Jun 062018

From Xavier:

Xavier mourns the passing of John Kelly P’09 ’10, Honorary Graduate of the Class of 2015, husband of Janine, father of Seamus ’09 and Sean ’10, and freshman football and rugby coach from 2005-15.  John passed away after a long and courageous battle with ALS.

In learning of Kelly’s passing, Xavier’s president Jack Raslowsky noted: “St. Irenaeus said that ‘the glory of God is a man fully alive.’ John Kelly was such a man. In his love for Janine, Seamus and Sean, in his love for the young men of Xavier, in his work with our teams and athletes, John was indeed the glory of God. He was a model of goodness and kindness, loyalty and friendship, and love for others. I count my friendship with John as one of the great gifts of my time as president of Xavier.”

Please pray for the family and repose of the soul of John Kelly at this time.

A Donation can be mad in John Kelly’s Name to ALS ONE by Clicking Here




Feb 072018

CHSFL College Commitments

  • Derek Ferraro C Iona Prep – Rice University
  • Jack Doty T Iona Prep – Brown University
  • Malkelm Morrison DB/RB Iona Prep – US Military Academy at West Point
  • Ki’Shyne Shipmon RB/WR Iona Prep – Pace University
  • Johnryan Freeman TE/OLB Iona Prep – Trinity College
  • Joseph Colaio-Coppola S Iona Prep – Elon University
  • Luke Tobia LB Iona Prep – Ithaca College
  • Marlon Ellis OG/DT Iona Prep – SUNY Maritime
  • Elijah Jones WR Cardinal Hayes – Boston College
  • Antonio Colclough DL Cardinal Hayes – Temple
  • Qadir White OL Cardinal Hayes – Syracuse
  • Lucan Nunez WR Cardinal Hayes – Sacred Heart
  • Randy Brito DB Cardinal Hayes – Sacred Heart
  • Robert Javier DB Cardinal Hayes – Towson University
  • Chris Simermeyer WR St. Joe’s by the Sea – Pace University
  • Matthew Mitchell WR St. Joe’s by the Sea – St. Anselm’s University
  • Trill Williams RB/DB Archbishop Stepinac – Syracuse University
  • Tyler Winston WR Archbishop Stepinac – University of Albany
  • Devante Reid WR/RB Archbishop Stepinac – Trinity College
  • Deuce Prince DE Archbishop Stepinac – The Citadel
  • David Harris OG Archbishop Stepinac – University of New Haven
  • John Kelly LB/TE Monsignor Farrell – US Naval Academy
  • Patrick McSweeney WR Monsignor Farrell – Coastal Carolina University
  • Ed Longest DL Kennedy Catholic – Ithaca College
  • Sean Bryan RB St. Anthony’s – Towson University
  • Grayson Cherubino DL St. Anthony’s – Bucknell University
  • Julian Chung RB St. Anthony’s – Southern Connecticut State University
  • Nicholas Greer DL St. Anthony’s – Stony Brook University
  • Michael Leahy OL St. Anthony’s – SUNY Maritime
  • Heron Maurisseau WR St. Anthony’s – University of Connecticut
  • Philip Plantia DB St. Anthony’s – Bryant University
  • Conor Ryan WR St. Anthony’s – Stone Hill College
  • Ryan Vahey LB St. Anthony’s – Wagner College
  • Rob DeGregorio K St. Anthony’s – Hobart College
  • Justin Adames St. Anthony’s – Morrisville State
  • Shawn Bendeck LB St. Francis Prep – LIU Post
  • Michael Taylor DE/TE Holy Cross – Villanova University
  • Christian Mason OL/DL Holy Cross – Alfred University
  • Justin Felder RB Holy Cross – Stonehill College
  • Maxamillion O’Quinn OL Holy Cross – Stonehill College
  • Brendan Orgill TE/DE Holy Cross – Texas Wesleyan
  • Michael Palermo RB/LB St. John the Baptist – United States Coast Guard Academy
  • Nigel Jarvis RB/DB St. John the Baptist – SUNY Cortland
  • Daniel Parker RB/DB St. John the Baptist – Nichols College
  • Robert Gray TE/DL St. John the Baptist – Western Connecticut State University
  • Thomas Force TE/DB St. John the Baptist – Stevenson University
  • Elijah Eddy DL Kellenberg Memorial – Pace University
  • Brendan Whitehead OL/DL Kellenberg Memorial – Sacred Heart University


Dec 082017

Father Philip Eichner S.M. President of the Pincipal’s Council

By Matt Diano: Celebrating the conclusion of yet another exciting, action-packed, and character-building season of New York Catholic High School football, the best of the best in the NYCHSFL gathered together one final time on December 3rd, to take part in the cherished and incomparable tradition of the Annual Communion Championship Awards Mass & Breakfast.

Addressing his congregation, Father Albert Bertoni SM, spoke candidly and passionately about the importance of reflection during the Advent season and how we, as Catholic sons and daughters are called to take a step back from the daily “hustle and bustle” and instead devote our time toward relaxation and properly preparing for the return of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ…..”Preparation”, whether it be in regard to making a place in our lives for Christ or in bringing glory and dignity to our schools via our play on the football field was a theme that naturally permeated the hearts and minds of those young men who were blessed and gifted enough to be revered and decorated as worthy of being a 2017 honoree…..Starting way back in late-August/early September, these blessed student-athletes poured every ounce of their being into being champions, on and off of the field….And, by the grace of God, they were elevated above the rest and will forever be remembered and treasured by virtue of their selection….

In looking over the list of distinguished parties, I can truly say that there were no finer and more deserving alternative than the men cited/profiled below.

Fordham Prep QB Matt Valecce

Winning what many consider the most significant award of the morning, the Monsignor Matthew Peters Award, for the league’s most outstanding student-athlete, would be Fordham Prep senior quarterback, Matt Valecce…..An individual whose feats in the classroom are as impressive and inspiring as his heroics on the football field, the future signal Caller at Boston College must made it a pattern during his 3.5 years in the Bronx of being the head of the class in all endeavors….The proud owner of a 4.28 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale), as a student, Valecce has been recognized as  a General Excellence and scholarship recipient by his school during every step of his scholastic journey….With regard to gridiron accolades, his resume needs no introduction and speaks for itself in evert possible way.   A four-year starter who led the Rams to the “A” Division crown as a 9th grader, what he did in 2014 was simply the culmination of what would grow to be one of the finest high school careers ever by a New York State quarterback….A soon-to-be three-time All-State honoree, the FP captain would throw for 10,027 yards in his career (2nd all-time in NYS) and toss 112 touchdown passes (3rd all-time)….In this, his swan song campaign, the living CHSFL legend would leave nothing in the proverbial tank, setting career highs with 3,333 yards and 41 touchdowns thrown in leading his school to a runner-up finish (10-2) in the Double-A division….Simply put, Valecce was such a once-in-a-lifetime talent that I feel confident in stating that I will never see another of his caliber during my lifetime.

Honored for their ability to light up the scoreboard in the blink of an eye were a pair of juniors—Roberto Auguste (Xaverian) and Matthew Sluka (Kellenberg), as well as a departing senior who garnered serious consideration to be last year’s honoree, Lucas Nunez (Cardinal Hayes).

