Oct 182018
 

By Matt Diano:

Kyle Angus (Sr.); RB – St. Anthony’s Friars

For any senior classman, when you reach week #6 of the regular season, it begins to dawn on you that the finish line is inching closer by the second.  For some, the realization that the journey is close to reaching its destination is a cause of for added pressure and tightening up.  For others, it is a reason to reflect on all you have accomplished while simultaneously acknowledging that there is still business to be completed.   Like a diamond, for this second group, the pressure does not hinder them, it brings out the best in them…Kyle Angus belongs to the latter!

Putting forth what was without debate the finest overall performance of his two-year career, the 6’1, 190-pound running back needed just eight total touches to record a mind-blowing five TDs in the Friars’ 56-32 Homecoming triumph over their visitors from the Bronx, Cardinal Hayes….In doing so, he became the first St. Anthony’s player (excluding TD passes) to score five touchdowns in a single game since Rob McCann accomplished the feat in November of 2014…Unlike McCann, who caught all five of his TDs, the all-purpose tailback would showcase all of his tools, running for three touchdowns and making a pair of TD grabs to demonstrate the balance of his repertoire.

Scoring the first 6 of his 30 overall points on a 62-yard 3rd&19 swing pass on the Friars’ opening possession, Angus caught the ball near the sideline but then cut back towards the middle of the field where he ran undisturbed the rest of the way to give STA the early 7-0 lead…His second touchdown of the 1st quarter came two minutes and 40 seconds later, when following a Cardinals kickoff return to even the score at 7 apiece, Angus would put the finishing touches on a 5-play, 84-yard drive by plunging the ball in on a 7-yard run to make the score 14-7.

With his team now enjoying a comfortable 35-14 lead at the break, Angus would pick up where he left off, running a carbon copy route of his first TD on the second play of the 2nd half and taking it 47 yards to the house for his second touchdown reception of the evening…He later tacked on two additional third quarter TDs on runs from distances of 51 and 1 yard to account for his full array of tallies.

All in all, Angus carried the ball five times for 68 yards and added another 119 yards on three grabs to conclude the game with a season-high187 all-purpose yards….On the season, he has now rushed for 239 yards on 47 carries (tied with QB, Greg Campisi for team-lead with 7 TDs) and made 22 catches totaling 392 yards (4 touchdowns).  His 11 combined touchdowns leads the “AAA” division and ranks him 3rd overall among all NYCHSFL competitors.

Up next for Angus and the Friars is the game that all LI/Westchester football fans have been waiting weeks to see go down…A clash that will determine the top seed in the triple-A playoffs, St. Anthony’s will have the luxury of playing on the friendly confines of Cy Donnelly field when they bang heads with Iona Prep…The top-2 highest scoring teams in the NYCHSFL, Iona Prep comes to South Huntington averaging 43.8 points per game; the host Friars counter with a 41.2 PPG average…DON’T BLINK, because points will be quick and plentiful on October 19th.

 

Shawn Harris (Sr.); WR/KR/PR – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

If you wanted to know the last time that the Crusaders entered a weekend stuck in a four-game drought, you would have to turn back your calendar all the way to the 2006 season.  However, this was precisely the circumstance that the Westchester based program faced when they hosted Monsignor Farrell last Saturday night…But thanks to the 5’11, 175-pounder Mount Vernon resident, that slide would not reach five, as Harris would come up big in the second half to aid Stepinac in their 35-17 win over their guests, Monsignor Farrell.

One of the most naturally blessed athletes anywhere in New York State, Harris is capable of beating you in so many diverse ways and during week #6, he would put this versatility on full display.

Trailing 20-17 at the time, the 2018 Super-11 selection (signifying him as one of the top student-athletes in the Hudson Valley region) would be a definitive momentum shifter late in the 3rd quarter when he made a jumping catch 40 yards down field in tight coverage and then turned on the burners to trek the final 20 for what would be the game-winning score as the O’Donnell mentored school took a 21-17 lead…The Harris touchdown catch (one of three grabs he made for 82 yards) would ignite a streak of 21 unanswered points, enabling the Crusaders to pull away during the last 16 minutes of regulation.

Respected and feared as much for his special team prowess as he is for his pass-catching talents, Harris (with his school’s advantage having been increased to 28-17) emerged with what could best be considered the final nail in the Lions’ coffin half way through the 4th quarter when he fielded a punt on his own 30 and raced from sideline to sideline before cutting back to the center en route to going all the way for the 70-yard TD return for his second score of the half…Earlier in the game, he also returned a kickoff 60 yards to raise his cumulative output to 130 in this facet of the game…Factoring in his production as a receiver, his grand total was 212 yards.

With there still being plenty of time to earn a top-4 seed in the postseason, Stepinac would look to build off of their first league win of the season when they host Christ the King on October 20th. 

 

Frank Cullen (Sr.); RB/LB – St.  Peter’s Eagles

Famous author, Napolean Hill once wrote, “It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed.  And in the case of the 6’1, 215-pound Staten Island resident, no words could be more genuine.

A gentleman who proved that gaudy statistics are not a prerequisite in order to be considered for POTW honors, in the words of his Head Coach, George Mahoney, Cullen “did a bit of everything” in leading the Eagles to the 15-0 victory over Xaverian this past Friday night.

On the offensive side of the gridiron, the STP senior would be utilized as a spot ball carrier, taking the hand-off only six times in total, but maximizing each opportunity to finish the game with 41 yards on the ground (6.83 average per touch)…While he himself may not have been afforded the euphoria that accompanies punching “one in for the six”, Cullen’s contributions were undeniably valuable as his efforts came during two extended drives in the 1st and 4th quarters that eventually translated into all of the Eagles’ points on TD runs by teammates from Eric Torres and Kaiwan Taylor.

Defensively, Cullen has emerged as a game-changer during the past three weeks.  Starting the season as more of a pass coverage OLB, since making the conversion to the Mike linebacker, both the individual and the team have enjoyed an elevation in overall performance…Free now to “wreak havoc all over the field” as it was expressed by Mahoney, Cullen would be credited with five tackles, 1 TFL, four QB hurries, and even managed to recover a fumble in helping his school even their record to 3-3 on the year…With him at the center of the D-Unit, St. Peter’s not only pitched their first shutout since the 2014 season, they also limited a very capable Clipper offense (entered averaging 248 yards of total offense and 21.2 points per contest) to a meager 163 yards of cumulative output (their second lowest of 2018).

As a whole, the reassigning of Cullen has transformed the Eagles defense from a group that was surrendering nearly 30 points per game through three weeks into a dominant, shutdown brood that has allowed just 20 points total in weeks 4 through 6 (6.7/average).

Cullen and the new look STP “D” will face a huge test this coming weekend when they go on the road to face a Kellenberg juggernaut that is putting up 40 points and 400+ yards per outing.

 

Nazareth McFarlan (Sr.); RB/S – St. Francis Prep Terriers

If there was ever a student-athlete born to be a future NYCHSFL player of the week honoree, it is a young man with the name Nazareth…And, much like Christians travel far and wide in order to visit the birthplace of the savior, the two-way player who hails from Queens Village would go on a journey of his own during week #6, propelling St. Francis Prep to their first win of the season, 28-21, over rival Holy Cross, on October 14th.

Eight days removed from rushing for a career-high 143 yards (on 21 carries) in a loss to Fordham Prep, the 5’9, 188-pound senior would again be at the top of his game last Sunday, surpassing the century mark for a second consecutive weekend and the third time in his career (ran for 114 yards against Mount St. Michael almost exactly one year prior; Oct. 15th versus Mount St. Michael Academy,)…Darn-near mirroring his personal bests from week #5, McFarlan was a workhorse for the Terriers, handling the prolate spheroid 24 times (more than double his closest teammate) for a gain of 142 yards, with one TD…The crux of an offensive scheme that strives to break their opponents’ will with long, sustained drives, McFarlan would immediately take some of the wind out of Crusader sails when he orchestrated a 9:00 1st quarter drive.

Running for 401 yards and four touchdowns as a junior, McFarlan has already exceeded his production in one category (currently has 420 yards rushing in 2018) and needs just two more scores to establish a new landmark in the other…Not surprisingly, he is the #1 person across the board for SFP in all run-related matters.

Rounding out his afternoon, McFarlan also made his presence known on defense, recording five stops to equal his tackle total from all of 2017, with 32.

 

Photo Courtesy of SI Live

Jackson Tucker (So.); QB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea Vikings

Don’t look now but it appears that Mike Corona’s Vikings have their own mini Peyton Manning clone in the person of 5’9, sophomore field general [Tucker]…Trailing the majority of the game (with the exception of an early 6-0 edge), SJS would join St. Francis Prep in breaking into the win column (1-5) during week #6 when a 30-yard Hail Mary by Tucker landed in the leaping arms of senior WR, Ryan Simermeyer, to catapult the Staten Island school to a dramatic 40-35 victory.

Needing “only 42” more 4th quarter rallies to tie the future NFL Hall-of-Famer’s record for career comebacks, the parallels between Tucker and Manning extends beyond a mutual clutch gene…Rather, just like the legendary Colts/Broncos field general [note: now 2nd in career passing yards to Drew Brees], the SJS 10th grader is proving himself to be a master at chewing up opposing secondaries with laser precision…Following a 17-for-29 (58.6%) passing game on October 12th that saw him throw for 263 yards and hurl three TDs, Tucker presently tops all AA quarterbacks in both total aerial yardage (1,354) and completion percentage (59.6%; 102-for-171).  His 10 TD tosses puts him in a four-way tie for runner-up honors among the double-A elite.

And while the deep ball into the corner of end zone with 1.8 seconds showing on the clock will be the moment that gets remembered forever, let it be known that as great of a play as it was, it represented only one of the four total touchdowns in which Tucker played a role in.  In addition to the game-winning score, Tucker had previously connected with Simermeyer earlier in the game, and also hit junior, Kyle Gaor, for the latter’s first TD of 2018….As an added bonus, Tucker was the Vikings’ leading rusher as well, accumulating 54 yards on seven carries while punching in his second running TD of the year.

When Tucker and Joe’s by the Sea returns to the field this Friday, they will do so against the current first-place team in the “A” division, Kennedy Catholic….A clash of styles, the host Gaels will attempt to slow down SJS’s bomb squad by relying heavily on their two-headed monster [Surrett and Proctor] of a ground attack…Allowing an average of just 61 yards in the air against Catholic school opponents, KC has yet to face a QB as polished as Tucker, so it will be interesting to see how their defensive backfield responds to the pressure.

 

Jamar Simmons (Sr.); RB/DB – Mount St. Michael’s Academy Mountaineers

We don’t know if the 5’9, 163-pound senior from the Bronx is a fan of the Karate Kid, but one thing is for certain, he certainly subscribes to that same, “strike first, strike hard, no mercy” philosophy made popular by fictitious sensei, John Kreese.

Zoned in from the opening whistle, it would take Simmons no time at all to set the tone for the kind of memorable day it would be for both himself and MSMA in their 35-0 goose-egging of Cardinal Spellman in a battle for Bronx bravado.

Recording the first rushing touchdown of his scholastic career when he broke for a 65-yard gainer on the Mountaineers first possession of the game, Simmons would only carry the ball on four separate occasions, but inflicted maximum damage to the Pilots’ defense, concluding the game with exactly 100 ground yards.   Used almost exclusively as a defensive player last season and having never run for more than 79 yards in a contest this year, the triple digit effort last Saturday was the first of its kind for the Mount student-athlete.  He was one of two Mountaineers on October 13th to reach the century mark, as teammate/Week #1 POTW honoree, Conrad Perry, led all RBs with 189 yards.

And like all of the charges under the command of Head Coach, Mario Valentini, the job is only half done when you put points up on the board.  Instead of resting on one’s offensive laurels, the focus immediately shifts to “D”, where Simmons would also show himself to be spectacular.

A major factor in MSMA’s ability to earn the program’s first shutdown since the 2013 season (34-0 over now defunct Bishop Ford), one of Simmon’s pair of interceptions would come in the end zone, keeping the shutout in tact…A physical presence as well as a ball hawk, his six solo tackles last Saturday were tops on the team.

 

Daniel Wilson (Sr.); LB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

The reigning “AA” Defensive Player of the Year commenced last Sunday afternoon by leading the Firebirds onto the field in his traditional manner, sprinting with Old Glory waving proudly in his arms.  The pregame ritual, which the Levittown native has doing since the second week of the 2017 season, would hardly be the last time he would be at the forefront of a charging Blue & Gold platoon during Kellenberg’s 42-14 shellacking of host Chaminade during the 2018 Marianist Bowl…The victory, which snapped a five-game losing streak in the series (KMHS last won in 2010) marked just the third time ever that the Firebirds bested the Flyers on the gridiron.

Energized and/or inspired by the large contingent of family members in attendance, the future United States’ Naval Academy Midshipman would play one of, if not the most complete games of his varsity career, tying his personal-highs for tackles (11) and tackles for loss (3)…In truth, while those numbers certainly stand out in their own regard, they almost fail to do justice to the 6’3, 195-pound, three-sport athlete (2018 Varsity basketball Most Valuable Player; 2017 CHSAA Lacrosse State Champion)…For those watching the game in person, the three tackles for a loss (plus a sack) with which Wilson was credited seemed on the low end…#88 spent so much time in the Chaminade backfield that he might as well have asked his parents to hire a moving truck so he could set up permanent residency there.

The heartbeat and backbone of the #1 ranked defense in the double-A division (#2 in the entire NYCHSFL), with Wilson setting the example, the Firebirds are allowing just 10.3 points per outing.  And remarkably, this statistic skewed by the fact in all six of their victories in 2018, the starting 11 often did not play the full 48 minutes.  For instance, before subbing in their second and third strings in the 4th quarter, KMHS had held Chaminade scoreless while only giving up 102 yards of total offense through three quarters.

Having passed their biggest test of the season thus far, Kellenberg will put their 17-game immaculate streak on the line this coming Saturday when they return home to play St. Peter’s under the lights.

Oct 112018
 

By Matt Diano:

Ethan Ortiz (Jr.); FB/LB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

A modern-day Jessie Tuggle [NFL All-time Tackles leader] for the Pilots defense, behind the leadership of the 6’0, 202-pound 11th grader, Cardinal Spellman successfully pitched their third shutout of the season on Saturday afternoon, defeating the Bawkhawks of St. Dominic’s by a score of 21-0.  The victory completes the early season sweep of their Long Island foe and raises the Bronx based program’s overall record to 3-2 (3-1 in league play).  In eight quarters of play between the two schools, Spellman did not allow a single point to St. Dom’s.

Living in the offensive backfield during the fifth week of the regular season, Ortiz’s ability to consistently “beat the opposing running back to the point of attack” made him a nightmare from which the Bayhawks would never awake…Of his career-high 20 total stops (10 solo), more than a few would yield a loss of yardage, forcing their opponents from Oyster Bay to constantly be buried behind the proverbial 8-ball.

Increasing his 2018 total to 70 tackles (a mind-blowing average of 14/game), Ortiz is currently the clubhouse leader in the category among all Division “A” student-athletes, and ranks 2nd in the NYCHSFL regardless of classification [behind only Chaminade’s Phillip Arnold, who has 71]…An individual who never seems to take a week off, Ortiz has now reached double digit stops in all five of his appearances this season, commencing with a 14 tackle effort in the season-opening win over Nazareth and never slowing down since.

And while his defensive skill set may be his trademark, let it be known that this young man is equally as tenacious when it is his team that has possession of the pigskin…Molded in the image of former 14-year NFL veteran, Lorenzo Neal, when lining up at FB, Ortiz is a lethal lead blocker, as evident by the 200+ yards his teammates were able to accumulate on the ground last Saturday…With Ortiz paving the way, the Pilots are running for an average of just south of 170 yards (169.2) per game.

 

Photo Courtesy of SI Live

Justin Lacks (Jr.); RB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

From the same oxymoronic standpoint that causes us to laugh when tall men are named “Short”, or when we nickname our chubby friend, “Slim”, the fact that this 6’0, 215-pound gifted specimen has the last name Lacks is proof that God has a darn good sense of humor…We say that, because if anyone has watched what the Maverick 11th grader has been able to accomplish during the first 2.5 years of his scholastic career, you know all too well that there is not a single tool that this prodigy is lacking.

