Oct 302019

By Matt Diano:

Justin McDuffie (Sr.); RB/S – Nazareth Regional Kingsmen

The first and only student-athlete from a losing team to be named to the POTW list in 2019, even if the Kingsmen fell slightly short (33-20) against Kennedy Catholic last Friday night, it in no way negates or detracts from the absolutely staggering, career night for the 5’9, 181-pound 12th grader.

Suiting up for the last time in front of the home crowd, neither McDuffie nor any of the Naz faithful will soon forget the magic they witnessed on Senior Night at Tilden HS.

The self-proclaimed “Just a kid from Brooklyn trying to make it,” certainly MADE quite a few dazzling plays and turned more than a few heads in the last regular season game of his two-year scholastic career.

Taking the hand-off a season-high 15 times, the three-sport athlete (baseball and track) completely shattered his previous personal best (120 yards in week #2 versus St. Joe’s by Sea), finishing the evening with exactly 200 yards on the ground.  In addition, his two TD runs marked the first time in his swan song campaign and the third time overall that he registered a multiple score performance…For good measure, he complemented his offensive output by catching a nine-yard pass, as well as running in a 2pt conversion to account for 14 of the team’s 20 total points.

Despite having never earned a win over the Gaels in five tries (hopefully will get another opportunity if his team is able to advance to the “A” final on November 10th), McDuffie has been at his best when opposed by Kennedy Catholic….Factoring in the 21-carry, 100-yard, 2-touchdown effort he put up in the 2018 Single-A semifinals, he has averaged 120.3 yards and scored five times in the last three meetings between the two schools.

Finding the energy to also serve as Nazareth’s top defender, McDuffie set a new career-high by making 12 total stops (8 solo, 4 assisted) to notch his first-ever double-digit tackle game…He rounded out his incredible night by intercepting his second pass of the season (third of his career; all three vs. KC).

McDuffie will no doubt leave it all out on the field this coming Saturday as he seeks to extend his story as a Kingsmen football player by going on the road to face second-seeded/2x defending champion Cardinal Spellman in the 2019 “A” semifinal…In two contests this season against the Pilots, he has accumulated 92 yards rushing on 14 carries.  His lone touchdown in this two-game series came via a kickoff return on October 12th in a 26-20 loss.


Liam Mullholland (Jr.); PK/Punter – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

Putting the “special” in special teamer during this same KC/Naz game was the junior place-kicker/punter from Mahopac, Mullholland.

The first full-time kicker to secure a spot on the list this season, the 6’0, 170-pounder should probably do some jail time after all of the thievery he is enacted in terms of stealing additional possessions for the Gaels.

In a typical football game at any level of the sport, we consider it fascinating” to see one successful onside kick pulled off…So just imagine how undeniably thrilling it must have been for everyone in attendance when not ONCE, not TWICE, but THREE times, the KC kicker dared to roll the dice, recovering the pigskin on two of these occasions….Given how well the Kingsmen offense was executing last Friday night, any tool utilized to limit their control of the ball could be classified as priceless.

When not “tricking” Naz and “treating” the audience to a feat they may never see again, Mullholland showed himself to be quite exceptional in a conventional sense as well, going a perfect 4-for-4 on PAT tries, and adding a 30-yard field goal to personally account for over 1/5 of the KC’s point production.

The golden leg of the Gael was equally impressive in the punting aspect of the game, as he averaged 32 yards per boot, highlighted by a 4th quarter attempt that buried Nazareth inside their own 5-yard line.

Winners of the regular season crown for the second straight year, Mullholland and the boys of Somers will enjoy a nice rest this weekend as they wait to find out whom they will be pitted against in the Single-A title contest.


Anthony Badagliacca (Sr.); Two-way Lineman/PK – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

15 times this season we had crossover games between schools belonging to different leagues (A vs. AA; AA vs. AAA); only ONCE did the lower division prevail…And those victors were the Pilots of Cardinal Spellman, who head into the postseason with a new found confidence following an 11-8 win on October 26th against Mount St. Michael Academy.