An All-Catholic selection as a 10th grader in 2016, it came as no surprise that the Clipper junior [Auguste] would have a knack for taking over every game in which he played….Surpassing the 100-yard barrier on five different occasions this season, Head Coach, Mike Jioia’s star pupil was a runaway (no pun intended) leader in the “A” Division in all major rushing categories, accumulating 1,196 yards (more than double his next closest challenger) and finding the end zone on the ground 14 times (five more than the #2 person).  His yards per carry average of 7.4 was also tops among all backs who had 50 or more attempts….As Auguste went, so too did Xaverian, finishing as the “A” regular season champs with an unblemished record before advancing to the title game where they just barely fell short of their second title in the past three seasons….2017 marked the second time in the past three years that the Offensive Player of the Year was won by a Clipper.  In 2015, it was Phil DePaulis hoisting the trophy.

Kellenberg QB Matt Sluka

Described by his coaches as “One of most dynamic players to ever step on the field for Kellenberg,” Sluka’s legacy was cemented when he did something no other Firebird field general had ever done by leading KMHS to an immaculate season (11-0) en route to winning their first AA title in history and the first title of any kind since 1999 (A champs)….Nicknamed the “Redheaded Assassin” by me, the Roselyn resident would do something unheard of when he topped all rushing categories in Double-A from the quarterback position….Recently named to the All-Long Island 1st Team (the lone Catholic representative on the list), Sluka ran for 1,619 yards and 24 touchdowns in 2017.   Three separate times this season, he not only surpassed the 100-yard plateau in a game, he blew right past 200+ yards, including a 17 carry, 238 yard, 5 touchdown performance during championship weekend that earned him Offensive MVP recognition….While not the featured part of his game, when asked to play the role of the traditional drop-back passer, Sluka would thrive in this regard as well, completing 61.3 percent of his 93 attempts to rack up 984 yards and 10 touchdowns in the air…If 34 touchdowns and 2,603 yards of total production are not enough to convince you, let it be known that he was also stellar as a place-kicker, converting on 32 of 40 PAT tries….Of the 424 points scored by the Firebirds as a unit this season, Sluka had a direct hand in 236 of them (56 percent)…..A natural leader and born winner, in less than one calendar year, Sluka’s has been instrumental in delivering titles in two different sports to Uniondale.  Last spring, he was a key member of a Kellenberg lacrosse squad that claimed the 2017 AA Catholic State crown….Sluka is the first Kellenberg player since Bobby Mossa (2014) to win Offensive Player of the Year.

Cardinal Hayes WR Lucas Nunez

A second-team All-State pick as a junior, as well as a unanimous All-Catholic selection following a 2016 campaign that saw him make 58 catches for NYS bests of 1,582 yards and 21 receiving touchdowns, when we said that Nunez was a very viable candidate to win the Joe Riverso Memorial Award as the top Offensive Performer in AAA a season ago, we were not overstating his value…..As dangerous a play-maker as the CHSFL has ever seen, the Sacred Heart University bound wide-receiver missed a few games at the onset of his senior season, but still managed to be the #1 yardage gainer in all of New York State in 2017, accumulating 1,400 yards on 66 grabs (4th in NYS), with 15 (2nd in NYS) of his catches resulting in touchdowns…An individual who was both dominant and consistent, Nunez would post 100-yard receiving games in all but one (92 yards in his return from the injury) appearance this season.   Only twice in 2017 was he kept out of the end zone for a full 48 minutes, compared to three occasions that witnessed him catch three TD passes in a single outing…Of the nine games he played in his finale year as a Cardinal, he recorded multiple TD games in six….Nunez closes out this chapter of his scholastic career ranked 5th All-time in the Empire State for total receiving yards.   He is the second straight Cardinal Hayes standout to earn the Riverso.  In 2016, he was beaten out by teammate, Christian Anderson (currently playing at West Point).

While offense has always been the side of the ball that hogs the glory and commands the headlines, if you ask any football purist they will say without the slightest hesitation that the path to the “ring” has always and will forever rest on the shoulder pads of those special young men capable of taking over a game when the ball does not belong to them….In the case of out 2017 Defensive Players of the Year, all three did their part in confining the opinion of the historians, with two—Daniel Wilson (Kellenberg) and Trill Williams (Stepinac)— winning titles in the AA and AAA Divisions respectively, and the “A” selection, Cole Esposito (Kennedy Catholic) leading his school the deepest postseason run in program history.

Kennedy Catholic LB Cole Esposito

A known commodity on the Gael linebacking corps as a sophomore in 2016, the Cortlandt Manor resident [Esposito] would be a breakout star for the unit this past season, finishing second only to Kennedy teammate, Ed Longest (who we will address later) in “A” ball with 92 total stops…Without question the person who will ceremoniously step into the role of defensive trend setter for Head Coach, Dom Tassone’s squad in 2018, Esposito would be unblockable for the vast majority of his junior season, reaching double digits for total tackles in six of his nine appearances, including a 17-stop effort in a week #4 victory over St. Dominic’s that earned him a berth on the POTW list…An absolute animal during the homestretch of the 2017 season, he added 15 and 10 tackle showings in two of KC’s last three games, propelling them to back-to-back shutouts to give the program their first goose-eggs on the defensive side since 2010….In addition to challenging the century mark for tackles, Esposito final stat line this season included 15 tackles for a loss, three sacks, a pair of forced fumbles, an interception, as well as a blocked punt for the cherry on top…The ultimate compliment that we can give to Esposito is justify why he was a perfect choice is to state that with him taking on greater responsibilities this year, the Gaels saw their points allowed average fall from over 26 PPG to just 17.5….Anytime you can play a part in shaving off close to 10 points, you without question are a gem.

Kellenberg LB Dan Wilson

Wilson, whose uncanny ability to roam sideline to sideline like a gazelle fostered a change in position from defensive end to “Mike” linebacker, was nothing short of outstanding in his first season on the Firebird varsity….A three-sport crown jewel who was so special that he was promoted as a sophomore (a rare occurrence for a Marianist school) to both the varsity basketball and Catholic State Champion lacrosse teams, it is a scary though that the Levittown native can be “this good” in what technically might be considered his third athletic endeavor…The team leader in overall stops with 67 (9 TFL), when I watched Wilson play, what immediately commanded my attention was the ferocity in which he could apply pressure to opposing quarterbacks.   Never was this unrelenting pursuit of the foe’s signal caller more evident than when he logged three of his season total six sacks in the regular season victory over Fordham Prep that set the tone for the remainder of Kellenberg’s unblemished year….As complete a defensive player as you will find anywhere on Long Island or in New York State, when Wilson was not busy preventing passes from being thrown, he proved quite adept at knocking them down too, ending his junior campaign with six successful pass break-ups…..The anchor/foundation/pulse of a defensive unit that ranked 1st in AA and 2nd overall in the NYCHSFL (surrendered just 13.6 points per game), the United States’ Naval Academy (Lax) commit will have all of next season to further solidify his status as one of the best student-athletes to ever wear the Blue & Gold….While winning the “AA” DPOY would have been a thrill regardless of any surrounding details, an added bonus was that Wilson received this award on his Aunt Christine’s (alumnus of Kellenberg; class of 1993) birthday.

When it comes the man who lived up to the “thrill” nickname, we could write an entire novel and we’d still fail to do him justice…A dynamic and versatile performer who if it has been needed, could have likely been the Offensive Player of the Year for the 2017 AAA League and Catholic State Champs from Stepinac, Williams has been one of, if not the purest and most feared, athletes in the NYCHSFL since he first stepped onto the varsity grass in White Plains as a sophomore in 2015….A specimen blessed with the total package of athletic tools (4.4 speed being among them), if not for an injury that cost him the bulk of his junior season, there is little doubt that the future Syracuse University Orangeman could have/would have been a multiple-year All-State selection, a mainstay on the All-Catholic team, and a very realistic candidate to have been a two-time winner of the Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award….A consistent shutdown presence at the cornerback position, Williams routinely took the opposing team’s #1 wide-out and erased him from the equation for 48 minutes….Finishing the year with a division-high  five interceptions (including a combined three in back-to-back weekends in the AAA League and State game triumphs) and adding an astounding 20 pass break-ups, this consummate ball hawk was magic when it came to forcing opposing turnovers, complementing his five picks (one of which was returned for a TD) by forcing five fumbles….As a demonstration of his triple-threat abilities, let it be known that the 13 total touchdowns he scored in 2017 came in four different ways, as he caught six TD balls, ran in five others, had the aforementioned pick-6, and even returned a punt in the AAA league finals….The choice of Williams as this year’s DPOY keeps the streak alive for the Crusaders, as they have now won the award four consecutive seasons, starting with Gavin Heslop in 2014 and continuing in 2015 and 2016 with Dan Negron and Gene Brown.

