Nov 152022

Article by Matt Diano

#1 Xavier (6-2) vs. #2 Mount St. Michael Academy (6-4)

When: Saturday November 19th, 2022 @11am

Where: Mitchel Athletic Complex (1 Charles Lindbergh Blvd, Uniondale, NY 11553)

Previous Meeting: “First Meeting of 2022”


How Xavier Got Here: In their lone appearance of the 2022 AA-2 playoffs, the Chris Stevens-mentored Knights did what they do best; they pounded the ball on the ground to the tune of a cumulative sum of 422 yards and SIX touchdowns in their 48-7 semifinal victory over fourth-seeded Kennedy Catholic…As has been true every step (or should we say, yard, of the way), the bedrock of the land attack was waged by the three-headed beast known by the names—Shane Zaletofsky, Gavin Gallagher, and Mehdi Merah, who rushed for respective totals of 156 (16 carries), 151 (5 attempts), and 78 (8 hand-offs) yards….Zaletoskly led all scorers with three touchdowns, while Gallagher struck twice, and Merah found the promised land on one occasion!!….Senior place-kicker, Charles Kinzie, converted 6-of-7 PAT tries to complement the trio….Defensively, it was Emir Yuksel (54-yard pick-6; 7 tackles), Tomas Diaz (1 interception; 6 stops), Benedetto Loria (1 INT, 4 tackles), and Joseph Dellavecchia (fumble recovery, 4 stops) all generating turnovers….Sean Donohue, topped all tacklers with 9 stops as part of the collective effort on “D” that held the Gaels to 1/3 of their normal point output (entered averaging 21.6 ppg)!!!

How St. Michael Academy Got Here: Like Xavier, by virtue of being a top-2 seed, the Mountaineers received a bye into the semifinals where they avenged a regular season loss in dominant fashion, defeating third-seeded Xaverian, 35-7….Mixing in the vertical attack to go along with a heavy dose of land warfare, junior field general, Marc Pearson Jr., connected on 9 of 13 throws for 163 yards and one touchdown pass (tacked on a short rushing TD to boot)…On the back end of the majority of his tosses was the sure-handed and explosive 6’4, 180-pound wide-out, Kameron Wheeler, who hauled in 5 balls for 60 yards…Fellow 12th grade WR, Jabril Carter, was responsible for the only TD grab of the afternoon, as was the target on a 72-yard strike from Pearson….One of three primary ball-carriers in the “w” over the Clippers, aside from scoring a TD, there wasn’t much more than Tyler Bobe could have achieved last Saturday, as he established a new career-best of 153 yards on 19 attempts…Franklin Dominguez (59) & Jonathan Otoo (46) were also quite fruitful on the ground, as they each handled the rock on eight occasions, rushing for a combined 105 yards and each amassing one touchdown each…Otoo (7 stops, 1 sack) was proved himself to be a play-maker on defense as well, as he joined the likes of Anthony Hernandez (6 tackles, 1 INT), Tyler Cadienhead (5 tackles, 1 sack),  Nico Bustamante (tied for the game-high of 7 stops), and especially D’Angelo Cabrera (80-yard interception return to the house) in limiting Xaverian to just 7 points after previously allowing 14 in the regular season meeting on October 2nd!

Synopsis: Meeting for the first time this fall, top-seeded Xavier will be seeking their first NYCHSFL crown since 2015, whereas #2 MSMA is hoping to hoist championship hardware for first time since 2009…While the Mount is the more balanced team on offense (1,543 in the air, 1,555 rushing), our gut tells us that you should expect this game to be won or lost based on which team is better able to get the running game going….After all, the Knights have only attempted 29 passes all season long and have been lethal on land (2,689 yards, 34 touchdowns), while the Mountaineers are fresh off of an outing where they chewed up 261 yards and scored ¾ of their offensive touchdowns with their legs!!…Using common opponents, the smart money has to be on Xavier, as they defeated Xaverian 34-6 in the only meeting, whereas the Mount had the aforementioned split; In addition, Xavier handled Kennedy Catholic (2x by scores of 26-6 & 48-7), versus MSMA squeaking by, 27-21….Finally, XR earned a head-to-head (35-27) win over St. Joe’s by the Sea, as opposed to the Vikings shutting out the Mountaineers, 14-0!!…No matter who wins on Saturday morning, it will be a true tale od redemption, as Xavier missed the entire 2020 campaign (Covid) and 1-8 in 2021, while the Mount mustered only a 2-7 resume last fall!  

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