Sep 162021
 

By Matt Diano:

Chad Case (Jr.); LB – Holy Trinity Titans

Speaking of virtuosic stoppers on “D”, the 5’8, 180-pound dynamo from Baldwin competed with such tenacity and firepower during week #1 that those in attendance must have thought he had been shot out of a cannon..

Going above and beyond in the HT 27-0 goose-egging of Monsignor Martin (Buffalo) league member, St. Joseph’s Collegiate, Case logged a double-digit (10) effort in tackles and cemented his POTW status behind a supplemental highlight package that included, but was not limited to, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and a fumble recovery…

With Case delivering the pain on behalf of a Holy Trinity defense that pitched their first shutout since 2018 (49-0 against St. Dominic’s on 10/28), it is no wonder why Titan third-year head coach/Class of ‘97 graduate, Kahmal Roy, was overjoyed when the young hammer elected to be a Titan!

Concentrated and/or employed most effectively on one side of the ball during kick-off weekend, like many of his peers who will follow him in this article, Case is far from a one-trick pony…If you had the privilege of observing him during the 6-on-6 flag season last fall, you are keenly aware that it is a question of “how soon”, not “if” he will transform into a 48-minute, every down, impact commodity in all areas of the game…Per Newsday, in his lone touch on offense, he broke for a 29-yard gain on the ground as a preview of the potential that is on the horizon!

Ellis Robinson IV (So.); CB/WR – Iona Prep Gaels

One of, if not the most highly regarded student-athletes to come out of the NYCHSFL in LEAGUE HISTORY, the 6’0, 170-pounder from New Haven, CT. demonstrated the dynamic play-making ability on both sides of the ball that has earned him the #4 overall composite ranking on 247Sports among all 2024 national prospects…Still very much in the infancy stage of his scholastic career, when it comes to his many suitors (already holds scholarship offers from 20-power-5 programs), #2 in jersey leaves little doubt why he is NUMERO UNO on the wish list!!!

Starring in an inter-state clash between what is arguably the top teams in both New York and Rhode Island, Robinson IV registered a pair of timely interceptions on defense (the only throws in his direction all evening) before further displaying his elite hands/ball skills by hauling in a 21-yard touchdown reception to lead the Gaels to an impressive 35-14 triumph at home over 3x defending RI State Champions, Bishop Hendricken.  The victory snapped the 25-game winning streak enjoyed by their guests from “The Ocean State.” IP has now handed the Hawks their last two losses, as prior to this past Saturday, the last time B.H. tasted defeat was in week #1 of the 2018 season (41-34).

The New Rochelle based school clinging to a 21-14 lead, Robinson IV restored the two-TD advantage when just outside of the red zone, he went in motion, caught a pass (from junior signal caller, Ajani Sheppard) behind the line of scrimmage, shed a tackle, and then darted down the host sideline via a “tight rope” act into the end zone to make the score 28-14!

Both of his picks were also significant momentum changers as the first occurred just outside the Iona Prep 30 and halted a promising Hendricken drive; the second setup the IP offense with ideal starting field position when in man-coverage, he beat his opponent to the spot and finished off the turnover right around mid-field!

The shutdown cornerback [Robinson IV] and the Gaels, who evened their record to 1-1 this season behind the win, will next turn their attention to preparing for a week #2 showdown with a Monsignor Farrell squad that looked quite potent in the air (Sophomore QB, Cristian Pinto, completed 6-of-10 for 171 yards + 1 TD).

 

Aaron Espinet (Sr.); LB/RB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

If you ask any former student-athlete what the highlight of their senior year was, most will tell you it was “the first game” and the “last game” played wearing our high school colors…The bookends of one’s swan song campaign just seem to hold a natural nostalgia that transcends much else that occurs.   And for the 6’1, 205-pounder out of Staten Island [Espinet], when he reflects back upon his 12th grade season debut, there is going to be a plethora of moments of which to remember…

The catalyst behind the Lions’ 34-20 victory at home under the Friday night lights over 16x Rhode Island State titlists (most recently 2017), La Salle Academy, there was not a single element of the game that the gentleman in the Maroon & Gold #23 jersey failed to impact!

Following a Farrell score on their opening possession to seize the immediate 7-0 edge, it was Espinet exploding up the middle untouched (on 3rd &15) for the first of his three sacks (one of which came on a 3Q 2pt conversion attempt) on the night to force La Salle into an impossible 4th down predicament that eventually ended in a turnover on downs…Less than 1:00 into the 2nd quarter (Lions still up 7-0), the MF captain would play a crucial role in generating his second turnover of the opening half when he applied a bone-crushing hit to the opposing quarterback to cause a fumble (recovered by fellow senior, Joseph Badyna, just short of the 50-yard line)…His personal TO count reached three when on 4th-and-long in the last 5:00 of the third quarter, he blew up a desperation pass attempt by chasing down the Ram receiver for a six-yard loss.  The tackle was one of 7 (5 solo, 2 assisted) he was amassed in the contest.

Shifting gears to offense, Espinet relied on his big frame to muscle his way into a commendable 5-carry, 43-yard, 2-touchdown evening on the ground…Building off of the aforementioned fumble that he was responsible for creating on “D”, he culminated the ensuing series by banging his way up the gut for the 7-yard TD run to double the lead to 14-0 (after a successful PAT) with 10:07 remaining before the break…The “big back” made it two consecutive scoring drives when he answered a La Salle touchdown with his second of the quarter on a 2-yard plunge across the goal line (3:35 to go in the half] to give the [Anthony] Garofalo guided cohort a comfortable 21-6 cushion heading into the locker room.