No Player of the Year ceremony would be complete without fully recognizing and showing appreciation for the unsung heroes and resident ironmen within our game, the linemen….Often tagged with the labels of road graders, hole stuffers, QB protectors, and whatnot, no one works harder and needs to be tougher than the boys that bang heads in the trenches….This year’s recipients—Ed Longest (Kennedy Catholic), Joseph Petti (Fordham Prep), and Grayson Cherubino (St. Anthony’s)—all epitomize what it means to be tenacious, courageous, and selfless.   In a league that this is rich in interior talent, for these three superstars to be the ones who emerged as the crème de la crème speaks volumes of just how respected and admired they were for their contributions in the “war zone”.

Kennedy Catholic Lineman Ed Longest

Despite not playing one of the so-called glamour positions, Longest, a four-year starter and two-year team captain, was very much the most important player on the Gael roster this season…A shoe-in to have been the recipient of the “A” DPOY if not for the league’s decision to honor him for the full depth of his immense service, the Kennedy senior was a full-fledged dominant force regardless of which side of the line of scrimmage he was occupying….As an O-lineman , Longest was a role model for a unit that helped the Gaels compile 1,889 yards of production (630 in the air; 1,259 on the ground) and score 18 total touchdowns….Defensively, he was the gold standard, leading the “A” division with 101 tackles (6th in the CHSFL regardless of division) and six sacks….A person who lived in the opposing backfield, 18 of Longest’s century-shattering stop total resulted in a loss of yardage.  A 2016 CHSAA State Wrestling champion, last weekend was not the first time that Longest found himself being atop the proverbial podium as the envy of his competitors.

Fordham Prep Lineman Joe Petti

Hailed by the Ram coaching staff as a “Mountain of a Man”, the 6’6, 295-pounder, Petti, was easily identifiable on the gridiron for much more than just his physical measurements….Another of our two-way studs, when we consider the legendary career of Valecce, it is essential that we remain mindful of the fact that none of it could have been achieved if not for someone the caliber of Petti protecting and affording him a wealth of time in which to survey the field…With the future Navy Midshipman bulldozing anything that got in his way, the 2017 AA runners-up from the Bronx were one of the most lethal offenses in NYS, averaging 30 points and 367.5 total yards per appearance….Unmovable as a DT (which is the spot that he will play at the next level), Petti recorded 19 tackles and three sacks for a defense that allowed less than 20 points per game this season.

St. Anthony’s Linemen Grayson Cherubino

Joining a heralded club of elite Friar linemen that includes the likes of recent Joseph Thomas Memorial Award honorees, Justin Tustin (2012) and last year’s winner, Dan Lord, Cherubino specialized on the defensive side of the ball, but was so stellar at defensive end, that his comprehensive performance demanded that he be among our chosen few…..The linchpin, backbone, and focal point of a St. Anthony’s defense that ranked 1st in points allowed (16.5) in the AAA division, when speaking about their prized weapon, the Friars’ staff painted him as a linebacker trapped in the body of a DL….A quarterback’s worse nightmare, the future Bucknell Bison was renowned for the tireless effort he put into never allowing the opposition’s signal caller from enjoying a second of peace….Closing out his scholastic career with seven sacks and 12 hurries, as well as 14 tackles for a loss and a pair of forced fumbles, if not for the chaos that Cherubino wreaked on a weekly basis, St. Anthony’s would not have seized the regular season title and advanced to their first championship weekend since 2013.

Also highlighted last Sunday as award winners were:

Golden Eleven Award:

Golden 11 Winner’s

Robert Scala – Chaminade

Patrick Mc Ardle – St. Francis Prep

Deuce Prince – Archbishop Stepinac

Jake Valensi – Monsignor Farrell

Michael De Gasperis – Iona Prep

Michael Palermo – St. John the Baptist

Frank Corrado – Xavier

Dominick De Masi – Kellenberg

Gabriel Gelves – Holy Trinity

Claude Watford – Cardinal Hayes

Jack Donovan – St. Anthony

John Buscini – St Joe by the Sea


Metropolitan Football Association Award (In Memory of John Bromm)

Sal Maida – Cardinal Spellman & Matthew Gomes – St Joseph by the Sea

The Ken Weinman Award (Donated by the Intercounty Association of Football Officials)

Mark Johnston – St John the Baptist

Andrew Pace – Chaminade

Lieutenant Ronald Winchester Award – Unsung Hero Award (Donated by the L.I.A.F.O. Foundation of New York) 

Daniel Bentivegna – Monsignor Farrell 



Dec 032017

City Coach with Offensive MVP QB Mike Nicosia of Stepinac

By Matt Diano: Playing their last game as CHSFL student-athletes, the cohort from New York City would use a 19-0 fourth quarter run to blow open a razor thin contest, earning the 47-27 victory over Long Island in the 2017 Senior Bowl.  The triumph snapped host, LI’s, two-year winning streak and sent the boys from the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island out in the most fitting and cherished of ways.

Clinging to just a 28-27 lead early in the 4th, it would be Fordham Prep Ram tailback, Justin Ancetta, notching the first of the three unanswered touchdowns for NYC when he found space and took the pigskin to the house from seven yards out to increase the advantage to 34-27.

Following an interception by Cardinal Hayes’s Rob Javier, one of two posted on the afternoon (also had a pick at the onset of the second half) by New York City’s Defensive Player of the Game, the road warriors would continue to pull away when school-record breaking Archbishop Stepinac field general, Michael Nicosia, tossed his fourth and final TD pass of the game to fellow departing Crusader, running back Jamal Dallas with 7:41 remaining in regulation to make the score 40-27.

Nicosia would be a most deserving choice for his squad’s Offensive Most Valuable Player going 17-23 for 253 Yards and 4 TD’s….Putting his God-given field vision on full display, the 6’0, 175-pound, Thornwood resident would do a masterful job of spraying the ball all over the field, hitting four unique targets for his aforementioned quartet of TD yielding throws….His first touchdown hurl came with 7:00 remaining in the opening half when he hooked up with 2017 CHSFL Joe Riverso Memorial Award honoree (AAA Offensive Player of the Year), Lucas Nunez on a 12-yard strike to double the City lead to 14-0…..Having previously connected with one Cardinal living legend [Nunez], Nicosia would halt Long Island’s momentum (14-0 run to tie the game at 14 apiece) by finding another Hayes standout, Boston College bound Elijah Jones for a 67-yarder before the end of the half to send his charges into the break leading 21-14.  The pitch-and-catch between the two former Triple-A rivals would mark the second 60+ yard score of the game for Jones as it was him on the backend of a 68-yard hurl from St. Joe’s by the Sea’s Matthew Vigilante that gave NYC the initial 7-0 edge in the 1st quarter….Just as it had done at the end of the 2nd quarter, the third of Nicosia’s TD darts came at an opportune time, as it broke a 21-21 tie late in the 3rd when he put the ball on the money to St. Peter’s Eagle, Frank DiMattina, to put the City up 28-21.

