By Matt Diano:
In a week #5 collision of two absolute triple-A title contenders where 70+ points are put on the board between two explosive offenses, it might have been hard to find the diamond(s) in the rough on the other side of the line of scrimmage; this was NOT the case with Wayne Coleman…. The 6’1, 270-pound 11th grader made it quite easy to take notice of his complete display, as the tireless work ethic he implored and the energy he exuded (both on special teams and on “D”) were apparent from the opening whistle to the final horn of the Crusaders’ 40-36 victory on the road against St. Anthony’s this past Saturday afternoon…
To borrow from former UFC two-division titlist, Conor McGregor, “Life is about growing and improving, and getting better.”…And that is precisely what has been transpiring with the behemoth from Waterbury, CT….With each passing week, you see his influence and confidence amplifying in droves…Registering nine total stops versus a pair of out-of-state opponents to commence the fall, since entering league competition, Coleman has been a beast of a different breed and the “stock market” is experiencing only gains…Elevating from a six-tackle/one-sack effort on September 24th against Moore Catholic to a nine-stop/2 TFL performance on October 2nd versus Iona Prep, to his most recent “oeuvre”, there is no debating that the NYCHSFL fan base is seeing the mere tip of the iceberg in regards to what this young gentleman is going to achieve during the next season and a half in White Plains…
Coming away with a career-best 11 tackles (7 solo, 4 assists), several of which resulted in loss of yardage, and the second sack of his junior campaign, Coleman was prominent in the defensive adjustments that enabled coach Michael O’Donnell’s Crusaders to limit their rival Friars to just 15 2nd half points en route to turning around a 21-12 halftime deficit…
Looking beyond the numbers, Coleman also was a mood/attitude setter on October 9th. Repeatedly, he delivered booming, bell-ringing hits (especially as a special teamer) that established the tone of “bad intentions.”…Trust us when we proclaim that if you were a St. Anthony’s return man, the last thing you wanted to see in your path was #43 in White approaching you like a Panzer VIII Maus tank! Because when you did, you got steam-rolled!!
One of his greatest contributions came in an area where he served as a facilitator for his teammate…Stepinac trailing 21-19 less than three minutes into the third quarter, Coleman got into the grill of STA junior QB, Dante Torres, and the pressure he applied forced the Friar signal caller to misfire on 4th & 2 (on the AS side of the gridiron), leading to the tip drill and the eventual INT by fellow junior, Devin Costello…
Approximately seven minutes later (STA up 28-26), the pass rush again paid dividends as his 10-yard sack on 2nd & 13 pushed the St. Anthony’s back even further into their own zone, laying the tracks for a punt that gave Stepinac possession near mid-field…This excellent starting positioning culminated with senior RB, Kejuan Preston, breaking for a 28-yard TD run to vault the Crusaders in front for the first time all afternoon at the onset of the 4th quarter!
By virtue of this key victory, Stepinac now looks in ideal shape to secure a top-2 seed for the postseason!
“The best defensive performance I’ve ever coached,” was how Eagles head man, Mark DeCristoforo, so accurately recapped the extraordinary defensive exploits of his 5’9, 180-pound LB/SS hybrid stopper [Lecchese] to the reporter from the SI Advance….
Mired in a four-game slump when they stepped onto home soil for a Saturday matinee against Fordham Prep, the Blue & Gold convocation leaned heavily on the “D” in soaring to the 20-13 victory over the visiting Rams…And no one flew higher or prouder than the senior in the #5 jersey!!!
Emerging as the hub/centerpiece of a unit that forced six turnovers and pitched a shutout for the final 26:40 of regulation, there was not a box that went unchecked by Lecchese during his 48-minute episode of “helter skelter” mayhem!
Credited with eight tackles in whole, including three for a loss, where the Staten Islander shined brightest was in his flair for always being in the right place at the right time…
Of the previously cited sextet of possession-altering sequences, half came courtesy of Lecchese, as he was responsible for a pair of strips sacks, not to mention a potential game-saving interception!
The Eagles leading 20-13 in the last 2:00 of the third stanza, Lecchese registered the first of his set of forced fumbles when he brought the heat off the edge on a 3rd & 8 scenario and walloped the opposing Ram field general, jarring the ball loose where he completed the play by pouncing on it deep (the FP 7-yard line) inside enemy territory…
Approximately six minutes later (8:00 remaining in the 4th) and the score unchanged, it was déjà vu for Lecchese, as he exploded on a blitz, issuing a bulldozing hit from the blind side that created a free-for-all eventually recovered by fellow 12th grader, LB Giovanni Gentile…The massive thump occurred right after a long connection in the air advanced FP across mid-field to the STP 46….This marked the first of two drives that he personally thwarted during crunch time…
Money until the very end, Lecchese made a diving interception on the STP 21-yard line in the waning moments (:17 go) of the 4th quarter to preserve the “w”…The last-ditch attempt at an equalizing drive for Fordham Prep was initiated by a fumble recovery on their own 32 with 1:07 still showing on the clock. They successfully marched to the Peter’s 32 before the Eagle turned ball hawk swooped in for the pick!
Putting the “strong” in strong safety, reaping praise is quickly becoming habitual for Lecchese. In a week #4 loss to St. Anthony’s, his nine-stop/1 fumble recovery outing also secured the favor and compliments of DeCristoforo!
One of our favorite times of the season is upon us! There is nothing more American than Homecoming and no greater satisfaction than the thrill/joy of knowing that you treated the magnitudes of decorated alumni to an amazing show!
For the 5’10, 180-pounder from Wappinger Falls [Castaldi], that esteemed privilege belonged to him on the afternoon of October 9th!
Pitted against a Xaverian program that his school had never defeated (0-7) since Kennedy Catholic’s entry into the NYCHSFL in the fall of 2013, the junior Swiss Army Knife cut through the visiting Clippers in every possible manner in catapulting the Gaels to a 42-7 triumph that improved their league record to 3-0 versus in-state Catholic opponents.
Featured/referenced in week #2 [as part of teammate, Nick Mittag’s POTW write-up] in recognition of his impact as a wide receiver, this past weekend’s spotlight- commanding endeavor came about thanks to a reversal of roles!!!
Assuming primary snap-taking responsibilities for KC in week #5 after platooning with fellow junior, ZJ Suarez, earlier in the season, based on the demonstration of dual-threat excellence he demonstrated, it is difficult to fathom him relinquishing his QB1 status anytime in the near future!
Connecting on 12-of-15 throw attempts, Castaldi tossed for a career-high 161 yards and a pair of TDs…He proved quite adept on the ground to boot, carrying the pigskin on eight separate instances for a sum of 106 yards and two additional scores!!! All in all, he accrued an outstanding 267 yards of production and had a hand (or leg) in 2/3s of the Gaels’ six overall trips to the promised land!
The boys of Somers already out to a 7-0 advantage following a pick-6 on the opening play from scrimmage by Mittag, Castaldi doubled the cushion in the last 60 seconds of the 1st when he lofted a beautiful 20-yarder into the corner of the end zone to a leaping Israel Centeno-Johnson (3 grabs for 40 yards, 1 TD).
Later in the contest, his poise and/or coolness under pressure was confirmed when despite having a Clipper defender bearing down on him, he surveyed the field and found Nick Duryea (3 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD) over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown strike!
Potent with his legs from both near and far, Castaldi cashed on TD runs from distances of 50 and 4 yards respectively to round out his coronation as the unofficial “Homecoming King”!