The CHSFL Congratulates the 2021 CHSFL Player Award Winners
CHSFL AWARD WINNERS 2021
Monsignor Peter’s Memorial Award – Academic Scholarship Award
Scott Becker (Iona Prep)
Monsignor Peter’s Golden Eleven – Academic Scholarship Award
Andrew Bardak (St Anthony’s) Henry Belin (Cardinal Hayes) Thomas Stueber (Chaminade) Liam Dunn (St. John the Baptist) James McCauley (Archbishop Stepinac) Michael Solimando (St Francis Prep) Justin Axiak (Xavier) Matthew Skjeveland (Holy Trinity) Christian Terranova (Kellenberg) David LaGanga (Xaverian) Anthony Ulses (St. Joseph by the Sea)
John Bromm Memorial Award – Injured Player Award
Charles Zamora (Archbishop Stepinac) Jordan Alvarez (Archbishop Stepinac)
Ken Weinman Memorial Award – Injured Player Award
Nick Duryea (Kennedy Catholic) Jose Ruiz (Iona Prep)
Lieutenant Ronald Winchester Memorial Award – Unsung Hero
John Prince (Archbishop Stepinac)
Offensive Players Awards
Joseph Riverso Memorial Award Ajani Sheppard (Iona Prep)
AAI Offensive Players of the Year Christian Alacqua (Chaminade)
AA II Offensive Player of the Year Mark Anthony Scott (St. John the Baptist)
Defensive Player Awards
Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Iona Prep)
AAI Defensive Player of the Year Hagan Wagner (Chaminade)
AAII Defensive Player of the Year Jameer Reader (Holy Trinity)
Joe Thomas Memorial Award Scott Becker (Iona Prep)
AAI Lineman of the Year Thomas Kemp (Chaminade)
AAII Lineman of the Year Irv Briggs (Holy Trinity)
Special Teams Award
AAA Special Teams Player of the Year Ellis Robinson IV (Iona Prep)
AAI Special Teams Player of the Year Michael Solimando (St. Francis Prep)
AAII Special Teams Player of the Year RJ Kocan (St. John the Baptist)
Championship Game Offensive & Defensive MVP’s
AAA Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Ajani Sheppard (Iona Prep)
AAA Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Iona Prep)
AA I Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Thomas Stueber (Chaminade)
AA I Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Hagan Wagner (Chaminade)
AA II Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Josiah Brown (Holy Trinity)
AA II Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Dylan Brathwaite (Holy Trinity)
NYSCHSAA Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Justin Joly (Iona Prep)
NYSCHSAA Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Ellis Robinson IV (Iona Prep)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK 2021
Week 1 Chad Case (Holy Trinity) Ellis Robinson IV (Iona Prep) Aaron Espinet (Monsignor Farrell) Devin Grant (Holy Cross) Thomas Kemp IV (Chaminade)
Tis the season where good deeds are rewarded tenfold and kings are gifted with gold!!!
Unable to break bread as one Christian flock for a second consecutive season because of ongoing health restrictions (COVID), nothing replaces the elegance of our Communion breakfast custom…But still we are overjoyed to commemorate these worthy disciples with the same passion and affection of yesteryear!
Today, your legacies are forever cemented as you are officially recognized as the finest of your craft!
Taking home the top offensives prizes in recognition of respective outstanding performances that yielded 6,601 yards, 77 touchdowns, and most importantly, THREE NYCHSFL title-game berths on behalf of their schools were…
Joseph Riverso Memorial Award – Ajani Sheppard, Iona Prep
AAA Offensive Player of the Year
Ajani SheppardJr. QB Iona Prep – Made Westchester County history last weekend during the 2021 CHSAA AAA State title when he became the first student-athlete to boast a 2,000-yard passing/1,000-yard rushing season, completed 181 of 255 throw attempts (71%) for 2, 357 yards and 22 touchdowns, while simultaneously rushing for an additional 1,041 yard and 16 more scores on 138 carries…In doing so, he wrapped up his junior campaign as the top overall rushing in the triple-A classification and finished a close 2nd in terms of passing yardage…Regarded as one of the top 2023 dual-threat field generals in the Empire State, with Sheppard captaining the offense, the Gaels averaged 36 points per game this fall en route to an 11-1 record on their way to Metro League (first in AAA since ‘08) and Catholic State team titles (first in program history)! Sheppard is formally the fourth member of the Gael QB fraternity that has hoisted the Joe Riverso Memorial Award. Preceding him among the brother brotherhood were: Mario Biaggi (2012), Robert Madison (2014), and Derek Robertson (2018)…Running backs, Jeffrey Mack (2008) and Sidney Weston (2010) are also former winners for IP!
AA-I Offensive Player of the Year – Christian Alacqua, Chaminade
Christian Alacqua Sr. RBChaminade – Stepped in to fill the cleats of one of the Flyers’ all-time greats in the backfield (Mario Fischetti), Christian so incredible in his only season as the primary RB that he darn-near equaled all of his predecessor’s accolades and like Fischetti, was successful in leading the Crimson & Gold to brass ring in the AA-1 division!…Carrying the ball 148 times for 1,327 yards and finding pay dirt on 16 occasions, the team captain/Cornell University bound (lacrosse) student-athlete ranked 12th in all of New York State this fall in total rushing yards (2nd in the entire NYCSHSFL; 1st in the AA-1)…In 10 appearances in his swan song year, the Manhasset resident surpassed the century mark on eight unique occasions, highlighted by a career-best 203-yard effort on October 16th as part of a win against Fordham Prep…Alacqua also notched SEVEN multiple TD performances, including striking for a pair in the Double-A-1 title contest versus Moore Catholic! He may have worn the #11 and #16 jerseys during the season, but he was undeniably the #1 reason the Flyers are celebrating back-to-back crowns in Mineola! He is the first Chaminade player since 2013 (Sean Cerrone) to formally be a recipient of OPOY honors!
AA-II Offensive Player of the Year – Mark Anthony – St. John the Baptist
Mark Anthony ScottSr. RBSt. John the Baptist – Scott ranked in the top-10 in the entire Evil Empire in both yardage (1,624; 6th) and rushing touchdowns (19; tied for 8th) and closed out his senior season as the all-around top back on the Catholic football map!!! His aforementioned totals swept both major ground categories…The owner of a mind-blowing average of 11 yards per handoff, the Port Jeff Station product ran for no fewer than 115 yards in any game he participated in this fall. To truly appreciate how special and invaluable he was to helping deliver the Cougars back to title weekend for the first time since 2014 (23-10 loss to Holy Trinity), you need look only at his three postseason efforts. Amassing 619 yards w/8 touchdowns during this stretch, his 356/5 performance in the semis against Kennedy Catholic may have been the finest day posted by a NYCHSFL representative this season!!! Even in defeat, his talents jumped off the page, as illustrated by the 140-yard/1TD display he put forth in his last day (the league finals loss) as the heart of the Cat!!! As of November 5th, he remained a free agent as it pertains to college services. But we’re adamant in stating that whomever lands him is getting the FULL PACKAGE (stars in the classroom with a 3.7 GPA to accompany his gridiron greatness)!!
In speaking on the clash between offense and defense, author, Sun Tzu, stated, “Invincibility is a matter of defense; vulnerability is a matter of attack; Therefore, skillful warriors are able to be invincible, but cannot cause opponents to be vulnerable…And while we have nothing but the utmost respect for the “Art of Warrior” creator, he never met extraordinary gentlemen such as our three Defensive Player of the Year selections, because these standouts more than wreaked havoc and elicited fear to any opposing offense lined up across from them!
Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award – Zyian Moultrie-Goddard, Iona Prep
AAA Defensive Player of the Year
Zyian Moultie Goddard Jr. LB Iona Prep – A bona fide blue chipper that commands your attention on every snap, as we wrote earlier in the season when was named as a POTW, the 247 Sports 3-star linebacking prospect [Moultrie-Goddard] is so dominant that even in the lone defeat suffered by the Gaels in their league and state title claiming season, he still was every bit the most impactful player on either sideline…The pulse of an IP D-Unit that surrendered just 15.5 points per contest versus NYCHSFL foes (best in AAA) this fall, the three-year starter/2x team captain was credited with 81 total tackles (45 solo) this season, including 21 of which that resulted in a loss of yardage. In addition, he added five sacks to his resume…Named as the DMVP of the 2021 AAA League championship (aided in limiting the then top rusher in triple-A to a modest 37 yards), is comes as a shock to no one that he is entertaining offers from power-5 conference institutions such as Arizona State, Syracuse, Tennessee, and West Virginia among others!…Described by the Iona Prep coaching staff as a “young man of the highest character”, when he was not busy serving as “landlord of the house pain”, he found the energy to be a considerable asset on offense, as he ran for 9 touchdowns (323 yards) while utilized as a short-yardage “big back”!…Moultie-Goddard is now the third Gael since 2010 to seize the Vincent O’Connor Memorial Trophy. He joins previous winners, Michael Longo (2010; AAA) and Rodney Samson (2016; AA)!
AA-I Defensive Player of the Year – Hagan Wagner Sr. DB Chaminade
Hagan Wagner Sr. DB Chaminade – Labeled by the Head Coach, Kevin Dolan, as the “most indispensable performer” on a squad that pitched three shutouts and allowed a mere 4.2 points against fellow AA-1 opponents (15.9 if you factor in all competitions), Wagner falls into that category of new breed hybrid safety/linebacker that influences and/or takes over the game in an infinite manner of ways…Deriving as much satisfaction and pride in being a stout run stopper as he is a ball-hawking air traffic controller, the multi-sport gem (also plays for Chaminade’s nationally ranked lacrosse program) exhibited the full array of his tools in earning the Defensive Most Valuable Player award of the Double-A-1 championship (43-7 over Moore Catholic), as recorded close to double-digit stops, scooped up a fumble inside the Mavs’ red zone, and posted his second pick-6 of the season in propelling the Flyers to a repeat of the hardware…For the year, he was the proprietor of a stat line that read as follows: 75 tackles (49 solo), 9 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions for TDs, 3 pass break-ups, and two forced fumbles! Simply put, Wagner is the name; turnover creating machine is the philosophy for the #45 jersey…Wagner is now the second straight honoree from the all-boys Marianist school [Chaminade] to win this award. In 2019, Aiden Cappellino accepted the plaque!
AA-II Defensive Player of the Year – Jameer Reader, Holy Trinity
Jameer Reader So. LB Holy Trinity – Only a sophomore, this might be just the beginning of the trophy collection that the 5’10, 185-pound LB out of Freeport [Reeder] will assemble in the coming years…A key component in a defense that pitched SIX shutouts and gave up just 49 points in all on their way to an immaculate 10-0 tally (only unbeaten school in the NYCHSFL in 2021), the ultimate compliment that can be paid to Reeder Is that among a roster filled with worthy candidates, he was man that received the bid from Hed Coach/Titan alumnus, Kahmal Roy!…Reeder compiled a curriculum vitae consisting of the following bullet points: 38 total stops (22 solo), 4 TFLs, 2 caused fumbles/1 fumble recovery! He is now just the second member of the Green & White tradition to win DPOY, providing company to former NFL (as a TE) player, Andrew Quarless, who won in 2004!
Turning our attention to the Goliaths of the Catholic football landscape, true to what is uttered by 1 Samuel (verse 17:4), our three beasts in the trenches proved time and time again that they were made in the mold of champions…Whether it was along the OL, the DL, or, as an ironman battling for all 48 minutes they embraced every challenge and selflessly put the well-being of their teams ahead of personal interests at all times!!! Elite linemen are a special breed unto themselves; and none were more spectacular than these…
Joe Thomas Memorial Award – Scott Becker, Iona Prep
AAA Lineman of the Year
Scott Becker Sr. OL Iona Prep – Hailed as the “best lineman I ever coached” by Gaels head man, Joe Spagnolo, the 6’2, 295-pound, senior out of Briarcliff Manor [Becker] may have played all five positions during the season, but he should be most candidly adorned with the moniker of centerpiece!! The trend-setter/2-year captain of an offensive line paved the way for the New Rochelle based school to accumulate 4,811 yards and score 56 touchdowns on his watch, the future Princeton Tiger (selected the Ivy League institution from a list of 20+ offers, including all three major service academies and all other Ivies) emerged with over 90 pancake blocks this season and routinely registered double-digit block performances! A combination of strength (squats 600/380 bench) and athleticism, Becker’s greatest trait is the integrity and leadership abilities he brought with them each and every week of his final year wearing the Maroon & Gold!…With his selection today, he becomes the second Iona Prep player ever (as well as the second in the past three opportunities) to be named the Joe Thomas Memorial Award recipient…In 2018, former 1st Team All-Stater/current Merrimack College roster member, Anthony Bonavita, established the precedent!