Starring in his role as utility man/Jack of all trades was the 6’0, 280-pound senior from the Bronx [Badagliacca)…A dominant force on both sides of the line of scrimmage, there wasn’t much that went on last Saturday that #77 did not have a hand in orchestrating.

The leader and/or heartbeat of the OL, under his leadership, the road graders paved the way for the Pilot backfield to generate nearly 150 yards rushing.

Defensively, Badagliacca especially turned in a remarkable effort, as he collected 10 total tackles (3 solo, 7 assisted) as part of a unit that successfully limited the Mountaineers to 125 yards rushing (20 below their 2019 season average).

Deadlocked on the scoreboard at 8 apiece at the end of 36 minutes, it was the big man “wearing the hero’s cape” as he posted the two biggest plays of the 4th quarter when he set the table for himself by blocking a punt as a precursor to kicking the eventual game-winning field goal from a distance of 29 yards.

An often overlooked element of the game, the three-year varsity starter’s ability to drive the ball into the end zone repeatedly on kickoffs (two touchbacks) was a key component in Spellman’s ability to win the battle of field position.

As noted above, Spellman’s pursuit of a “A” three-peat commences on November 2nd when they square off with Nazareth…2-0 this season against the Kingsmen (38-12, 26-20), Badagliacca had a banner game during the first meeting on September 21st, helping the offense rush for season-bests of 253 yards and three touchdowns…On “D” he had three tackles and a sack…The 38 points in Week #3 was the most scored by Spellman since the 2016 season when they put up 49 in a “w” over Kennedy Catholic.


Andrew Scariano (Jr.); RB – Xavier Knights

An inspirational adage read as follows: “We don’t grow when things are easy; we grow when we face challenges.”  For the 5’11, 190-pound, Knight junior, he embraced adversity to such a degree last Saturday that today he stands as a proverbial giant!

His team trailing 13-0 at the end of the 1st quarter against St. Peter’s, Scariano emerged as the centerpiece of a comeback effort that witnessed Xavier run off 36 consecutive points en route to an eventual 36-13 triumph that locked up the #3 seed in the AA-1 playoffs.

Capturing the breadth of impact that his Two-back had in pulling victory from the teeth of defeat, Head Coach, Chris Stevens, said, “More than just the yards he gained and the touchdowns he recorded personally, Andrew was deeply instrumental in four of our five scoring drives.  During each, he exploded for at least one play of 15 or more yards, including making his longest reception of the season (35 yards).

As modest a gentleman as you will find roaming a sideline in New York State, while Stevens did not feel it necessary to hark on the stat line, we will be happy to do it on his behalf…Carrying the pigskin 21 times in week #8, Scariano bid adieu to the regular season by establishing a new personal best on the ground with 176 yards (8.4/attempt), including 29 and 16-yarders in the second half to post his second multi-score game in the past three weeks (also accomplished in week #6 in a win over St. John the Baptist).   He added a successful 2pt conversion conclude the afternoon with a season-high 14-point outing.

The Maroon & Blue leading 14-13 at the break, #6 added some insurance in the 3rd quarter when he took the first (the 29-yarder) of his two trips to the end zone to make the score 21-13….One quarter later, his 16-yarder represented the fifth and final score of the game for the Knights.

The correlation between individual glory and team achievement is nothing new for the Westchester resident and his peers on West 16th Street…In all three of Xavier’s wins in 2019, Scariano has surpassed the 100-yard plateau, racking up previous games of 127 yards (1 TD) and 142 yards (aforementioned two touchdowns) versus St. Francis Prep and St. John the Baptist in back-to-back appearances.

Tops among all Xavier rushing options in carries (109) and yardage (553), as well as second in TDs (5) in his rookie year on varsity, Scariano will look to torment the Eagles’ defense for a second weekend in a row when these same two programs go to battle in the quarterfinal match-up on November 2nd.


Kyle Gaor (Sr.); RB – St. Joe’s by the Sea Vikings

As the Vikings set their sights on winning the first ever NYCHSFL AA-2 title in school history, they do so with the knowledge that they will be heading into the postseason with a senior tailback who is fresh off of the best game of his career.