A combination of breakaway speed and chiseled muscle, it was neither coincidence, nor luck that the New Jersey native was invited to the US Army All-American combine last December, signifying him as one of the top-600 class of 2020 student-athletes in the nation.

By far the most statistically dominant runner in all of the NYCHSFL this season, even before the 18 carry, 235 yards, three touchdown performance he put forth during Moore Catholic’s 42-12 triumph over Mount St. Michael’s Academy this past Saturday, Lacks already stood atop the leaderboard in every major rushing category.  The only difference is now he has separated himself from the rest of his peers and established a class all his own.

Well on his way towards a third consecutive 1,000+ yard season, at the midway point of his junior campaign, Lacks has gained 883 yards on 116 carries (7.6 average) and is currently tied for 3rd in NYS (despite playing one fewer game than the gentlemen above him) with 13 touchdowns on the ground…In terms of his decorated career, his TD treks of 70, 60, and 9 yards in the win over the Mountaineers a week ago give him 13 multi-touchdown games (including all five this season)…His 235 yards on October 6th was a career-high and now gives him three 200+ yard games in his career (including two in 2018; also ran for 221 yards and tied his career-best of four TDs in a week #2 win over Holy Cross).

A special talent that could effortlessly be a POTW candidate every time his team picked up a “w”, Lacks returns to the list for the first time since week #8 of his freshman season….However, with his team remaining unblemished (5-0) and moving ever closer toward their second championship weekend in the past three years, there is no doubt that the only individual honor he has on his mind is another [was the 2016 “A” recipient] the title game Offensive MVP trophy.

 

Jordan Delucia (Jr.); RB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

48 minutes?  Who needs 48 minutes? Based on what he has accomplished the past two weekends, the 6’1, 175-pounder out of Bellmore certainly does not need them…Nope, there is no punching a time clock for this junior Firebird; he is quite content doing three times the damage of his mortal counterparts in half the time.

A week removed from exploding for three first half touchdowns and 144 total yards (91 rushing on 11 carries; 3 receptions for 53 yards) in a 34-11 victory over St. John the Baptist, the Marianist phenom tailback would be even more otherworldly this past Saturday, running for a career-high 186 yards and another three TDs on 14 carries (13.3 average) in a 41-3 drubbing over Holy Cross.

Getting off to a boiling hot start for the second weekend in a row, Delucia would double Kellenberg’s 1st quarter lead to 14-0 [following a Jake Deakin TD earlier) when he shook off one tackle and then cruised untouched the rest of the way down the near sideline for a 57-yard touchdown…Approximately six minutes later (10:05 remaining in the 2nd quarter), he would bust free again, this time from 47-yards out, starting his trip along the opposite sideline but then cutting back toward the inside to record his second TD of the half [5th 1st half TD in the past two weeks) to make the score 21-0.

Spending much of the final 24 minutes being rested while other teammates got their names in the paper, Delucia would turn on the jets one final time late in the 3rd quarter, when he took the triple-option hand-off straight up the middle and ran 17 yards undeterred to close out the scoring for KMHS (41-3).

As a result of his aforementioned career-best rushing day, through five weeks of the regular season, Delucia ranks 1st on the team in every running category.   And, despite having to share carries, his 420 yards (on 51 carries) ranks 7th overall in Double-A and his eight touchdown runs puts him in a four-way tie for 2nd among all NYCHSFL players regardless of classification.

Winners now of 16 contests in a row, Coach Kevin Hanifan’s cohort may face the biggest challengers to their streak this coming Sunday when they are pitted against their brother school, Chaminade, in the 2018 Marianist Bowl….Picking up their most recent victory in this series back in 2010 (0-5 since), should Kellenberg hope to prevail over their brethren, they will need to receive another huge contribution from  DeLucia…The host Flyers (2-3) are surrendering an average of 255.8 yards and two touchdowns per game on the ground.  Therefore, Delucia and the rest of the stacked Firebird offensive backfield have every reason to feel confident that there will be ample openings from which to exploit in their bid to stay unscathed.

 

Zachary Wallace (Jr.); RB/KR – Fordham Prep Rams

Way back during the first week of the season, we wrote in the preview that in order for the Rams to enjoy another winning season, they would need to incorporate a more balanced approach to their offensive attack.  One of the names that we tossed out at that time as a potential breakout star was the 5’11, 170-pound junior who had previously been utilized more consistently as a defensive back…Now five weeks into the future and we could not be any happier or prouder to announce that the New Rochelle resident is well on his way towards reinventing the offensive scheme as more of a traditional 50/50 system where opposing defenses are left guessing on every snap.

Boosting a 100-yard rusher just seven times in the 44 games (16%) during the four-year reign of Matt Valecce as king/leader of the offense, since assuming the starting tailback role, Wallace has already posted three century mark performances, including a 12-carry, 145-yard effort last weekend in propelling Fordham Prep to their fourth consecutive victory, 31-13, over St. Francis Prep.

An honor roll student while enrolled in Advanced placement courses, Wallace extended his streak of consecutive multi-TD games to three in a row on October 6th, but did so without recording a single rushing score…On the contrary, he would showcase the other facets of his game, acting as both a kick returner and a receiver out of the backfield in securing the “w” over the visiting Terriers.

Seeing his team fall behind 7-0 in the first quarter, Wallace wasted no time in issuing a response, taking the ensuing kickoff 82 yards to the house to tie the game at 7 apiece.

With the Rams now leading 17-13 in what had been a very back-and-forth contest for the first 36 minutes of play, Wallace would make the most of his lone reception, catching the Derek Bufano pass and then racing 55-yards for the first of Fordham’s two 4th quarter touchdowns to create that much cherished cushion…Of his six catches this season (totaling 170 yards), half have put “6” on the board.

Ranked 3rd in Double-A and 5th overall in the NYCHSFL with 544 rushing yards (59 carries; w/4 TDs), Wallace will again need to be at his best during week #6, as October 13th will feature a confrontation of titans when Lacks-led Moore Catholic travels to the Bronx to square off with Fordham Prep in a pivotal AA Western Conference donnybrook.

 

Jeremye Brown (Sr.); RB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

As the saying goes, you cannot keep a bunch of good men down…In the case of the 2018 Cardinals, despite starting the season 0-2 in league play, there was always an unspoken confidence that It was a matter of when, not if, they would find their true selves….And that moment would come during the fifth week of the regular season when they posted a 24-18 victory over Christ the King.

A program that over the course of the past three seasons had become notorious for its unmatched aerial attack because of the presence of All-State signal callers Christian Anderson and current field general, Sofian Massoud, October 6th would be uncharacteristically be all about the ground attack for Head Coach, C.J. O’Neil’s flock of Cardinals.

Feeding their 5’11, 170-pound senior tailback [Brown] 27 times last weekend, the Bronx resident would run for 183 yards and score twice in single-handedly recording half of Hayes’s point total on the evening…The quantity of running opportunities, coupled with the yardage accumulated on the ground would signify something of a turn back the clock night for Cardinal Hayes.   Not since they boosted the likes of All-State running back, Justin Covington (presently a part of the backfield rotation at Villanova) have the Cardinals put their trust in a tailback the way they did with Brown a week ago.  In fact, speaking of Covington, Brown’s huge evening during week #5 represented the statistically greatest performance by Cardinal Hayes player since the latter [Covington] had a 34-carry, 309-yard outing in a 2015 semifinal win over St. Anthony’s.

Brown and company will look to make it two wins in a row this Friday when they face off with returning “AAA” runners-up, St. Anthony’s…After surrendering less than 100 rushing yards in any of their first three games of 2018, the Friar defense has 571 yards and six touchdowns the past two weeks.  Thus, if Hayes continues to stay committed to the run, Brown could be in store for another monster showing.

Note: The last time Cardinal Hayes started a season winless after two games, they went on to claim the 2016 AAA League crown.  Thus, they are a team that grower stronger the deeper the season progresses.

 

Franklin McFadden III (So.); RB – Iona Prep Gaels

We are not sure why, but there is something about competing against Monsignor Farrell that seems to bring the best out of this 5’8, 195-pound sophomore from Yonkers.

Such a natural, God-given stud, McFadden was so dominant as a freshman on the junior varsity level that the Gael coaches could not resist the temptation to promote him to the varsity for the postseason…When given this opportunity, McFadden proved to be every bit as good as advertised, running for 71 yards and a touchdown in a quarterfinal victory over this same Lion opposition.

This past Saturday night, in a rumble of unbeaten programs, McFadden would again give his hosts on Amboy Road a dose of the power and acceleration that makes him one of the most heralded underclassmen in the Empire state…Taking the hand-off 17 times, the Gael 10th grader would rush for a personal best average of 8.5 per carry to finish the game with 145 yards…On top of his big yardage day, McFadden would also emerge with the first three touchdown game of his short varsity career, getting IP on the board in the first quarter (to make the score 7-6 Farrell) before later blasting his way to 15 and 23-yard TD runs (per MaxPreps) on back-to-back third quarter possessions to turn a 21-7 lead into insurmountable 35-7 advantage.

McFadden, who has now rushed for over 100 yards in three of Iona Prep’s four games this season (including a career-best 152 yards in week #1 against Bishop Hendricken) presently ranks 2nd in “AAA” with 518 yards on 79 rushing attempts.  His eight touchdowns on the ground tops all Triple-A players and makes him a part of that same quartet as DeLucia for the #2 spot overall among Catholic ball carriers.

Iona Prep, who at 4-0 is the last immaculate team in the 3A division, will host Christ the King during week #6 before engaging in what will likely be a battle for the top seed in the postseason on October 19th against St. Anthony’s….When he faced the Friars in the 2017 semifinals, he was held to only 25 yards on eight carries.  Hence, you know he will be playing with a chip on his shoulder in two weeks.

Oct 032018
 

By Matt Diano:

Seth Surrett (Sr.); RB/QB/FS – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

And then there was one!!!!  Following a 21-7 victory last Saturday over defending “A” champion, Cardinal Spellman, the Gaels of Kennedy Catholic are now the last remaining unblemished team in their division.

Led by their 5’10, 180-pound “Jack of All Trades” [Surrett] as he was described by Head Coach, Dom Tassone, the Gaels would break a 7-7 deadlock at the half by exploding for a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns en route to posting their first ever NYCHSFL victory over the rival Pilots….The 21 scored by the Somers based program were the first points surrendered this season by Spellman against a Catholic school opponent.

The first POTW repeat selection of 2018, it was just three weeks ago that the Newburgh resident made his debut on this list following a 185-yard rushing, four TD affair in a victory over St. Dominic’s….

He would continue to pad his touchdown total during week #4, as he made the journey to the promised land twice on September 29th, including punching in what would prove to be the game-winner early in the final quarter…The eventual clinching score would not be Surrett’s only contribution during this game-defining drive.  Earlier in the series, with the offense “stalled” as it was expressed by Tassone, Surrett would maximize his lone pass attempt of the game, connecting with senior tight end, Eric Volpi, on a 20-yard hook-up for a huge 3rd down conversion to keep the Gaels in control of the pigskin.

Gaining 90 yards on his 12 carries (team-best 7.5 average) to increase his season total to 350 (33 touches), Surrett’s first TD of the contest gave Kennedy Catholic the 7-0 lead when he took it in from 1-yard out.

Playing a role in all three of the KC TDs, a one-handed grab by Surrett (one of two catches he made for 22 yards) during a later series would be a catalyst for teammate, Myles Proctor’s (reigning Player of the Week), short yardage insurance touchdown with 4:20 remaining on the clock.

Never one to feel as if his day has been a true success until he makes his presence known on both sides of the gridiron, Surrett would anchor a secondary that held Spellman quarterback, Aidan Hanley-Piri to a sub-.500 completion percentage (6-for-13) and just 100 yards in the air…He would be credited with three solo tackles and log a pass defense to round out his stellar two-way performance.      

Masauri Miller (Sr.); RB/LB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

An established gem at the heart of the Maverick linebacking corps the past three seasons, Miller has never been a stranger when it comes to turning heads as on the defensive side of the ball…The Defensive MVP of the 2016 Single-A title game, as well as an All-State player as a sophomore, it no longer comes as a surprise to see him racking up double digit stops week after week.  Rather, hearing his #15 jersey number called regularly by the public address announcer has become more rule than exception.

This past Saturday night, the 5’9, 185-pounder further added to his legacy as one of the most feared stoppers in all of the Evil Empire, recording 15 tackles (10 solo; 1 TFL) as part of a collective effort by the MC defense that yielded a modest 146 yards of total offense in a 38-14 triumph over Xavier….With this victory, the still unblemished Mavs (4-0), have doubled their win total from all of 2017 and remain among front-runners to win the “AA West”.

Miller’s 15 tackles under the lights this past Saturday made it two weekends in a row that he set personal best on the Double-A level.  During week #3, he tallied 13 tackles…Respectively, these back-to-back standout showings are conjuring up memories of the aforementioned 2016 campaign that saw him post games of 23, 20, and 17 stops while competing in the “A” division…At present, his overall total of 45 tackles and his per game average of 11.3 rank in the top-10 of both categories among all NYCHSFL student-athletes regardless of division.

Speaking of a blast from the past, weeks 3 and 4 have also witnessed a resurgence of sorts for him as a valuable #2 option out of the offensive backfield for Coach Nick Giannatasio and his staff…Rushing for a total of only 77 yards as a junior last year, Miller surpassed that with an 80-yard (on 5 carries)/1TD display two weeks ago against St. Francis Prep.  This past Saturday, his output continued on a northbound trajectory, as he rushed for 101 yards on six carries, highlighted by a 52-yard TD trek.  This was just the third 100+ yard game of his career and the first time cracking the 100-yard barrier since October 14th, 2016 (career-high 126 yards versus Xaverian).

So spectacular was Miller’s full body of work during the fourth week of the regular season that he not only caught our attention, he also put himself on the national radar.   He was recently nominated by the New York Giants and USA Football for the “Heart of a Giant” Award, which recognizes players from the Tri-State area who “demonstrate unparalleled work ethic on and off the field” as an indicator of a deep passion for the sport. 

Shane Greene (Jr.); RB/LB – Xaverian Clippers

Like every homecoming weekend on the campus of any school across the nation, this past Friday night in Brooklyn was about honoring and welcoming back the generations of alumni that once proudly walked the hallways at Xaverian. Nostalgia consumed the fall air and even before a single point was earned, there were already celebrations and ear-to-ear smiles as friends reunited.   For most, it was an evening of reminiscing about yesteryear…But for one 5’11, 190-pounder 11th grader, the past ceased to exist and all that mattered was giving those in the crowd a preview and/or foreshadowing of what the present and the future will look like on Flatbush Avenue during the next year and a half.

A gentleman who has been forced to learn the hard way whether or not patience is indeed a virtue, what transpired in the Clippers’ 44-28 victory over Mount St. Michael Academy during week #4 was a moment that Shane Greene has waited a year to see come to fruition…Missing the entire 2017 season after transferring into Xaverian and then sustaining an injury that kept him on the shelf, the hometown kid finally got his opportunity to be a star, and no one would upstage or shine brighter than he.

Gradually shaking off the rust and getting back to top form during the first three weeks of the Catholic football season, Greene stepped onto the field on Friday night having run 14 times for 44 yards and one touchdown….And while others would ohhh and awe about the beauties/studs of the “court”, he would be busy staging a coronation of his own, as the King of the land attack.

Acting as the proverbial workhorse, Greene would take 36 of the team’s 59 hand-offs, rush for 155 of Xaverian’s 234 yards, and score both of their touchdowns on the ground…And, in case that was not enough to impress the home crowd, he would add a third overall touchdown on a 24-yard reception (only his second catch of 2018).

Remarkably, these 18 points would only tell half the story.   Because, as the old saying (actually I just made it up) goes, “why score six when you can score eight.”  And on four separate occasions, that is precisely what he did, successfully converting 2pt conversions to boost his total point output to 26.

Ok, so surely contributing nearly 60 percent of the points was enough to make him call it a night?…Well, first off, he was not done yet; and second, don’t call him Shirley….Instead of resting on his offensive laurels, Greene would go right back to work on the defense side of the ball, making six tackles (2nd most on the team) from his outside linebacker position.

As a follow-up to his monster demonstration during week #4, look for Greene to have another solid performance on October 5th when Xaverian squares off with a St. Joe’s by the Sea squad that has struggled to defend the run thus far (have allowed over 1,000 yards in four games).