Hampered by an injury during the 2017 postseason, the always electric Ki’Shyne Shipmon of Iona Prep fame, would get his chance to show the Catholic football enthusiasts just how special he can be when operating at 100 percent, tacking on one final TD in his illustrious career in the last 2:00 of the game when he took off like a rocket for a 68-yard TD trek to account for NYC’s third TD of the quarter and round of the final tally on the scoreboard.

A game that was much closer than the scoreboard suggests, Long Island would have every reason to hold their chins high on Sunday afternoon, as time and time again during the first 36 minutes of play, they would find themselves in a hole, but never quit, fighting back to remain in contention.

Surrendering the first two TDs of the game on the aforementioned Vigilante and Nicosia passes, LI darn-near went into the intermission all even after two quick touchdowns within mere moments of each other squared the game at 14-14…Getting the proverbial ball rolling on the comeback effort was regular season rushing king in the Double-A division, Justin Felder, who broke across the line on a six-yard run to cut the deficit in half with 2:48 still to play in the 1st half…While it was Felder who got the spoils for being the one to punch the ball in, equal credit would be bestowed upon his fellow Queens resident, Chris Auricchio, who had a big gainer on the ground to lay the tracks for the eventual icebreaker.

Approximately 90 seconds removed from seeing his team get on the board, it was Kellenberg’s Shawn Hughes (named the Defensive Player of the Game for Long Island) living the Linebacker’s dream, when he intercepted a pass with 1:13 remaining in the half….Capitalizing on the clutch play by his high school teammate would be another member of the undefeated AA Champion Firebirds, Aidan Fitzgerald, who sprung free into the opposing secondary and provided a perfect target for Chaminade QB, Nick Jaskolski, who wrapped up the All-Marianist  series of plays on both sides of the ball by throwing a perfect 18-yard pass for the game-tying touchdown.

After an exchange of turnovers to begin the third stanza, it was the Flyer, Jaskolski, delivering again when he ran in a 3-yarder for his second score of the game to again knot the contest at 21-21.

Down 28-21 at the beginning of the final quarter of his scholastic career, Felder whose two Touchdown performance earned Offensive MVP honors for his team, was the catalyst of one last rally, scoring his second TD of the game from 5-yards away for draw LI within 28-27….Long Island attempted to take their first lead of the day on a 2pt conversion, but were unsuccessful….The City would not give their foes another chance…And, much like the high school careers of the fine young men who suited up, the rest would be history!

NYCHSFL FOOTBALL December 3, 2017                                                                           NYCHSFL Senior Bowl


1st 2nd 3rd 4th Final
New York City 7 14 7 19 47
Long Island 0 14 7 6 27


1st 05:00 NYC Elijah Jones 68yd reception from Chris Vigilante (Rory Naughton kick) 7-0
2nd 07:07 NYC Lucas Nunez 10yd reception from Michael Nicosia (Rory Naughton kick) 14-0
2nd 02:45 Island Justin Felder 5yd run (Jeremy Miller kick) 14-7
2nd 00:29 Island Aiden Fitzgerald 18yd reception from Nick Jaskolski (Jeremy Miller kick) 14-14
2nd 00:12 NYC Elijah Jones 67yd reception from Michael Nicosia (Rory Naughton kick) 21-14
3rd 08:19 Island Nick Jaskolski 3yd run (Jeremy Miller kick) 21-21
3rd 00:01 NYC Frank DiMattina 7yd reception from Michael Nicosia (Rory Naughton kick) 28-21
4th 11:29 Island Justin Felder 4yd run (try failed) 28-27
4th 09:04 NYC Justin Ancheta 16yd run (try failed) 34-27
4th 07:41 NYC Jamal Dallas 16yd reception from Michael Nicosia (try failed) 40-27
4th 00:12 NYC Ki”Shyne Shipmon 68yd run (Rory Naughton kick) 47-27


Team Totals New York City Long Island
Rushing 6 5
Passing 8 5
Rushing Attempts 17 24
Average Per Rush 11.0 6.0
Rushing Touchdowns 2 3
Yards Gained Rushing 194 152
Yards Lost Rushing -7 -9
Completions-Attempts-Int 19 – 26 – 1 10 – 20 – 2
Average Per Attempt 13.1 7.4
Average Per Completion 17.9 14.7
Passing Touchdowns 5 1
Total offense plays 43 44
Average Gain Per Play 12.3 6.6


New York City


Name # Gain Loss Net TD Long Average
Ki”Shyne Shipmon (Iona) 2 79 0 79 1 68 39.5
Michael Nicosia (Stepinac) 6 51 0 51 0 17 8.5
Jamal Dallas (Stepinac) 4 27 0 27 0 20 6.8
Justin Ancheta (Fordham) 1 16 0 16 1 16 16.0
James Halbert (Xavier) 1 8 0 8 0 8 8.0
Lucas Nunez (Hayes) 3 13 (7) 6 0 10 2.0
TOTALS 17 194 (7) 187 2 68 11.0


Name Att Cmp Int Yds TD Long
Michael Nicosia (Stepinac) 23 17 0 253 4 67
Chris Vigilante (Sea) 3 2 1 87 1 68
TOTALS 26 19 1 340 5


Name # Yds TD Long
Elijah Jones (Hayes) 6 174 2 68
Lucas Nunez (Hayes) 7 86 1 26
Frank DiMattina (Peters) 3 28 1 13
Ki”Shyne Shipmon (Iona) 1 19 0 19
Matthew Mitchell (Sea) 1 17 0 17
Jamal Dallas (Stepinac) 1 16 1 16
TOTALS 19 340 5 59

Long Island


Name # Gain Loss Net TD Long Average
Nick Jaskolski (Chaminade) 4 64 0 64 1 53 16.0
Chris Auricchio (St. Francis) 7 54 (2) 52 0 35 7.4
Justin Felder (Holy Cross) 8 26 (2) 24 2 5 3.0
Daniel Parker (Baptist) 4 8 (4) 4 0 4 1.0
Marc Anthony Dolce (St. Francis) 1 0 (1) -1 0
TOTALS 24 152 (9) 143 3 53 6.0


Name Att       Cmp     Int Yds TD Long
Chris Auricchio (St. Francis) 13 5 2 91 0 30
Nick Jaskolski (Chaminade) 7 5 0 56 1 18
TOTALS 20 10 2 147 1


Name # Yds TD Long
Aiden Fitzgerald (Kellenberg) 3 59 1 28
Justin Holder (Holy Cross) 3 42 0 22
Chris Nicholas (Chaminade) 2 41 0 30
Tim McCabe (Xaverian) 1 6 0 6
Brandon Orgill (Holy Cross) 1 -1 0
TOTALS 10 147 1
Dec 032017

The annual CHSFL Communion Championship Awards Breakfast  recognized the championship teams and players for the 2017 season.  The ceremonies began with mass and was followed by breakfast in the cafeteria of Kellenberg Memorial High School.  The 2017 award winner are as follows;

Monsignor Matthew Peters Award – Student Athlete Award

Matthew Valecce – Fordham Prep

Golden Eleven Awards

Robert Scala – Chaminade

Patrick Mc Ardle – St. Francis Prep

Deuce Prince – Archbishop Stepinac

Jake Valensi – Monsignor Farrell

Michael De Gasperis – Iona Prep

Michael Palermo – St. John the Baptist

Frank Corrado – Xavier

Dominick De Masi – Kellenberg

Gabriel Gelves – Holy Trinity

Claude Watford – Cardinal Hayes

Jack Donovan – St. Anthony

John Buscini – St Joe by the Sea

Defensive Player of the Year

Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award – AAA Defensive Player of the YearAtrilleon Williams (Archbishop Stepinac)