AA-I Lineman of the Year, Thomas Kemp IV, Chaminade
Thomas Kemp IVSr. DL Chaminade – Praised by Coach Dolan for his knack for making open-field hits and an aggressive/but not reckless style of pursuit, during each of the past two seasons, Kemp has been that person that the rest of the defensive line has leaned on as the example/tone-setter!!! Identical to his already cited/honored teammate [Wagner], big #76 was an unblockable menace along the front-7, consistently disrupting all facets of opposing offensive schemes…Finishing the fall 2nd on the Flyers with 81 total tackles (29 solo), the Hempstead resident thrived in the area of penetration, as his 21 TFLs topped all NYCHSFL personnel and ranked 10th in all of New York…He added three sacks to his body of work and even transformed “D” into “O” when he recorded a safety on 10/23 against St. Francis Prep…After three months of putting a lock on enemy offenses, Kemp locked down his future when he announced his intention to remain in-state and compete collegiately at Stony Brook University!
AA-II Lineman of the Year – Irv Briggs IV, Holy Trinity
Irv Briggs IV Jr. OL/DL Holy Trinity – Briggs the only one of the trio that performed double duty this season in taking his team to Titletown, is the next in a long, but ever-growing lineage of two-way brutes for the Titans…Walking that same path that landed former HT ironmen, John Stroughn (Utica) and Elijah Tobin (2019 NYCHSFL LOY; now attending AIC) scholarships, while his “forefather” are doing their thing on defense in college, Briggs is so versatile on both sides of the line that he feasibly could pencil in anywhere whenever he enrolls in the fall of 2023….As an OL (LT), he was the human insurance policy for a primarily two-quarterback system that combined to toss for over 1,600 yards and 23 TDs, while concurrently sealing the edge for a dynamic RB committee that generated 1,400+ yards age struck on 23 occasions!!!…On defense (DE), he racked up 17 solo stops (28 total tackles) and 4 TFLs for #1 cohort (regardless of division) in the NYCHSFL!
Rounding out our celebration of occupational superiority were the fellows that took the “special” in special teams to a whole new stratosphere during the 2021 season…Two of them equally decorated and renowned in the more conventional/popularized phases of the game; the other a pure savant that bound for the NCAA DI level, no matter which side of the boot they were on (kicking or receiving), these players contributed the “extra” to all of the extraordinary deeds garnered by their school!
Special Teams Player of the Year
AAA Special Teams Player of the Year – Ellis Robinson IV, Iona Prep
Ellis Robinson IV So. Returner Iona Prep – One of the most feared defensive backs in New York State (tops in the Empire w/8 interceptions), it became very obvious early on that opposing teams were not only hesitant to throw the ball in his direction, they were outright opposed to allowing the #4 overall 2025 prospect in the land [Robinson IV] have any touches period…Because his opportunities were few and far between, it became essential that he capitalize each and every time an opportunity did materialize…Averaging over 20 yards per return during the NYCHSL season, Robinson IV posted a head-turning 25% TD rate, as he recorded takebacks of 89 (KO) and 46-yard (punt) versus St. Anthony’s and Chaminade to finish with two scores on just eight attempts!!! In the AAA Catholic State finals, he continued to showcase the inherent difference his presence creates when two of his punt returns (50 yards to the opposition’s 20; 21 yards to the St. Francis 17) later transformed into 10 points thanks to the ideal starting field position!…Robinson IV currently holds 30 FBS scholarship offers; rather than name them all, let us instead just say that any and every major power-5 program has his name jotted on their Christmas list!
AA-I Special Teams Player of the Year – Michael Solimando, St. Francis Prep
Michael Solimando Sr. Ath. St. Francis Prep – “WE OVER ME” is the mantra that every coach prays will resonate with his/her pupils. And in the case of Terrier Head Coach, Rich Carroll, he hit a jackpot in the 6’1, 175-pound, Queens Village resident [Solimando]…Sporting a 98+ grade point average and heralded for how coachable he has been during his scholastic career, there was no role that Solimando deemed insignificant. Like an unbottled genie, no matter what task was requested of #11, he enthusiastically gave 150%!!!!…One of those “in all places at once” type of performers, if high school football was factored into labor statistics, he personally would lower unemployment by 10-15%…Instrumental in every detail of the “third rail” of football, in addition to being a spark plug as a return man (32.7-yard average + 2 touchdowns on nine kickoffs; 10.1/per on six punts), Solimando also served as the holder on all field goals and PATs, and never shied away from gunner duties!!!…A true energizer bunny that never left the turf/grass, he mastered all of these distinct roles while in the midst of being irreplaceable on offense (21 grabs for 328 yards w/2 TDs as WR) and defense (29 tackles, 3 INT, highlighted by a pick-6))!
AA-II Special Teams Player of the Year – RJ Kocan, St. John the Baptist
RJ Kocan Sr. K/P St. John the Baptist – Kocan who has committed his thunder bolt leg to Morgantown (West Virginia University) thrived in his dual role as PK/punter for the AA-2 runner-up Cougars…. Indisputably priceless as a flipper of fields, the future Mountaineer averaged 36 yards per punt, placing nearly 1/3 of his attempts inside the 20…There was no letdown off the tee either, as 65% (37 of 57) of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks…The limb was as precise as it was mighty, as Kocan converted 4 of 6 FGs (long of 30) and went an impressive 43-for-45 on point-after tries!
Golden 11 Student Athletes:
Andrew Bardak – LB St Anthony’s
Henry Belin – QB Cardinal Hayes
Thomas Stueber – QB Chaminade
Liam Dunn – OL St. John the Baptist
James McCauley – QB Archbishop Stepinac
Michael Solimando – WR St Francis Prep
Justin Axiak – 3B Xavier
Matthew Skjeveland – LB Holy Trinity
Christian Terranova – CB Kellenberg
David LaGanga – OL Xaverian
Anthony Ulses – OL St. Joseph by the Sea
Monsignor Peter’s Award – Scott Becker Iona Prep
Scott Becker Sr. OL Iona Prep sits at the helm of the proverbial table as the conferee of our most prestigious and sacred award (The Monsignor Peter’s Memorial Trophy) as the 2021 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was Iona Prep star offensive lineman, Scott Becker!!!
Exceptional and multi-faceted to the core definitions of both words, the Princeton University pledged chap devoted his free time not only to the pursuit of academic excellence, but also towards being a pioneer/active constituent among the student body, not to mention a pillar of the off-campus community!
Cultivating and then subsequently maintaining a magnificent grade point average 97.4 to complement the cumulative 1380 (Math-700; Verbal-680) he registered on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Becker was unrelenting and ambitious in pursuing a most demanding course load that featured Advanced Place options in concentrations of Government, U.S History, Calculus, and Language & Composition!..He is a double honor society inductee (National Honor Society; Spanish Honor Society) as a symbol of acknowledgment for his starch dedication to developing the mind!
As a continuation of his desire to be a future policy influencer and/or “shaper of the world”, Becker held executive seats in his chosen extracurricular activities, acting as the Vice President of the International Relations Club, while concurrently serving as a House Captain within the school’s Student Congress!
Gleaning joy from the humility of giving, Becker was a cherished patron within all of Westchester after volunteering at the Hope Soup Kitchen, and the Walk to End MS…He was a football camp counselor to further exhibit his generosity!
A proverbial Swiss Army knife on offense for the Gaels, the 6’4, 220-pounder put a bow on an already immensely decorated scholastic career when he donned multiple hats as part of the 38-22 victory over St. Francis (Buffalo) that delivered the first New York State crown in program history to the New Rochelle based campus (Iona Prep)
Directly responsible or a major contributing party to the majority of the Maroon & Gold’s scoring drives, the newly back on the market standout (decommitted from Delaware on Monday; pondering interest from the likes of UConn, Stony Brook, Albany) amassed 125 yards of total offensive production and scored three touchdowns (two of which occurred in the 2nd half as part of streak of 21 unanswered points that blew the contest open)!
Handling the pigskin on 15 combined opportunities, #7 emerged with an 8-reception, 75-yard, 2TD effort as a pass-catcher, and was equally effective as an option out of the backfield, rushing for 50 yards and one additional score on seven carries!
With the game all square at 3 apiece, Joly struck for the first of his personal trifecta when he caught a shovel pass and took it the rest of the way for a 6-yard touchdown to put the Gaels on top 10-3, with 9:22 remaining in the 1st half! He also was on the back end of a 38-yard pitch and catch (from Ajani Sheppard) that moved IP into the red zone (Red Raider 12)!
The edge having grown to 24-9 after an exchange of touchdowns runs (Colin O’Garro on a 1-yard punch across the line) in the third stanza, Joly’s elite mitts were put to good use as he hauled in a 12-yard TD grab off of a fade route to tack on some insurance (31-9) with 9:51 to go in regulation…The touchdown hook-up between the junior QB [Sheppard] and his favorite senior WR was their second of the afternoon and the 10th of the fall…
Doing it on both sides of the line of scrimmage, it was a Joly 4th & 10 tackle on defense that ultimately created a turnover on downs and set up Iona Prep with solid starting field position (own 40) with 7:54 still to play!…He later culminated their final scoring march of the fall when five minutes later, he took a handoff up the gut, spun out of a tackle, evaded a defender diving at his ankles and danced into the end zone on an 11-yard gain to salt away the “w” (38-9 with 2:44 on the clock in the 4th)!
For good measure, Joly even was the one to recover the onside kick attempt in the final 1:00 that enabled the Gaels to assume victory formation and commence the celebration!
Defense: Ellis Robinson IV (So.); DB/Returner – Iona Prep Gaels
In that always fine line between defensive prowess and special teams’ excellence, the #4 national prospect in the class of 2024 [Robinson IV] is capable of doing it all!!!
Intercepting 8 passes this season despite hesitation from opposing quarterbacks to even throw the ball in his direction, the value that #2 brings to the “D” is hard to measure if you just read the stat sheet!
An individual who always steps up to embrace the “best on best” match-ups for the Gaels’ “no fly zone”, more times than not last Saturday, Robinson IV found himself one-on-one with the Red Raiders’ top target, Logan Reaska (entered having made 30 catches for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns)…Standing 6’4 and weighing 200+ pounds, the 11th grade receiver has been a nightmare for opponents all fall…But alas, with the Gaels sensational sophomore on the job, Reaska was limited to just two grabs (only the third time he failed to catch three or more passes this season) and generated just 25 receiving yards (tied for 2nd lowest)!
As part of the collective, gang-tackle, flock to the ball mentality, Robinson IV was part of a unit that succeeded in holding their foes from upstate to their lowest total of the season on the ground (37 yards on 24 attempts)!
Where Robinson IV was especially spectacular though was in his role as a punt returner!!!
On two separate occasions, he registered returns of 20 or more yards (long of 50) that acted as catalysts to series that eventually yielded points for IP!
With the game still scoreless, his 50-yard return to the opposition’s 20, was the signature sequence in what later became a 24-yard FG conversion by Sean O’Neill, that drew first blood and put Iona Prep in front, 3-0, with 6:12 remaining in the 1st quarter!
His second big return (in the last 1:00 of the half) again landed his school inside the red zone (St. Francis 17) and enabled the Gaels to push their margin of lead to 17-3 when six snaps later, Sheppard powered his way to the promised land on a 2-yard keeper!
