Oct 062021

By Matt Diano:

 Justin Joly (Sr.); WR/RB/Rover – Iona Prep Gaels

Let’s just put it out there; Justin Joly should have been a Player of the Week selection last week; Double-J could be a POTW pick next week, and so forth…That is just how much of a game-changing/revolutionary performer the 6’4, 220-pounder is on a consistent basis…There is no hesitation on our part when we proclaim that there will not be an outing this season that #7 fails to make a positive impression or significant contribution…After all, when you have accumulated over 80 grabs for close to 1,300 yards, and 13 touchdowns during a three-year starting career in New Rochelle, it is no longer a secret that you are a “weapon of mass production!!!”

Still riding the momentum/wave of a week #3 display that witnessed him catch six balls for 203 yards + a touchdown trifecta in the Gaels’ 63-20 victory over Christ the King, the future University of Delaware Blue Hen went off again this past Saturday in leading IP to a 34-7 triumph against Archbishop Stepinac in one of their biggest match-ups on the NYCHSFL fall 2021 calendar…

Adding to his program-best totals in all major receiving categories, the Lohud Super 11 honoree/team captain pulled in five catches for 102 yards to notch the fourth 100+ yard effort of his tenure per MaxPreps….Unofficially, he has now amassed the following stat line in his final year donning the Maroon & Gold: 26 grabs for 486 yards, with four scores!

October 2nd also afforded Joly the opportunity to showcase other dimensions of his very well-rounded skillset…Known/respected as the featured target when the pigskin is in the air, he complemented his impeccable reputation by thriving as both a ball carrier and a defender in the win that kept Iona Prep among the unblemished in league play (3-0).

His school plagued by the injury bug at the running back position, he was one of the student-athletes that Head Coach, Joe Spagnolo, specifically sought out to step up/assume responsibility in this area of the attack…Joly met the call to action by answering in the form of a 7-carry, 52-yard body of work, highlighted by a 38-yard TD run in the early moments of the 2nd quarter to double the IP advantage to 14-0.

If the first 90 seconds of the 2nd was an ode to the threat he poses any time the ‘skin is in his size 10.5 hands on offense, then the last minute-and-a-half provided the evidence that he is a “hawk” feasting on equal prey defensively as well!!!  The #2 ranked team in the Empire State holding a commanding 21-0 edge, Joly, having dropped back into pass coverage, darted in front of a Crusader WR and made a diving snatch for the interception to give Iona Prep possession on the opposing 29-yard line…Five snaps later, the junior tandem of Ajani Sheppard/Ryan O’Boyle, hooked up on a 15-yard TD connection to maximize the magnitude of the turnover…

Acing one test versus an expected AAA postseason contender, next up for the Gaels will be another clash versus a top tier foe as they go road tripping to Long Island to square off with their unbeaten (in NYCHSFL contests) brethren, the Firebirds of Kellenberg Memorial.


Chris Booras (Sr.); LB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

To have one successful goal line stand during the course of a single game is impressive; Two is remarkable; three is other-worldly; four is utter insanity; but FIVE in 48 minutes?  Well, after what the Monsignor Farrell defense achieved last Friday in their 16-8 victory over Cardinal Hayes, that feat can only be labeled as LIONESQUE!!!

Points being at a premium from the get-go, the MF “D” would bend periodically, but they refused to break…Time after time, no matter what the rival Cardinals tried to execute against them inside the red zone, the Anthony Garofalo molded corps stood up in the fight and prevailed…

Limiting the defending (2019) Metro Catholic Triple-A champs to an output 26.5 points below their average thus far this fall in NYCHSFL appearances (as well as the program’s lowest tally against an in-state opponent since 2014), was a COMPLETE TEAM endeavor; top to bottom, there was not a student-athlete on that side of the line of scrimmage who did not warrant POTW consideration…So, if you are the 6’1, 205-pound senior linebacker/co-captain [Chris Booras], to know that your head coach paid you the ultimate compliment by recognizing you as the catalyst/foundation behind the stifling effort, ought to be a source of immense pride!

Credited with 8 total stops, four tackles yielding negative yardage, two more hits for no gain, and even a batted ball under the primetime lights, the Staten Island student-athlete exhibited an aptitude for being at his best when the occasion demanded Herculean toughness…In all five of the cited stands, #44 in the home gold was visibly active!