AA Defensive Player of the Year – Daniel Wilson (Kellenberg)

A Defensive Player of the Year – Cole Esposito (Kennedy Catholic)

Offensive Player of the Year

Joe Riverso Memorial Award – AAA Offensive Player of the YearLucas Nunez (Cardinal Hayes)

AA Offensive Player of the Year – Matt Sluka (Kellenberg)

A Offensive Player of the Year – Roberto Auguste (Xaverian)

Lineman of the Year

Joe Thomas Memorial Award – AAA Lineman of the YearGrayson Cherubino (St. Anthony’s)

AA Lineman of the Year – Joseph Petti (Fordham Prep)

A Lineman of the Year – Ed Longest (Kennedy Catholic)


Metropolitan Football Association Award

In Memory of John Bromm

Matthew Gomes – St Joseph by the Sea

Sal Maida – Cardinal Spellman

The Ken Weinman Award

Donated by the Intercounty Association of Football Officials

Mark Johnston – St John the Baptist

Andrew Pace – Chaminade

 Lieutenant Ronald Winchester Award – Unsung Hero Award

Donated by the L.I.A.F.O. Foundation of New YorkDaniel Bentivegna, Monsignor Farrell

Bob Stenger Memorial JVB Sportsmanship Awards

Long Island – Holy Trinity

City – Fordham Prep

 Players of the Week Awards 

Week 1

Frankie Roder (Jr.); RB/LB – Kellenberg

Mike Nicosia (Sr.); QB – Archbishop Stepinac

Vin Wagner (Jr.); RB – Monsignor Farrell

Sean Bryan (Sr.); RB – St. Anthony’s

Malkelm Morrison (Sr.); DB/KR – Iona Prep

Will Loffredo (Sr.); WR – Fordham Prep

Marc-Anthony Dalce (Sr.); LB/FB/P – St. Francis Prep

Week 2

Elijah Jones (Sr.); WR/CB – Cardinal Hayes

Justin Felder (Sr.); RB – Holy Cross

Chris Viglilante (Sr.); QB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea

Roberto Auguste (Jr.); RB/DB – Xaverian

Will Ford (So.); WR – St. Dominic

Kevin Gray (Jr.); LB – Archbishop Stepinac

Week 3

Marquis Jimenez (Sr.); QB – Mount St. Michael

Matt Sluka (Jr.); QB – Kellenberg

Matt Kindya (Sr.); OL – Monsignor Farrell

John Stroughn (Jr.); OL/DL – Holy Trinity

Greg Campisi (Jr.); QB – St. Anthony’s

Sonny Badyna (Jr.); QB – St. Peter’s

Week 4

Matt Valecce (Sr.); QB – Fordham Prep

Roberto Auguste (Jr.); RB/DB – Xaverian

Christopher Auricchio (Sr.); FB/LB – St. Francis Prep

Derek Robertson (Jr.); QB – Iona Prep

Cole Esposito (Jr.); LB – Kennedy Catholic

Justin Hairston (Sr.); LB – Archbishop Stepinac

Week 5

Demetrios Demetriades (Jr.); WB/CB – Xavier High School

Michael DeGasperis (Sr.); WR – Iona Prep

Grayson Cherubino (Sr.); DE – St. Anthony’s

Matthew Sluka (Jr.); QB – Kellenberg

Omarion Jones (So.); QB/DB – St. Francis Prep

Michael Palermo II (Sr.); RB/LB – St. John the Baptist

Week 6

Liam McHale (Sr.); WR – Fordham Prep

Michael Palermo II (Sr.); RB/LB – St. John the Baptist

Sofian Massoud (So.); QB – Cardinal Hayes

John Kelly (Sr.); LB – Monsignor Farrell

Conrad Perry (Jr.); RB/LB – Mount Saint Michael

Anthony Pecorella (Jr.); PK/P – Chaminade

Week 7

Jack Rooney (Jr.); QB – St. Dominic

Thomas Force (Sr.); TE/SS – St. John the Baptist

Isaiah Amazon (JR.); WR/DE – Xaverian

Omarion Jones (So.); QB – St. Francis Prep

Makhai Murphy (Jr.); CB – St. Anthony’s

Ryan Scelzi (Sr.); RB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea

Week 8

Jonathon Geruso (Sr.); RB – Xavier

Ki’Shyne Shipmon (Sr.); RB/WR – Iona Prep

Matt Valecce (Sr.); QB – Fordham Prep

Ed Longest (Sr.); OL/DL – Kennedy Catholic

Justin Medina (Sr.); RB/DB – Cardinal Spellman

Playoffs – Quarter Finals (Week 9)

Jayden Lambert (Jr.); RB/CB – Iona Prep

Valery Gwardyak (Sr.); LB – Xavier

Justin Ancheta (Sr.); RB/LB – Fordham Prep

Wyatt Rumpf (Jr.); OL/LB – Kennedy Catholic

Chris Beyers (Sr.); LB – Kellenberg

Elijah Jones (Sr.); WR/CB – Cardinal Hayes

Playoff  – Semi-Finals

Ian Devine (Sr.); DE/DT – Fordham Prep

Shawn Harris (Jr.); RB/WR – Archbishop Stepinac

Brendan Whitehead (Sr.); DL/OG – Kellenberg Memorial

Robert DiGregorio (Sr.); PK – St. Anthony’s

Championship Game Offensive & Defensive MVP’s

AAA Championship Offensive MVP – Atrilleon Williams (Archbishop Stepinac)

AAA Championship Defensive MVP – Kevin Gray (Archbishop Stepinac)

AA Championship Offensive MVP – Matthew Sluka (Kellenberg)

AA Championship Defensive MVP – Shawn Hughes (Kellenberg)

A Championship Offensive MVP – Isaac Yearwood (Cardinal Spellman)

A Championship Defensive MVP – Michael Booth (Cardinal Spellman)


Claude Watford (Sr.): DB – Cardinal Hayes

Joseph Petti (Sr.): OL – Fordham Prep





Nov 302017

Joseph Petti (Sr.); OT/DT – Fordham Prep Rams

Donning the Ram colors for the final time in his scholastic football career, Petti closed out this chapter of his gridiron saga in much the same way all of the previous pages were written—by being a dominant force on both sides of the line of scrimmage in sending Fordham Prep to their second straight “W” in the Annual Turkey Bowl (celebrating its 94th anniversary last week), 28-0, over the rival Knights of Xavier.

Known more for his work as the hole-plugging centerpiece (DT) of the FP defensive line, when it comes to protecting his quarterback, we find that Petti is pretty darn good on the offensive side of the ball as well….With the gentle giant watching his blind side, the Rams’ record-setting signal caller, Matt Valecce, would give those who have had the privilege of watching him under center the past four years, a proper finale, completing 16 of his 23 yards for 220 pounds and four more touchdowns……Having the luxury of ample time in which to survey the field thanks to the likes of Petti, the future Boston College Eagle concluded 2017 having completed 64.2 percent of his passes for 3,338 yards and 41 touchdowns.

Turning our attention to his more renowned side of the ball, Petti and his fellow D-linemen would have reason to celebrate in a big way, as they held their nemesis Knights scoreless in the historic Thanksgiving showdown for the first time since 2003 when they coincidentally were victorious by an identical 28-0 score….While it is next to impossible to completely shut down the potent Xavier ground game, let it be known that the 214 yards rushing by the young men from West 16th Street was their lowest output since week #6 of the regular season when they totaled just 156 in a loss to Holy Cross.    Last Thursday was also the only time this season that Xavier failed to record at least one rushing touchdown.

