Nov 192022
 

THE FINAL CHAPTER OF THE REDEMPTION STORY HAS BEEN WRITTEN!!!…FROM WORST TO FIRST!!!

Congratulations to Head Coach Chris Stevens and his top-seeded Xavier Knights on winning the program’s first NYCHSFL crown since 2015 behind a dramatic 29-22 victory over #2 Mount St. Michael Academy, in the AA-2 title contest!!

The owners of a 1-8 record a season ago, the gentlemen in the Maroon & Blue booked their reservation to the penthouse when in the last :25 seconds of the 4th quarter, it was senior QB/2B, Shane Zaletosky, breaking a 22-22 deadlock when he called his own number on a 2-yard plunge across the goal line for his third rushing touchdown of the day (division-leading 15th of the year)…  

The game-winning short distance trek by the Manhattan resident was set up by one of, if not the biggest special teams plays of the year, as Gavin Gallagher had a 58-yard kick-off return to give the Knights starting field position at the opposing 32…

The momentum-swinging KO return was the only time that Gallagher and the #41 shirt rose to the occasion when the stakes were highest…Earlier in the afternoon, with his school training 15-14 with a little over 3:00 remaining in the 3rd quarter, it was the stud from Queens darting into open space for a 75-yard gainer that put Xavier on the doorstep (MSMA 5) and acted as a precursor to Mehdi Merah’s 13th touchdown of the fall three snaps later…Zaletofsky then refused to be denied on a successful 2pt conversion run  to create the 7pt advantage….

A back-and-forth showdown that was not lacking for crowd-pleasing action, at the initial stages of the finale, it appeared that Xavier might roll to an easy victory, as they scored on two of their first three drives to seize a commanding 14-0 lead with 1:55 to go in the opening quarter…

Picking off each of the first two throw attempts from Mountaineer field general, Marc Pearson Jr., senior defensive back, Sean Donohue, was a catalyst in XR’s ability to draw first blood, as he returned the first of his two picks to the opponents’ 23, with Zaletofsky going the rest of the rest on the team’s first offensive snap to give the Knights the quick 7-0 edge just 53 ticks into the title game.

A little more than nine minutes later, after the defense induced a punt, Zaletofsky sprung back-to-back runs totaling 40 yards, including a 25yrd touchdown run that doubled the cushion….

However to the credit of Mario Valentini’s charges from the Bronx [MSMA), there would be no surrender from the “Murdock Mafia”, as they would rally to score the next 15 unanswered points (all in the 2nd quarter) to head into the break holding a slim lead…

Finding their groove on the final snap of the 1st quarter, it was a 41-yard connection from Pearson to Kyle Samuels that put the Mount in business, as it moved the pigskin inside enemy territory (Xavier 10)…Junior RB, Jonathan Otoo, then cashed in on the first play of the 2nd quarter, finding the promised land from 10-yard out to cut the deficit to 14-6 (PAT no good)… 

Getting a stop on defense, Pearson made it two productive series in a row when he hit his top-target, Jabril Carter, on a 35-yard touchdown exchange with 5:53 remaining in the 1st to trim the hole to 14-12 (2pt conversion run attempt was stuffed)….The TD connection between #5 and #7 was the last of three occasions on that drive in which they teamed up… 

The Pearson/Carter combo was prominent again towards the end of 2nd quarter, as the former found the latter on an 18-yarder completion on 2nd down that laid the track for Daithi O’Connor, to drill a 26-yard field goal with :08 to go before the intermission!!

Much of the third quarter proved to be a defensive stalemate, as the first four drives of the 2nd half all ended with either turnovers (Luis Ferran notched the first of his pair of interceptions on his own 16 to halt Xavier’s initial possession) or punts….

The previously cited Merah TD looked as if It might stand up as the clinching score, as XR created a turnover on down (James Franchock applied pressure on a QB keep from Pearson and forced his nemesis to lose his balance short of the marker) and forced two punts on the Mount’s first three possessions of the 4th quarter…

And just when it looked as if the first of our triple-header spectacle might end in uneventful fashion, it was Pearson hurling his second TD toss of the day (14th of the fall) on 4th & 9 from his own 35, when he tossed a BB over the middle into the waiting arms of Kameron Wheeler for the 65-yard equalizer with a little less than 3:00 unspoken for in regulation…

On the Mount’s last-ditch attempt (in the last :20 of the 4th), Benedetto Loria iced the hardware for Xavier when he camped under and picked off a deep ball on his own 20 as the clock struck zero!!  

Not surprisingly, your most valuable players on each side of the ball were Zaletofsky (3 TDs) and Donohoe (2 INTs; he also was the one that made the tackle to stop the 2pt conversion after MSMA’s second score)!

Despite today being the title game, both programs still have one more appearance awaiting them as they will return to the gridiron to partake in their traditional Thanksgiving Turkey Bowl clashes with Fordham Prep (Xavier) & Cardinal Hayes (Mount St. Michael) respectively!!!

 

  

 

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.