga that witnessed Grant march his troops down the field before culminating the drive with the aforementioned 14-yard strike (also to Hicks) to make the score 29-28…You know the rest!

Sharing the love with all of his limbs, by the time the final horn blared, the 10th grader had amassed 304 yards of total dominance, completing 15 of 26 throwing attempts for 204 yards (2 TDs) and trekking 100 yards on seven carries (1 TD).

Grant also found the energy to contribute on defense, recording five solo tackles and intercepting a pass from his role in the secondary.

Likely still riding the adrenaline wave of his late-game heroics, Grant and the Knights will travel to Suffolk County for an October 13th, AA-2 matinee against the Cougars of St. John the Baptist…The two schools have split their last two meetings, with SJB winning 17-14 in 2018.

 

Kevin McKenna (Sr.); RB/LB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

If Christian McCaffrey was also a relentless defender who dulled out crushing blows on defense, then he would be Kevin McKenna…

Drawing comparisons to the current NFL rushing leader for the Carolina Panthers, the 5’11, 190-pound two-way stud from Somers is that priceless individual that If you watched on every snap, you would surely see him do something remarkable.

Renowned as a complete package who can do anything and everything in the name of victory, the future two-sport (lacrosse and football) student-athlete at the University of Utah put his bundle of specialties on full display this past Sunday in the Crusaders’ 42-7 win over St. Anthony’s.

Wasting absolutely no time at all in getting his name into the box score, McKenna probably surprised even himself when on Stepinac’s first play from scrimmage, he was both a receiver and a quarterback in one, converting the rare double-pass by first catching the ball in the backfield and then hurling a perfect dart to a wide-open Matt Halas (4 catches for 56 yards) for the 31-yard TD.  This was the first aerial attempt in the three-year career of the AS captain and could not have been executed any more perfectly.

Having tossed his first career TD pass in the 1st quarter, as an encore, the jack-of-all-trades added another “first” to his resume two minutes into the 2nd when he was on the receiving end of a 16-yard bullet over the middle from Joey Carino to make the score 21-7…The touchdown catch was one of two grabs recorded by McKenna, who accumulated 30 yards on the day (after totaling only 30 receiving yards combined between 2017 and 2018).

Turning his attention to the side of the ball that earned him All-State honors (5th team) a season ago, McKenna brought his usual assertive, authoritative, take-no-prisoners mentality to the LB position…Posting a stat line comprised of a team-best nine total stops (5 solo, 4 assisted), including two that yielded a loss of yardage, the 12th grader was a main catalyst in a collective effort that held the visiting Friars under 10 points for the first time since the opening weekend of the 2008 season.

Next up for Stepinac will be a date on October 13th with unbeaten Christ the King…Thus far in 2019, the 5-0 Royals have been putting up nearly 456 yards of offensive production per week.  Hence, if Stepinac hopes to issue that initial blemish to their hosts from Middle Village, it will require McKenna to be at his very finest…With several NCAA DI prospects featured in the CTK line-up, this Sunday will be the perfect opportunity to give any Ute enthusiasts a preview of the intensity he plans to deliver when he arrives in Salt Lake City next fall.

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