The 6’6, 295-pound lineman will now trade one tradition for another, as Turkey Bowl heroics will be replaced by the thrill, honor, and distinction of playing in the most cherished contest in the history of the sport, the Army/Navy game….Petti will continue his career next fall as a Midshipman at the United States Naval Academy.


Claude Watford (Sr.); DB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

Another student-athlete taking one final bow in his scholastic career, when he looks back upon this day in 20 years, the Hayes’ senior defensive back will have nothing but found memories, as it was his huge individual performance that was a difference maker in enabling the Cardinals to extend their Thanksgiving day winning streak to five in a row following a 44-16 triumph over Mount St. Michael Academy.

Already the leading tackler on the team entering the game with 58 stops, the 5’8, 165-pounder from the Bronx decimated his previous career-high of 11 (set against Monsignor Farrell during a week #7 win), recording nine solo tackles and assisting on seven more to conclude the game with a total of 16 (an average of one every three minutes!!!).

In addition to his prowess as a sure-tackler, Watford would also be a turnover creating machine, forcing two fumbles and doubling his interception totals in 2017 to four by stepping in front of a pair of Mountaineer pass attempts….Speaking of his shutdown pass coverage skills, he also tacked on one successful break-up to round out the remarkable effort in his culminating appearance in the Cardinal & Gold.

Trailing 16-15 at the end of the 1st quarter, it was the play of Watford that played a huge factor in Coach O’Neill’s squad’s ability to throw three consecutive goose-eggs on the board during the 2nd through 4th quarters.

One of those special human beings that puts the “student” in the term “student-athlete”, the proud owner of a perfect 4.0 grade point average and 1220 on the SATs is destined to do wondrous things in the future, both on and off of the gridiron….And while his next stop remains unknown, there is no shortage of life-charging options as his 24/7 Sports profile lists his top college/university choices as Columbia, UPenn, Princeton, and Yale from the Ivy League ranks, as well as Stony Brook (a top-100 university) and Stonehill (ranked #111 among National Liberal Arts schools)…He is bound for greatness in all endeavors!!!

Nov 282017

Senior Bowl Practice Schedule;

City Practice Schedule
(11/28) Tuesday at Fordham University (4:30 – 6:30)
(11/29) Wednesday at Fordham University (4:30 – 6:30)
Island Practice Schedule
(11/28)  Tuesday at Mitchel Athletic Complex (4:30 – 6:30)
(11/29) Wednesday at Mitchel Athletic Complex (4:30 – 6:30)
Combined Practice
(11/30) Thursday at Holy Trinity High School (4:30 – 6:30)

Photo by Harrison Keller (CHSFL)


College Night – Thursday, November 30th @ Holy Trinity High School (7:30 pm) – Open to Seniors and their parents from member schools only.  No Ticket Required.


Communion Awards Breakfast – Sunday, December 3rd @ Kellenberg (Mass – 9:30 am followed by breakfast) – Tickets will be sold through member schools.  Tickets are $20.00. Parents, coaches and players are required to have a ticket for admission.  No Tickets will be sold at the door. Jacket & tie recommended.


Senior Bowl Game – Sunday, December 3rd @ Mitchel Athletic Complex (1:30 pm) – No Ticket Required.

Nov 262017

By Matt Diano: For the second weekend in a row, it would be a huge streak of unanswered points that proved to make the difference for Head Coach Mike O’Donnell, and his Archbishop Stepinac squad in propelling them to championship glory…Last Saturday, the Crusaders fought back from an initial 14-0 1st quarter deficit by putting the next 34 straight points on the board en route to claiming their third NYCHSFL AAA crown in a span of four years, 47-22 over St. Anthony’s….This afternoon, it would be a 26-0 third quarter rally  that not only gave them the lead but also plenty of breathing room as they avenged their 2014 loss (23-10) in the inaugural Catholic State title game by completely overwhelming the defending titlists, Canisius, 49-28.   The triumph on the road (the visiting team remained undefeated, 4-0, in the short history of the contest) closed out the 2017 season for the boys from White Plains with a mark of 10-2.  It also secured them the CHSAA State brass ring for the second time in the past three years (previously won in 2015, beating St. Francis, 42-28), tying them with their nicknamesakes [Canisius] with two apiece.

Trailing 14-9 at the break with their only points in the first 24 minutes coming on a safety on the final play of the first quarter (gang tackle in the end zone by Joey Cappiello, Douglas Simmons, and De’Andre Smith) and then a 75-yard TD dart over the middle on 3rd-and-5th from Michael Nicosia to Shawn Harris Jr. less than one minute later (11:09 remaining in the 2nd quarter), things looked out of sync offensively at the onset of the game for Stepinac.   On multiple series throughout the first two quarters, they demonstrated an ability to move the ball deep into opponent territory, but seemed unable to cap off those drives.   They started off the game by having three of their first four 1st half possessions end as such: turnover on downs (incomplete pass on 4th-and-20; holding penalty pushed them out of the red zone), interception by Canisius’ senior CB, Keenan Ollison in the end zone on a throw from inside the 10-yard line), and turnover on downs (incomplete pass intended on 4th-and-14th at around opposing 16-yard line).  The only offensive points were recorded on the aforementioned home run hurl to Harris on AS’s third drive.

The second half would be an entirely different story though as points would come in bunches for the Red, White, and Blue army, commencing less than 90 seconds into the third quarter when Nicosia scrambled to buy time and then found a wide open Trill Williams at the Canisius 30-yard line.  With nothing but open space in front of him, the future Syracuse Orangeman did the rest, running untouched to the end zone to complete the 61-yard play and give Stepinac a 16-14 lead that they would never relinquish.

The Stepinac defense having found their groove and forced a punt on Canisius’s first turn with the ball in the 3rd quarter, the offense made it two productive drives in a row when Malik Grant, who established a new career best on the ground with 130 yards rushing (11 carries) on the afternoon, shot through the middle and cruised 25 yards to the promised land to up the edge to 22-14 (missed XP) with 7:10 left to play in the 3rd….The scoring trek was set up by the play that preceded it as Nicosia, who was so masterful in his final appearance under center, danced his way to a 15-yard gain on 3rd-and-long to keep control of the pigskin for his school.

The predicament they faced went from bad to worse for the Rich Robbins guided version of the Crusaders when on 3rd-and-5, junior tailback, Joe Jamison, paid the price for trying to fight for additional yards as Stepinac 11th grader defensive back, Tyler DeCrescenzo, ripped “the precious” free and bolted 42 yards for the always valuable defensive touchdown to create further cushion, 29-14, at just under the midway point of the third stanza….The fumble for a touchdown would be one of two takeaways credited to the 5’11, 175-pound Port Chester resident.  In the last four minutes of the 4th quarter, he showed why you always practice the tip drill, adding an interception (on the STEP 27) to his resume on a ball that was initially knocked into air by Cappiello.

Following a shanked punt that put the ball on the opponent’s 30 yard line, it was the “Jack-of-all trades”, the “Thriller” himself [Williams] scoring his second touchdown of the game when he took a handoff wide, side-stepped a pair of would-be tacklers and tight roped his way 18 yards down the far sideline for the TD with 3:19 remaining in the 3rd quarter to account for the last six points (another missed PAT) of the game-turning rally.  On the previous play, it was Nicosia on a QB draw up the gut for the other 12 yards of the series.