The Lions having drawn first blood on their previous possession and Hayes driving in search of an equalizer in the last 4:00 of the 1st half, it was Booras being in the center of a 4th & 2 gang tackle on senior RB, Rex Roman, for the first suffocation of the night…

On the initial Cardinals’ series of the 3rd quarter, he prevented a touchdown on 1st & goal on his own 5.5 when he brought down Roman two yards shy of the end zone…

Just beyond the midway point (5:50 remaining) and Hayes on the 1-yard line, the super senior Mike LB greeted Roman on the doorstep to deny the 5’6, 150-pounder yet again…On 3rd down of this same drive, he correctly read play-action pass and  chased Duke bound senior QB, Henry Belin to the sideline, where junior DB, Nicholas Rossini and senior LB, Aaron Espinet (also ran for a team-high 114 yards and scored the winning TD on 18 carries) cracked him for a two-yard loss…

The score now deadlocked at 8-8 with approximately 3:00 remaining in duration, Booras flew across to the goal line on a 3rd & goal from the MF 7 to halt Belin at the 1…One snap later, he made the second/clean up hit to stuff sophomore, Kenneth Antoine to yield the turnover on downs…

The Espinet six-yard TD noted above putting Farrell back in front, 16-8, in the final 1:00, the visitors from the Bronx would not go quietly…Mounting a late rally but the clock (:15 to go) an unapologetic enemy, Hayes found themselves inside the 10, but Booras had another burst left in the gas tank, which he utilized on 3rd down when he sprinted to join a crowd that wrestled Belin to the grass to set up the deciding 4th down play (incomplete pass that was knocked down by Joseph Badynya, while the senior DE was applying heavy pressure).


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

We don’t know if the 6’2, 200-pound senior signal caller out of the Bronx [Hanley-Piri] is an enthusiast of the Righteous Brothers, but based on the way he’s slinging the pigskin in his scholastic swan song, he probably should be…In staying with the theme we introduced when he last garnered POTW distinction [week #3 of the Spring], subconsciously, whenever we are writing about him, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” will be playing in our heads…Because he is most certainly one of the TOP GUNS on the  Downstate Catholic Football landscape this fall!!

Tormenting the Kingsmen of Nazareth Regional for a second year in a row [23 of 31 for 315 yards and SIX TDs in May en route to Player of the Week honors], Hanley-Piri was every bit the assassin/marksman in the 36-6 triumph this past Saturday that notched his school their first win of the season (1-2)…Darn-near perfect on his throws, the multi-sport student-athlete (is also a RHP on the varsity baseball squad) was hurling dimes in every direction, as he partnered with eight different, including four different recipients on his quartet of TD passes, to post a 14-for-15, 220-yard masterpiece in the air!

This grandiose demonstration of precision came on the heels of a 10-for-16, 212-yard, 3-TD affair in a hard-fought loss the previous weekend in a rematch of the 2019 “A” title game versus Kennedy Catholic

Wasting no time in getting the Pilots on the board, one senior connected with another, as Hanley-Piri and Nathaniel Cooke united on a 6-yard crossing pattern to break the ice!  Moments later, the 2pt try was converted on an out-route to Mark Piri to make the score 8-0 less than 2:00 into the 1st quarter.

Six minutes later, the All-Piri duo struck for “6” as a short dart into the slot was transformed into a 45-yard, to the house highlight thanks to the nimble and slick moves of the 5’9, 150-pounder on the back end of the exchange…Cutting, side-stepping, and especially dodging, [Mark] Piri started out closest to his own bench but wound up running the final 30 yards directly in front of the opposing sideline to increase the lead to 16-0 [Devon Richardson with the 2pt rush]…

Spellman’s lead having grown to 22-0, Hunter Scott made his entrance at the TD party approximately halfway through the 3rd quarter, catching a screen pass and cruising to the pylon from a modest distance (3-4 yards) to give Hanley-Piri his third touchdown throw of the day…Miles Piegari had the 2pt grab to further enhance the margin [30-0].

The punction of an exceptional weekend occurred seven ticks into the 4th as Hanley-Piri linked brought the curtain down on his marvelous matinee with one bonus TD toss, an 11-yarder to senior wide-out, Dylan Ramlochan!!!


Sean Cannon (Jr.); DB/Punter– Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

As we were taught in the 2000 cinematic classic, “The Replacements”, the greatest fear (aside from spiders) that a football player can have is the onset of the feeling of “quicksand”!!!

In the Firebirds’ 35-8 victory last Sunday over Chaminade in the 2021 rendition of the Marianist Bowl, that quicksand had a name and a jersey number…#11 SEAN CANNON!!!