Ryan Razzano (Sr.); QB – Holy Trinity Titans

Remaining on the topic of fresh faces in the NYCHSFL that used the fourth week of the regular season to send out their calling card, like Greene, the senior transfer from McGann-Mercy could not have picked a more perfect time to put forth his finest effort of 2018…Trailing 20-6 at the end of the 1st quarter and 26-18 at intermission, it would be the individual labor of the 5’10, 180-pounder from Manorville during the final 24 minutes of competition that enabled the Green & White to claw their way back to the 40-38 win over Holy Cross last Saturday afternoon.

A consistent presence in the rushing attack during his first three games under center for the Titans, Razzano came in averaging just under 60 yards and 1 TD rushing per game.  Hence, the possibility of him exploding for a massive afternoon was never out of the question.  However, to say that we could have predicted the magnitude to which he would erupt would be a case of 20/20 hindsight.

Calling his own number a season-high 23 times in the win over the visiting Knights, Razzano cracked the 100-yard plateau for the first time as a Titan, accumulating 113 yards and scoring a quartet of touchdowns in delivering HT’s third straight victory of the season (3-1).

Perhaps even more impressive than the stat line itself was the timing of his biggest moments.  Recording three of his four touchdowns in the second half, of the 22 points tallied by Holy Trinity after halftime, 18 of them came courtesy of #2.

Complementing his 25-yard, 1st quarter TD run that got the Titans on the board (to make the score 7-6 in favor of Holy Cross), Razzano added journeys of 39 (26-24 HC) and 4 (32-30 HC) yards respectively in the third quarter to put his school in a situation where the comeback hopes remained alive and well…..Following a late 3rd quarter, 32-yard FG by Timothy Kiggins that gave the Titans their first lead of the day, the 12th grade field general would provide some cushion down the stretch when he punched his 4th TD in from the 1-yard line to make the score 40-32.

With his four rushing touchdowns during week #4, Razzano has now tied reigning POTW selection, CJ Riccobono (who himself scored twice), for the team lead with seven TDs on the ground.

Overshadowed by the strength of his running success was the fact that Razzano also enjoyed his best day as a passer last weekend, as he posted season-highs in completions (6 of 8) and aerial yardage (68).

To put one final cherry on top, Razzano was called upon to play key minutes in the defensive backfield and was credited with 1 tackle.    

Picture from SI Live

Vincent Wagner (Sr.); RB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

“The journey is never ending. There’s always going be growth, improvement, adversity; you just got to take it all in and do what’s right, continue to grow, continue to live in the moment.”—Antonio Brown

Never was there a more fitting quote to summarize the senior season of the 6’1, 220-pounder out of Staten Island…Still hampered by an ankle injury (adversity) suffered at the onsets of the 2018 season, when you look at what Wagner has been able to accomplish at less than 100%, it spells doom for the rest of the AAA division.

Making his return to the POTW list for the first time since the opening weekend of the 2017 season, the Honorable Mention All-State selection from a year ago was nothing short of superb in a 26-24 come-from-behind victory over Cardinal Hayes last Friday that raised the Lions record to 4-0.

A fierce runner who never balks when asked to assume a heavy workload and does not dance when he can bulldoze, the fact that Wagner posted his fourth career 200-yard game (26 carries for 201 yards) of his career and has now surpassed the century mark in eight of his last nine appearances (exception being week #2 when the injury limited him to just one carry) Is hardly news anymore.  He is such an undeniable force when serving as a ball carrier than no matter what he does, the extraordinary begins to look commonplace…

So, rather than hark on the part of his game that he has already shown to be exceptional, we choose instead to stay true to Mr. Brown’s words and focus on the level of growth/improvement we witnessed in Wagner as a pass receiver during week #4.

A year removed from catching just nine balls for 89 yards and one touchdown as a junior, Wagner would demonstrate that next component required of any full-service tailback last weekend, tying his career-best of three grabs and setting new career-highs for receiving yards and touchdowns with 56 and two respectively in propelling the Lions to their biggest “w” thus far in 2018.

Coming out of the tunnel on fire, Wagner would give the Lions the initial 7-0 lead four minutes into the game when he broke off for three big runs and then completed the drive by catching a 5-yard TD pass from Mike Regan….But, it would be his second touchdown snatch of the night that proved even more pivotal.

Seeing his team trailing 24-13 at the time late in the third quarter (approximately 4:30 remaining), Wagner provided that much needed spark and/or adrenaline boost when he took a simple screen pass 47 yards to the house to bring Farrell within striking distance, 24-19….Farrell would later go on to block a punt and return it for a TD in the last five minutes of the 4th quarter to steal the “w“.

Wagner (564 yards rushing this season) will look to make it three straight 200-yard running outings (also had 211 yards during week #3 against Chaminade) when Farrell plays host to Iona Prep in a war of the immaculate (combined record of 7-0) on October 6th.

Sep 262018
 

By Matt Diano:

Myles Proctor (Sr.); RB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

Off to the program’s best start in quite some time, the current 3-0 Gaels have yet to be tested in 2018 and a big reason for that has been the electrifying performance of their senior dynamic duo in the backfield, Seth Surrett and Myles Proctor….We highlighted the former during the first week of the regular season and now it is the latter’s turn to bask in the spotlight.

An individual who was considered as a POTW candidate last weekend following a 13-carry, 112-yard, 1 TD performance in a 28-0 victory over Nazareth Regional, when we saw Proctor’s numbers from this past Saturday, we were glad we waited the extra week so as to capture his true breakthrough.

Playing only during the first half, the 6’2, 190-pounder out of Yorktown Heights not only logged his second straight 100+ yard showing, he went above and behind, exceeding the 200-yard mark for the first time in his scholastic career in the KC’s 35-0 blanking of St. Dominic’s….Carrying the ball a mere nine times on the afternoon, the 12th grader would rack up a career-high 215 yards (of the 267 earned collectively by the school), scoring three times on treks of 77, 55, and 11 yards…He would also find the energy to record five tackles from his linebacker position on defense to help the Gaels to a second straight goose-egging of the opposition.

Averaging an astounding 141 yards per contest through week #3, Proctor currently leads the “A’ division in all major ground categories with 423 yards on 35 carries (12.1/touch) and four touchdowns.

His 13 total stops also ranks him in the top-10 among Gaels in tackles this season.

Up next for the Gaels will be a week #4 clash against the defending “A” titlists, Cardinal Spellman.  With both teams still undefeated in league play, more than a few pundits are calling for this to be the first of two [also during the last week of the regular season] championship game previews…The host Pilots have yet to surrender a single point against “A” opponents this season.  On the contrary, KC is putting up an average of nearly 33 points per game and have not been held below 28 yet.

Matt Sluka (Sr.); QB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

When you are the reigning Double-A Offensive Player of the Year and a returning 2nd Team All-State selection, one of the biggest challenges you face week after week is the pressure of trying to adhere to your own personal standard of excellence that at times borders on the realm of impossibility…When you are the red-headed assassin who dons the #10 jersey for the defending champion Firebirds, anytime you can succeed in raising the bar for yourself, it is a mighty big deal since that proverbial bar was already incredibly high to start.

This past Saturday night in a game that was being billed as a potential early preview of championship weekend, Sluka would emerge with statistically the best overall game of his two-year high school career in a 47-14 triumph on the road over Xavier.

Improving his record under center to a perfect 14-0, the 6’3, 205-pounder from Roslyn established new personal bests for total offense (362 yards) and passing yards (232), while also tying his previous record of five (set in last year’s AA title game) touchdowns.

Completing 9 of his 11 attempts in the air en route to the aforementioned new milestone, Sluka would post his first three-touchdown-passing effort as a member of the Blue & Gold…Connecting on all three TDs with fellow senior/Week #1 POTW honoree, Matthew Mongelli, Sluka’s first touchdown pass of the game would go for 60 yards and tie the game at six apiece in the first quarter…Leading 12-6, it would be his second dart of the half, a seven-yard strike that increased the lead to 19-6….Sluka’s final home-run hitter of the day would be his longest, as he displayed laser precision in lofting the ball over the outstretched arms of a defender to hit Mongelli along the sideline for an 85-yarder to make the score 40-14.

The state leader in yardage and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback last season in New York State, after being held to just 21 yards in the team’s season-opening victory over Holy Trinity on September 8th, Sluka has regained his top form during weeks 2 and 3, running for 117 and 130 yards respectively and combining to score five touchdowns with his legs…In the “w” over the host Knights, Sluka had one TD run in each half, including a 62-yard pilgrimage in the 3rd quarter in response to Xavier’s touchdown on their first possession of the final 24 minutes.

Sluka also converted on four of six PAT tries to play a role in 34 of the 47 total points accumulated by Kellenberg.

Well on his way to another All-State distinction, what has stood out most about Sluka has been the balance he has demonstrated in his attacks.  A year removed from scoring 70+ percent of his touchdowns on the ground, through three weeks of the season, he is putting up nearly a 1:1 ratio (6:5 to be exact) where his passing talents are slightly outweighing his contributions as a scrambler…Thus far, his stat line reads as follows: 30-for-43 (69.8%) for 513 yards and six TDs in the sky; 268 yards and an additional five scores on 30 carries (8.9 average) via the ground.

This is Sluka’s third career POTW distinction.  As a junior, he had the rare honor of being named twice in a span of three weeks (3 and 5).

 

Bobby Spano (Sr.); RB – St. John the Baptist Cougars

In his bestselling novel, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, author/sports writer, Mitch Albom addressed the subject of selflessness by penning this: “Sometimes when sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it.  You are just passing it on to someone else.”

In the case of the 5’7, 165-pound, senior tailback [Spano], much of scholastic career in general and his senior season in particular has been about doing all of the behind the scenes work so that it could be his teammates that were afforded the privilege of being the headliners…A dedicated lead blocker who despite never being the biggest guy on the field seems among the first to throw himself into harm’s way in order to create a hole for one of his peers, the influence that the Bay Shore resident has on the success of the running game far exceeds what you will in a weekend box score.

With these sentiments in mind, there is nothing more special or fitting then when the facilitator finally gets his moment to be the star.  And that occasion came to pass in the Cougar’s 51-6 win on September 22nd over Nazareth Regional.

Entering the week #3 contest having gained just 90 yards on 21 hand-offs (4.3/carry) this season, Spano would transform himself into an undeniable force, requiring only six touches to amass 200 yards (33.3 average).  Included in his career-day would be a 30yrd run in the second quarter that gave SJB a 21-0 lead.   He would also have a 93-yard blast to set up an additional score.

Not one to allow personal achievements to cloud the strong sense of “team” instilled in him by Coach Carusillo, Spano would continue to add to his reputation as a fierce “chaperone” for his fellow ball carriers.  With him serving as a human battering ram, Jayden Louis (60 yards on five carries) and Christian “Marvelous Mister” Maisel (38 yards on three hand-offs) each scored a pair of touchdowns…All in all, the West Islip based program accumulated 325 yards on the ground to improve to 2-1 this season.

The epitome of a “no job too small” philosophy, Spano rounded out his impressive day by doing solid work in all facets of special teams.

 

Joseph Costanzo (Sr.); LB – St. Anthony’s Friars

Our lone defensive player of the week recipient, the Friar senior checked off so many different boxes in the school’s 28-7 victory over Christ the King, last Saturday, that he made it impossible to ignore him.

Facing one of the most naturally gifted offenses anywhere in NYS that featured a running back holding a scholarship offer to the University of Michigan, a quarterback being actively watched by the likes of Penn State and Ohio, and several additional future college players at the other skill positions, the St. Anthony’s “D” would limit the Royals to no more than a  2nd quarter touchdown.

Showing himself to be a complete linebacker who is equally effective in both run and pass coverage, there wasn’t much more that the 5’11, 205-pounder could have done during week #3 to add to his statement-making afternoon.

Credited with 14 total tackles, Costanzo was a big reason why CTK’s highly routed tailback [Tirek Murphy], was kept to only 15 yards (on 8 carries) and the Middle Village school as a whole mustered only 78 yards gained on 27 attempts (2.7 average).

The STA 12th grader also shined in passing down situations, as he earned a quarterback sack and had one of two interceptions [Nick Espada accounting for the other pick] on the day for the boys from South Huntington.

Speaking of creating turnovers, the INT was one of just three change of possessions that Costanzo had a direct hand in bringing to fruition.  His truck-like hits to ball carriers also resulted in a pair of forced fumbles.

Now, as the Reichert-guided Friars inch closer to a week #4 rematch of last year’s triple-A title contest against a very diverse and athletic Stepinac offense (averaging 438.6 yards of total production), the D-unit will be counting on Costanzo to remain locked in…Should the front seven be successful in matching their intensity from last week, the Friars have every reason to feel confident about their prospects of improving to 4-0 in 2018.

 

CJ Riccobono (Jr.); RB/LB – Holy Trinity Titans

Back-to-back weeks that a Titan is being recognized, last time it was the muscle [John Stroughn] catching our eye, whereas today, we are pleased to acknowledge the finesse/skill [Riccobono] of the operation.

Turning the clock back to 2016, when Holy Trinity averaged over 37 points per game behind All-State tailback, Umari Taylor, the Tony Mascia-mentored cohort threw “half a hundred” on the scoreboard for the first time in two years this past Saturday in their 50-20 victory over St. Joseph’s by the Sea.

Providing the spark and further asserting himself as someone who is destined for present and future greatness was the junior tailback out of New Hyde Park, who maintained his workhorse status for a third straight weekend…Setting new career benchmarks for total carries (27) and yards gained [146] in the team’s second win of the season, Riccobono’s pair of touchdowns on the ground were two of the five in all that the Hicksville based school plunged into the end zone on September 22nd….He has now scored at least once in every appearance in 2018 and will head into the fourth week of the regular season riding a two-game two-touchdown streak…His 146-yard showing, which came as a follow-up to the 123-yard show he put on during week #2, made it consecutive 100+ games for the 5’9, 185-pounder.  To accomplish this twice in a matter of attempts, is a sign of a potentially revolutionary player.

Scoring both of his touchdowns in the 2nd quarter, Riccobono would turn a narrow 15-8 edge into a comfortable 29-8 half time advantage when he broke free on runs of 4 and 9 yards respectively to conclude the first 24 minutes of competition.

After three games, Riccobono’s [115.3/contest) 346 yards and five touchdowns both rank within the top-3 in the Double-A division.

Punching the clock on the defensive side of the ball to boot, Riccobono finished the game tied for 3rd on the team with five stops and earned his first sack of the season.   Playing their best game of the season, the front seven held the foes from Staten Island to a modest 2.2 yard/carry average (35 yards on 16 hand-offs).

Photo from SI Live

Michael Regan (Sr.); QB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

For those who do not put much stock in the saying, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish”, consider for a moment the day that the 6’5, 190-pound Lions signal caller [Regan] had this past Saturday in leading the Maroon & Gold to a 34-20 conquest on the road over Chaminade….Commencing the game by missing on his first three passing attempts, if you were to rush to judgement, you’d say that week #3 was not going to be a banner one for the Staten Island resident…YOU’D BE WRONG!!!

Calling it “The most efficient and complete performance” of Regan’s two-year varsity career, Head Coach, Anthony Garofalo, had nothing but praise for his field general, as he witnessed his team start the season 3-0 for a third year in a row.

Battling back from his initial struggles, Regan transformed himself from mortal to Marvel Comics character, as he was about as close to “Bullseye” as you could be for the remaining 3.5 quarters…Connecting on 13 of his final 14 attempts, the Lion co-captain hurled for 187 yards (3rd highest single-game total) and tied his personal best of three touchdown tosses in earning the first Player of the Week designation.

In synch with junior wide-out, Christian Tait (caught 10 of the 13 completions) all afternoon, Regan would double his team’s 7-0 lead in the second quarter when he found his teammate over the middle on a 16-yard strike for the first of their three hook-ups to make the score 13-0…Later in the quarter, it would a perfectly executed over-the-shoulder throw from approximately the same distance to make the score 20-0….The #10 to #13 TD trifecta would be capped off at the onset of the 3rd quarter and would be in response to the host Flyers’ touchdown on their first possession of the 2nd half, keeping the contest a three-score affair, 27-7.

Quite adept with his legs too, Regan was the furthest thing from one-dimensional last Saturday, as he tied his personal-best of nine carries and fell just short of a career-high in yardage (87 last season) with 80.