Suiting up for the Rams for the final time in his varsity career, next to a title, there was no sweeter manner in which the 6’3, 190-pound, field general out of Bedford could have concluded this chapter of his scholastic story, as he alongside fellow 12th grader, Jack Wolf)were the driving forces behind FP’s 27-13 victory on home soil over the Knights of Xavier this past Thursday!
The triumph, their third in the last four years, improved FP’s record in this historic annual showdown to 53-41-4!
His school trailing 7-0 to their rivals at the end of the 1st quarter, the cerebral stud (4.3 grade point average) ignited a streak of 27 unanswered points when he posted his first rushing touchdown of the fall on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to even the score in the early stages of the 2nd quarter…Prior to the short carry for the “6”, Annicelli was a marksman in the air, connecting with three different targets (Jericho Ancheta, Edward Louis Moore, and Tommy Gies) as part of a 4-for-4 performance that spearheaded the march down field!
Going back to that proverbial well and finding additional success was the scholar in the #14 jersey, who after a LONG completion to Kevin Dosin and a medium hook-up (14-yarder) to Gies, cemented yet another series with an identical 1-yard keeper with 4:10 remaining in the opening half!
Now holding the 14-7 edge, the Rams never looked back as Wolf (who recorded the final two TDs of his tenure as a FP football player to give him 7 overall in 2021) found paydirt from distances of 4 (10 ticks to go in 2Q) and 2-yards (onset of the third quarter) away to account for the Fordham Prep accumulation!
Annicelli and Wolf shared Most Valuable Player honors!!! Both will put on the pads for one final occasion as NYCHSFL representatives when they participate this coming weekend in the 2021 Senior Bowl!!!
78th Edition of Cardinal Hayes vs. Mount St. Michael Academy
Rich Belin (Fr.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
In what was a figurative passing of the torch and a literal inheritance of the “Cardinal robe”, it was the 5’10, 177-pound fab freshman [Rich Belin] assuming the reins of a Hayes’ offense that older brother/All-State selection/Duke University bound, Henry, conducted flawlessly for three seasons (including a AAA title in 2019)!
Big brother a three-time POTW recipient (twice in the aforementioned 2019 playoffs; MVP of 2019 championship), the 78th Turkey Bowl versus the Mountaineers marked the first time in his young career that Rich has been bestowed with this distinction!!!
Utilized as a wide-receiver during the majority of his rookie year (28 grabs for 523 yards, 1 TD), if there was any rust in his return to his natural position, it was not evident as the 9th grader left no doubt that the family legacy of aerial excellence was sure to be preserved in the coming three seasons!!
Formally ascending into the role of QB1 for the Cardinals midway through the 2nd quarter, Belin connected on 3 of his 5 pass attempts (1TD) for 85 yards in his quasi coronation!
Hayes’ already leading 35-0 at the time, Belin continued to pad the cushion when he called his own number on a 15-yard scramble in the last 2:00 of the 1st half to send CH into the break with the commanding advantage (42-0)!
In the last 4:00 of the 3rd quarter, Belin, emerged with the first of what will be many touchdown hurls from 2021-2024 when he found sophomore, Elijah Ford, on a 60-yard homerun ball to round out his balanced day and polish off the 49-14 victory over MSMA!
The month of November has been quite good to #17!!! On November 11th, he received his first official offer from Syracuse University…And today, in attention to his Player of the Week fame, he was extended his initial offer from the Ivy League as the University of Pennsylvania made it known that he is a top priority!!!
Cardinal Hayes has now come out on top of eight straight Thanksgiving melees; but the Mount clings to a 47-26-5 lead all-time!
John Caufield (Jr.); QB/Punter/DB – Monsignor Farrell
Bestowed with the most flattering of praise from the Lion coaching staff following a 24-21 victory in the semifinals against Archbishop Stepinac, the 6’1 175-pound, junior hailing from Staten Island [Caufield was so perfectly described as “having his fingerprint all over the victory” this past Saturday evening.
Embattled in a contest where it was known that a back-and-forth shootout would favor the visiting Crusaders (who were seeking their seventh straight trip to the AAA finals), Caufield not only shined in his usual roles as a defensive back and a punter, but also went the extra mile, stepping up to take a few snaps as a wildcat quarterback as part of a deliberate attempt to control possession and keep the pigskin out of the hands of their always explosive opponents from White Plains.
Pitted against an AS offense that entered boasting a triple-A best 40.6 points per appearance versus fellow downstate Catholic programs, Caufield was an essential part of a collective effort that limited the Crusaders to nearly half their normal output (21) and allowed just 261 yards of total movement (Stepinac’s 2nd lowest total of the fall)…
Anywhere and everyone that he needed to be for the “D”, Caufield showed himself to be a complete safety, as he was equally efficient in stuffing the run and disrupting the aerial attack…Credited with eight total tackles (6 solo), including one hit that yielded a four-yard loss that created a 2nd & 14 situation, the two-year varsity contributor was at the heart of perhaps the biggest play of the season for the Lions…
Farrell clinging to the 24-21 edge (following what served as the game-winning, 23-yard FG by Thomas Lorenzo, with 2:38 remaining in the 4th), it was the 11th grader in the #10 jersey thwarting any hope the opposition had at a last-ditch comeback when on 3rd & medium on his own side of the field (Lion 37), he tracked the ball in the air and made an over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone for the win-clinching interception (his 3rd pick of the year) in the final 80 seconds of duration!!! He added two pass break-ups in the “no fly” zone to increase his total to 7 in that category!
As a punter, he was superb in flipping the field and/or forcing the nemesis to start their drives in undesirable positions…Booting the pigskin away on five occasions, he averaged 32.6/per, including a long of 48, placed multiple kicks inside of or close to the opposing 20, and even delivered the razzle dazzle when he earned a first down on a fake punt + run, gaining 5 yards…
No role was “out of bounds” for Caufield during the semifinals. Having not recorded a single carry up to this point, he took a pair of direct snaps directly up the gut to pick up gains of 6 and 11 yards respectively to end the night with 22 yards on three carries. The 11-yarder, which came on Farrell’s final series of the contest, preceded Lorenzo’s successful field goal by two snaps!
The Lions will now go hunting for the program’s first crown since they won back-to-back hardware in 1999 and 2000. Their opponents will be the #1 ranked squad in NYS, Iona Prep. When the two programs met up in week #3, Caufield was among the leaders with five stops as MF held the Gaels to 24 points, the fewest put up this fall by IP!
Irv Briggs IV (Jr.); Two-Way Lineman – Holy Trinity
Earlier in the week, a Holy Trinity enthusiast posed the question on twitter, “Can anyone score on our 1st string defense?”…The answer to that question seems to be a quite emphatically, NO!, as the still undefeated (9-0) Titans pitched their sixth shutout of the season (three straight), 28-0 against Holy Cross, to drop their seasonal average to a mind-blowing 4.33 points allowed/per game!!!
Turning in a dominant performance on both sides of the ball was the 6’4, 260-pound, 11th grader [Briggs IV]…The fourth of his name, big #75 for HT was numero uno in terms of his overall command in the trenches!
Pitted against a Knight opponent that was fresh off of their highest point total (43 in the quarterfinals) of the fall and featured one of the best overall players in the person of Devin Grant, with Briggs IV setting the tone, the Green & White infantry was nothing if not stifling in every moment of a 48-minute showcase of power, toughness, and Impenetrability!!! As a unit, they allowed just 43 yards of offense (all on the ground) and kept the Buffalo bound dual-threat [Grant] to a modest sum of 17 yards rushing on five tries!
Already among the team leaders in stops, Briggs bolstered his impressive stat line by recording three tackles, making two stops for a negative yardage, harassing Grant to the tune of a pair of QB hurries, and even knocked down a pass attempt!
Putting on his offensive hat, he was a road grader for HT, as they accumulated 238 yards of territory taken and struck for 28 points!!
All that now stands in the way of the Hicksville based program from enjoying an immaculate coronation (would be their first since 2008) is a rematch from week #4 versus St. John the Baptist...When the two Long Island schools collided on October 3rd, Briggs IV was credited with two tackles as the Titans prevailed, 45-21!
*Ajani Sheppard (Jr; QB; Iona Prep): It was just another day at the office for the Gaels’ junior, dual-threat field general. Racking up a combined total of 286 yards of offense in a 35-28 double overtime win in the semifinals against St. Anthony’s, Sheppard connected on 15-for-18 passes for 121 yards (1 TD pass to Michael Senatore), while simultaneously rushing for 165 yards and three scores on 20 carries. It was Sheppard’s 11-yard run in the second overtime that proved to be the game-deciding factor…Sheppard heads into the AAA championship contest ranking 3rd in the NYCHSFL in both passing yards (1,977) and touchdowns tossed (17). His ground numbers of 913 yards and 13 touchdowns place him 8th and tied for 5th among all personnel in the Metro Catholic League.
*Jaden Codrington (So.; DB; Iona Prep): Whereas Sheppard was the “Savior” on offense, that honor on the other side of the ball belonged to this 5’10, 150-pound 10th grader from the Bronx…Needing a defensive stop in order to preserve the victory, it was Codrington picking off a pass in the end zone to send Iona Prep to the ‘ship. The interception by the Gael sophomore was one of three on the day posted by the team. Joining him in the category were Ellis Robinson IV and Kieran Connolly.
*Nicholas Matos (Jr.; WR; St. Anthony’s): A member of one of the deepest wide-out corps on LI, in the NYCHSFL, and probably all of NYS, if you were to tell us that a Friar receiver was going to have a breakout day, we might have guessed 4-5 other names before landing on Matos. However, even though his school did not walk away with the “w”, we were blown away by the junior out of Seaford, as he was responsible for career-bests across the board, hauling in 4 receptions for 137 yards and a pair of TDs in the heartbreaking loss.
*Ethan Yak (Sr.; RB; Monsignor Farrell): While most people were likely expecting to see Messiah Burch go off (which he did; 190 yards and 2 TDs on 18 carries), Yak was a heck of a pleasant surprise as he capitalized off of Stepinac overplaying his heralded teammate by striking for a 55-yard TD run…All in all, he accumulated a season-best of 78 yards on five opportunities!
*Chris DeMartino (Sr.;OLB; Archbishop Stepinac): While his team came up a little short of advancing to the title game for a seventh straight occasion, there was nothing more that the 5’10, 195-pounder out of Thornwood could have done this past Saturday. Establishing new career-highs in total tackles (16; 9 solo) and sacks (3), the senior ought to keep his chin up and cherish the positives that occurred in his final afternoon as a Crusader.
*Dae’Shawn Allen (Jr.; WR; Archbishop Stepinac): Mr. Excitement was again electrifying in the final game of what was a magical junior campaign. Someone who has already solidified himself as a serious threat to win an Offensive Player of the Year award (if not this year, then next), the Greenburgh resident tied his season-best of nine receptions en route to posting his third 100-yard receiving day of the fall (101). He would account for two of the Crusaders three overall TDs, as he caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff to the house! At present time, his yearly totals of 55 grabs for 951 yards, and 10 scores put him atop the leaderboard (all divisions) in every receiving category in the NYCHSFL!
*Thomas Stueber (Sr.; QB; Chaminade): There is just something about postseason football that seems to bring the best out of Flyer senior signal callers. Two years ago in the AA-1 title contest, it was Ryan Walsh completing 16 of 20 attempts for 250 yards and a pair of TDs to lead the Crimson & Gold to the crown…This past Saturday afternoon, Stueber got the party started one week earlier, as he recorded his first multi-TD throwing game of the season in the 31-0 semifinal win against Fordham Prep. Hitting on 5-of-7 aerial attempts, he also set a new season-best of 139 yards…Both TD passes (from distances of 54 and 58 yards) went to fellow 12th grader, Mike Miller, who ended the day with his own personal-best of 124 receiving yards (on 4 catches).