Canisius, who had been forced to endure the misfortune of being held scoreless for a period of around 20 minutes between the end of the 2nd quarter and the start of the 4th, finally got on the board in the second half when the star of the 2016 title contest [313 yards, 5 TD passes in the 50-44 win over Cardinal Hayes], senior field general, Jayce Johnson tossed the first of a pair of touchdown passes to fellow 12th grader, RJ Brandon, from seven yards away just five seconds into the final quarter of their scholastic careers to briefly keep hope alive by cutting the deficit to 35-21.

That faith would be short-lasting however as Stepinac immediately issued a response when on back-to-back snaps, Grant ran 54 yards to the Canisius 13 and Harris polished off the drive by busting through for the remainder to again make it a three-score margin, 42-21 with only 10:40 unspoken for.

Never an offense in the habit of taking their foot off the gas, Stepinac tacked on one more “6” with 4:49 on the clock, as Williams allowed those in attendance and watching at home to bank just a few more candid memories of his God-given talents when after moving the chains on a 1st down run on 3rd-and-12, he made one of the best plays of the season, catching a 21-yard pass while flat on his back (The play was so good that ESPN SportsCenter deemed it #1 in their Top 10 for the day) in the end zone for his second receiving TD, third overall on the day, and seventh score in the past two weekends to make the score 49-21….He also racked up his third interception in the past two games when he won a jump ball early in the 2nd quarter.

As the clock dipped under 1:00 to go in the 2017 season, Canisius would make the final score a little more respectable as Johnson hooked up with Brandon on a long 50-yard pass….While his career is not ending the way he prayed it would, Johnson should still hold his head mighty high, as even in defeat he put forth a solid showing in his finale, having a hand in all of the Canisius touchdowns…In addition to the two passes to Brandon, he also had deuce touchdown runs from 1-yard out (plunged in on a second effort) for the first score of the game in the 1st quarter and a 53-yard QB option in the 2nd that make the score 14-9.

Ending the game with 338 yards on the ground, unsung hero honors have to be bestowed upon the middle of the Stepinac offensive line, who time and time again blew open tunnels for their assortment of backs….While you never want to single out one name or face, let it be known that sophomore guard, Ajani Cornelius, and junior pivot, Shadi Rabadi, whose names were uttered more than sporadically, are going to be massive (in size and significance) towards any repeat ambitions in 2018.   They, along with junior OTs, James Prince and Jonathan Mucciolo are going to be the anchors in the trenches for perhaps the best returning offensive line in the Empire State.

Wrapping up this chapter of their football careers in style were Nicosia, who chucked for 182 yards and three scores (to give him 30 on the year) on 9-for-18 passing, and Williams, who accumulated 141 yards of total offense, running for 66 yards and one TD on eight carries and catch three balls (2 touchdowns) for an additional 75 yards of production…..Harris Jr., who will be back in 2018, also put on a show, scoring one touchdown apiece with his hands and legs and surpassing his living legend teammate [Williams] atop the total production chart with 164 yards (86 rushing on 10 handoffs; 78 receiving on a trio of grabs).


Note:  Special Thanks to News 12 Varsity whose stats we used in this summary

Nov 242017

Archbishop Stepinac (9-2; NYCHSFL) vs. Canisius (8-3; Monsignor Martin)

When: Saturday November 25th, 2017

Where: Canisius High School

Time: Noon

Watch: News12Varsity.com

How they won their respective Regional Titles:

Canisius (Defeated St. Joseph’s Collegiate, 22-14)

-Junior linebacker, Joe Jamison, broke a 14-14 tie early in the 4th quarter, forcing and recovering a fumble and returning it 26-yards for the game-winning score….He finished the game with 10 overall stops and 1 sack in being named the Defensive MVP…Jamison also averaged 8.2 yards on the ground on 10 carries as the team’s primary option out of the backfield.

-Senior quarterback, Jayce Johnson, struggled a bit in the air (5-for-11, 67 yards), but was lethal with his legs, accounting for both of the Crusaders’ 1st half touchdowns on a pair of TD runs from 34 and 15 yards away.

-Trailing 14-7, junior, Joel Nicholas, set up the tying score when he returned a kickoff from his own 14 to the opposing 20…He was also stellar on defense, making 13 tackles and a sack.

-All in all, the Canisius defense was a collective turnover creating machine, forcing three fumbles during the game.

-On the first play of the game (an untimed down following a pass interference call that advanced the ball to the 1-yard line), the Crusaders knocked away the last ditch attempt by the Marauders to keep their chances alive….Earlier in the series, it was Rutgers bound, Paul Woods, with a successful pass defense in the end zone.  The team’s leading receiver, he added two catches for 27 yards on offense.

Archbishop Stepinac (Bested St. Anthony’s, 47-22

-Climbed out of a 14-0 first quarter hole by scoring 33 unanswered points in the 2nd through 4th quarters

-Senior Quarterback, Mike Nicosia, had a hand in four total touchdowns, scoring on a 1-yard keeper for AS’s first score of the game and then 8, 7, and 67-yard TD-yielding passes in the second half to Sergio Pinto, Trill Williams, and Shawn Harris….Nicosia finished the night completing 71.4 percent of his attempts (20-for-28), racking up 245 yards and the aforementioned three touchdowns in the air.

-Speaking of the man we have renamed “Thrill”, the previously cited 7yrd TD reception was just one of four scores in the game for Williams.  He also had a 56-yard run in the second quarter, as well as a 73-yard punt return and a 39-yard pick-6 in the 3rd quarter.

-While he may not have gotten on the board, senior WR, Alex Thomas, was a catalyst on many of the Stepinac drives, leading the team with seven catches for 110 yards….Fellow 12th grade wide-out, Tyler Winston, contributed five grabs for 37 yards.

-The Stepinac defense held a St. Anthony’s ground attack that entered the game averaging 181 yards to just 127 on 33 carries (3.8 average).

-As excellent as the defense was in stopping the rushing attack, they were even better patrolling the air, forcing Friars’ junior quarterback, Greg Campisi, into his poorest showing of the season….An individual who entered the title game with over a 70 percent completion percentage, Campisi was successful on just 8 of his 18 attempts (44 percent) and was intercepted twice (both times by Williams).  His 27.1 QB rating was nearly 70 points lower than his 2017 average of 96.7


The only two schools to ever hoist championship hardware in the three-year existence of the state title game, thus far, it is the Crusaders from Buffalo leading the race, 2-1, over their namesakes from Westchester….

Opposing each other just once during this span, it was Canisius emerging with a 23-10 victory in the inaugural edition of the contest in 2014….Since then, the two decorated programs have split the last two crowns, with Stepinac winning in 2015 behind a 42-28 effort over St. Francis, and Canisius earning the right to defend their throne tomorrow when they pulled off a come-from-behind triumph (17-yard TD pass) in the last 12 seconds of regulation to shock Cardinal Hayes, 50-44. 

A clash of two explosive offenses (who are pretty darn good on the other side of the ball as well), when the All-Crusader showdown kicks off tomorrow in Buffalo at noon, the one thing that those in attendance can expect is no shortage of potential explosiveness and fireworks….Combining to average over 72 points per game (38.3 by Canisius; 34.3 by Stepinac), there are play-makers all over the field on both sidelines.   The question is not “if someone will step up and have a career-defining day?”, it is “who will be the man to put his team on his back and carry them to the 2017 state crown?”

Both programs who incorporate balanced attacks that are equally effective whether it be on the land or by air, if we had to handicap the match-up, the stats suggest that excluding any deviation of game plan (ex- Trill Williams taking over as primary ball carrier for AS; which is not far-fetched), Canisius, who is running for approximately 190 yards and 3.5 touchdowns per game would enjoy a slight advantage on the ground, while the Nicosia captained Stepinac cohort and their 245 yards and 2.6 touchdowns have proven more dangerous in the passing aspect of the game.