After completing 51.6 percent (79-for-153) of his passes for 892 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, the “skyscraper in the pocket” is on track to obliterate his 2017 stat line, as he is currently sporting a 68.1 completion percentage (32-of-47), has already rocketed his way to 390 yards, and is just four TDs short of reaching double digits…His 156 yards on the ground puts him more than half way to the 310 he gained as an 11th grader.

Farrell will face their biggest test of the season thus far in week #4 when they go toe-to-toe with Cardinal Hayes…In their 51-48 loss to Iona Prep, the Cardinals secondary, which consists of several new faces, allowed 324 yards and four touchdowns.  Thus, unless they gelled in a hurry there could be openings to exploit for Regan and the MF receiving corps.

Sep 192018
 

DeShawn Lawton (Fr.); WR/KR – Moore Catholic Mavericks

Just the third freshman to ever make the POTW list, anytime you find yourself in the company of former NYCHSFL great, Matt Valecce, or current Catholic football standard bearer, Justin Lacks (his teammate at Moore Catholic), you know that you are walking on a path to future greatness.

Identified in the 2018 Double-A preview as a special talent whose level of play far exceeds his youthful age, Lawton is only two games into his varsity career and already he has emerged as the Mavericks’ top threat out wide, as supported by a stat sheet that lists him as having twice as many receptions (8), yards (170), and touchdowns (2) as his next closest peer on Merrill Avenue.

Making six of his eight career grabs in the 34-32 victory on September 15th over Holy Cross, the 5’8, 155-pounder from across the bridge (Newark, New Jersey) accumulated 156 yards and caught a TD pass for a second straight Saturday.  His yardage output was the highest posted by a Maverick receiver since the program was reinstated in 2016.  Lawton also used his hands to successfully convert on a 2pt try, thus providing the final margin of triumph.

The fab frosh added to his impressive afternoon by gaining 20 yards on his lone rushing attempt.  Carrying the ball only two times this season, on both occasions he has broken for 20 or more yards, as he gained 23 on his one touch in week #1.

Explosive in all areas of the game, 28 of his 204 All-purpose yards earned last weekend came on a big fourth quarter punt return that flipped the field and enabled the host Mavs to enjoy ideal positioning.

All of the aforementioned being given its proper credit, remarkably, the biggest contribution that the Garden Stater made during the second weekend of the regular season is one that will not appear in most box scores.   Following an interception by Holy Cross, Lawton would sprint 80 yards and make a game-saving tackle to preserve the “w”.

By virtue of improving to 2-0 on the young season, Moore Catholic has already equaled their win total from a year ago.

Sonny Badyna (Sr.); QB – St. Peter’s Eagles

Speaking on the importance of one’s ability to be adaptive at all times and make necessary adjustments, American author/toymaker/creative theorist, Roger Von Oech stated, “Flexibility is a requirement of survival.”….Charles Darwin expressed identical sentiments, saying, “It’s not the strongest of the species that survives, but rather the one that is most adaptive to change.”

For the now 1-1 Eagles of St. Peter’s, when they reflect back on the 2018 season, it may be that their saving graces can be found in the willingness and promptness of their senior signal caller [Badyna] to go back to the drawing board and be receptive to the introduction of a new offensive scheme.

A week removed from being shut out 33-0 by Moore Catholic during the first week of the regular season, the Staten Island school realized that an overhaul was necessary and put their trust in the experienced leader to quickly absorb the new game plan….Indoctrinated into the school’s new philosophy on Tuesday, by Saturday of last week, the 6’2, 180-pounder from Brooklyn had already mastered it, as the Eagles soared up and down the field to the tune of a 49-14 win over rival, St. Joseph’s by the Sea.

The classic drop-back passer during the first three years of his scholastic career, Badyna only attempted to run the ball 32 times last year and finished with negative production.  Therefore, to transform from gun-slinger to scrambler in a matter of days is nothing short of miraculous.

Entering the week #2 All-SI clash having never run for a touchdown, the Eagle captain might as well change his legal name to Newton [in reference to Panthers Starter/NFL record holder for career TD by a QB] as he would make the journey to the promised land on four separate occasions…He ended his afternoon having gained 90 yards on 21 carries.

While the new-look blue print did limit the number of times he was able to air out the pigskin, when those opportunities did occur, Badyna looked as polished as ever, completing all four of his passes for 142 yards and tacking on a fifth touchdown.

When the news of St. Peter’s dropping down to the “AA” division was released, this was the imagine of dominance the experts envisioned.  And now that the real Eagles have spread a fresh set of wings, we dare anyone to try and clip them.

Daniel Vittiburga (Sr.); RB/QB/Punter – Xavier Knights

A program that has always made their name on keeping points off of the scoreboard, this 2018 edition of the Knights have been downright nasty on both sides of the gridiron so far this season…Averaging 35.5 points per game through the first two weeks of the season, as the expression goes, this is not your “daddy’s Xavier team anymore.”

At the heart of this offensive explosion has been the astronomical rise to stardom by the senior jack-of-all-trades, Vittiburga….Utilized in every aspect of the game, the Brooklynite does so many things within a 48-minute time frame that by the end you have a difficult time pinpointing what his biggest contribution was on that given day.

More of a complementary piece during his junior season, #36 wrapped up 2017 having carried the ball just 28 times for a modest 78 yards and two scores.  As a passer in the single-wing formation, he failed to connect on any of his nine attempts.  In fact, if not for splitting time as the punter and excelling as a kick returner, it could be argued that last year was a bit forgettable for the 5’8, 165-pounder.

Fastforward to 2018 and if there is one word that will never be written in describing Vittiburga again, it is “forgettable”.  Rather, terms such as “irreplaceable”, “invaluable”,
“indispensable” and so forth have become the new vernacular when describing this amazing student-athlete.

Fresh off of a team-leading 17-carry, 77-yard, two touchdown performance in the season opening win over Holy Cross on September 8th, Vittaburga would again treat those in attendance to a show.  Atop the statistics sheet for the second outing in a row, the Knight senior continued to rewrite his personal record book in a 42-7 victory over St. John the Baptist this past Sunday…Notching the first 100+-yard game of his career (160), Vittiburga carried the ball 24 times (6.7/run average) and scored twice more (on runs of 6 and 9 yards) on the ground to increase his season total to four touchdowns.

Per Xavier Head Coach, Chris Stevens, who achieved a milestone of his own (100th career victory) during week #2, what made the 12th grader’s day even more spectacular is that even on the plays that did not yield touchdowns, Vittiburga still had a significant impact on every drive.

Trailing 7-0 at the time, Vittaburga’s first career pass completion would be a 60-yarder to fellow senior, Demetrios Demetriades, to set up the Knight’s first TD of the game to cut the Cougar lead to 7-6.

Later in the contest and with the New York City based school now holding a 12-7 edge, it would be the punting precision of Vittiburga that paved the way for a backbreaking score late in the 3rd quarter…Kicking a 40-yard boomer, he buried SJB inside their own 20.  A fumble on an ensuing play gave the Maroon & Blue excellent field position, which they capitalized on by scoring their third TD of the game to make the score 18-7…Using Steven’s words, “this TD opened the flood gates” as Xavier went on to score 18 4th quarter points to pull away.

After getting swept last season, including a 28-7 semifinal loss, Xavier will have revenge on their mind during week #3 as they face-off with defending champions Kellenberg, in a what is quickly materializing as a possible preview of the double-A title game.

John Stroughn (Sr.); Two-Way Lineman –Holy Trinity Titans

Because the nature of accolades such as POTW has always favored players occupying the skill positions, on the few chances per year that we get to shine the spotlight on a lineman, we rejoice.

The first of his breed to be honored in 2018, the 245-pound resident of Uniondale is nothing if not an unsung hero for the Titans week after week.

The leader of the road graders as the pulling guard, with Stroughn plowing would-be tackler and pass rushers, the Tony Mascia mentored program is averaging just under 250 yards of total offense and 20 points per game after two weeks (1-1)…In both cases, these numbers signify a quantum leap over a 2017 campaign that saw the Hicksville based school muster averages of 151.3 yards and nine points.  The increased effectiveness of the running game especially has stood out, as 78 yards a year ago has been replaced by 199.5 yards of ground attack.

In this past Saturday’s 26-22 win over Xaverian, all of the Titans points would come by way of the run, as three runners combined to score four touchdowns.  Through two games, Holy Trinity has already recorded six TDs on the ground.

Defensively, Stroughn has picked up right where he left off from his junior season.   The team’s tackle leader with 63 stops in 2017, he appears well on his way to repeating this feat.  His 15 tackles and four sacks rank 1st in both categories for the defense.

In the aforementioned win over the visiting Clippers last weekend, Stroughn was particularly active, making six solo tackles (2 TFL), adding a sack to his resume, and being both the cause and the capturer of a Xaverian fumble…Collectively, it was a signature afternoon for the HT D-line, as they held their opponents to just 44 yards rushing (1.8 carry average).

Having already played their most likely toughest test, defending champion Kellenberg Memorial and their potent offense in week #1 (34-14 loss), as impressive as Stroughn and the Titans stats have been thus far; you should expect them to get even better as the season progresses.

Jimaar Edwards (Sr.); DT – Iona Prep Gaels

If the first two weeks of the 2018 season are any indication of what the remainder of the year is going to be like in New Rochelle, then it might be necessary to stop calling Iona Prep the Gaels and instead begin referring to them as the Cardiac Clan!!!

For the second time in a matter of weeks, it would be a game-changing play in the final minutes of the 4th quarter that ultimately enabled Coach Joe Spagnolo and his cohort to emerge victorious.

One week removed from senior quarterback Derek Robertson’s dramatic 3-yard touchdown pass in a 41-34 non-league win over Bishop Henricken (RI), it would be a member of the defensive personnel’s turn to “snatch victory from the hands of defeat.”  And that individual would be none other than the 5’11, 250-pound nose guard from White Plains, [Jimaar] Edwards.

Trailing for the majority of the game (including being down 28-14 with 4:27 remaining in the final quarter) to defending Triple-A League and Catholic State Champion, Archbishop Stepinac, the Gaels would launch a most impractical comeback for the ages…A 60-yard touchdown pass from Robertson to Matt Panker cut the deficit in half, setting the stage for what could legitimately be the defensive sequence of the year…With the clock acting as a bigger enemy than the gentlemen lined up on the opposing sideline, Iona Prep knew that if it had any chance of knocking off the Crusaders for a second consecutive season, they would need to either force a quick punt or create a turnover…Cue Edwards!!!

Clinging to the one TD lead but buried in their own zone with 2:30 remaining in the game, everyone, including the commentators predicted that Stepinac would run the ball to kill clock.  Instead, they would attempt a screen pass on 3rd-and-19 and it would be Edwards throwing his hands up, picking off the throw and cruising 20 yards to the house to level the game at 28 apiece with 2:22 on the clock…The war between the top-2 teams in the Lower Hudson polls would go into overtime and it would be a Frankie McFadden two-point conversion that followed, followed by a stuff on Stepinac’s 2pt attempt that proved to be the deciding factor in the 36-34 home triumph.

Lucas Turco (Sr.); RB/WR – Monsignor Farrell Lions

There is a saying in sports that there is a difference between being injured and being hurt.  In the case of the 6’0, 220-pounder from Staten Island [Turco], the pregame scouting report may have suggested that he was less than 100%.  However, by the time the final buzzer sounded, the only ones truly hurting were the host Royals of Christ the King, as Farrell improved to 2-0 behind a 15-14 comeback win in hostile territory.

Hampered for much of the preseason and forced to miss the Lions’ season-opener on September 7th while recovering from multiple afflictions, like a gift from “Uncle Louie” on Christmas day, the Farrell coaching staff were forthcoming in admitting that they were not completely sure what, if anything at all, they would receive from their three-year varsity stud…But, in the face of adversity, Turco would show himself to be the consummate “by any means necessary” warrior, as he endured obvious discomforts in his declaration of selflessness and excellence.

Customarily utilized as the team’s #1 target (28 catches for 289 yards and 4 touchdowns as a junior) in the aerial attack, Turco was unexpectedly thrust into the role of primary running option when the Lions’ Honorable-Mention All-State selection, Vin Wagner, was unable to return to the game after sustaining an injury following his lone carry…Despite inheriting some mighty large cleats to fill, Turco delivered, averaging over 14 yards per carry on his five touches to lead all Maroon & Gold rushers with 71 yards.

Too exceptional to allow them to go to waste, Turco’s hands also came into play at key moments of the game, as it would be him on the back end of a 3-yard shovel from Mike Regan early in the second quarter that got Farrell on the board and tied the contest at 7-7….This touchdown reception was one of three grabs made by Turco, as he added 20 yards as a pass catcher to raise his total yardage output to 91.

With 9:40 remaining in the 4th quarter and MF now trailing 14-7, Regan connected with Christian Tait on an 8-yard TD strike to draw the Staten Islanders within a point…Rather than settle for the PAT to tie the game, Head Coach, Anthony Garofalo, elected instead to gamble and go for the 2pt attempt…Aware that points had been at a premium all afternoon, when deciding whom he trusted most to come through in the clutch, it would be a no-brainer for the Garofalo, as he went back to the well and again converted on a shovel pass to Turco for what ultimately was the game-winning points.

Erring on the side of caution, the Farrell coaching staff did say that Turco will continue to be eased back into the line-up in their week #3 match-up against Chaminade.  But alas, if his debut last weekend proved anything, it is that 75 percent of Turco is still 110% capable of taking fate into his own hands (and legs for that matter).

Sep 142018
 

Before we turn the page to a full slate of exciting Week 2 games lets first look at the player’s who had impressive performances last weekend to kick the season off.  Here are the Week 1 NYCHSFL Players of the Week.

By Matt Diano:

 

 

“A”

Seth Surrett (Sr.); RB/DB/KR – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

If there is one thing that we love about the opening weekend of every season, it is that it always brings with it the opportunity to see which of our new core of seniors have turned that proverbial corner and committed themselves to becoming team leaders in their final appearances wearing the school colors.  And for Gael senior, Seth Surrett, his swan song could not have gotten off to a better start, as he seemed to do a little bit of everything in helping Kennedy Catholic to a decisive 35-14 victory over St. Dominick’s under the Friday night lights.

A young man that we predicted was destined to have a big season for the Somers, NY based school, his week #1 performance exceeded even our loftiest of expectations, scoring four of the team’s five touchdowns and accounting for an astounding 256 yards of total production.

Accumulating 150 yards and scoring one touchdown on 17 carries all of last season, it took the 5’10, 180-pounder from Newburgh less than 48 minutes to surpass those marks, as he was on a man on a mission against the Bawhawks, averaging 16.8 yards per carry on 11 hand-offs to finish the season opener with 185 yards and three ground TDs.

Demonstrating the versatility of his talents, Surrett also had moments of brilliance as both a receiver and a kick-returner…Going all of last year without a TD catch, the Gael speedster’s lone catch last weekend resulted in a 21-yard score…In addition, the 50 yards he earned as a punt returner was key to giving his school excellent field position on two of their drives.

The merit of his offensive and/or special teams credentials alone would have garnered him POTW honors.  But alas, as a final, he would excel in the defensive backfield, making three tackles (1 for a loss) and recording a sack from the free safety position.

 

“AA”

Nicholas Delcore (Sr.); WR/DB – St. John the Baptist Diocesan Cougars

For some athletes, making the transition from one position to another can prove to be an impossible task.  But for the Cougar senior [Delcore], if you did not know any better last Sunday afternoon, you would think he’d been playing wide receiver all of his life.

The school’s starting quarterback in 2017, Delcore displayed such athleticism in the running aspect (491 yards, 4 TDs) of the position that when it came time to decide how he could best be utilized on the field, it became clear to Head Coach, Ralph Carusillo, that the way to truly unleash his play-making ability would be to put him in situations where he could go out into open space and just burn everyone with his natural quickness…Through one week of the season, Carusillo looks like a genius!!!

Involved in all five of the SJB pass completions in their 30-15 win over St. Francis Prep, Delcore caught four balls for 140 yards, including a 95-yarder early in the third quarter that increased his team’s lead to 23-0.

On the only other successful pass attempt of the day for St. John the Baptist, Delcore would revert back to his field general roots by hitting sophomore, Christian Maisel, on a 40-yard strike.