Kellenberg up 7-0 only seconds into the game following a 99-yard touchdown return by Senior, Jaden Lyons, on the opening kickoff, their hosts from Chaminade were marching in pursuit of an equalizer…Instead, in the blink of an eye, they found themselves buried even deeper when on 3rd & 10 inside the KMHS 29, Cannon undercut a throw to the wide side of the gridiron, intercepted the pass and sprinted 75 yards to paydirt to double the Blue & Gold lead to 14-0…

The first quarter pick-6 being the signature contribution for the 6’2, 180-pound, 11th grade, honor roll (4.0 GPA) member, it by no means encompassed the universal impact from horn to horn that the “Amityville Horror” had in delivering the “w” to Uniondale!!!

Entering the showdown of religious order brethren already atop every major defensive back category at Kellenberg, Cannon continued to bolster his imposing junior statistical resume by topping all Firebirds with 12 cumulative stops (many of which were in open space, third-level situations), while also successfully breaking up two other throws in his vicinity…Through four games, he has now amassed 36 tackles, logged two INTs, and been the primary coverage man on four PDs….His domineering presence among the last line of defense showing no indication of drop-off, pretty soon, it might be necessary to designate a spot on the Mitchel Athletic Complex as “Cannon Island.”!

Epitomizing the cliché about countless ways to skin a cat (the “cat” being victory in this specific regard), Cannon was quite valuable on special teams too…Handling KMHS’s punting duties, when his lockdown play at defensive back wasn’t dictating field position, his boots were doing the talking…

Averaging 38 yards on his five kicks, which included a 60-yarder that flipped the field to begin the 4th quarter, Cannon’s most consequential boomer came 3:30 into the 2nd quarter…The ‘Birds having just allowed a safety, but still enjoying a 21-2 edge, he launched a moon shot with such cosmic hang time that the gunner [senior, Kevin Murray] was able to get all the way down and strip the Flyer return man to create an extra possession for Kellenberg on the opposing 37…A few snaps later, junior QB, Devin Page (9 of 14 for 95 yards w/3 TDs) and senior WR, Gilbert Rivera, cashed in on the opportunity, playing pitch/catch on a 22-yarder to make a bad situation worse (28-2) for their Mineola hosts.

Currently sitting at 3-1 overall (3-0 in NYCHSFL contests), Kellenberg is going to lean heavily on their star DB when they welcome in Iona Prep on October 9th…The potential Cannon/Joly one-on-one dual will be worth the price of admission!!!


Dylan Braithwaite (Jr.); WR/CB– Holy Trinity Titans

You think you had an exciting weekend? The 5’11, 160-pounder, junior [Dylan Braithwaite] says, “Hold my Gatorade…

Suiting up for HT for just the fourth time after transferring into the Hicksville based program following a decorated start to his scholastic career in his home district of Valley Stream Central, the young gentleman with the 4.3 speed selected one heck of a day to reinforce his reputation as the two-way superstar he was advertised as being before trading Blue for Green…

Spending his Saturday afternoon in the Garden State after being extended a homecoming invite by Monmouth University, 24 hours later, Braithwaite displayed why the Big South Conference member believes he has the potential to be one great future (Ball) Hawk on the collegiate level!

Billed as a preview of what many pundits predict will be the AA-2 title match-up next month, Braithwaite was a spark plug on both sides of the line of scrimmage in Trinity’s 45-21 road victory over St. John the Baptist in a collusion of unbeatens…

Surging the Titans to a 28-0 advantage at the intermission, three of Braithwaite’s six catches (for a sum of 154 yard) resulted in touchdowns for “Roy’s Boys” (Head Coach/HT alumnus, Kahmal Roy)…

Just missing a true hat trick (thanks to a short TD run by fellow 11th grader, Christopher Bacon in the 2nd quarter), Braithwaite broke a scoreless tie in the 1st when he and field general, Zion Woodhull-Trippett (5-of-8, 106 yards, 2 TDs) joined forces for the first of a pair of opening-quarter scoring strikes from a distance of 32 yards…Their second collaboration was even more spectacular as this time the damage came from 41 yards out!

The identity of the person slinging the ‘skin may have changed in the 2nd quarter, but the byproduct remained the same, as sophomore signal caller, Rocco Rainone, hit the #9 jersey with a 19-yard bullet to culminate the latter’s 18-point sabbath!

As an accompaniment to the main course he served on offense, Braithwaite would exhibit the stellar defensive back skills that secured him 2nd Team All-Long Island status as a sophomore last spring, as it was his pass deflection in the 4th quarter that ricocheted the ball into the waiting arms of sophomore teammate, Josiah Brown, who proceeded to race 70 yards to the promised land for HT’s sixth and final touchdown!

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