Apr 282021
 

By Matt Diano:

Elijah Fuentes (Sr.); DL – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

A year ago, Coach CJ O’Neil’s Cardinals were mere moments away from hoisting a Catholic League State title before a Canisius touchdown pass (and 2pt conversion) with no time remaining on the clock ripped their hearts out…The memories of that loss are now serving as the inspiration behind what very much appears to be the best defensive unit the school has boasted in quite some time…Surrendering just 32 points total during the first two weeks of the 2021 spring (after allowing an average of 22+ in 2019) en route to victories over Monsignor Farrell & St. Peter’s, the defending NYCHSFL Triple-A champs are looking unbeatable at the halfway point of their abridged season…Acting as the heartbeat for these “pillars of pain” is the Syracuse University bound defensive lineman out of the Bronx [Fuentes]…Regarded as one of the top-10 in-state prospects (#8), as well as top-100 (94th) in the nation at his position by 247 Sports, the 6’3, 255-pounder wreaked all kinds of havoc in the aforementioned win last weekend over the StP…Facing an Eagles’ offense that put up “half a hundred” during week #1, Fuentes and the Hayes “D” pitched a shutout in the 1st half, allowing just 80 yards of total offense on their way to the 45-19 triumph…Doing his part and then some, big #99 in the White & Maroon tallied five stops (3 TFLs), including a pair of sacks…He was also credited with a forced fumble…Junior QB, Henry Belin, starred on offense, completing 13-of-20 pass attempts for 233 yards and four TD hurls (2x to Kuno Mendez, once each to Jaden Barrett and Gavin Taylor)

 

Michael Peraino (Sr.); RB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

Another week, another win, another birth of a rising star for the Mavericks in last Friday’s 20-7 defeat of Xaverian…Dating back to the 2018 regular season finale [Mausari Miller], the Staten Island based program had not had a running back whose name was not Justin Lacks rush for the century mark in a single game.  In fact, last season, no one aside from the living legend in the #6 jersey [Lacks] reached 100 yards total for the year…Cue Peraino…Accumulating just 28 yards on four carries as a junior, the 5’10, 200-pounder exploded during the second week of his swan song campaign, amassing 112 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries to deliver the “w” to Merrill Avenue!!  Taking the pigskin to the house on treks of 24 and 10 yards respectively, Peraino was solely responsible for the 14-0 lead that the defending AA-2 champions enjoyed at the half versus the host Clippers… Junior lineman, Troy Telesford, stood out on defense, racking up a sum of 11 stops, including one sack, on behalf of a unit that limited Xaverian to a modest total of 100 yards (10 on the ground, 90 in the air) for the night…Up next for MC will be a rematch of last year’s finals versus St. Joe’s by the Sea…When these the two schools met last November for the crown, Peraino garnered Defensive MVP consideration following a six-tackle (1 TFL) effort!

 

Vincent Macaluso (Sr.); DB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

It was “goose-egg city” for the Lions’ defense this past Saturday in Oakwood, as Monsignor Farrell prevailed 42-0 in a battle of SI bragging rights over 2019 AA-2 runner-up, St. Joe’s by the Sea…The shutout on April 24th was the first pitched by the school since the opening game of the 2019 season (24-0 over Fordham Prep)…Spearheading the demonstration of lockdown/refuse to give an inch defensive mastery was the 5’9, 175-pound safety [Macaluso]…A captain in both title and example, Macaluso topped all Lion personnel by posting a career-best nine total tackles over the weekend… Registering four TFLs, the “modern-day hybrid” as hailed by MF Defensive Coordinator, Rocco Del Priore, in a quote to the SI Advance, was the main protagonist for a unit that successfully disrupted and made the pocket uncomfortable for opposing All-State signal caller, Jackson Tucker (just 10 yards on seven carries)…With Farrell already leading 7-0 midway through the 1st quarter, Macaluso nearly turned defense into offense when he scooped up a fumble and cruised 54 yards (initially ruled a TD) to the SJS 2-yard line.  His individual effort paved the way for junior tailback, Cole Abbruzzese, to punch in his second short-distance touchdown of the opening quarter to double the Lion advantage to 14-0…Splitting time under center on offense, the QB duo of senior, Chris Anarumo, and 11th grader Michael Martens, each tossed one TD strike apiece, with the former connecting with Junior WR Frank Esposito on a 43-yarder in the 1st half, while the latter found sophomore Shawn Keegan, from 5-yards away in the 2nd half…Having bested one intra-town rival in week #2, Farrell with try to make it two in a row when they square off with St. Peter’s on May 1st

 

Eleazer Valera (So.); RB – Mt. St. Michael’s Academy Mountaineers

The Mountaineer offensive scheme may have taken on a fresh appearance (they introduced some shot gun formation), but the MSMA tradition of perennial ground attack excellence was alive, well, and fully on display last Saturday in the Bronx as the [Head Coach] Mario Valentini guided program got their spring off to a promising start with a 38-12 conquest of Nazareth Regional…Forced to fill a void in the backfield that was created when the school’s top-2 runners from 2019 either transferred or elected to not return this season, it took less time than a blink of an eye for the Mount to unveil their next big superstar…The Mountaineers already leading 8-0, the 5’10, 170-pound sophomore [Valera] guaranteed that his varsity debut would be an unforgettable occasion when he found a hole and sprinted 21-yards to paydirt for the first of what hopefully will be a plethora of touchdowns during the next 2.5 years…He later scored his second TD from 3-yards out…Valera further complemented his banner day by accounting for six additional points on a trio of 2pt conversions to conclude the day with 18 total…Carrying the ball 18 times, he collected exactly 100 yards…Showing a glimpse of his versatility, he caught one pass for a gain of nine yards…Senior DL, Angel Medina, had fumble return for a touchdown to highlight a strong performance on the other side of the line!

 

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