As could be expected, just because he was lining up out wide, did not mean that the Smithtown resident would not easily find his way into the running game as well.  As a ball carrier, he posted a team-best average of 9.2 yards per hand-off, ending the day with 55 yards, highlighted by a 28-yard 4th quarter trek for his second TD of the day (he scored both 2nd half TDs for SJB) to ice the “w” for the visiting Cougars.

Representing a school that believes that it is the duty of their personnel to make impacts on both sides of the gridiron, Delcore’s day was far from complete…Instead, he would take a few swigs of Gatorade and immediately get back to work as a key member of the secondary.

Credited with eight stops (third most on the team), a fumble recovery (returned to the Terrier 5-yard-line) and two successful pass defenses, Delcore and his fellow defensive backs held their hosts to a 38.5 completion percentage and surrendered less than 100 yards in the air.

 

Cameron Holmes (Jr.); WR/LB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

In an early season clash for Staten Island bragging rights, it would be the Mavericks making an epic statement when they cruised to a 33-0 triumph over St. Peter’s last Saturday afternoon…Pitching the school’s first shutout since the reinstatement of the varsity program in 2016, Moore Catholic took a big step towards putting the rest of the “AA” field on notice that they are for real and will be in the conversation come November.

Starring in this hunt for goose-eggs would be the 6’1, 185-pound Garden Stater, Holmes, who checked off just about every possible box from his outside linebacker role…Darn-near equaling his #10 jersey with the amount of tackles he made, his nine stops (3 for negative yardage) would be the second highest total posted by an MC player [Artie Padilla Jr. finished with 11) and put him just seven shy of matching his defensive output from all of last season…A full-range tormentor of opposing offenses, when Holmes was not busy stuffing the run, he was inflicting all kinds of damage to the Eagles’ pass attack, logging the team’s only sack and even turning “D” into “O” when he turned his first career interception into a 40-yard pick-6.

Adding to this memorable day of 1sts for the junior would be a 25-yard TD grab at the end of the 1st half.  And, as you may have guessed, this was the first pass catch of his career to boot!

With Holmes scoring at a rate of 100 percent on touches to touchdowns, something tells me that going forward, the Mavs are going to make a concerted effort to get the pigskin into this young man’s every chance possible.

 

Conrad Perry (Sr.); RB/LB – Mount St. Michael

The 5’10 190 Conrad who is a returning team leading rusher, all-League Player for the Mount, and who has already had Player of the Week honors bestowed upon him last year wasted no time to make his mark on the 2018 campaign.

The Mountaineers emerged victorious in Week 1 with a thrilling 38-34 win over fellow ‘AA West; foe St. Joseph’s by the Sea. The significance of the score is that Conrad remarkably matched the Vikings 34 points all by himself last Saturday afternoon. Carrying the ball 27 times for 265 Yards may have been enough alone to get him POTW Honors.  However, it is not Mr. Perry’s style to let up once the ball gets into the Red Zone, he plowed his way into the promised land not once, not twice, not….BUT 5 TIMES!!!  Most offensive weapons would need to get to the sideline gather their breath and get some water after all those scores.  Unfortunately for the Vikings this is not your ordinary player, in this tight contest where the Mount was clinging to the lead Conrad also punched in a pair of 2 Point conversions to seal the win.

Accounting for 178 carries 1,1,188 Yards (6.7 YPC & 118 YPG) and 8 TD’s in his Junior Season this Student Athlete from the Bronx, based on his week 1 performance is ready to take his game to the next level.  No longer is best on the team and all-league honors the goal, Conrad just put the rest of the League, all of New York City (and NYS for that matter) on watch.  When you line up against the mountaineers in 2018 you better bring a lunch because it’s going to be a full day of work.

 

Matthew Mongelli (Sr.); WR – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

The repeat bid is on!!!!  A year removed from posting a perfect 11-0 record and hoisting the “AA” hardware, the Firebirds extended their winning streak to 12 in a row last Saturday afternoon, winning an All-LI affair, 34-14 over hosts, Holy Trinity.

Playing on a team that is so stacked with superstars on the offensive end, it can often be difficult to be the one to command the headlines.  However, for the 6’3, 176-pound resident of Flower Hill, that is precisely what happened during week #1.

Posting what was undeniably the best game of his varsity career, the Firebird senior wide-out emerged with a career-high four catches, exceeded the 100-yard receiving mark for just the second time (105), and notched his second multiple-score (2) showing.

A commodity that was already well-known to the folks in Uniondale, Mongelli was the team-leader in every major receiving category as a junior (17 catches for 426 yards, and four TDs)…So, the fact that he came out of the gate on fire was not the least bit surprising to the KMHS coaching staff.

Two of Mongelli’s initial catches would set up eventual Kellenberg scores as a WR screen that he brought to the 10-yard line would be punched in a few plays later by QB, Matt Sluka to get the Blue & Gold on the scoreboard in the 1st quarter…One quarter later, he would beat his man down the sideline and go up to grab a 40-yarder to put the Berg back in the red zone.  Frank Roder later completed the drive with an 11-yard TD run.

Having been the aforementioned facilitator on a few of his team’s earlier drives, it would be Mongelli’s turn to get his name in the box score, which he did, when he broke completely free (had a 10-12 yard advantage on his defender) over the middle for a 44yrd TD catch in the 2nd quarter to make the score 28-7….His second and final touchdown came in the 3rd on a possession that he pretty much owned.   Making a long catch to get the team into scoring position, he would then put the finishing touches on the drive by being on the receiving end of a perfectly thrown 12-yard back-shoulder route

This POTW distinction is the first of Mongelli’s career, but the second such honor for his family.  In 2016, his brother, Marco, was named to the list in a heroic effort during a quarterfinal loss.  In both cases, Holy Trinity was the common foe.

       

“AAA”

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

Honored for a third consecutive season, Campisi debuted on the POTW list in week #5 of his sophomore year and then returned last year during week #3…And while both of those performances were remarkable in their own right, we are not sure we have seen the Harvard bound lacrosse star look as controlled and smooth under center as he did last Friday in the Friar’s 34-17 home victory over out-of-state rivals, Delbarton (NJ).

Improving his career record to a mind-blowing 13-1 in regular season games (15-2 overall), the 6’1, 185-pounder has never lost a start on his home soil and if the way he performed during the first week of the season is any indication of what the rest of the home schedule will deliver, then we pity any opponent that has the misfortune of travelling to Cy Donnelly Field in 2018.

Completing 12 of his 19 attempts (63.2%), Campisi established a new career high in passing yards, ending his 48-minute saga with 346 yards and three touchdown strikes.

Cutting through the defense like a knife in hot butter, what makes the future Crimson student-athlete so special is his high football IQ.  Watching him play, you notice that one of his greatest traits is that he very rarely forces a ball into a bad spot.  Instead, he allows the game to slow down by exploiting the weaknesses in the opposing defense…Equally essential when it comes to running an offense is that he has the wherewithal to recognize that he is surrounded by a plethora of amazing athletes that just need him to get them the ball.  It would be this poise and willingness to keep it simple that ultimately proved to be the winning formula in his banner night.

With the Friars already leading 6-0 in the first quarter, the National Honor Society inducted member would toss the first of his three TD hurls, on 2nd-and-14, when he drew the defense to him on a mini scramble and then hit running back, Kyle Angus, over the middle for a 75-yard strike.  Following the touchdown, Campisi called his own number on the 2-pt conversation, easily punching it in to double the cushion.

Responding with an emphatic count shot anytime the visiting Green Wave were on the verge of building momentum, Campisi would need just three plays on the ensuing drive following a Delbarton score to restore the two-TD lead…Gaining 14 yards on a pair of QB draws to start the possession, it would be one senior hooking up with another about three minutes into the second quarter as Campisi darted the ball in stride to Daniel Parker, who took it to the house for a 66-yard touchdown to make the score 20-7.

The scoreboard now sitting at 20-10, Campisi would again show his intelligence and maturity when on back-to-back snaps, he connected with junior, Greg Randall, to set up the third TD of the game for the Friars on their opening drive of the 2nd half.  Facing 3rd-and-3, he found Randall on a short pass to extend the drive.  On the next play, he side-stepped the pass rush and put his pinpoint accuracy on display, lofting it over the defender and enabling his 11th grade teammate to go up and make a one-handed snatch to put the ball on the 3-yard line.  Two plays later, Angus ran it in to make the score 27-10.

Campisi’s third and final TD pass of the night would come on the first play of the 4th quarter when, similar to the throw to Angus in the 1st, he dumped a pass over the middle to Makhai Murphy who put the rockets into overdrive to go untouched en route to the 82-yard backbreaker that made the score 34-17.

 

Kevin Gray (Sr.); LB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

In keeping with the theme another returning honoree, the 2017 Honorable Mention All-State selection was last featured in week #2 last season, but is so consistently dominant that if we permitted it, he likely would be named so many times that the unofficial title would become, “The Gray Area.”

Recording the 7th most tackles in New York State last season with 122, the three-year starter for the Crusader linebacking corps wasted absolutely no time in picking up right where he left up…Falling one stop short of matching the personal-best that he established in his previous POTW appearance, Gray’s 18 tackles, 14 of which were of the solo variety would stifle the Central Dauphin East (PA) running game to the point where they looked like they were standing still at times.

Entering his senior season with four career sacks, the 6’3, 225-pounder who calls Hawthorne his home, would also illustrate his improved passing rushing skills, as he had a hand in three of the team’s eye-popping nine quarterback bags on the afternoon….On one occasion, his menacing presence and ferocious pursuit of the opposing signal caller would result in points being put on the board for the “D” as he would join teammate, Doug Simmons (the leader in sacks in NYS in 2017) in earning a 1st quarter safety to make the score 9-0.   The Crusaders would never look back, as they disposed of their visitors from the Keystone State by a tally of 32-14.

With the defending triple-A League and Catholic State champions set to clash with Iona Prep and their always electrifying aerial attack, Stepinac is going to need Gray to remain locked in for another weekend of pain!!!

Note: Gray will need just 12 tackles this Saturday to reach 200 for his career.

Derek Robertson (Sr.); QB – Iona Prep Gaels

Completing the sweep of previously recognized players in the triple-A division is the Gael’s senior quarterback, Robertson, who last made the list during week #4 of his junior campaign…

Throwing his fifth and final TD pass of the game with approximately 1:10 remaining in regulation, the 6’2, 185-pounder from Yonkers showed that real heroes may not wear capes, but they do rise to the occasion when the moment of need is most great.   Playing the pitch-and-catch game with fellow senior, Sean Fleming, this three-yard dart would rescue Iona Prep from a 34-33 hole and enable them to go on to claim the 41-34 triumph over Rhode Island powerhouse, Bishop Hendricken…The winning score would be just one of three occasions that Robertson turned a deficit into an advantage in the second half.

Already the owner of the Westchester County record for passing yards in a single season, throwing for 2,774 in his first year as the Gael starter last season, the Honorable Mention designated field general seems destined to break his own milestone in the twilight portion of an immensely decorated two-year varsity career….Tossing for 320 yards (the third highest single-game total in his 11 varsity appearances), Robertson was on the money all afternoon, completing 30 of 42 attempts (71.4%) in getting the school from New Rochelle off to a 1-0 start for a second consecutive season.

A sniper with impeccable field vision, like any true leader, what puts Robertson in a different class than many of his peers is the ability to not just elevate his own game, but to simultaneously make everyone around him also play at a higher level…Hitting seven different targets (Camari Glascow’s 8 catches being the team-high) throughout the game and finding four unique options for TDs, the IP 12th grader makes it impossible on opposing secondaries because there is no way of knowing where the pigskin is being flung next.

The game deadlocked at 7 apiece in the second quarter, Robertson would chuck the first of his 5 TDs when he faked a hand-off and connected with Matthew Panker on a 32-yarder to make the score 13-7…An 8-yard diving catch in the end zone by Alex Williams would give Robertson his second touchdown throw of the quarter and increase the Gael lead to 19-7

A Hendricken rally before halftime would set the stage for an epic back-and-forth final 24 minutes….Now trailing 21-19,  Robertson hooked up with Glascow on a crossing pattern inside the red zone to regain the lead, 27-21 at the end of three quarters.

Down 28-27 at the onset of the 4th, Robertson and the Gaels needed no more than 1:00 to respond as it would be Glascow again on the back end, catching a 50-yard missile to put IP back on top, 33-28.

Facing their last possession and on the wrong end of a 34-33 tally (the host Hawks had a long TD run with around 9:00 remaining), the Gaels took over with 3:30 still to contest and like the seasoned veteran that he is, Robertson, proved to be unflappable, marching the team down to set up the clincher!

Now 0-2 against a Robertson-led offense (lost 40-22 in 2017), perhaps the only thing that made Hendricken smile last weekend was the knowledge that the Iona Prep quarterback would not be back next season….Combining for nine touchdowns and an average of 281.5 yards tossing, #12 for the Gaels has BH screaming No Mas!!!

Sep 132018
 

This season the AA division features a new format since it has grown to 12 teams.  There will be 2 regional divisions, East & West consisting of 6 teams each.  Teams will play all of the teams in their respective region and then cross-over for 2 more AA Regular Season Games.  The top 4 from each region will then qualify for the AA Playoffs where the teams will be bracketed and cross over for playoff matchups (ie. 1 East v 4 West, 2 West v 3 East & 1 West v 4 East, 2 East v 3 West).

By Matt Diano:

Holy Cross

Head Coach

Tim Smith (4th Season As Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-4/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 26-22, to Xavier

2018 Overview

Now entering their second season as a “AA” program, the Green & Gold army would have a very strong regular season in 2017, earning the #3 seed for the postseason but ultimately getting bounced prematurely by a fired-up Xavier squad.

Gone in 2018 are many of the student-athletes who were paramount to the successes the Knights enjoyed last season.  Included in the lot of graduated seniors were a trio of state recognized warriors—Justin Felder (3rd Team RB), Mike Taylor (3rd Team DL), and Corey Allen (Honorable Mention Defensive Back)…Further subtractions from the roster were the likes of Tyler Hallerdin (second on the team with 129 rushing yards; contributed 27 tackles on defense), Brandon Orgill (tied for the team-lead with 16 receptions), Myles Taitt-Cooper (40 tackles; team-high 8 pass defenses), Thomas Tuohy (33 tackles, 4 PDs), and Russell Riescher (37 tackles, 2 QB bags).

What this means for Coach Tim Smith and his Knights is that it is more important than ever that those individuals who served in reserve roles a season, come into the new year fully prepared to battle.

In the midst of major roster turnover, if there is one position where the Knights do not have to fret, it will be under center where they will return their starter from 2017, senior, Michael Henglein.  As an 11th grader, the resident of Broad Channel, would have a productive campaign, completing 58-of-121 attempts (47.9%) for 932 yards and four touchdowns.   In fact, the only critique you could make of the 5’10, 181-pound field general is that he would like to limit turnovers (six INTs)…Without the safety net of a game-changing RB like Felder, it will force Henglein to take his game to the next level and serve as the poised composure that his band needs him to be in 2018.

Holy Cross 2017 College Commits

Losing the 1,600 yards (10th in NYS) and 21 TDs (9th) posted by Felder a season ago, Holy Cross will have to hope that senior, Chance Ward, can dig deep and find another level as he takes over as the most experienced tailback on the roster….As a junior, Ward, who at 5’10 and 195-pounds has the size and strength to barrel over defenders, would rush for 62 yards and be the only non-senior to score a TD on his 14 attempts.

Seth Orengo, who it should be noted, has been used in the past as a running option (7 carries for 41 yards) is the leader among returning players in receptions with 3 for 35 yards.  With the top-5 targets from last season now on to bigger and better, his numbers are sure to go up…Senior TE, Tyriek Dodd, only made one catch last season, but it went for 65 yards, so you know he has stretch the field potential.  At 6’5, 210, he should be able to establish position anytime he wants against smaller LBs and DBs.

With the majority of last year’s starting defense also consisting of seniors, there will not be much of an advantage to being on “D” as opposed to having possession.  In each case, Smith will be putting his faith in the hands of young men who will need to play with a chip on their shoulders to make up for what they lack in actual proven track record.

Perhaps the one trait that distinguishes the defense from the offense is that the former has a known foundation in the persons of linebackers extraordinaire, Donte Kenney and Joshua Rivera….Ranked 1st and 3rd on the team in total tackles last season with 81 and 49 respectively, the 12th grade duo also combined for four sacks (3 by Kenney)…As the expression says, as they go, so too will the remaining nine.