Competing against the top-ranked defense in AA-2 [Holy Cross], the 5’10, 205-pounder put the final punctuation on the regular season chapter of his tenure as a Viking by establishing new career-highs in both rushing and receiving yards in SJS’s 33-22 victory last Friday.

Carrying the ball 16 times, Gaor was a quintessential drive saver, moving the sticks on six different occasions en route to gaining an aforementioned personal-best of 81 yards rushing.

As a receiver, he was even more of a difference-maker, as two of his three catches (for 112 yards) resulted in touchdowns for the Staten Island based program.

The Vikings trailing 8-6 in the third quarter, Gaor would be on the back end of a 44-yard TD connection on 4th & 3 to give Joe’s by the Sea their first lead of the night.

Now holding a 26-16 edge in the 4th, Gaor again managed to capitalize off of undesirable circumstances when on a 2nd & 23, he caught a screen pass and made several cuts upfield on his way to a 45-yard trek to pay dirt for the insurance score!  He then added the PAT to wrap up a 13-point evening.

Earning the #2 seed in the AA-2 playoffs, St. Joe’s by the Sea will enjoy the luxury of a bye week as they await the winner of #3 Xaverian and #6 Holy Trinity…Gaor ran for 75 yards and two touchdowns (as well as caught a 33-yard pass) against the Clippers during the opening week of the season; versus the Titans, he gained 35 yards and scored once in week #4.


Noah Bodden (Jr.); QB – Christ the King Royals

There is a classic Bible passage that reads, “As it was in the beginning, so shall it be in the end.”…And while we know the Good Book wasn’t talking about football, the words certainly are a perfect summation of how the regular season went for the Royals’ junior field general.

Earning the distinction of being just the second student-athlete to repeat as a POTW selection (Week #1) in 2019, the 6’4, 225-pound, three-star prospect closes out the regular season in the same fashion in which he started, as a bookend recipient.

The Royals’ already locked into the #3 seed in the AAA playoffs when they took the field in a non-league crossover game versus 2x defending double-A champion, Kellenberg, no one would have blamed either team if they came out a little flat as focus shifted toward the postseason…However, on the contrary, Bodden was nothing short of sensational in CTK’s 67-34 road win over the Firebirds.

Notching his fourth 300+-yard passing game of the year, Bodden’s accuracy was the best it had ever been in his three seasons taking the snaps…Spreading the ball around to five different receivers, he connected on 21 of 31 throws (67.7%), accumulating 440 yards in the air (2nd highest of his career) and hurling a new personal-best of five touchdowns (all in the 1st half).

Showing no hesitation in asserting himself, Bodden hit Dante Goodwyn (5 grabs for 83 yards) on a 40-yard TD strike to give Christ the King the initial 6-0 lead.

On King’s next possession (now trailing 7-6), Bodden played pitch-and-catch with Tahliq Battle (3 snatches for 66 yards), finding his fellow senior on a 36-yard completion to put the Royals back in front, 13-7.

Now leading 26-21 in the 2nd quarter, the Bodden/Battle combo touched base again, this time from 20 yards out to make the score 33-21.

Teaming up with yet another unique target on his fourth TD pass of the half, it was an all-11th grade affair when Bodden lofted a beautiful 14-yard ball over the shoulder of a leaping Khalil Harris (3 grabs for 63 yards) to increase the lead to 40-21.

Bodden closed out the opening 24 minutes by hooking up with Stanley Oxford (7 catches for 193 yards) on his longest TD hurl of the afternoon, a 53-yarder in front of the host sideline to send the Middle Village based program into the locker room with a 47-28 advantage.

The CTK signal caller concludes the regular season ranked 1st both in the NYCHSFL and all of New York State with 2,322 yards throwing.  His 19 TD passes ties him with Stepinac’s Joey Carino for 2nd in the NYCHFL (6th in NYS).

Next up for the Royals will be a Triple-A quarterfinal showdown against sixth-seeded Monsignor Farrell…When the two school butted heads in week #3, Bodden completed 23 of 35 passes for 359 yards and three TDs in a 20-3 triumph.

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