*Timothy Tomlinson (So.; Kicker; Chaminade): The Flyer alumni association already proudly boasts current University of Maryland punter, Anthony Pecorella, and it sure looks like they might have another future NCAA power-5 specialist in the person of the 6’0, 170-pound 10th grader out of Centerport [Tomlinson]…Regarded as one of the top-15 kickers in the nation among class of 2024, Tomlinson showed why he is going to be quite coveted in a few years when he broke his own school record by drilling a 54-yard field goal in the semifinal win over the Rams. In addition, he was a perfect 3-for-3 on PAT attempts! Furthermore, he routinely drove the ball deep into the end zone on his kickoffs, yielding touchbacks on all five of his chances!
*RJ Pacheco (Fr.; RB; Moore Catholic): There is an old adage in amateur sports that says that by the time you reach the postseason, there is no such thing as a freshman anymore. For the 6’0, 185-pounder out of Staten Island, all we can say is that he did not look like a 9th grader and much like a former Mav great, he was not [Justin] Lack[ing] in any area this past weekend in helping MC advance back to title weekend…One week removed from an outstanding 71 yard/1TD effort (13 carries) in the quarters, Pacheco was twice as good in his second taste of playoff football, as he shattered his previous high-mark, rushing for 140 yards on 21 carries to register the first of what surely will be many century games to come in his bright future! For good measure, Pacheco was also on the back end of two of QB, John Michalski’s three completions for 16 yards!
*Troy Telesford (Sr.; LB; Moore Catholic): The senior leader of the linebacking corps inched closer to reaching the 100-tackle milestone (currently sitting at 96) in his swan song campaign when he registered an 8 stop (5 solo) afternoon in the Mav’s 18-7 victory against St. Francis Prep…The centerpiece of the cohort that limited the visiting Terriers to a mere 136 yards of total offense (just 35 rushing), Telesford also established a fall-best of 1.5 sacks (gives him 5.0 in total in 2021)…His most significant contribution however came in the form of turning defense into offense as he scooped up a fumble and raced 15 yards to the promised land for the touchdown!!!
*Sebastian Villavicencio (Sr.; LB; St. Francis Prep): Suiting up for the Terriers for the last time in his scholastic career, the 5’10, 185-pounder played his heart out in the losing effort…Racking up 10 stops (his third double digit tackle performance this fall), Villavicencio also had an interception in the semifinal round!
*Mike Solimando (Sr.; WR; St. Francis Prep): Like his teammate, last Saturday witnessed the closing of one chapter of the 6’1, 175-pounders story. And even though the team ending was not what he desired, Solimando should be proud of his last afternoon as a SFP football player….Emerging with a season-best 5 receptions for 50 yards, the Middle Village resident accounted for the lone TD of the day for the Terriers, as junior QB, Isaiah Decruz, found him on a 25-yard connection, where Solimando shimmed, shook, and dodged multiple defenders in refusing to being denied of the “6”!
*Nicholas Servidio (So.; DE/LB; Holy Cross): The 10th grader out of Flushing was a bright spot for the Knights in their 28-0 semifinal loss to Holy Trinity….Tying his season-best of four stops (3 solo), Servidio recorded a pair of sacks that yielded a loss of 16 yards! These were the first QB bags of the fall for the young gentleman in the #72 jersey!
*Mark Anthony Scott (Sr.; RB; St. John the Baptist): The senior vaulted himself to the top of the NYCHSFL (all divisions) leader board in yardage (1,418) and TD runs (18) following a monstrous/record-setting performance that witnessed him accumulate 356 yards and find the end zone FIVE different times (on 22 carries) in the 42-28 triumph against Kennedy Catholic.
*Stephen Charvat (Sr.; LB; St. John the Baptist): Turned in a splendid defensive effort that saw him set a new best of 18 tackles (10 solo) while also registering a 15-yard pick-6!
*Anthony Castaldi (Jr.; QB; Kennedy Catholic): One half of a backfield duo that put on a real show in a losing semifinal effort to St. John the Baptist, the 11th grader signal caller was not his sharpest in the air, but more than made up for it by rushing for a season-best 148 yards (and 2 TDs) on 23 carries. One of his four completions (64 yards) did result in a touchdown to give him a hand in 18 of his school’s 28 points!
*Chris Kalle (So.; RB; Kennedy Catholic): The Robin to Castaldi’s Batman, the 10th grader out of Thornwood closed out his incredible sophomore campaign by logging his fifth 100+ yard effort of the season (third in his past four appearances) by gaining 111 yards and scoring once on 18 attempts. This solid afternoon enabled Kalle to reach two milestone as he officially surpassed 1000 yards for the year (1,049) and hit double digits in TD treks (10)…He also happened to be on the receiving end of Castaldi’s 22-yard TD hurl…Defensively, he racked up five stops and broke up two passes to round out an overall stellar demonstration of ironman football!
Jaziyah Welch (Sr.); RB – St. Francis Prep Terriers
When you reach the postseason, there is no time for worrying about injuries/illness; every scenario becomes “next man up” with the hope that the person you turn to can at least provide some semblance of a contribution…And in the case of the 5’7, 165-pound 12th grader from West Hempstead [Welch], he more than earned his keep in sending the Terriers’ to the NYCHSFL AA-1 semifinals behind the dramatic 28-27 overtime victory against St. Joe’s by the Sea this past Saturday evening…
The only lower seed [#6] to prevail in any of the nine quarterfinal match-ups contested across the three Metro Catholic divisions, SFP entered the weekend without the services of the program’s leading rusher in 2021, Jaden St. Ford (222 yards and 1 TD on 51 carries this season)…However, despite the absence of their key personnel member, Francis Prep really hummed on offense, as their 28-point output marked a season-best and was nearly 3x the average of the 10 ppg that scored during the course of the regular season. The ground attack, anchored by Welch, was especially potent as it accumulated for fall-bests of 203 yards and three touchdowns on 31 attempts…”Not bad” for being short “short staffed.”!
Stepping onto the field last weekend having carried the pigskin just 21 times (for 130 yards) in his swan song campaign, Welch literally and proverbially maximized the opportunity afforded to him against the Vikings, as he surpassed his previous body of work in one night, sprinting to the tune of a 13-handoff, 141-yard effort that vaulted his school to the dub!
Kept out of the end zone (the only element missing from an otherwise miraculous performance), #33 was the catalyst of all catalysts as his long runs were essential in setting up his teammates to garner glory!
SFP deep in a 21-7 hole at the break, Welch sparked the comeback on the squad’s opening drive of the 2nd half when his 55-yard gain paved the way for junior signal caller, IsaiahDecruz, to culminate the drive with a 1-yard sneak to cut the deficit to 21-14.
One series later, Welch continued to be zoned in, as he added a 41-yard trek to his resume to further keep the momentum rolling for the Terriers!
Per his twitter, the past two weeks have been a banner occasion for his entire family tree. In addition to posting the finest day of his scholastic career this past Saturday, his cousin, Dakim Griffin, set a new record for rushing TDs in a season for Half Hollow Hills East, when he scored four times on October 29th to give him 29!
The Terriers will look to punch their ticket to the NYCHSFL finals for the first time since 2011 (“A” runners-up) when they head to Staten Island to square off with second-seeded Moore Catholic…In the previous meeting (26-6 win for the Mavericks), Welch carried the ball twice for 14 yards. It goes without saying that he’ll be asked to do considerably more in the upset bid!
John Michalski (Jr.); QB – Moore Catholic Mavericks
Welcome back to the Player of the Week list, John Michalski. Previously honored in week #1 of the spring season, the 6’2, 195-pound, field general from Woodbridge (NJ) is such the epitome of “superstar” that an argument could be made and won for his POTW inclusion on each occasion that the Mavericks are victorious!
So as to not water down/diminish the significance of the award in his case, we tend to pick our moments and save them for when he is truly other-worldly! And that privilege showed itself last Saturday in the #2-seeded Mavs’ 35-21 quarterfinal triumph at home against a very determined Xavier Knights.
PERFECT thru the first 36 minutes of competition in the air (10-for-10, 298 yards), Michalski would conclude the afternoon by registering his second 300-yard tossing effort of the fall (319 yards versus Stepinac on Sept. 24th) behind an 11-for-17, 303-yard, two-touchdown affair…The dual-threat “bell cow” added 76 yards and two additional TDs with his legs!
Buried deep into his own zone, #11 delivered a perfect pass over the middle to a leaping Matthias Lighten (2 grabs for 137 yards, 1 TD), who out-ran the Knight secondary to finish off the 85-yard strike!
Later in the game, he found his top-target this season, Nick Jordan (4 catches for 29 yards, 1 touchdown) on a 10-yard hook-up!
Michalski’s TD-scoring treks came from distances of 5 and 4 yards respectively to round out his outstanding Saturday in the “master of all trades” role!
Polishing off the sweep of Xavier this year, the first round of Double-A-1 postseason marked the second time that Michalski tormented his guests from Manhattan. When the teams played in week #4 (28-14 MC), he hurled for 221 yards and three TDs (10-for-16) and ran for 97 +1 on just eight keepers!
A bona fide candidate to win the League Offensive Player of the Year, JM’s most recent dynamic demonstration raised his stat totals to the following: 103-for-174, 1,618 yards and 14 touchdowns aerially; 494 yards and 5 TDs via land on 50 carries! His 2,112 yards of universal production is tops in the AA division and ranks 2nd among all NYCHSFL student-athletes (2,624 for Iona Prep’s Ajani Sheppard).
As his next act, Michalski will try to book a second straight appearance to title weekend for the Mavericks (defending AA-2 champs) when he leads the herd into battle against aforementioned St. Francis Prep…When they initially met on October 9th, he racked up 333 yards of offense, chucking for 248 + 3TDs (18-for-27), while tacking on 85 yards on the ground (9 tries)!
Frank Ruta (Jr.); RB – St. Anthony’s Friars
If you are going to pick an occasion to have the best night of your high school career, then a hotly contested quarterfinal bout versus an opponent that has routinely knocked your school out of the playoffs the past six years, is about as good a time as any to flip that switch and go all beast mode!
Haunted by the memories of losses to Cardinal Hayes in the 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 triple-A bracket, the Friar faithful were able to exhale with sighs of relief this past Friday night as vengeance was theirs following a 42-28 triumph at Cy Donnelly Field against the rival/defending AAA titlist, Cardinals.
And the man of the hour under the illumination of those FNLs was the 5’9, 195-pound 11th grade tailback[Ruta].
Recording just 34 yards and one touchdown on seven carries during the regular season meeting [September 24th], the Hewlett resident “went off” in his first taste of postseason football (there were no playoffs last spring) last weekend, surpassing the century mark for the second time this year (103 yards) and establishing a new single-appearance best of four scores to propel St. Anthony’s into the semifinals!
Doing much of his damage during the latter 24 minutes of the war, Ruta would strike once in the first half, as he plunged across the goal line from 4-yards away to give STA a 21-0 advantage with 3:06 left in the 2nd quarter. Prior to the TD run, he was on the back end of a 35-yard wheel route (on 3rd &13) from fellow junior, Dante Torres (12-for-23, 188 yards, 1 TD throwing; 8 carries, 25 yards, 1 touchdown running) that advanced the ball inside the opposing red zone (Hayes’ 10)….
A Cardinals’ rally (including a TD on their first series of the 2nd half) drew the visitors from the Bronx to within 21-14…#8 in Black & Gold made it his mission to not allow them to get any closer, as he reeled off THREE TD runs between the 3rd and 4th quarters!
Capitalizing off of an amazing strip sack by senior LB, Michael Maguire, that handed STA possession at the CH 13, Ruta gave the “boisterous” home crowd exactly what they were demanding when he broke to the left of the line and ran to paydirt two snaps later to increase the edge to 28-14 with 5:28 remaining in 3Q.
Developing into a ping pong clash of alternating scores from both sidelines, Ruta twice answered Hayes’ touchdowns in the final stanza, bouncing to the outside and then barreling over 2-3 Hayes’ defenders to convert an 8-yard TD run (made the score 35-21) with 9:10 to go in duration.
His fourth and last tally of the twilight occurred when he issued the “death blow” on a 21-yard scamper with 3:54 showing on the clock to account for the final score!