Floral Park resident, John Zarnowski (9 tackles, 1 interception), is the only other player who appeared to receive noticeable field time last season.  As such, he becomes the default commander of the back line.

Holy Trinity

Head Coach

Tony Mascia (28th Season at the School)

Last Season

Record: 1-7/Did not Qualify for the “AA” Playoffs

2018 Overview

A year removed from a disappointing 1-7 season, anyone who knows anything about Titan football is already keenly aware of the fact that last season was without question paradoxical….Under the leadership of Tony Mascia, who is approaching his third decade in Hicksville, Holy Trinity is not a program that is down often; and when they are down, it usually does not last particularly long….With these sentiments in mind, we would be incredibly surprised if we did not see a major bounce back from the Green & White army in 2018.

QB Ryan Razzano will lead the Titan offense

As the saying goes, “One’s team loss is another’s gain” and in the case of Holy Trinity, that gain will come in the person of senior quarterback, Ryan Razzano.  A two-year starter under center for McGann-Mercy before the school shut its doors this past June, while the circumstances surrounding his arrival are painful to any person who truly appreciates the value of a catholic education and wishes to see it survive, you likely won’t hear the Titans crying over it.  In fact, if anything, they will probably thank the Heavenly father for the sacrifice that has delivered them this dynamic dual-threat field general…Equally blessed in all of his appendages, the 5’10, 180-pounder from Manorville may only have this season to make his mark in the NYCHSFL, but from all the things we have heard, we feel confident he will succeed in becoming a household name.

In addition to the firepower that Razzano will bring to HT in all facets, the Titans will also welcome back their leading rusher from a season ago, senior Jalen Rivers.  As the program’s primary option in the ground game in 2017, the Westbury native would accumulate 247 yards on the ground and find the end zone on three occasions on 58 touches from scrimmage….Fellow seniors–Chris Porcaro, Jason Brown, Spencer Nixon—as well as emerging junior, CJ Riccobono, will all be called upon to provide that second wave of speed/power from the offensive backfield….Aside from Rivers, it is Riccobono, despite his young age, who possesses the most experience, carrying the ball 21 times for 48 yards as a sophomore in 2017…Porcaro and Brown combined for seven carries in their respective junior years; expect WAY MORE production from them in their final appearances as Titans.

True to the tradition, HT will again be incredibly stout on both the offensive and defensive lines…..Led by a trio of two-way seniors—-John Stroughn, MiAndre Hughes, and James Russo, Mascia and his staff are counting on an ability to own the trenches this season as a means of reversing their misfortune from last year…Now a year more mature and hopefully more brutal in their dominance, this threesome will unite with the likes of sophomores, Jonathan Morales and Elijah Tobin in spearheading an attack that will be hungry to improve upon the approximately 150 yards of total offense it averaged last season.

As noted above, a program that prides itself on developing their student-athletes into COMPLETE players, many of these same names above will be standouts on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Stroughn led all Titans in tackles last season with 63 (an average of 7.9/game) and added sack and four quarterback hurries to his resume….Rivers finished 2017 with 28 stops, two sacks, and four QB hurries of his own….Nixon was a known commodity from his LB position, making 27 tackles as a junior….Brown (21 tackles, 1 INT) and Porcaro (16 tackles) will join Rivers in solidifying the secondary.

Sophomore WR/CB Jaden Sinclair, and Junior TE/LB Brian Holder, were identified by Mascia as fresh faces on the varsity this season that could be quick to become playmakers.

Senior PK, Tim Kiggins (6-for-9 on PATs; 2-for-2 on FGs) will again be a trusted asset in putting points on the board for HT.

Kellenberg Memorial 

Head Coach

Kevin Hanifan (23rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 11-0/2017 NYCHSFL “AA” League Champions, defeating Fordham Prep, 54-19, in the title game

2018 Overview

Living proof that a championship season is never any further than a year away at any given time, the 2017 Firebirds went from winning one game in 2016 to being at the top of the AA mountain following a remarkable undefeated season (11-0). They were so dominant that they boasted both the top offensive and defensive units in the league….Out-scoring their foes by an astounding ratio of 425 to 150, the Hanifan mentored Marianists won every game by 10 or more points and really poured it on during championship weekend, defeating an incredibly talented Fordham Prep squad (featuring four All-State players, including the NYCHSFL’s career leader in passing yards and TD throws) by a lopsided score of 54-19.

While no coach ever wants to burden their team with the pressures of a repeat bid, the truth is that this KMHS squad possesses such a uniquely special group of returnees (have won titles in each of the past two years—JV in 2016; Varsity in 2017) that even if a single word was not uttered, the expectation is obvious that it cannot be ignored.

The owners of a mind-blowing running attack that accounted for 3,446 yards and 49 touchdowns a season ago, the Blue & Gold machine brings back their top-4 rushing options, including the “Red Headed Assassin”, Matt Sluka….One of the profiled student-athletes in last year’s preview, even with all of the flattery we gave him in the lead-up to his junior season, the Roslyn resident still managed to exceed even our grandest visions…A 2nd team All-State honoree in his first season as the Kellenberg starting signal caller, Sluka would lead all Empire State quarterbacks in rushing yards (1,619) and touchdown dashes (24).  In fact, his yardage total ranked him 7th overall regardless of position…And as if he was not already borderline invincible with his legs, let it be noted that he is pretty darn proficient with his arm as well.  Last season, he completed 61.3% of his pass attempts (57-for-93) and tossed an additional 10 TDs to have a hand in 34 of the team’s 61 total touchdowns….As icing on the cake, he successfully converted 32 of his 40 PAT tries to further add to his mind-blowing point total…With all of this in mind, it came as no surprise when he was named the 2017 AA Offensive Player of the Year.

Kellenberg returns both the AA Offensive & Defensive Players of the year in Dan Wilson & Matt Sluka

It is not out of the realm of possibility to think that Sluka could potentially win every game single-handedly, but thanks to the best “supporting cast’ in all of New York State, he is not going to have to even try…Instead, like a murder’s row, one-by-one, the likes of Frankie Roder, Jordan DeLucia, and Jake Deakin, will all take turns chewing up major yardage and finding the house time and time again….If not for playing on the same team and having to share carries any one of these three talented backs could have easily been an All-State candidate himself under different conditions…Roder was 2nd to Sluka in all major rushing categories for the Firebirds, concluding his junior year with 809 yards and 15 touchdowns on 120 carries….DeLucia, who missed four games during the season due to injury, was second on the team with an average carry of 11.2, accumulating 618 yards and scoring five times on his 55 handoffs….Deakin, who may only get spot touches this season as he takes on a greater responsibility as a starting linebacker, will no doubt be effective if/when his number does get called.  Carrying the ball 33 times in 2017, he gained 152 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

When Sluka does decide to let the pigskin fly, he will do so knowing that three of the team’s top-4 receivers from last season will again be on the back end of the pitch and catch….Matthew Mongelli was #1 in all receiving categories as a junior in 2017, catching 17 balls for 426 yards and four touchdowns….Fellow rising senior, Sean Boll, would be second on the list, making nine grabs for 92 yards and one TD…DeLucia, who is a full-service RB, finished 4th on the team in catches with seven, but was so electrifying with the ball in his hands that three of those seven resulted in touchdowns.  He wrapped up 2017 with 203 receiving yards to give him over 800 yards of total contribution.

Anchoring the offensive line will be returning starter, Thomas Cipolla….Samir Umar, who saw time in a reserve role last season will be asked to step up and help Cipolla open up holes for the who’s who of KMHS running options referenced above.

Refusing to state a weakness, but saying that there is opportunity available for guys to emerge, the KMHS coaching staff will be faced with the task of replacing invaluable linemen in the persons of Center Pat Harinski (2017 All League), LT Brendan Higgins, OL/DL Brendan Whitehead (45 tackles/4 sacks; now playing collegiately at Sacred Heart) and DT Elijah Eddy (28 stops/1 sacks; currently playing for Pace), and you might as well throw LB Shawn Hughes (2017 AA Championship game Defensive MVP; 2nd on the team with 56 tackles in his senior year now playing at Western New England) into that mix as well….Seniors–Matt Olsen (22 tackles, 5 sacks) and Thomas Brzezinski (13 stops)—gained experience last season and should be counted on to do even more on the lines in their final season in Uniondale.

The graduation of defensive back extraordinaire, Aidan Fitzgerald (top-5 in NYS with six interceptions) is also a bit of a blow to the Kellenberg defense, but one that the coaching staff believes it can fill with the coming of age of their rising juniors and returning seniors…One name that is already circulating as the program’s next ball hawk is senior Alain Telfort.  As a junior, he recorded 14 tackles and an interception….Peter Taliercio (17 tackles, 1 sack, 3 pass defenses) is another name that opposing quarterbacks better best be aware of in the KMHS secondary.

The great news if you are a member of the Firebird faithful, is that while the new faces are learning to gell and/or grow into their increased roles, Kellenberg will be blessed with a consummate prime time performer in the person of reining AA Defensive Player of the Year, Danny WIlson…..The co-#1 overall student-athlete in the Kellenberg class of 2019, Wilson is exceptional in all endeavors.  A three-sport star who will play lacrosse at the United State Naval Academy, there is nothing on an athletic field/court that the Levittown native cannot and will do in order to ensure victory…..The team leader in both tackles (71) and sacks (9), what sets the future Midshipman apart from many of his peers is that his freak athleticism affords him the versatility to pretty much play any position on the field.   He is an unblockable pass rusher, a proficient run stopper, and if needed, is quick enough to drop back and become an extension of the secondary (had 3 pass break-ups in 2017)….Simply put, he Is to the defense, what Sluka is to the offense; a warrior that can take over the game whenever the occasion requires it.

St. Francis Prep 

Head Coach

Rich Carroll (3rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-5/Lost in the “AA” Semifinals, 41-14, to Fordham Prep

2018 Overview

Fresh off of their first winning season since 2013, when we proclaimed in last year’s preview that it was going to be a year of redemption for the Terriers, we were not kidding…Going from winless in Coach Rich Carroll’s first season at the helm to .500 in a year’s time, there is a momentum disseminating all throughout Fresh Meadows and we see every reason to think that 2018 is going to be next the next chapter in the climb back to the glory days of Carroll’s mentor, the legend, Vincent O’Connor.

A program that averaged nearly 186 yards per game and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground last season, there will be no slowing SFP down this year either, as the school returns two of their top-3 runners, have a senior who is one of their most improved players from one year to the next, and will welcome a potential impact sophomore who will turn some heads in his varsity debut.

Providing the 1-2 punch in the backfield for the Terriers will be junior quarterback, Omarion Jones, and senior tailback, Nazareth McFarlan….A human highlight film from under center, 5’9, 152-pound resident of Jamaica, Queens [Jones] led all St. Francis players in rushing yards last season, averaging 7.4 yard per carry to conclude the year with 580 yards and three touchdowns….A devil of a passer, in reference to the 666 yards he threw for as a 10th grader, Jones added seven more touchdowns to his total on 46-for-95.  Should he raise his completion percentage by 5-7 points, he will go from freak athlete playing QB to genuine all-purpose field general.

Coach Rich Carroll enters his 3rd year as Terriers Head Coach

McFarlan, who is a bona fide triple-threat as a runner, receiver, and kick returner, will be all kinds of dangerous in his final season wearing the Red & Blue jersey….Third on the team in 2017 with 401 rushing yards (5.6 average on 72 carries) and second with four TDs on the ground, the Queens Village product also enters the new season as the team leader in receptions from a year ago with 13 catches for 119 yards and 1 TD.   If you are not already sufficiently impressed, let it be known that he also averaged double digits as both a kick-off and punt returns.  The icing on the cake is that he plays on the other side of the ball too, and tied for the school lead with three interceptions as a junior.

Adding to the running options this season will be senior, Luca Capo, and 10th grader, Aubrey Mitchell….Getting spot carries last season, Capo totaled 60 yards and scored one touchdown on 16 rushing attempts.  With the likes of Chris Auricchio (423 yards, 7 TDs) and Marc Anthony Dalce (222 yards) having graduated, Capo’s work load will increase drastically.

In staying with what we suggested regarding Jones incorporating more of a balanced approach in his arsenal, McFarlan will be complemented by fellow seniors, William Manderson (WR) and Christopher Hine (TE).

At the time of publication, the final details on offensive line personnel were still being ironed out, but we are sure that whomever gets the call to block for the talented assortment of gentlemen above will do a fine job opening the holes and providing a clean pocket.

There will be a certain degree of crossover between the two sides of the ball as guys like McFarlan, Jones (18 tackles, 3 INTs), and Manderson (15 tackles) will again be a part of the defensive backfield rotation…Senior CB, Jaylen Velez (47 tackles, 1 sack) and Junior center fielder/FS, Robert Padavona will be another name to focus on in the secondary.

The linebacking corps will be faced with replacing several graduated seniors who were the lifeblood for the defense last season—3rd Team All-State selection, Shawn Bendeck (8th in NYS with 121 tackles), Dalce (67 stops), and Auricchio (31 tackles, team leading 3 sacks)…While It was expected to be a battle until the opening whistle to determine who would step in to fill this voids, one name that was mentioned with a lot of weight behind it was that of sophomore newcomer, Daniel Chung…..Seniors, Matthew Galante (6 tackles) and Christian Bahr-Lopez (10 stops) are a little undersized, but are listed on the roster as LBs and do have 2017 game experience in which to fall back on.

Max Cassamajor and Xavier Castro, who recorded 22 and 13 tackles respectively and combined for two sacks, will be the anchors of the defensive line…Flauderson Fergilus (10 tackles as a sophomore) could/should see additional reps as an 11th grader.

St. John the Baptist  

Head Coach

Ralph Carusillo (5th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 3-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 35-6, to Fordham Prep

2018 Overview

Much like Holy Trinity, the Cougars of St. John the Baptist are a program that is not accustomed to a losing a season….Runners-up in 2014 and semifinalists in 2015 and 2016, in his time at the helm of the West Islip located program, Head Coach Ralph Carusillo has cultivated a culture of winning, hard-nose football.  It is an attitude that permeates through the souls of every student-athlete he coaches and because of it, even when the chips seemed to be down, SJB has always found a way to make something happen….Winners of three of their last four regular season games in 2017, as small a feat as this may appear, the fact that momentum was able to be established could prove to be a great omen for the Cougars as they head into the 2018 season.

Gone to graduation might be the team’s #1 (Daniel Parker; 762 yards/6 touchdowns) and #3 leading rushers (Michael Palermo II; 457 yards/2 TDs), but thanks to the coming of age/development of some of their role players from a year ago, coupled with a major position change or two, the St. John the Baptist staff expressed nothing but confidence as they attempt to bounce back from last year’s 3-6 tally.

A school that is famous for its ground attack, the Cougars will turn to Jayden Louis, Bobby Spano, and David Amelemah to keep the tradition of rushing excellence alive for another season…Among this group, Spano possesses the most experience, running for just under four yards per carry (67 yards) on 17 hand-offs last season….Amelemah gained 33 yards on 13 rushing attempts, and Louis, who was only a frosh last season, appeared to be the most naturally explosive, finishing the season with 22 yards on his 5 rushing attempts….Another name that you cannot sleep on given his imme

nse ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands is senior, Nick Delcore…SJB’s starting QB during his junior campaign, Delcore will make the transition over to wide receiver in 2018, but it would not shock us to see the occasional reverse being run given his effectiveness with his legs.   Delcore finished last season second on the team in rushing yards with 491 and scored four touchdowns.  Hence, it is hard to imagine him not being used in some capacity as a running option during the course of the season….Larrry Conde, who was referenced as being in the DL rotation on the other side of the ball could be an insurance policy should any of the names above falter or get injured.  Aside from Delcore, Conde is the only player on the Cougar roster to reach 100 yards on the ground in 2017, concluding the year with 121 on 28 carries.

While we are still expecting a heavy dose of running, the addition of Nicholas Mazziotti as the new field general could certainly open up the passing game a bit more…Carusillo has certainly made more than a fair effort to surround his first-year varsity QB with an assortment of capable targets….The group will feature the previously mentioned Delcore, but Christian Maisel (1 catch for six yards as a freshman) is an individual who the coaches feel is ready to take on more responsibility from the tight end position.  Look for him to definitely become more visible within the offense in his sophomore season.