For good measure, Espinet got his name called on special teams to boot, recovering the onside kick (eventually negated by a LSA penalty) after La Salle scored approximately three-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter.

As referenced above, Farrell is scheduled to face off with the consensus preseason favorites in the AAA, Iona Prep, during the second week of the regulation season.  Should the beasts from Amboy Road hope to pull off the upset, it will be essential for Espinet to continue to be an imposing presence anywhere and everywhere on the gridiron!

 

Devin Grant (Sr.); QB/FS – Holy Cross Knights

If you perform a search for the 6’4, 190-pound standout hailing from Elmont on a major recruiting website, you won’t see any specific position recognized.  Rather, in acknowledgement of the universal and/or utter completeness of his array of tools, “ATHLETE” is utilized instead…In truth, “GODSEND” might have been just as accurate and applicable regarding how invaluable he is to Head Coach, Timothy Smith and the Knights of Holy Cross.

Returning to his roots as the snap-taker after spending his entire junior season as a wide-receiver (team-leader in all categories with 13 grabs for 194 yards and 4 TDs), there was not the slightest semblance of rust in his school’s 30-15 win over St. Francis Prep this past Saturday to avenge their lone defeat of the shortened 2021 spring season and claim the Battle of the Blvd. Trophy!!!

Like a prodigy that has honed and perfected his craft day-after-day for years, aside from the fact that he is two inches taller, #15 in the Green/White/Gold showcased the same unstoppable, dual-threat, highlight-reel caliber potential that yielded Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP!

Connecting on 6-of-8 throw attempts for 152 yards and two scores, if you can believe it, Grant was even more lethal with his legs, racking up 166 yards and two additional touchdowns on a mere eight carries in catapulting the Knights to 30 unanswered points from the 2nd-4th quarters.

Trailing 7-0, Grant got HC on the board when he hooked up with sophomore, Issac Glaudin, on an 89-yard TD reception (and then ran in the 2pt try) to instantly jump in front, 8-7…

The third quarter proved to be the most lucrative for the senior field general as he established breathing room for his squad by notching one TD apiece with his legs and arm…Cruising to the promised land on a 38-yard sprint 2:29 into the 2nd half, Grant later (:31 remaining) added his second aerial strike of the night to a super sophomore when he found Terrance Alexander on the 48-yard pitch/catch to increase the margin to 22-7.

As an exclamation to his thesis of offensive brilliance, Grant rounded out his four-TD affair with a 64-yard dash to paydirt in the last 5:00 of regulation…

An automatic/undeniable selection to the POTW list based off of the resume cited above, when it comes to his prowess on the other side of the ball, it suffices to say that “It’s in the genes.”….The nephew of NFL veteran safety/Holy Cross alumnus, Dean Marlowe (currently with the Detroit Lions), Grant exhibited the blue-chip skillset that inspired the University of Buffalo to lock him up in early-July as a centerpiece to their defensive backfield in 2022-2025…Collecting nine tackles in total, the future Bull was at the forefront of two turnover-inducing plays, as he forced + recovered a fumble, as well as recorded an interception in the midst of keeping the Terriers scoreless for the majority of the final three quarters of action.

 

Photo by Geoff Walter

Thomas Kemp IV (Sr.); DE – Chaminade Flyers

A two-year starter and the bar none backbone of the 2021 Crimson & Gold defensive line, the 6’3, 230-pound 12th grade DE out of Hempstead certainly set an example and raised the bar for the rest of his linemates in Chaminade’s 44-6 victory against Christ the King last Saturday night…

Consistently and thoroughly commanding the war in the trenches, “Milton Bradley” would be a fitting nickname for #76 he spent his weekend constructing a monopoly in the Royals’ offensive backfield!!!

Credited with a program-best 9 stops (4 solo), including quartet for a loss of yardage, one sack, and a forced fumbled (stalled a promising CTK drive that was inside the Flyer 25), Kemp IV, along with with fellow senior, Anthony Scala (4 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack), and 11th grader, Luke Ventura (4 stops, 2 tackles for negative yardage) formed a “Steel Curtain” within the 3-4 scheme to wreak havoc and prevent the Christ the King attack from ever gaining their proverbial footing.

While Kemp and company brought the “BOOM” on defense, a bevy of personnel were equally outstanding when the Mineola based institution had the pigskin…Splitting QB duties, senior, Thomas Stueber (5-for-12 passing for 112 yards; 33 yards rushing + 2 TDs on eight carries) and junior, Matthew Dieguez (2-of-6 throwing for 64 yards w/1 TD; 53 yards and one touchdown running on 6 keepers) accounted for over 260 yards of total production and four scores…12th grade tailback, Christian Alacqua, was the very definition of “all-purpose”, surpassing the century mark (101) and reaching the end zone twice (distances of 13 and 7) on 15 carries; The Cornell University committed lacrosse gem tacked on two grabs for 60 yards and one bonus TD to conclude his 18-point saga! Sophomore place-kicker, Timothy Tomlinson (the only 10th grader on the varsity roster), went 5-for-6 on PATs and converted a 35 yard field goal attempt to contribute eight points of his own!

Head Coach, Kevin Dolan, will need for Kemp and the rest of the “Marianist Militia” to match, if not exceed, their respective week #1 performances when the Flyers hit the road to square off with the defending (2019) triple-A champs from the Bronx, Cardinal Hayes!

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