Ruta and the Friars will now ready themselves for an epic rematch in the semis versus the #1 ranked team in the state/#1 seed Iona Prep…In the 35-34 loss on October 22nd that was settled by mere feet, Ruta (10 carries, for 75 yards) and Joshua Escobar (85 yards on nine attempts) combined to chew up 160 yards against the Gaels vaunted defense…
Ruta is now a two-time POTW selection in his varsity tenure; he was previously recognized during week #2 of the spring season after a 3TD showing in a win over Stepinac!
Jack Wolf (Sr.); RB – Fordham Prep Rams
Quite literally a “Wolf in Ram’s” clothing”, the 5’9, 160-pound running back out of Rye [Wolf] was invaluable in helping Fordham Prep avenge their week #5 loss (20-13) to St. Peter’s, 13-12 in overtime, en route to securing a fourth straight AA semifinal appearance…
Emerging with a career-high 143-yards on just 13 attempts (11/per), Wolf may have only scored one touchdown in Friday’s night triumph; but that score came at the biggest moment of the season…
Trailing 12-6 and staring elimination in the face after allowing an Eagles’ touchdown in the first of the two OT possession exchanges, FP entrusted their dreams to the #7 jersey and he rose to the challenge when summoned…
Initially converting a 3rd & short by gaining 5 yards to move the chains (to the Peter’s 5), Wolf cemented the drive when he cut to the right side of the line of scrimmage and then refused to be denied, as he dragged a STP defender with him as he fell into the end zone for the equalizer. This “6” was the first scored by the 12th grader since week #2 when he posted a pair of TD runs in a “w” over St. Francis Prep…The Liam Conlon PAT then served as the difference-maker!!!
While it would have been impossible to predict this big of a night for Wolf, his success certainly is not surprising… In fact, when you factor in the 19-handoff, 81-yard effort he gave on October 9th, two of his three highest outputs came versus the foes from Staten Island…
A “Ram turned work horse” for large chunks of the fall, Wolf has carried the pigskin (123) 81 more times than any other Fordham Prep player; his 623 yards is +472; and his five touchdowns makes him the ONLY FP runner with more than one score on the ground!
After rushing for a modest/season-low 19 yards on eight carries against semifinal opponent/top-seeded Chaminade on October 16th (week #6; 28-0 loss), it is imperative that he be as good, if not better, then he was in round 1 of the playoffs, should the Bronx contingent have aspirations of keeping this train chugging all the way to ‘ship weekend!
Bryce Davis (Jr.); RB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders
“The land attack has not been as prominent as years past for A.S…”; That was what we wrote in our AAA preview last week, and boy could we not have missed the mark any more than did!
We don’t know if our comment motivated the 5’11, 165-pounder, or if he was always this good and simply bided his time before; but one certain is for certain; BRYCE DAVIS has arrived!!!
Like a “Dr. Seuss meets Walter Payton” mash-up, Davis was a one-man touchdown machine for the better part of the 1st half in the Crusaders’ 42-7 quarterfinal victory over Kellenberg Memorial last Saturday afternoon…
Emerging with touchdown runs on four of Stepinac’s first six possessions of the game, “Davis struck from close, Davis cruised from far, Davis made it look easy, but Davis also showed great heart (kind of rhymes).”
Rocketing the #3 seeds from White Plains to the 28-0 edge at the intermission, the Greenburgh resident broke the ice with 8:56 remaining in the opening quarter when he took a handoff 10-yards up the middle for the first TD of the game…
Just a little over three minutes later, he punctuated his second straight drive, following up a Firebird punt by taking the ensuing snap 76-yards to the promised land…
#9 notched the hat trick with 7:29 remaining in the 2Q when he closed out another impressive series for the Red, White, and Blue by taking it in from 3-yards out. While he gets the spoils, the assists have to go to senior QB, James McCauley, and junior WR, Gjok Dedvukaj, who partnered up on a 34-yard connection one play prior!
His fourth and final touchdown of the game occurred in the last 37 ticks of the 2nd quarter, as he took the pitch wide to the left side of the line and went uninterrupted from a distance of 7-yards away to pull off the rare feat of 24 (points) in 24 (minutes).
All in all, the 165 yards and four touchdowns (on 13 tries) recorded in the 1st round of the playoffs shattered his previous career bests… He boosted his seasonal stat line on the ground to the following: 462 yards/9 TDs on 62 carries (7.0/per)!
Having advanced to the last six championship weekends, Stepinac will take the next step in extending their streak when they hit the road to face 2nd-seeded Monsignor Farrell in the semifinals. The two schools did not square off during the regular season, but with the momentum he is bringing with him (7 of his 11 TDs in his last two appearances), we won’t make the mistake of sleeping/underestimating Mr. Davis ever again!
If you are a philatelist, you collect stamps; a numismatist collects coins; the lepidopterist collects butterflies…So what does the 6’0, 190-pound senior running back for the Titans [Robbins] stockpile? Player of the Week awards!!!! And the definition for that hobby is simply “beast”!
Making the POTW list for the third time in as many years (once each in his sophomore-senior campaigns) in the final regular season contest of his incredible scholastic career, the Baldwin resident was so lights out in HT’s 42-0 victory against Kennedy Catholic last Saturday afternoon, that he required just one half and five touches to leave yet another indelible mark on his home soil!
Posting a career-best three touchdown effort, #3 in Green & White took it to the house from distances of 15, 48, and 5 yards out between the 1st and second quarters to help the Hicksville based program establish a 26-0 advantage at the intermission!
The game still scoreless as the clock dripped just below 4:00 remaining in the opening quarter, Robbins got his team on the board when he took the handoff up the middle, did a spin move, and kept his feet long enough to fall across the line to make the score 7-0.
After Head Coach, Kahmal Roy’s defense induced a punt, Robbins struck for the second consecutive series, putting his toughness on display when he incorporated repeated stiff-arms to ward off would-be tacklers on his way to the 48-yard trek down the host sideline to double the lead to 14-0 less than 2:00 into the 2Q…
This long run cited above was the first of a pair of touchdowns earned by Robbins on the ground in the 2nd…Later (last 3:10; Trinity up 20-0), he culminated the fourth and final successful drive of the half, when he followed up a 38-yard completion from sophomore QB, Rocco Rainone (3-for-4, 88 yards, 1 TD) to 9th grader, Jayden Simpson, by going the rest of the way (5 yards) on the next snap to polish off his personal hat trick!
All in all, Robbins ended the afternoon with 67 yards to raise his senior total to 773 on 76 carries (10.2/per) and 10 touchdowns…In Trinity’s previous meeting with KC last spring, he torched the Gaels for 168 yards and 1 TD on 18 attempts!
Holy Trinity, who head into the postseason unblemished and as the owners of the top seed, will now enjoy a bye in the quarterfinal round of the AA-2 playoffs!
Devin Page (Jr.); QB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds
Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady, Jerry “Rev” Harris/Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass, Lance Harbor/Jonathan Moxon, and perhaps even for you NY Jet fans out there, Zach Wilson/Mike White, there is a long history (both genuine and fictional) at every level of our sport of cases where a team enters a season feeling very confident in the skill set of one signal caller only to be left dumfounded when they realize that the back-up is every bit as capable!
Such seems to be true in Uniondale for the Firebirds, as they have discovered a goldmine in the person of their 6’5, 185-pound, junior, dual-threat field general [Page]…
Uncertain of how much playing time he would receive at the onset of the 2021 fall season due to the presence of The Citadel committed senior QB, Ethan Greenwood, since being thrust into the starting-11 because of injury, the 11th grade honor student (4.0 GPA) out of Valley Stream has looked the part of a gentleman who is NEVER going to carry a clipboard again during his playing days…
Squaring off with Moore Catholic in a Saturday matinee that determined which school would secure the final at-large berth to the triple-A playoffs, Page answered the call to action by turning in the greatest game of his young career in a 35-13 triumph on the road against the Mavericks…
Demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice “life and limb”, it goes without saying that those limbs did all the talking on October 30th, as he was equally lethal by land or via sky during a 48-minute highlight reel that saw him account for 336 yards of offensive production while also having a hand in four of five touchdowns posted by the Blue & Gold attack!
Tying his career-high for touchdowns passes with 3 (previously achieved versus Chaminade in week #4), Page spread the ball out to five different targets on his way to an 18-for-24, 183-yard exhibition aerially!!!
As noted above, his legs did not disappoint either, as he set a new personal-best on the ground, concluding the “must-win” scenario with 151 yards and one additional TD on 13 keepers (11.6/per)…He now has rushing touchdown in two straight appearances
Getting KMHS off to a fast (yes, he was) start, on the initial series of the contest, Page called his own number on an RPO, faking the handoff and then exploding through a hole on the left side of the line to sprint 53 yards to paydirt to immediately put the visitors in front, 7-0!
Not going down without a fight (down 14-0), MC would climb back into contention when they hit on back-to-back TD passes (the second after a rare INT tossed by Page) to shave the deficit to 14-13 in the last 4:00 of the 1st half…But like every immortal athlete, Page did not allow the one error to rattle him. On the contrary, true to the “short memory” mentality, he issued a poised response, guiding his team down the field before capping the ensuing drive by finding fellow senior, Peter von Schoenermarck (6 grabs for 67 yards), on a six-yard screen to send Kellenberg into the break up 21-13!
Just as he had done to start the afternoon, as soon as Page had the pigskin in his hands, there was no hesitation in getting back to work and throwing (literally) points up on the board…On the school’s first possession of the 3rd quarter, he lofted a perfect ball over the shoulder of Jaden Lyons (2 catches for 44 yards), and then allowed his senior receiver to do the rest to finish off the 41-yard hook-up that padded the lead to 28-13…
Early in the 4th, he went back to his favorite weapon, icing the game when he and von Schoenermarck played pitch-and-catch on a beautiful 18-yard fade for the insurance touchdown!
The former reserve’s huge afternoon in the regular season finale put a bow on a once unforeseeable saga that has witnessed him complete 64.2% of his passes (86-for-134) for 1,089 yards and 13 touchdowns…Despite playing in the majority of just six games, his yardage and TD accumulation ranks 4th and 3rd respectively among all NYCHSFL (regardless of division) quarterbacks!
Sixth-seeded Kellenberg will travel to White Plains to face off with #3 Archbishop Stepinac…If Page continues his string of strong outings, do not be surprised to see the upset! Anything is and has been possible for the #14 jersey this year!
Messiah Burch (Jr.); RB – Monsignor Farrell Lions
Have you ever played that children’s game where you pose the question “what would you get if you combined two unrelated items?” Well, in the case of the 5’10, 170-pounder from Staten Island [Burch], he’d be the byproduct of a union between a cheetah and a microwave!!! He heats up in a hurry and once he gets in space, he is gone in a flash!
Hampered by injuries at the start of his junior season after absolutely rocketing onto the Catholic football scene last spring, it has only been in the past four weeks that Farrell HC, Anthony Garofalo, has uncaged his prized cat…And since his return, the Lions have been roaring to the tune of a 3-1 record (three game winning streak), including their most recent 35-6 triumph this past Saturday afternoon over St. Peter’s in an all-SI affair…
In danger of potentially missing out on the AAA playoffs in their entirety, by virtue of the win, the gents of Amboy Road not only punched their own ticket, they actually emerged as the #2 overall seed after all tiebreaker criteria was examined!
Carrying the skin on just eight occasions, the 11th grader with the 90+ GPA to accompany the 4.4 acceleration, succeeded in rewriting his personal record book on October 30th, ending the weekend with 201 yards and four TDs to propel the Maroon & Gold to their second 35+ storing game in a row (posted a fall-best 42 in week 7 against Xavier)…
Responsible for the first 28 points of the contest (28-0 approximately 4:30 into the 3Q), Burch drew first blood for MF when he culminated the opening drive with an 11-yard run to the left…His resume grew exponentially better the longer the day went, as he added 82 (7:33 remaining) and 54-yard (2:03 to go) dashes in the 2nd quarter to send his team into the break with the 21-0 advantage…TD #4 for Mr. #4 (his jersey) came on a one-cut, 30-yard bolt down the gut where he was motoring at such immense speed that the ref (stationed on the goal line) had to hustle to get out of his way…
The statistical leader in every rushing category for the Lions this season despite his early absences, Burch had racked up outings of 145 yards/1TD, 90yrd/2TDs, and 129yrds/2 scores in his previous body of work versus Chaminade, Kellenberg, and the already mentioned Knights of Xavier…This adds up to 565 yards and nine touchdowns on a modest 36 tries (alarming 15.7/per average)…
Both of Burch’s career POTW accolades (co-recipient during week #3 of the spring) have now come at the expense of the Eagles…In the prior battle, it was his 137-yard, 2-touchdown effort that rescued MF from a 14-0 deficit and inspired their eventual 28-20 dub!