Coach Carusillo enters his 5th Season as Head Coach

Calling strength (so prevalent that Carusillo mentioned it twice) one of the characteristics of this year’s group, anyone who has followed SJB football over the year’s knows that it does not get much stronger than the average Cougar lineman….Listing three two-way linemen among his key players, the onus will fall on Jack Standwill, Matthew Stroble, and Jacob Carman to be human road graters….Mark Pillitteri, Alan Rodriguez, Thomas Jaycox, and Nicholas Rohrs will all provide depth and additional manpower to the O-line.

Defensively, Tim Gasparik (MLB) and Anthony Ermelino (OLB), as well as Jeremy DeJesus (OLB), DE Anthony Bossone, DT Nickolas Licata, and the tandem of Sebastian Lebron/Jacob Melendez will be among the prominent performers you are just learning about…Gasparik finished 2nd on the team last season with 77 total tackles (9.6/game); Ermelino notched 39 stops and added .5 sack; Licata made 33 tackles and had an interception.

Rounding out the remainder of the impact players on “D” will be some individuals already mentioned—-Conde (DE; 32 tackles/1.5 sacks), Amelemah (CB; 50 tackles/2 INTs), Maisel (4 tackles as a reserve strong safety), and Delcore (FS; credited with 1 tackle last year)

 

Xavier 

Head Coach

Chris Stevens (17th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-7/Lost in the “AAA” Semifinals, 28-7, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

Perennial semifinalists who won it all in 2015, it takes a special kind of player to suit up for Coach Chris Stevens.  An unapologetic throwback to the golden age of the sport, when Stevens is your coach, you are going to learn how to embrace the grind and what the definition of toughness truly is.

Underdogs the past two years, no matter what their record might be heading into the postseason, the Knights are usually the last team you ever want to see in a quarterfinal game.   In a day and age that has seen the game become overly reliant on big yardage plays, what we like about Xavier is that they have proven that you do not need freak athletes in order to enjoy a winning tradition.  On the contrary, as we learned from the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare,” slow and steady when executed diligently can also be a victorious formula.   In other words, why break for a 70-yard run and constantly makE your defense work overtime, when you have the option of pounding out 15 to 20 play drives that eat up clock and dissect the will of the opposition.

All of the above having been stated, there are no turtles on this year‘s roster and the Knights sure as heck will not be underdogs in 2018…After two years of sub-500 seasons, this season will be one where the boys of West 16th Street reaffirm themselves as an upper-echelon school with visions of Gatorade baths and trophy ceremonies.

An offense that rarely throws the ball, on the few occasions that is becomes necessary to air it out, senior, Evan Murphy, is the likely choice to be the person who undertakes this responsibility.  Having never attempted a varsity pass prior to last week, the 6’2, 185-pounder from the Big Apple went a perfect 3-for-3 for 66 yards in the 2018 opener.

Stepping in for last season’s workhorse, Jonathon Geruso (16th in the NYS with 1,640 yards; 14 touchdowns) will be an ensemble of adept rushers who together could/should surpass last year’s ground production of 2,342 yards and 20 touchdowns…At the top of this wealthy list of potential backs will be the team’s #2 rusher from a season ago, Demetrios Demetriades (team-best 6.2 yards per carry on his 67 handles to finish his junior year with 422 yards and two TDs)…Fellow senior, Daniel Vittiburga, will also enter the new year with some valuable game experience, as he carried the pigskin 28 times for 78 yards and took it to the promised land on two occasions as an 11th grader…Furthermore, the graduation of one Geruso just means there will be more opportunity for another, as now it will be junior, Matt [Geruso] who will be featured in the backfield…Murphy too (25 yards on 8 carries) is no stranger when it comes to looking for a hole to exploit.

The Knights feel they have what it takes to get in Championship form like they did in 2015

Once again, because air strikes are not prevalent within the scheme they incorporate, there is no designated go to target for the Knights.  In many cases, the same personnel you see running the ball will also showcase their versatility by acting as pass catchers…The perfect examples of this from last week were senior, Kevin Connolly, and junior, Frank Bernie…Connolly would run the ball once (for a gain of 34 yards) but proved to be most valuable as a receiver, as he was on the back end of 2/3 of Murphy’s completions to end week #1 with 66 yards courtesy of his hands…Bernie had a 12-yard run complemented by a 5-yard catch.

If ball-control and time of possession are characteristics of the offense, then the staple of the “D” is an unrelenting desire to take the field every weekend with a mission of allowing negative yards of total offense…During the championship season of 2015, a weekly theme on the players of the week piece was a Knight defensive player who racked up double digit tackles and had a hand in pitching a shutout…And, having already earned one goose-egg in the first weekend of the season, we truly are of the opinion that the 2018 Xavier defense is going to live up to the standard of excellent that Stevens has instilled.

Filled with returning talent anywhere you look, of the top-11 tacklers in 2017, eight are back to go it again this season.

The Grand Marshall of the hit parade for a second consecutive season will be last year’s leader in stops, Valery Gwardyak, who made 79 tackles as a junior…The Staten Island boy, in association with Mitchell Robinson (29 tackles, 1 sacks, 2 PDs) will set the tone for the LBs…Junior, James Donaldson, is a newcomer who should compete immediately for playing time.

John Walsh (54 tackles, 1 sack), Milton Guzman (39 tackles; co-team-high 3 sacks), and Jordan Sosa (38 tackles; also had 3 sacks), all had monster junior seasons along the DL…Giovanni Bernie (13 tackles), also entering his last season as a Knight, will see his role increase in 2018.

Connolly (3rd on the team with 65 tackles), and his senior classmates, Langston Williams (44 tackles, 2 sacks, team-best 2 INTs), Murphy (8 tackles, 1 pass break-up, and Demetriades (29 stops, 2 PDs), will unite with talented junior Christopher Mafuffi in locking down the secondary.

The 2017 Xavier junior varsity were the 2017 league champions.  So, while some members of the youth movement were noted, let it known that we are without hesitation stating that a multitude of other rookies will become household names by the time we flip to November on the calendar.   

Sep 132018
 

This season the AA division features a new format since it has grown to 12 teams.  There will be 2 regional divisions, East & West consisting of 6 teams each.  Teams will play all of the teams in their respective region and then cross-over for 2 more AA Regular Season Games.  The top 4 from each region will then qualify for the AA Playoffs where the teams will be bracketed and cross over for playoff matchups (ie. 1 East v 4 West, 2 West v 3 East & 1 West v 4 East, 2 East v 3 West).

By Matt Diano:

Fordham Prep

Head Coach

Pat Deane (1st Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 10-2/Lost in the “AA” Championship Game, 54-19, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

Not the official the slogan they will use this season, but when looking for a theme for this year’s Ram squad, the David Bowie song, “Changes” immediately came to our mind.  As the lyric goes, “Ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange.”  And for Fordham Prep fans, it does not need to be said that when they look over at the sideline this season, it will be mighty peculiar to no longer see the likes of Matt Valecce (four-year starting QB/3x All-State selection), Will Loffredo (2x All-State WR), Liam McHale (5th Team All-State WR), Joseph Petti (2017 “AA” Lineman of the Year; 1st team All-State), or Head Coach, Pete Gorynski.

A team that featured many two and/or three-year starters on both sides of the ball, the validity of the situation is that Fordham Prep is a program that was built to go all the way last season.  And by coming short of that goal in 2017, they now must endure a transitional period as they fall from hunted to hunter status.

The Rams look to replace record breaking QB Matt Valecce

Entering unchartered waters as they attempt to replace one of the statistically greatest high school football players the Empire State has ever seen, it is unreasonable and unfair to ask or expect that the successor at QB to sling the ball the way the current Boston College freshman [Valecce] did during his four years under center.   2nd All-time in career passing yards (10,027) and 3rd in touchdowns thrown (112), the living legend has left the stadium…Supplanting the departed icon will be the man who served as his back-up last season, Derek Bufano.  Used sparingly during his junior season, when the 6’0, 165-pounder did get the opportunity to throw, he showcased accuracy…Possessing a shorter, more nimble body type, the Cortland Manor resident may bring a different component to the quarterback position this season as he should present more of a challenge to opposing defenses as a scrambling, dual-threat operator.

While Bufano is getting his proverbial feet wet and establishing a rapport with his wide outs, do not be surprised if early in the season, you see the offense concentrated on more of a ground attack.  Not that there are many benefits to losing a player the caliber of Valecce, but one is that now there is likely more of a freedom to utilize a balanced game plan on offense…If/when this shift in philosophy does occur, a name that has emerged as a possibility to be the lead tailback is junior, Zach Wallace.  Known last season for his work on the other side of the ball as a starting member of the secondary, Wallace is such a natural athlete that there is a confidence that if you get the ball into his hands, he will be able to make things happen.  In his only carry as a sophomore, he would suffer a three-yard loss.  But, despite humble beginnings, we truly foresee him developing into a major asset as a ball carrier….Another 11th grader, Michael Adair, is said to have made a positive impression on the new coaching staff and will also find himself in the mix for carries…Sophomore, Matthew McKillop, is a budding star, who may not get the bulk of touches this season, but will strive to make the most of every chance he gets.

Undeniably the most lethal pass catching trio in the state last year (and for my money, of all-time), the graduations of McHale (2nd in NYS with 73 receptions; 5th in receiving yards with 1,014), Loffredo (3rd in NYS with 69 catches; 8th with 944 receiving yards; 3rd with 14 TD grabs), and Thomas Walsh (20th with 43 catches; 9th in receiving yards with 914; 6th in TD snatches with 13) means that of the 226 completions, 3,333 yards, and 41 TDs generated by the Ram aerial fireworks, 185 completions, 2872 Yards, and 36 TD’s disappear…Thankfully for Coach Deane, wide receiver on East Fordham Road is like cornerback at Florida State in that the cupboard never runs empty…After waiting his turn to be “the man” out wide, senior, Jack Goodkin, will finally be afforded the chance to shine.  Making 21 catches for 259 yards and three scores as a junior, the 5’11, 200-pounder is a lock to increase those number exponentially this season…Complementing Goodkin will be another appealing and proven target, fellow 12th grader, Devin Pettus (TE).  In his junior season, the 6’4, 190-pounder caught 10 balls for 114 yards and two touchdowns…Keeping with the pattern of seniors who will light up the stat sheet this season, do not sleep on a guy like Matthew McCarthy.  Despite only making one grab as an 11th grader, the coaching staff is high on him and are anticipating a very productive season…Junior, Owen Loffredo, will take the first steps in carving out a legacy of his own, as he enters 2018 equipped to add to the family name.

This year’s offensive line may not have a brutalizer like Petti (currently playing at the U.S. Naval Academy), but they do have senior leadership, as Andre Villarba (5’8, 230) and Brendan Kennedy (6’2, 230) return as starters off of a unit that did the dirty work and laid the tracks for 4,409 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns.

Shifting gears to the defensive side of the field, the Fordham Prep is blessed to be returning a wealth of student-athletes who either started or at the very least, logged considerable turf time in 2017.

Directing the “D” will be two of the team’s leading tacklers from a season ago, George Gaspar, and Goodkin….Both dominant front seven players, Gaspar was the overall top stopper as a junior, making 80 tackles to go along with 1 sack…Goodkin, who was a thorn in the side of opposing quarterbacks, led the Rams in QB bags last season with four.  The two-way stud also contributed 53 tackles in total…Junior, Liam O’Shea (20 stops), and seniors, William Woods (19 tackles) bring additional toughness and know-how to the DL/LB…Sophomore, Mike Rice, and seniors, Merrick Staff and Arthur Long, could materialize as the unsung heroes of the Frpnt 7.

The last line of defense will be patrolled by incumbent senior starters, James McGaughan (51 tackles; tied for a team-high 2 INTs) and Wallace (21 stops)…Two more 12th graders, Quinn English (13 tackles), Jack Andreana, will also be called upon to be ball hawks in the defensive backfield.

 

Moore Catholic

Head Coach

Nick Giannatasio (Beginning his 3rd as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 2-7/Did not Qualify for the AA playoffs last season

2018 Overview

A program that was forced to pay their dues a bit last season in their introduction to the Double-A scene, no matter their win/loss record from a year ago, we find it impossible to forget about the shear athleticism and talent that we saw out of a group of freshmen and sophomores two years ago when they cruised to the “A” Division crown….Now that these same studs are upperclassmen and have had a full year to make the necessary transition to the higher level of competition, we see no reason why 2018 cannot be a statement year for the Mavericks and their third-year Head Coach, Nick Giannatasio.

Returning beaucoup talent on both sides of the ball for a team that with the exception of one or two games was in every contest they played in 2017, there is absolutely justification in our claims that last year’s 2-7 can easily be transformed into 10-2 if things breaks the right way for MC.

Justin Lacks was ‘A’ Championship Game MVP in 2016, he looks to get the Mavericks back to Championship Weekend this year

Starting with “Mr. Reliable”, the consummate “never take a weekend off”, “watch what I do next” playmaker, junior Justin Lacks, you know that Moore Catholic is going to have one of the most potent ground attacks in the NYCHSFL this season….Invited to participate in the Army All-American Combine, which is an honor bestowed on the top-600 underclassmen in the country, the 6’0, 215-pound Adonis already has two 1,000+ yard seasons on his resume.  A fab frosh when the team claimed their aforementioned “A” crown, Lacks would run for 1,058 yards and score 14 touchdowns in 2016.  Last year, as a follow-up act, he embraced the role of work horse, taking 243 of the team’s 279 handoffs and gaining 1,251 yards, and adding 11 more TDs….A former 5th team All-State selection, Lacks has the undeniable ability to take over the game by himself….On the rare occasion that Lacks may need a breather, senior, Mausari Miller is more than capable of complementing the running game…Known more for his stellar play at LB, two years ago, Miller rushed for 347 yards and four touchdowns on just 66 carries (5.3 average).  In 2017, his offensive numbers would decrease because of a lack of opportunity.   However, he still averaged over three yards per carry when presented with the chance to take a handoff.

Aiding the MC ground attack will be an offensive line consisting of four MASSive returning starters.  We chose to emphasis the “mass” because on size alone, opposing defenses may want to go to church and pray that this group does not surpass IHOP as the leading producers of pancakes in New York State….Commencing with three-year starting LT, Ted Kushi (6’6, 330 pounds), the OL also features Deonte Jackson (6’7, 340), Craig Sorrenti (5’11, 255), and center AJ Curran (260)…It is most certainly a means of intimidation when you consider that sophomore, Matt Heinemann, who was an outstanding two-way lineman on the Junior Varsity level last season, is the runt of the litter at “only” 250 pounds.

Providing further ammunition to what is clearly shaping up to an explosive offense will be another three-year starter, QB Vincenzo Scarola….A proficient pocket passer, in his first two seasons running the show for the Mavericks, the 6’1, 180-pounder has thrown for an average of 811.5 yards/year and has totaled 14 (7 in each season) TD hurls.

Scarola will enter his senior year without his favorite target, as the team’s leader in all receiving categories in 2016 and 2017, Zach Hampton, graduated last June….However, in addressing the WR position, Giannatasio appeared quite comfortable with the depth he had out wide….Senior, Nicholas Melo (5 grabs for 57 yards and 1 TD) is the most established of the unit, but you can expect to see significant production from junior, Cameron Holmes, who saw time last season on defense at LB, but will focus more on the offensive end as an 11th grader…..Anthony Perlongo had a solid sophomore year on the JV and looks ready to contribute from the opening whistle on varsity…..Freshman, Deshawn Lawton, has wasted little time in securing the favor of his head coach.  The 5’8, 155-pound 9th grader has big things awaiting him in the future.  The only question is whether the future is really the present.

The defense, led by the previously recognized All-League LB, [Masauri] Miller (team-leading 71 tackles; 2.5 sacks), will not be hurting for experienced, steady playmakers…..Other names that will remain on your tongues all season will be Artie Padilla (LB), Jafar Sannie (CB), and Nashaun Defy (DE)….Padilla (64 tackles, 2 sacks) finished 2nd to Miller in total stops made last year; Sannie, who enters his third season starting in the defensive backfield, was third on the team with 39 tackles….Defy (14 stops last season) will be the leader of the down linemen this season.