Setting the example and commanding the troops for Canisius will be one of three student-athletes at the skill positions that brings a wealth of big-game experience with him, the senior QB, Jayce Johnson….Despite throwing for career-highs of 313 yards and five touchdowns in last year’s state win over Cardinal Hayes, the 6’5 field general has never been regarded as an old-school gunslinger.  On the contrary, much like the quarterback that Stepinac faced in the AAA title game [Campisi], Johnson is known for his dual-threat ability, as evidenced by the fact that he has tossed for 16 touchdowns [113-for-201, 1,583 yards) while concurrently being the top TD producer on the ground with 13 (543 yards on 102 carries).

Insanely deep in the backfield, in addition to the man under center, Canisius has the luxury of possessing a who’s who of capable ball carriers….Included at the top of the list is junior two-way standout, Joe Jamison, who ranks 1st on the team in yardage (704) and trails only Johnson for TDs scored with 11….Also expected to see action is another of the polished veteran’s from the 2016 state title win, Kenyatta Huston.   Limited to just six appearances this season per Max Preps, the senior tailback was dynamic when he was on the field, averaging 10.4 yards per touch to enter this weekend with 353 yards and four touchdowns on just 34 carries.  Huston had a 23-yard TD run in the first half a year ago against Hayes….Joel Nicholas is yet another 300+ yard rusher on the season, racking up 347 yards of production and finding the promised land seven times on his 42 touches….

If Mike O’Donnell’s squad attempts to smother the run by stacking the box, Johnson will not hesitate to go aerial, which usually means heavy and painful doses [for the opponent] of future Scarlet Knight, Paul Woods.   By far the #1 target out wide, the 6’2, 185-pounder has more than double the number of catches (41) than the next closest teammate.  Not surprisingly, he also is the clubhouse leader in receiving yards and touchdown grabs with 577 and nine respectively…A game-changer in 2016, Woods had a nine catch, 179-yard, three TD effort in the “w” over Hayes….Likely to be shadowed by [Trill] Williams, If Woods struggles to establish space, a trio of other seniors—John Minogue (19 catches, 256 yards, 2 TDs), Keenan Ollison (18 snatches, 210 yards, 2 touchdowns), and RJ Brandon (16 grabs, 332 yards, 3 scores)— will be asked to elevate their performances and aid the pass attack.

Defensively, Canisius will feature a lot of fresh faces in 2017 compared to last season.   Despite graduating their top eight tacklers, their top-2 pass rushers, and 3/4s of their leading interception men, the Rich Robbins inspired unit has not skipped much of a beat, holding their foes to an average of 20.1 points/game….A big reason why it has been such a smooth transition has been the outstanding play of many of the names already introduced…Jamison is second on the team in both stops and sacks with 59 and seven, and is part of a four-way tie for top honors with a pair of INTs; Nicholas is the top QB bagger with eight and is third with 53 tackles; Ollison is another player with multiple interceptions and has added 39 stops…..Some new names on “D” that you will surely get to know tomorrow are the team’s overall tackles king, Raymond Miranda (66 stops, 2.5 sacks), Chris Louisos (36 tackles, 3 sacks), Benjamin Schoehle (34 stops, 2.5 sacks), and Giovanni Gilchrist (30 tackles; team-leading with four PDs, tied for top spot with two INTs)….Known for their ability to pry balls loose, the trio of Jamison (8), Miranda (4), and Nicholas (3) have accounted for 15 of the 22 forced fumbles recorded by the team this season.

Providing the razzle dazzle on the other sideline for the boys wearing the Red, White, and Blue will be the school’s All-time passing leader, Michael Nicosia (146-for-226; 2,507 yards, 27 touchdowns in 2017) and his band of speedsters—Alex Thomas (tied for the team lead with 39 catches; leader in receiving yards and touchdowns with 964 and seven), Tyler Winston (39 catches, 544 yards, five TD grabs), Shawn Harris (23 catches, 473 yards, six TDs), and Trill Williams, who has only made nine catches (3 TDs) this season, but gets mentioned because he tends to get spotlighted in some capacity (receiver, wildcat QB, etc) on must have 3rd and 4th downs…Sergio Pinto, who caught a touchdown pass in the AAA title game last week, is another capable bullseye for Nicosia to hit.

Identical to what we stated in the AAA title game preview against St. Anthony’s, Stepinac may be lacking in that same 1-2 punch [Giannico/Gomez] they rode in 2016 on the ground, but may be slightly deeper on the depth chart when it comes to trusted handlers….Jamal Dallas leads the Crusaders with 524 yards on 93 carries.  While the junior [Dallas] has been the workhorse/track layer, the finishers this season have come in the persons of Harris (329 yards, team-high six rushing TDs on 41 carries), Malik Grant (271 yards, five touchdowns on 51 touches), Williams (251 yards and five scores on just 25 handoffs), and QB keeper legend, Nicosia (226 yards, five touchdowns on 81 attempts).  Excluding Nicosia, the other names on this list are all averaging 5.3 or more yards per carry, with Williams (10/touch) and Harris (8/handoff) being the biggest breakaway weapons.

Stepinac Earned the Crown in 2015 against St. Francis. Canisius has won both times they played in the game in 2014 & 2016 Photo courtesy of Ryan Nagelhout @goosesroost

On the other side of the ball, Stepinac has been completely locked in the past previous weekends, holding the always electrifying Cardinals and Friars to just 12 and 22 points in their run to a third NYCHSFL crown in the past four years….If you looking for a reason for this clutch, collective display, it all starts and ends with the work of the D-line and the linebacking corps….Slept on at the beginning of the 2017 season, the cohort upfront, consisting of Matt Mitrakos (50+ tackles, 3 sacks, 3 forced fumbles), Doug Simmons (50+ tackles, close to 20 sacks), Alex Pena (29 tackles, 2 sacks),  Joseph Garbowski (40+ stops, 2 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries),  Nermin Metjajic (33 tackles), etc. have taken their efforts to a whole new gear down the stretch.

Never short on talent at linebacker, this year’s group has been especially potent, with Kevin Gray (the defensive MVP of the AAA title game) now well over 100 tackles for the season, sophomore Kevin McKenna, asserting himself as a future standout with 70+ stops, and Dexter Chance Jr. and De’Andre Smith excelling on the outside with 43 stops/1 sack/2 INTs and 42 tackles/2 sacks/7 PDs respectively.

Last, but by no means least, when it comes to secondaries, you’d be hard pressed to find a more complete one anywhere in the Empire State…The Syracuse bound, Williams (39 tackles, 4 INTs, 5 forced fumbles, and 13 pass break-ups) carries the star label because of his shutdown tendencies, but everywhere you look, there is a solid play-maker…Joey Cappiello (60+ tackles, 4 INTs of his own, 8 PDs), Tyler Decrescenzo (40+ stops, 5 pass break-ups), Isaiah Walker (40+ tackles, team-leader with 14 successful pass defenses, and Dominic Nicolo (12 PDs) are plenty capable of turning the entire football field into a restricted air space!!!

One interesting tidbit that we’d be remiss if we did not address is the fact that in the previous three renditions of this state title contest, the home team has yet to win, as Stepinac lost in 2014 to Canisius on Long Island (Mitchel Field), St. Francis was defeated by Stepinac the following year while playing in Grand Island, and last season, Hayes saw their late lead disappear at the hands of Canisius in a game played in the Bronx on the campus of Fordham University/Coffey Field….With this in mind, perhaps it is Stepinac that will enjoy the “non-home field advantage”.