May 052021

By Matt Diano:

Aidan Hanley-Piri (Jr.); QB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

Someone please give Aidan Hanley-Piri a pair of aviator sunglasses and a Blue Angels jacket.  The past Sunday, people tuned in expecting to watch football; instead, the 6’2, 200-pound junior field general treated them to an air show en route to propelling the Pilots to their first victory of the spring, 40-28, over visiting Nazareth Regional…Working his way back into prime game condition after being hampered by an ankle injury suffered during week #1, the gentleman in the #2 jersey shattered not only established new personal bests, but also shattered quite a few school records with 48-minute display of aerial brilliance…Connecting on 23 of 31 throws, he hurled for a remarkable 315 yards, and SIX touchdowns to have a direct hand in all of Spellman’s scoring plays…And trust us when we say that pitted against a gritty Kingsmen foe that refused to go away on May 2nd, the Pilots needed every last point…His team already enjoying a 7-0 advantage, Hanley-Piri tossed his second TD of the opening quarter when he hit Mark Piri with a beautiful 46-yard over the shoulder pass…The second quarter would be all about playing pitch-and-catch with Logan Arroyo.  On two separate occasions, from distances of 15 (right at the first pylon) and 25 (diving catch) yards, the junior duo hooked up to send Spellman into the break with a 28-6 cushion…Answering the second of Nazareth’s two third quarter TDs (closed the gap to 28-22), Hanley-Piri regained momentum for CS when he culminated a well-orchestrated drive by finding sophomore, Nathaniel Cooke, on a 10-yarder to restore the multi-touchdown edge…Another Kingsmen score trimming the lead to 34-28 in the 4th, Aidan-Hanley delivered his most important strike of the afternoon, when on 3rd & long, he executed a perfect 23-yard “pump and go” to Miles Piegari to cement the “w”…All four of Spellman’s primary receivers posted multiple grab performances that yielded at least one touchdown apiece.  This masterful distribution of the ball earned the signal caller [Hanley-Piri} the ultimate praise from the coaching staff…Simply put, he made everyone on that field better on Sunday!


Mike Solimando (Jr.); WR/CB – St. Francis Prep Terriers

If this past Saturday’s quest for Queens taught us anything, it is that if you give the 6’0, 170-pounder from Middle Village [Solimando] a literal inch, he’ll take a proverbial mile!!!  The consummate play-maker in the Terriers’ 27-14 triumph over rivals, Holy Cross, the junior may have donning the #11 jersey, but he clearly was the #1 thorn in the side of the previously unbeaten Knights…Finishing the evening with five total catches for a grand sum of 140 yards, and highlighted by a pair of touchdown grabs, Solimando was prominent in everything that STF was able to achieve on offense…His team holding a 7-0 lead at the time, Solimando doubled the cushion for the Terriers when on a 4th & 6, he made an adjustment on a ball thrown slightly behind him to haul in a 6-yard TD off of a roll out pass from Junior signal caller, Matthew Gonzalez, to make the score 14-0 at the break…The margin having grown to 20-0 in the 3rd, the 4.0 student-athlete was again on the back end of a TD connection, leaping and configuring his body in mid-air to snatch a 34-yard in front of his bench to notch the first multi-score game of his varsity career…Not to be forgotten is the fact that Solimando came darn close to making it a three-TD affair when earlier in the third quarter, he caught a screen pass, evaded several defenders and raced 70+ yards into the end zone before officials ruled that he stepped out at the Holy Cross 12…Taking a turn on the other side of the ball, Solimando added two tackles from his spot on the corner to help the Terrier “D” contain an HC attack that entered averaging 39 points per game to a much more modest number on the scoreboard…St. Francis (2-0) Prep will wrap up their 2021 campaign when they square off with defending triple-A league champion, Cardinal Hayes (3-0) in a contest of the unblemished!


Messiah Burch (So.); RB/DB & Jameson Sessa (Jr.); DE  – Monsignor Farrell Lions

Debuting our first package deal of POTW honorees, with the sun starting to set on the 2021 season and so little opportunity to honor the worthy, the Monsignor Farrell staff felt strongly about two players being equally deserving of the spotlight and we fully concurred!!!..Taking command of their respective sides of the line of scrimmage, if not for the contributions of both the 5’10, 170-pound sophomore tailback [Burch] and the 6’0, 200-pound defensive end [Sessa], May 1st would have ended on a much sour note for the Lions…Trailing 14-0 on the road in a collusion of Staten Island adversaries versus St. Peter’s, it was Burch providing the much-needed punch on offense in the 2nd quarter, while Sessa, who was a consistent menace throughout, picking the last 8:00 of regulation to emerge with his signature moment, in a reversal of fortune that saw Farrell battle back for the 28-20 victory over the Eagles…Concluding the day with an outstanding 137 yards rushing on 14 carries, it was Burch turning the tables and giving life to the Lions with 4:30 to go in the 1st half when he took a 2nd & 7 hand-off straight up the gut and did not stop cruising until he reached the promised land 28 yards later to cut the deficit to 14-7…One series later, #4 in the White/Maroon did his best Barry Sanders impersonation, cutting back repeatedly, shaking off defenders and demonstrating impeccable field vision on a 38-yard trek to paydirt that evened the score at 14-14 with 1:50 remaining before the intermission…Even when he was not the one credited with the score, Burch found a way to be the catalyst.  With Farrell leading 21-20 in the last 7:00 minutes of the 4th quarter, it was his 38-yard shake and bake dash to the opposing 25 that set up sophomore, Ethan Yak’s, 6-yard game-clinching TD run with 4:40 left in duration…On defense, it was Sessa’s stellar performance down the stretch that earned him the admiration of his coaches…Following a STP touchdown in the final 8:00 to narrow the Lions edge to 21-20, it was his stop on the 2pt conversion attempt that enabled the boys from Amboy Road to maintain their advantage…#59 came up just as big on the last series of the contest, utilizing a sack (after being the one to flush the QB out of the pocket) on 3rd & 24 in the waning minute to all but terminate St. Peter’s last-ditch effort to find an equalizer…All in all, Sessa collected six total tackles, the already cited well-timed sack, a pair of TFLs, and a copious amount of QB hurries that will not be reflected in the box score but were essential in disrupting the flow of a formidable STP attack that put up 50 during a week 1 victory [over St. Joe’s by the Sea]…Monsignor Farrell will ride their two-game winning streak into the spring finale when they host Christ the King under the Friday night lights!

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