The remainder of this slightly undersized, but speedy “D” will be comprised of a few two-way players—Melo (Safety; 16 tackles in 2017) and Holmes (16 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble caused)–but for the most part will rely on young men looking to carve out a name for themselves….Sixx Johnson, who played most of last season on JV, but did earn a promotion at the end of the year, had five tackles in his short time on the varsity.  He will be a cherished partner to Padilla at ILB….Kris Bryant (4 tackles a season ago), tips the scales at 270 pounds and will counted on to be a space-eater in the middle of the DL….Freshmen twins, Mustafa and Mozion Khayyam, will be afforded the privilege of starting right out of the gate at DE and safety….Junior, Stephen Gerwer, rounds out the secondary.

 

Mount St. Michael Academy

Head Coach

Mario Valentini (Beginning his 35th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 4-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals to St. Francis Prep, 32-14

2018 Overview

A top-4 team during the regular season in 2017, when the Mountaineers step onto the field every weekend, the one thing you always know, is that you are about to be hit with some of the most explosive athleticism of anyone in NYS.

A program that averaged close to 300 (294.2) yards per game on the ground last season, if you are counting on them slowing down even an iota in 2018, THINK AGAIN!

Coach Valentini is one of the longest tenured and most successful coaches in the league

Headlining the offense for yet another year will be the program’s star tailback, senior, Conrad Perry.  As an 11th grader, Perry was one of the most potent backs in the league, regardless of division, averaging 118.8 yards per game (1,188 total) and scoring touchdowns….Of the 10 games played by MSM a season ago, Perry would exceed 100 yards in half of them, including a mind-blowing 253-yard effort during a regular season triumph over St. Francis Prep in October….While the passing game is not necessarily their forte, let it be gone that Perry’s three catches from a season ago, also makes him the team’s returning leader in the category.  Hence, he certainly has the capacity to be utilized as a full-service back should the moment call for it….Tyrek Ogilvie, who has put up some mighty fast times as a sprinter on the Track & Field squad, could emerge as another speedy threat out of the backfield.

Complementing the star tailback will be a first-year starting QB in the person of Ason Rutledge.  An individual who did not get the opportunity to play much under center while sitting behind Marquise Jimenez (707 rushing yards, 11 TDs).  When identifying his team’s strengths, Coach Valentini expressed the utmost confidence in Rutledge.  This leads us to believe that he sees those special qualities in him that he saw in his predecessor….Seeing action predominantly as a defensive back last season, if there was one area where we received a glimpse of what Rutledge is able to do when the ball is in his hands, it was a kick returner where he routinely posted 20+ yard efforts.

In addition to the two primary skill positions, the 35th year Head Coach [Valentini] also praised/spoke extremely well of the young men he is counting on to control both lines of scrimmage….Anchored by a senior foursome consisting of Antonio Corrado (OT) Anthony Sotomayo (OT), Tariq Azwin (OG), and Kerwin Gonzalez in the middle, what the unit lacks in size, they make up for with toughness and fight….240-pound Sophomore, Theo Fraser, could be used to provide a little bulk to the OL, but will mostly star on the other side of the ball as a DT.

Corrado (the leader among returning players with 51 tackles) will join fellow 12th grader, Dominick Morety (22 tackles, 2 sacks) at DE, while Fraser will clog the hole alongside Delano Muir, who recorded 15 tackles last season as a sophomore.

Senior, Corinthian Black, will embrace greater responsibility as he will provide the foundation of the linebacking corps for the Mountaineers. Rutledge (FS; 25 tackles in 2017) will team up with cornerback, Justin Manzanet (who will also see time as a WR on offense), and strong safety, Jamar Simmons (11 tackles in his junior season) in making life difficult on opposing quarterbacks.

St. Joseph’s By the Sea 

Head Coach

Mike Corona (4th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 3-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 27-6, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

A program that has hovered around the .500 mark during Corona’s tenure, when talking about this year’s squad, the emphasis on the word “leadership” is one that caught our eye and made us believe that a breakthrough could be instore for the Vikings in 2018.

While the Staten Island based school did suffer some losses at the skill positions (their starting quarterback, their top-2 running backs; top-3 receiving options, and several key players on defense), there is an optimism on Hylan Blvd because of hard work and cross training in other sports (ex-wrestling) that the returning student-athletes committed to in the hopes of breaking through and putting the rest of the “AA” on notice….This is a team that if you rely on last year’s stat line may not blow you away on paper, but because of their coach’s confidence and their ability to get better as the year goes, you cannot help but feel encouraged by.

Citing the vast experience of the offensive line as a catalyst for success this season, the Vikings bring back All-League OT, Danny Doyle, who at 6’4, 265-pounds is going to present a challenge to any D-lineman that dare try to get the better of him…..James Colesanti  and Peter Sitaras who will star at guard and center respectively this year were also among the standout players that Corona made a point of mentioning when identifying the players who he foresees having huge seniors….Dylan Bille and Anthony Cretella are among the role players from last year who are primed to become key components this season; and Paul Quick is expected to be the top newcomer and an immediate contributor at OG.

SJS calls Viking Park home

Following a year where he was utilized as a Tight End, Francesco Arlia, will be called upon in his senior season to take over the primary running duties… As a TE in 2017, he showcased some very nice hands, making 10 grabs for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise if SJS decides to use him in a dual capacity….He would also get the occasional opportunity to demonstrate his prowess as a  ball carrier, as he averaged 5.1 yards on his 10 rushing attempts…Senior, Patrick Perry, whose main responsibility this season will be to set the example in the defensive backfield, could spotlight a bit on offense as well.  After all, next to Arlia, it is the 5’10, 165-pounder that possesses the most experience…..Rick Ferrigno Jr. who did not get a single handoff in 2017 is another name that Corona suggested could surface out of the backfield.

The battle for signal caller duties will be between a returning varsity back-up, David Maj, and one of fresh faces with the biggest upside, Jackson Tucker…Per an interview he conducted with SiLive.com, Corona expressed that whomever wins the job will be expected to display poise in his craft, “getting the ball to the right teammate at the proper moment.”

While the quarterback situation is getting worked out prior to the start of the season, one tidbit that has already been clearly ironed out is that the person who wins the QB1 job is going to have no shortage of talented and hungry receivers to feed….Junior TE, Nick Ruvolo, is SJS’s returning leader in balls caught last season, making 20 grabs for 292 yards and one touchdown….Ryan Simermeyer, who shares a last name with the team’s top receiver from a season ago [Chris; currently playing at Pace], will be in position where there is a lot of pressure to live up to the reputation of his family.  In 2017, the younger Simermeyer caught three passes for 23 total yards. At 6-foot-4, “Sim” is going to be an ideal target in the red zone on jump balls….Also making three grabs last season was Ryan Nicholaou, who ended 2017 with 19 yards as a receiver…..Senior, Joe Gallo (2 catches for 13 yards) is the only other player on the current roster with a varsity catch credited last year…..Adding further depth to the receiving corps will be Aiden Ryan, impact newcomers, Vincent Vazquez, TE Kyle Gaor, and Greg Ciauri.

Turning our attention to defense, Corona called this year’s DL one of the strongest he has ever had since taking the wheel as skipper of the Vikings ship….300-pound DT, Mike Falco is the heart of the unit, complemented by Chris Matera and Michael Angelone…Rookie, Sean Ruane, had a good camp and will fight for reps from the get-go.

Sitting at the head of the table and setting the example for the linebackers will be the young men who rank 1st and 2nd on the team among returning players in tackles made a season ago….Both penciled in as Mike LBs, Frank Ambrosino (24 stops) and Mike Cottone (13 tackles, 1 sack) are guaranteed to far exceed last year’s level of production…..Look for Nick Gagliardi and Dom Buser to hold down the fort on the outside….Corey Tehe and Brett Sciascia add to the horsepower.

As noted above, Perry is the featured air traffic controller of the secondary, but will receive major support from Devin Barros, Giovanni Adekoya, Jesse Addesso, and Justin Alexander among others.

 

St. Peter’s

Head Coach

George Mahoney (1st Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 2-8/Lost in the “AAA” Quarterfinals, 50-14, to Cardinal Hayes

2018 Overview

2018 will witness the commencement of a new era in Eagles’ football as George Mahoney will transition from his role as the program’s Special Team’s Coordinator to that of Head Coach following the decision of Mark DeCristoforo to step down in January, citing a desire to have more family time.

The presence of a new sideline leader will be accompanied by a few additional changes as the Staten Island based unit will welcome a new offensive scheme, as well as attempt to make an immediate impact in their return to “AA” following several prosperous years (semifinalists in 2014 and 2015) as a triple-A school.

One individual who is expected to play a significant role in captaining STP’s title ambitions is senior quarterback, Sonny Badyna, who was one of the most prolific passers in the Empire State in 2017, throwing for 1,681 yards (19th best in NYS) on 115-for-202 (56.9&), including 13 touchdown throws….The 6’2, 180-pound resident of Brooklyn averaged over 210 yards passing per game last season, which ranked him in the top-15 among all New York State signal callers.

As talented as he is, there might be a bit of an adjustment period for Badyna under center as he will have to learn to establish a rapport with some new primary weapons following the departures of the team’s two leading receivers—-Chris Ledlum (40 catches, 684 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Frank DiMattina (30 balls caught, 478 yards, 4 scores)….Ledlum, who is as gifted on the hardwood as he is on the gridiron, elected to focus on his basketball career by transferring to Northfield Mount Hermon, while DiMattina graduated last year and is currently in his freshman season at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

QB Sonny Badyna

Gone from last year is also the team’s leading rusher, Andre Hines Jr.  Following a monster sophomore campaign that saw him rush for 561 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries (4.9 per carry average), Hines Jr. made the decision to transfer to perennial NYC powerhouse Erasmus Hall for his final two seasons of scholastic eligibility.

But, while it goes without saying that these are some serious absences, the good news is that Mahoney seems more than confident that he has found the student-athletes who are more than ready to step up and into those gigantic shoes….One such emerging stud is senior tailback, Justin Pisapia, who will not just be wearing #1 on his jersey, but who is also being counted on to be the number one option out of the backfield in the ground game….Getting just three carries during his junior year, Pisapia might be unproven, but that just means that it will be all the more thrilling when he enjoys a breakout swan song campaign….Fellow 12th grader, Scott Bruggeman, who was listed as a linebacker on last year’s roster and was not credited with a single touch on offense, could reap the benefits of a position change as he will make the conversion over to fullback.

Juniors—Vincenzo Quinzi, Liam Grapes, and Nick Della Pioli, will be among a handful of receivers who will look to be on the back end of Badyna’s potent hurls….Frank Cullen (12 catches for 134 yards) and Mike Hoffler (10 grabs, 121 yards, 1 TD) are expected to have their presence felt more on the defensive end (at OLB and DE respectively), but cannot be counted out on the offensive side of the ball after catching double digit passes last season….Sophomore TE, James Clark, was highlighted by his head coach as one of the young men promoted from last year’s junior varsity who could be contribute right away on offense.

Serving as an anchor to the team will be an offensive line that returns three starters—Pete Sluder, Anthony Casillo, and Anthony Gatti….Hailed as one of the strengths of the 2018 cohort, the Eagles averaged close to 320 yards of total offense behind these behemoths.  Averaging approximately 272 pounds among themselves, this trio could be a wrecking crew in the trenches this season.

In addition to the previously referenced Cullen and Hoffler (18 tackles, 2 sacks in 2017), the stars of the Eagles’ 3-4 defense will be Nick Slofkiss and Sean Badon along the D-line, complemented by linebackers Joe Montalvo, Tom Bossert, and Matt Aprile….Derek Rosenow (DE) and Luke Jakubauskas (OLB) join Aprile as youngsters with the chops to make their first varsity season a memorable one.

Strong safety, Joe Ramos (23 tackles, 1 pick), will enter his junior year as the linchpin of the defensive secondary.  Praised by Mahoney as “the enforcer” of the group, the 6’2, 180-pounder [Ramos] will team up with Anthony Moscatiello, James Langan, and John Martello in creating a no fly line….Senior, Eric Torres, will add depth to the defensive backfield.    

Senior placekicker, Nick Guglielmo, who went a perfect 18-for-18 on PAT attempts and connected on his lone field goal attempt in 2017, will be a very reliable force in the special team’s aspect of the game.

 

Xaverian

Head Coach

Michael Jioia (6th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 8-3/Lost in the “A” Finals, 20-18, to Cardinal Spellman

2018 Overview

A mere 25 seconds away from hoisting the “A” hardware for the second time in the past three years, surely not a day has gone by where the Clipper student-athletes have not replayed in their heads the sequence of events that saw their rivals, Cardinal Spellman, emerge with a 20-18 victory on Mitchel Field last November.

Perennial “A” Division finalist who have reached the title game in four of the past five seasons (2016 being the exception), the boys from Brooklyn head into the 2018 season looking to embrace a new challenge, as they will make the jump up to AA this season.

Stacked with returning talent on both sides of the ball, the 2017 “A” regular season champions are not going to have to look far at all to find an individual capable of impacting the game at any and every moment.

At the forefront of their potential offensive juggernaut will be dynamic backfield duo of tailback, Roberto Auguste (2017 NYCHSFL “A” Offensive Player of the Year recipient), and signal caller, James Resker….In last year’s preview, we hailed Auguste as the “single biggest offensive weapon in the A Division” and he lived up to that praise, rushing for 1,196 yards and 14 touchdowns on just 161 carries (7.4/carry average).  On six separate occasions in 2017, Auguste equaled or surpassed the 100-yard marker in a game, highlighted by a 205-yard effort in a regular season victory over Spellman…Resker,  who logged his second highest passing total of the season in the title game with 161 yards on 7-for-14 attempts, concluded his sophomore campaign with a stat line that read as follows: 61-for-110 (55.5%) for 1,006 yards and seven touchdowns hurls….Add in Poly Prep transfer, Shane Greene, and all of a sudden, you might be looking at an unbridled ground monster that could run away from the rest of the field in 2018.

Xaverian is back in AA after a title and 3 Championship Weekend Appearances in A

Out wide, Jioia and company will have to overcome the absence of last year’s budding star, Isaah Amazon (11 catches for 284 yards, and three touchdowns) who hung up his cleats to focus instead on hoops, as well as the graduated Timothy McCabe, who topped all receiving categories a season ago with 22 grabs for 415 yards and five scores….However, despite these losses at WR, Xaverian still feels very optimistic about the potential of their passing game thanks in large part to the second half of the Resker twins, Thomas…Overshadowed last season by some of his older teammates, T. Resker would still have a very solid showing, as he was utilized effectively as both a runner (347 yards and 5 TDs on 44 carries) and a receiver (10 snatches for 90 yards, and one score)….Jason Perlstein, who was second to McCabe last year with 17 receptions (255 yards, 2 TDs) will join newcomer, Justin Wolfe, who brings his talents to the five boroughs who starting his career in the Garden State, in comprising one of the best 1-2 Tight End combos in all of the NYCHSFL.

Doing the grunt work will be several experienced two-way linemen who have already shown countless times throughout their careers a propensity for doing damage on both ends of the line of scrimmage….When their team has the ball, Joe Leone (OT), Derin Hansen (OT), Christian Appel (OG), Brandon Ramrattan (OG), and sophomore pivot, Francis Ezeagbr were members of a unit that enabled the Clippers to average over 177 yards per game and score 24 touchdowns on the ground…..

Believing in the old school Ironman philosophy, almost all of the names cited for their offensive prowess, also are going to likely be showstoppers on the defensive side of the ball as well….Mike linebacker, Ramrattan, would finish second in total tackles last season with 60, while Perlstein would be right on his heels, taking the bronze with 58 stops and a pair of interceptions while patrolling the defensive backfield….Auguste (who was a 4th Team All-State selection at DB) and his 54 tackles and two picks at safety also proved himself to be a jack-of-all trades….Hansen and Appel, who will serve as the starting DEs this season combined to record 99 (Hansen with 50) and three sacks (Appel with 2), while Leone, who will occupy the DT position, was credited with 29 stops and two forced fumbles as a junior last year.

One final name that Coach Jioia advised us to keep an eye on was Brian Langan….Seeing action last season mostly as a back-up QB, now that he has transitioned to the other side of the ball (as an outside linebacker), the Clipper coaching staff are predicting a breakout season.

Speaking of defensive intangibles, the Clippers are also honored and proud to welcome back coach Dan Leahy, who after two years at Wagner, has made his way back to Shore Road to serve as the Defensive Coordinator.