Holding current scholarship offers from Buffalo, Temple, Rhode Island, and UMass, with the way Burch runs so naturally and separates from defenders, there are sure to be MANY interested parties vying for this human jackpot!
Farrell, who last won NYCHSFL hardware when they repeated in 1999 and 2000, kick off their title intentions by hosting seventh seeded Christ the King, this coming Saturday at 4pm!
Tyler Bobe (So.); RB – Mount St. Michael Academy Mountaineers
If you are a person that subscribes to the attitude “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the magnitude of the fight in the dog”, then you need to be in the proverbial corner of this this 5’7, 125-pound sophomore tailback [Bobe]!
Praised by the Mountaineer coaching staff for the amount of heart and perseverance he demonstrates on a weekly basis, if POTW awards could be/were bestowed upon the student-athlete that left nothing in the tank and upheld the mission of the NYCHSFL, then the undersized sophomore might shatter the record for most times recognized…
Already an “All-American” in the areas of guts, desire, and selflessness, the quality of the stat line would match the breadth of the character in last Saturday’s 30-6 victory for MSMA against Nazareth Regional…
The catalyst/#1 option as part of an ensemble that combined to gain a season-high 177 yards and register their first multi-TD game on the ground, Bobe’s effort was invaluable as the Mount snapped a four-game skid and improve to 2-6 (1-5 in league) this year…
An individual that has been coming on strong and/or peaking down the home stretch, like many of the peers that preceded him in this week’s edition of the POTW list, Bobe’s selection coincides with him establishing new career-bests in yardage (76) and touchdowns (2)…His TD runs came from distances of 7 and 12 yards respectively!
A bona fide coming of age tale being broadcast before our very eyes, the compare/contrast of the first four weeks (92 total yards, 0 scores) of the season versus the final three (155yrd, 2 TDs) has been night and day for Bobe!
As he embarks on the postseason, he does so with his 247 yards and two touchdowns (on 61 carries) either leading or being tied for the top spot on the Mountaineer totem pole!
Seeded 5th in the AA-2 playoffs, Mount St. Michael will be road warriors this Sunday when they travel to Flushing to take on #4 Holy Cross…
When the two squads collided in week #5 (26-20 win for the Knights), Bobe was limited to 8 yards on eight attempts…However, having since gone into a groove, we are predicting a much more substantial performance in the rematch!
Luke Carson (Sr.); RB/DB – Xaverian Clippers
True to the 1970s hit song for James Taylor, those in attendance for this past Friday’s clash between Xaverian and Cardinal Spellman, most definitely saw both “fire” and “rain” in the Clippers 13-0 victory over the visiting Pilots…The rain, or more accurately, “torrential downpour”, came courtesy of God; the fire on the other hand was provided by the 6’1, 145-pound 12th grader hailing from Rockaway Park [Carson]
Suiting up and stepping onto the field at the Aviator Sports Complex one final time in his varsity tenure, Carson did everything within his power to guarantee that he and his fellow 12th graders will not soon forget their senior night!
Taking the handoff 12 times, Carson overcame the horrendous weather conditions to establish a new personal best with 125 yards, highlighted by his third TD run of his swan song season!
The game knotted at the double goose-egg in the final 2:00 of the 1st quarter, it was Carson dealing the go-ahead blow on a 3rd & 8 draw, exploiting a hole on the right side of the line to dart 16 yards to the house to give Xaverian the 6-0 advantage…
Not the person who directly punched in the second TD of the night (3:27 to go in 2Q) for the Blue & Gold, Carson did contribute several key runs that moved his school into position for the “6”…Junior QB, Bobby Benoit, had the privilege of punctuating the drive on a 12-yard keeper!
Defensively, #41 was credited with two tackles in the collective shutout effort!
Carson rides into the postseason atop the leaderboard in every rushing category for the Clippers with 375 yards and three touchdowns on 60 attempts (averages of 6.3/carry; 75.0/game)!
The sixth seed in the AA-2 bracket will be bound for Somers this coming Friday night for a quarterfinal against defending (2019) “A” champs, Kennedy Catholic…The Gaels prevailed by a comfortable 42-7 margin during week #5, but per Maxpreps, Carson was not active for the game. His involvement could/should narrow the gap considerably!
Tafari Johnson (Sr.); LB/TE – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
It would not be November in the Metropolitan Catholic Football League if C.J. O’Neil’s Cardinals were not flipping the switch and getting hot for the postseason…
As yearly a routine as the crops in Iowa and the rains in April, no matter what their win-loss record says at the end of October, the program from the Bronx can always be counted on to show up when the stakes are highest…
And this past Saturday afternoon, Hayes took a gigantic step in certifying themselves as authentic threats to hoist Triple-A hardware for the third time since 2016 when their 6’2, 210-pound senior iron man [Johnson] did a Superman impression one day prior to Halloween!!
Donning the invisible cape and “S” on his chest, the standout with the #20 on his back, acted as a hometown hero and/or difference-maker on both sides of the ball in the Cardinals’ 49-48 OT triumph over their rivals from Westchester, Archbishop Stepinac.
At the heart of FOUR sequences that were defining moments for Cardinal Hayes, it seemed that Johnson was always in the right place at the ideal time!
The Crusaders leading 21-13 and driving deep into Hayes’ territory late in the last 4:00 of the 1st half, it was Johnson preventing any further damage when he anticipated a pass over the middle, sprung in front of the intended target and picked if right on the goal line!!!
It was déjà vu for Johnson approximately 5:00 into the 3rd quarter (A.S. up 28-27) when he again stood in the way of the visiting team’s bid to create a cushion, as all that time spent on the tip drill paid off when a deflection landed in his arms just in front of mid-field to set C.H. up with amazing starting position…A 15-yard, undeterred run up the gut by sophomore, Kenneth Antoine, later in the series gave Hayes the edge for the first time all afternoon (34-28)…
Fast-forwarding to extra frames (scoreboard reading matching 42s), the Cardinals had control of the pigskin first and they capitalized, as Johnson put himself into the offensive mix when he was on the back end of a 9-yard TD toss over the middle from Henry Belin.
After answering with an immediate touchdown of their own, Stepinac’s decision to be gamblers and hunt for the win (2pt conversion try) afforded Johnson to log one additional highlight…Lining up in the wildcat, the Crusader’s all-purpose offensive missile, Dae’Shawn Allen (had already scored three touchdowns), took the snap and bounced around the left side of the line where he was met/ambushed by Muhamed Boja and none other than our protagonist!
Allen ended the back-and-forth war with six total stops and multiple PDs as companions to his two invaluable interceptions!
Seeded 5th, the Cardinals will seek their vengeance in the quarterfinals when the take the pilgrimage to the South Huntington to lock horns with the #4 Friars of St. Anthony’s…When the two teams met on September 24th, STA emerged with the 48-28 win behind 581 yards of total production (316 in the air, 265 on the ground) on offense…If Johnson hopes to prolong his scholastic career, he will need to step up for a second week in a row!
Like NFL Hall of Famer defensive stoppers, Harry Carson and Len Ford, the 5’9, 220-pounder from White Plains [Johnson] did just live up to the reputation of the #53 jersey last Friday night, he has been making the number infamous all season long on behalf of the Rams….Their most recent victory (9-6 over Christ the King), which snapped a four-game drought, was just the continuation of the habitual sovereignty that the Fordham Prep junior DT has enjoyed this season against rival offensive lines…
Entering week #7 tied (with teammate, Jaziah Moore) for the lead in the NYCHSFL (all divisions) with six sacks, the multi-sport (5th at the 2021 CHSAA City Wrestling Championships) student-athlete might as well change his legal name to “Furnace” because he was providing nothing but heat up the middle all night!
A disruptive force that plagued both the Royal run and pass attacks for the full 48 minutes, Johnson was the catalyst in the Rams allowing their fewest points in a contest this year and CTK being held to their second lowest output (6; also achieved by Chaminade in week 1)…
Concluding the night with a stat line that read as follows: 7 tackles and 3 QB bags, the 11th grade Catholic football equivalent to Aaron Donald raised his eyebrow-raising totals to 36 stops and 9 sacks!
Of equal importance to the impressive accolades is that more times than not, he delivered the “big bang” at an instant that his school needed it…
The first of his three sacks occurred in response to a 1st quarter interception by Christ the King that set up the “hosts” (neutral field) from Middle Village at their own 29…On the next official snap (after a false start call had already pushed them back), Johnson fired through the gut and clobbered the opposing QB to force them into a 2nd & very long. The series inevitably ended in a punt and no swing of momentum could be generated…
On another occasion, with FP up 9-0 in the 3rd quarter, but CTK on the march (on the Ram 32), Johnson did not complete the sack, but the licking he applied caused a throw attempt to come up short where fellow junior, Giancarlo O’Leary, picked if off to maintain the shutout…
Johnson added his second and third sacks in the fourth quarter, including the last of the trio that helped to curtail Christ the King’s final drive (trailing 9-6) of regulation!
Last Saturday evening, the 5’9, 165-pounder [Wagner] for the Crimson & Gold was wearing #45 on his back. However, the “21” jersey would have suited him just fine given the major “Prime Time” vibes he created in Chaminade’s 42-0 triumph over St. Francis Prep…
In true Deion Sanders form, the senior classman from Hempstead pulled off the rare “double-trouble”, returning both a kickoff and then an interception for touchdowns in propelling the Flyers to a third straight victory (raised their overall record to 5-2/4-2 against AAA competition)…
Chaminade already holding a 9-0 lead, Wagner struck for the first of his two scores in the last 45 seconds of the opening quarter, when on the ensuing kick following a safety, he fielded the ball at his own 29, made a first move to the middle of the field and then cut back towards the visiting sideline where he sprinted the remainder of the way to paydirt for the 71-yard KO TD to increase the lead to 16-0 at the end of 12 minutes…This marked the second time this season that he turned a return into “6”. In week #3 (9/25), he brought one to the house from almost an identical distance versus St. Peter’s...
The scoreboard now leading 22-0, just as he did in the 1st, Wagner waited until late in the 2nd quarter (1:05 remaining) to make another pilgrimage to the promised land…Afflicted by heavy pressure (initially waged by senior LB, Connor Collett), the SFP quarterback made an errant throw attempt across the field…Zeroing in on the desperation chuck, the Marianist rover undercut the route on the Francis Prep 30 and then ran untouched for the pick-6 to send his school into the break with the comfortable 29-0 edge..
His coverage skills no doubt exceptional, where Wagner deviated from the reputation of his Hall of Fame comparison [Sanders] was in his willingness to engage in the more physical aspects of “D”…Simply put, he did not shy away from contact, he sought it out, falling one tackle short of tying his personal-best (9 in week 6 vs. Fordham Prep) but succeeding in logging a career-high 4 TFLs…For good measure, he added a sack for the second weekend in a row while being credited with a pair of hurries.
He’ll head into the last regulation season game of his scholastic career (against Iona Prep) with season totals of 47 stops, 8 TFLs, 2 sacks, and of course, the one electrifying INT!
Chaminade has now pitched two back-to-back shutouts!
As they get ready to face one of the most potent offenses in the entire Empire State (Iona Prep), it is known without being stated that he needs to be the best he ever has been if the Flyers are to contain a Gael machine that is averaging a shade below 38 points per game versus NYCHSFL foes…Whether it is Justin Joly, Mike Ryan, or Mike Senatore, there is no easy assignment!
Dear opposing coaches, kick away from #32….Kick away from #32….KICK AWAY FROM #32!!!!
Asserting himself as a definitive contender for the Special Teams’ Player of the Year in the AAA division, the 5’7, 140-pounder, hailing from Stamford, CT. [Lagardere] is starting to make the art of the kick/punt return appear easy…
An act that in a typical season you may get to experience two, maybe three times at most if you excel at the craft, after the Crusaders’ 37-7 win at home over St. Joseph’s by the Sea, the 11th grader now has posted FOUR total touchdowns in this capacity (to go along with the four additional TDs he has put up in the traditional offense; 3-receiving, 1-runnning)…
Perhaps more mind-blowing is the notion that he has now accomplished the feat in THREE CONSECUTIVE outings, with October 23rd being the grandest of them all!!
Fielding three punts in total, Lagardere accumulated 111 yards, highlighted by dynamic 58 and 50 yard delivering in the 1st and 3rd quarters respectively that enabled Stepinac to establish a cushion…
The Red, White, and Blue juggernaut up 7-0 in the last 2:13 of the opening stanza, Lagardere parked himself under the punt on his own 42, darted all the way across the field and went untouched into the end zone to increase the advantage to 15-0…
Approximately three minutes and 20 ticks into the third quarter and AS now up 22-0, Lagardere completed the pair when he took the pigskin on a bounce at mid-field, made a man miss, and took the long road yet again, galloping down his own sideline for his second and final tally of the afternoon to further pull away from the Vikings (29-0)!
Lagardere’s previous exploits included a 76-yard KO return for TD against St. Anthony’s on October 9th, complemented by a 50-yard punt take back versus Christ the King on 10/16…
He also added two catches for 32 yards to further contribute to his school’s week 7 conquest that improved them to 6-2/5-1!
Henry Belin (Sr.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
Every season, we have our unofficial “Death, Taxes, &” selection. It is reserved for that special student-athlete that no matter when it occurs, you just know at the start of the year that it is a certainty that he will eventually find his worthy way onto the list..
When fall 2021 rolled around and before a single snap went down, we knew without question that the individual destined to carry on this legacy would be the 6’3, 210-pound, Duke University bound signal caller extraordinaire, Henry Belin….
Twice named as a NYCHSFL POTW during his title-winning sophomore season in 2019 (including being Offensive MVP of the Triple-A championship), Belin did not garner the honors last spring; but that was probably more a case of the Hayes’ staff wanting to share the love as opposed to him not deserving the spotlight…Because, there is little to no doubt that whenever he steps on a football field, he ALWAYS attracts attention!
Regarded by 247 Sports as the top in-state QB prospect from the class of 2022, the 3-star general has had to deal with some frustrations (semi-rebuild in the Bronx) in his swan song, but he clearly has no plans to exit the stage quietly. On the contrary, we might just be approaching his “finest hour” as we inch closer to the postseason!
The “sun” in a universe filled with offensive stars on each sidelines last Friday, neither Belin himself or anyone else in attendance is soon to forget the instant classic that was played at the Mitchel Athletic Complex on October 22nd!
Combining for 104 points (55-49), it required three overtime periods before a winner could emerge between the Cardinals and their hosts, Kellenberg Memorial…And in fitting form, it was the gentleman rocking the #3 that had the ultimate hand in deciding the fate of the contest!
Having a hand in all three of the Cardinals’ touchdowns in the extra frames, Belin got to be both savior and hero under the lights, as it was a 14-yard TD toss (across his body while on the run) to fellow 12th grader, Donovan Beauvoir, on 4th & goal in the first OT that extended the evening, before later connecting on a 10-yard swing pass to another senior, Rex Roman, for the game-clincher…Sandwiched around the two clutch throws was a 1-yard literal KEEPER that kept Hayes alive in the second overtime…
Accounting for 414 yards of total offensive production, the future Blue Devil was responsible for SIX touchdowns, as he went 21-for-30 in the air for 282 and 3TDs, while rushing for 132 and three more scores on 10 carries…
The defending AAA champs trailing 21-7, Belin struck for the first of his two 2nd quarter touchdowns when he hooked up with younger brother, Rich, on a 68-yard completion to cut the deficit to 21-14….To close out the 1st half (KMHS up 28-14), he scrambled across the line from a distance of 13 yards to again trim the margin.
After an exchange of scores in the 3rd quarter (one of the few he did not directly influence), Belin “squared the match” at 35-35 with about 8:30 to go in regulation when he shed multiple tacklers and scampered like a bat out of hell for a 64-yard touchdown run! On a night where he was special from start to finish, this was the moment that was most representative of the incredible person and player Belin is, per Head Coach, C.J O’Neil.
Matthias Lighten (So.); CB/WR – Moore Catholic Mavericks
A born star if we ever saw one, the 6’1, 175-pound super sophomore [Lighten] gave the Catholic Football pundits a glimpse of his two-way abilities last spring when three of his five receptions resulted in touchdowns on offense and he racked up 18 stops on “D” in just four appearances…
Now afforded the luxury of a full campaign to showcase his talents, the so-called “sophomore jinx” has not applied to the gem in the #7 shirt!
Impossible to miss on both sides of the ball, there have been days when offense took center stage and evenings when the Roselle, NJ resident was all about the “D”…In week #7, he was the whole package in the Mavs’ 20-0 win in the battle of Staten Island over St. Peter’s.
A chart-topper no matter what role he was assuming on Friday, Lighten posted a team-best/career-high 10 tackles (3 solo, 7 assisted), to go along with two successful pass break-ups in spearheading the defense to their first goose-egg instigating affair of the season…Since welcoming him to the big club, Moore Catholic has now shutout three opponents in his 10 occasions wearing the Red & Black…
Shifting his focus to offense, his five-grab, 55-yard display (best in both categories among MC targets) was the continuation resumption of the hot streak he has found himself on down the stretch…Making 17 of his 29 total catches for 197 of 383 yards during the past three weeks, Lighten is peaking at the perfect time of the year!
The last spot in the triple-A playoffs likely at stake in the regular season finale against Kellenberg Memorial, the Mavs will need for him to be that all-everything explosive playmaker that they have come to expect and cherish since his debut last April.
Chris Kalle (So.); RB/CB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels
The box score is going to indicate that the 5’10, 155-pound, sophomore [Kalle] only scored one touchdown…And while that might be technically true, from watching the tape, it was quite apparent he did a heck of a lot more. In fact, there was not a single point in the 29 earned by the Gaels in their Saturday matinee victory (29-8) against Mount St. Michael Academy that he did not in some way inspire…
With 6:03 remaining in what was a scoreless first half, the Thornwood resident got the proverbial ball rolling when he answered a Mountaineer interception with a pick of his own to regain possession for KC at mid-field…On the ensuing drive, Anthony Castaldi, who wore several different hats (QB, WR, etc.) drew first blood with a 21-yard keeper for the first of his three touchdowns to make the score 7-0.
Fast-forward to the last 90 seconds of the 3rd (MSMA now hanging on to an 8-7 advantage) and it was Kalle taking the first snap following an interception in the end zone (by junior, Luis Garcia), 36 yards into enemy territory…Pushed back a bit after the big run, Castaldi later was on the receiving end of a 44-yard bullet from ZJ Suarez to put the boys of Somers back in the lead…Kalle then caught a pass for the 2pt conversation to make the score 15-8 with 44 ticks to go…
Midway through the 4th and Kalle was again a catalyst as he strung together rushes of 32, 13, and 11 yards to move the Gaels into the red zone…Castaldi then knocked down the door from 5-yards away for the insurance TD (22-8)…
After doing so much to facilitate others, the moment of glory finally came for Kalle in the last minute and a half when he bolted up the middle for the 37-yard touchdown to culminate the scoring for KC!
All in all, he amassed 220 yards on 23 hand-offs to raise his total for the season to 670 yards…The TD in the waning moments was his seventh of the fall!!!
In addition to the well-timed INT, he was credited with four tackles from the secondary!
Leroy Biyo (Sr.); PK/MLB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots
If James Brown was the “hardest working man in show business”, then when it comes to New York Catholic athletics, that moniker has got to attached to the 6’1, 155-pounder, senior, out of the Bronx [Biyo]…He is not just a dual-sport athlete overall; he’s doing double duty simultaneously!!!
In one of the absolute most fascinating tales we may encounter this season, Biyo’s journeymen to stardom conjures up memories of the Neil Diamond classic, “I am, I said” where the sing-songwriter describes a frog who dreamed of being the king and then became one.”
Already a full-time member of the Spellman varsity soccer squad, when Biyo originally joined the football team, it was to serve only in the capacity of a kicker/punter…However, as time passed and his passion grew, it was not long before he was requesting additional responsibilities and asking to be included in more strenuous contact drills…
Now just weeks later, he finds himself not just as a designated specialist, but also as a starting middle linebacker, as well as a kick returner!!!
The entirety of his vast repertoire came in handy this past Saturday in Spellman’s 19-16 triumph…
On most days, if we said that you collected 20 total tackles (8 solo, 12 assisted) on defense, most would assume that was your signature contribution. But in the case of Biyo, it was his all-encompassing body of work on special teams that equally solidified his candidacy…
Successfully booting a PAT through the posts for his first point of the game, the strength of his leg enabled him to also dictate opposing starting field position as he registered a pair of touchbacks…
The icing on the cake for the Pilot 12th grader occurred when he emerged with one of the most electrifying plays of the year, bringing home the bread on a 98-yard kickoff return for what would be the ultimate determining factor!!!
Ajani Sheppard (Jr.); QB – Iona Prep Gaels
Last Thursday night, much of the high school football watching nation flocked to their televisions to see the #1 overall dual-threat signal caller in the nation, Arch Manning, suffer the first loss of his junior campaign…In hindsight, what the populace should have done is waited two days and demanded that a camera crew (aside from LocalLive) assemble to showcase the #2 DT quarterback in the Empire State [Sheppard]…Having watched both contests, we can attest to the fact that the Iona Prep 11th grader put on the more dazzling, entertaining, impressive exhibition in Iona Prep’s 35-21 victory over Cardinal Hayes in a collision of the preseason top-2 programs in the NYCHSFL AAA division…
The fourth Gael student-athlete this fall to have POTW acclaim bestowed upon him, after sharing the spotlight with teammates—Ellis Robinson IV (Week #1), Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Week #2), and Justin Joly (Week #4), the moment has arrived for the captain of the ship to finally receive his due credit and admiration!
As consistent as the chill on a typical October afternoon, the 6’2, 230-pound, Bronx native did nothing to weaken his Offensive Player of the Year candidacy on 10/16… Directly or partially responsible for 280 yards of cumulative production, he connected on 12 of 16 tosses for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the air and was equally potent on land, scrambling for 102 yards and an additional TD on eight keepers!!!
Not one who stepped onto the field last weekend in need of stat line repair, his demonstration against the visiting Cardinals was just the next chapter in a never-ending storybook of perennial grandeur that he has authored during the last month and a half…
Entering the contest having thrown for two or more touchdowns three times prior, while also exceeding the century mark with his legs once, Sheppard raised his yearly totals to the following: 64.3% completion rate (92-for-143) for 1,385 yards, w/13 TD hurls aerially…464 yards and eight scores on 58 carries (8.0/average)…
Drawing first blood less than five minutes into the 1st quarter, Sheppard hit Robinson IV on a 7-yard swing pass inside the red zone for the first of his three TD chucks to put IP up 7-0.
The lead increased to 14-0 at the midway point (Anthony Turner 1-yard run with 1:55 left in the 1st), just as he did in the 1st half, Sheppard wasted little time making things happen on the Gaels’ initial drive of the 3rd quarter …Facing 3rd & 1 on the Hayes’ 37, he laid the ball out perfectly in stride to fellow junior, Michael Senatore, who caught it on a wheel route and cruised to the end zone with no defender in sight to further pad the cushion (21-0, 10:12 remaining in 3Q…
In almost déjà vu fashion, Sheppard and Senatore went back to the well in the last 63 ticks of the third stanza and again struck gold as a broken coverage enabled the latter to be wide open for the 39-yard TD reception that made the score 28-7.
Still very much in control (28-14), Sheppard let his legs do some talking in the final 5:15 of duration, as he faked the handoff and then parked himself beyond the lockdown/pancake blocking of Turner, and allowed the 6’0, 240-pound senior to escort him 10 yards across the goal line to cap off the 4 TD endeavor.
Sheppard’s selection as a Player of the Week was the climax of a remarkable weekend for the IP QB fraternity…On Monday, former Gael great, Derek Robertson (2018 AAA Offensive POY) was the recipient of the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week award after going 20-for-40, 223 yards, and 2 TDs in Maine’s 27-16 win over William & Mary!
Dae’ Shawn Allen (Jr.); WR – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders
If legendary pitchmen/inventors, Billy Mays and Ron Popeil, had ever delved into the realm of being sports agents, then there is little doubt that the 5’11, 165-pounder out of Greenburgh [Allen] would have been precisely the model client they sought…Two men who transformed “utility” into a sacred term, one look at the versatility of the young gentleman in the #7 Crusader jersey is all the convincing they’d need to know they had a “cash cow” and/or “best seller” on their hands!
So immensely talented and diversified in his skill set, Allen is not the cliché Jack-of-All-Trades; this standout from Westchester is a KING of all point-scoring disciplines!!!
Fresh off of an outstanding outing (155 yards of total production; 40 rushing, 60 receiving, 50 as a kick returner) in a key victory over St. Anthony’s during week #5, Allen was even more spectacular this past Saturday afternoon in leading Stepinac to their second consecutive win (improved their league record to 4-1) in the form of a 49-18 conquest of visiting Christ the King…
Notching his second multi-TD effort of the season (caught two touchdown passes on 9/18 against St. Peter’s) and the third of his career (had a four-score game last spring versus Kellenberg), Allen found paydirt on THREE different occasions in THREE unique manners on his way to an 18-point individual master class!
Concluding the “w” over the Royals with 172 yards of flash (on a modest five handles), Allen recorded the first of the trifecta when he followed up a 30+ yard hook-up between Sr. QB James McCauley and Junior WR, Gjok Dedvukaj, by taking the pigskin around the corner and jetting 10 yards to the house for the rushing TD to give his school the early 7-0 advantage approximately 4:00 into the opening quarter…This was one of two runs he attempted on the day totaling 21 yards to now raise his fall sum to 103 (on 7 carries)…
Four-and-a-half minutes later, Allen made it two straight drives that he punctuated a possession with a “6” when McCauley found him on a short out route, which he turned up field, broke a tackle, and dashed the remaining 41 yards to convert the 46-yard TD connection…He tacked on a 12-yard grab during the contest to round out a 2-catch, 56-yard performance.
The scoreboard now reading 42-0 at the start of the 2nd half, Allen completed the hat trick by taking the kickoff (after a minor bobble) up the gut and making a cutback or two along the way en route to a 95-yard TD return…His was the second of a pair of touchdown-yielding special teams’ players; earlier, Serge Lagardere brought a punt 50 yards back to the promised land to increase the lead to 28-0…On September 24th, Allen also went all the way for an 85-yard return versus Moore Catholic
For the year, Allen and the previously cited Dedvukaj are entrenched in quite the All-Crusader battle atop the program receiving leader board…Both have been credited with 29 receptions, with the latter [Dedvukaj] enjoying a 510 to 508 edge in yardage, but Allen up 4-3 in TD snatches…Lagardere is the final piece of the three-headed monster corps, with 15 catches for 173 yards and three TDs of his own!
Nicholas Bruno (Sr.); 2Back – Xavier Knights
For the first five weeks of the 2021 fall season, all the Knights and their 5’9, 145-pound 2Back [Bruno] experienced was a series of moral victories without the satisfaction of officially breaking into the win column…Plagued by injuries (lost three starting running backs in a week #1 loss to St. John the Baptist), not to mention the natural disadvantage of rust caused by the decision of the New York City school to forego participating last spring, if their collective performance on October 16th is an indication of anything, it is that the boys from West 16th Street are about to turn things around and reassert themselves as NYCHSFL Double-A contenders!
Picking up their first dub since the 2019 Turkey Bowl (40-14 over Fordham Prep; November 28th) by virtue of a 28-21 victory on Saturday night over St. Peter’s, regardless of the 1-5 tally that Xavier presently totes, there has been no denying the solo/individual excellence that has been delivered week-in and week-out by the senior tailback donning the #3 jersey…
Reaching/surpassing the century mark for a FIFTH straight appearance, Bruno established new personal-best for rushing accumulation (217 yards) and TD runs (3) while boasting an incredible 8.3 yards/per average on his 26 ground attempts against the Eagles…
Himself a resident of Staten Island, during the past three outings (opposed by Moore Catholic,St. Joe’s by the Sea, and St. Peter’s), he has single-handedly torched the hometown programs, racking up 100 yards and two TDs (28 carries) against the Mavericks before posting a 30-handoff, 210 yard/2-touchdown affair versus the Vikings…Factoring in the respective 122 (1 TD) and 117-yard displays from early match-ups with Kellenberg and St. Francis Prep, Bruno has amassed 780 yards (10th most in New York State) and crossed the goal line eight times thus far in his swan song campaign!
The present-day star of the Knights’ nationally recognized rugby dynasty, Bruno was at the heart of every successful drive that yielded Xavier a 21-0 lead in the 2nd quarter…
Having already run for one touchdown to give the Chris Stevens guided brigade a 7-0 advantage, Bruno struck again during the initial 12-minute opening quarter when on 2nd & 4, he faked a handoff and called his own number, cruising 29 yards up the middle to increase the cushion to 14-0.
Even on those instances when he was not the person to culminate the series, his influence was invaluable…The Knights still up 14-0, it was his 34-yard, 2nd quarter scamper to the Eagle 2 that set up fellow 12th grader, Justin Axiax (11 carries, 52 yards) for the two-yard plunge into the end zone…
The margin trimmed to 21-14 in the 3rd quarter, as he had done all night, Bruno regained momentum and provided some insurance when he weathered (no pun intended) down pour conditions to punch in his third score on a 4-yard keeper to restore the 14pt edge (28-21)…This combination of burst and toughness served as the difference-maker!
The younger brother of 2019 All-Catholic Defensive selection, Anthony [Bruno; Xavier class of 2020], it is a surefire guarantee that he’ll soon join his sibling in garnering this honor!
In a day and age where members of Generation Z are too often accused of being “coddled” or “soft”, it is always extra special when we are afforded the opportunity to profile the exact antithesis of that misguided stereotype…After all, there is nothing more masculine, awe-inspiring, and courageous than the roles played by the boys that do their battling in the trenches…And in the case of the 6’2, 215-pound Staten Islander [Sessa], “rest” is about as dirty a four-letter word as exists in the English dictionary!
Named as a co-POTW honoree during week #3 of the spring season [along with RB Messiah Burch], there is no division in the direction of the limelight this time around…For a young man that does so many things that contributes to the betterment of the entire unit, it is somewhat fitting that Sessa is being recognized as the solo superstar of the Lions’ 21-17 comeback victory against Kellenberg Memorial last Friday night!
Occupying the edge on both sides of the line of the scrimmage, no matter if he was playing Right Tackle or Defensive End, #52 in the Maroon & Gold was regularly winning any and all exchanges in the combat zones…
On offense, he was a battering ram in both run and pass situations, continually sustaining his blocks to maintain a clean pocket for QB, Christian Pinto (8-for-11, 120 yards) while also doing road grader duties to create holes for a bevy of Farrell ball carriers that combined to rack up 165 yards and three touchdowns on 26 tries (6.3/per)…
Distinguishable from the get-go, Sessa made his domineering presence felt on MF’s opening drive of the evening…The Lions trailing 7-0 a little less than eight minutes into the 1st quarter, it was his essential blocks on consecutive snaps that facilitated a quick response to even the score…Picking up the Firebirds’ top sack man on the first of the two back-to-back sequences, he provided Pinto with the time necessary to launch a 38-yard completion to Mateo Bravato (2 grabs for 75 yards) to advance the ball to the KMHS 20…Subsequentially, he then won the one-on-one match-up again, enabling Burch (90 yards on 16 carries) to find a hole and dart 20 yards to the end zone for the first of what would be a two-TD showing for the junior speedster…
With 5:18 to go in the 1st half, Sessa helped Farrell take their first lead of the night when he pushed and trapped his man inside, making it possible for Cole Abbruzzese (39 yards on four attempts) to cut to the outside and run 17 yards to paydirt to send the host school into the locker room up 14-7!
Steady to the very last horn, when his team needed him most (trailing 17-14 with 3:25 still left unspoken for), Sessa and all of his OL peers answered the bell, routinely knocking Firebird defenders back, thus allowing the Farrell attack to methodically march down field by incorporating a plethora of medium distance runs, coupled with one huge gainer in the air…Moving 63 yards (10 plays) in just under 3:00, Burch’s three-yard plunge in the waning moments (:18 remaining) was the backbreaker!!!
Ponder this thought; his exploits on “D” were even more significant!!!!
Posting a season-best in total stops (8) and sacks (2), Sessa was a considerable reason why a Kellenberg offense that came into the game averaging nearly 30 points per appearance was held to just 17…
A stalwart in stuffing the run, three of his eight tackles resulted in no gain, as KMHS mustered only 75 yards on the ground…
Making sure to close out the “w” in emphatic style, Sessa sullied any chance of a Marianist miracle when he had had a highlight reel sack in the last 20 ticks to force the visitors 15 yards back and set up an impossible 3rd & forever scenario…The Lions later induced a turnover on down with :01 on the clock to seal the victory and improve their record to 3-2 in league (4-2 overall)!
Devin Malvasio (Sr.); RB/OLB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea Vikings
If there has been a theme to the Vikings’ on-going three-game winning streak, it is that if #11 [Malvasio] is running, then SJS is thriving!!!
Possessing both power and speed, the 6’2, 195-pound senior has shown himself to be an every down back capable of finding a hole and jetting 40+ yards or taking the handoff and muscling his way for those gutsy short and medium gainers…
In Joe’s by the Sea’s 27-20 victory on Friday night over St. Francis Prep, the multi-sport student-athlete [is also very gifted on the baseball diamond] displayed the full range of his artillery as an offensive weapon, chewing up grass like his name was John Deere to the tune of an 18-carry, 177-yard, 2-touchdown appearance…And as a bonus, he was rather good on defense to boot!
The barnburner all square at 7-7 in the last 75 ticks of the 2nd quarter, Malvasio would take the handoff straight up the middle and barrel over two Terrier defenders on the goal line to convert the 11-yard punch-in to give the Vikings the brief advantage…
After back-to-back scores from Francis Prep at the end of the 1st half (Kickoff return following the Malvasio TD) and eight minutes into the 3Q created a 20-13 deficit for SJS, a response was needed and Head Coach, Joe Goerge, knew which thoroughbred he was going to ride!!!
Facing 2nd & long with under 6:00 remaining in duration, Malvasio carried the ball up the middle, shook off an ankle tackle, kept his balance and cashed in from 42 yards out to draw the Vikings within a point (20-19 after an unsuccessful 2pt try)…
After the “D” hunkered down and forced a punt, Malvasio was again clutch in aiding the deciding final series of the evening, as he posted a big 17-yard run to move the ball just beyond midfield and then later added a 10-yard reception that put SJS inside the Terrier 15 w/:41 to go in the 4th…Not indicated in the box score is that directly following the grab, he had key blocks on two of the final three snaps, first picking up a pass rusher to give junior signal caller, Matt Wissman, time to connect with 11th grade WR, Andrew Deangelis, on the SFP 5-yard line and then escorting Wissman on a 5-yard keeper in the waning seconds (0:26 left) for the winning score!
On the other side of the ball, Malvasio was credited with six solo stops and assisted on countless others in going above and beyond to improve Sea to 3-2 in league competition!