Oct 132021
 

By Matt Diano:

Wayne Coleman (Jr.); DT – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

In a week #5 collision of two absolute triple-A title contenders where 70+ points are put on the board between two explosive offenses, it might have been hard to find the diamond(s) in the rough on the other side of the line of scrimmage; this was NOT the case with Wayne Coleman…. The 6’1, 270-pound 11th grader made it quite easy to take notice of his complete display, as the tireless work ethic he implored and the energy he exuded (both on special teams and on “D”) were apparent from the opening whistle to the final horn of the Crusaders’ 40-36 victory on the road against St. Anthony’s this past Saturday afternoon…

To borrow from former UFC two-division titlist, Conor McGregor, “Life is about growing and improving, and getting better.”…And that is precisely what has been transpiring with the behemoth from Waterbury, CT….With each passing week, you see his influence and confidence amplifying in droves…Registering nine total stops versus a pair of out-of-state opponents to commence the fall, since entering league competition, Coleman has been a beast of a different breed and the “stock market” is experiencing only gains…Elevating from a six-tackle/one-sack effort on September 24th against Moore Catholic to a nine-stop/2 TFL performance on October 2nd versus Iona Prep, to his most recent “oeuvre”, there is no debating that the NYCHSFL fan base is seeing the mere tip of the iceberg in regards to what this young gentleman is going to achieve during the next season and a half in White Plains…

Coming away with a career-best 11 tackles (7 solo, 4 assists), several of which resulted in loss of yardage, and the second sack of his junior campaign, Coleman was prominent in the defensive adjustments that enabled coach Michael O’Donnell’s Crusaders to limit their rival Friars to just 15 2nd half points en route to turning around a 21-12 halftime deficit…

Looking beyond the numbers, Coleman also was a mood/attitude setter on October 9th.  Repeatedly, he delivered booming, bell-ringing hits (especially as a special teamer) that established the tone of “bad intentions.”…Trust us when we proclaim that if you were a St. Anthony’s return man, the last thing you wanted to see in your path was #43 in White approaching you like a Panzer VIII Maus tank!  Because when you did, you got steam-rolled!!

One of his greatest contributions came in an area where he served as a facilitator for his teammate…Stepinac trailing 21-19 less than three minutes into the third quarter, Coleman got into the grill of STA junior QB, Dante Torres, and the pressure he applied forced the Friar signal caller to misfire on 4th & 2 (on the AS side of the gridiron), leading to the tip drill and the eventual INT by fellow junior, Devin Costello

Approximately seven minutes later (STA up 28-26), the pass rush again paid dividends as his 10-yard sack on 2nd & 13 pushed the St. Anthony’s back even further into their own zone, laying the tracks for a punt that gave Stepinac possession near mid-field…This excellent starting positioning culminated with senior RB, Kejuan Preston, breaking for a 28-yard TD run to vault the Crusaders in front for the first time all afternoon at the onset of the 4th quarter!

By virtue of this key victory, Stepinac now looks in ideal shape to secure a top-2 seed for the postseason!

 

Joseph Lecchese (Sr.); LB/SS – St. Peter’s Eagles

“The best defensive performance I’ve ever coached,” was how Eagles head man, Mark DeCristoforo, so accurately recapped the extraordinary defensive exploits of his 5’9, 180-pound LB/SS hybrid stopper [Lecchese] to the reporter from the SI Advance….

Mired in a four-game slump when they stepped onto home soil for a Saturday matinee against Fordham Prep, the Blue & Gold convocation leaned heavily on the “D” in soaring to the 20-13 victory over the visiting Rams…And no one flew higher or prouder than the senior in the #5 jersey!!!

Emerging as the hub/centerpiece of a unit that forced six turnovers and pitched a shutout for the final 26:40 of regulation, there was not a box that went unchecked by Lecchese during his 48-minute episode of “helter skelter” mayhem!

Credited with eight tackles in whole, including three for a loss, where the Staten Islander shined brightest was in his flair for always being in the right place at the right time…

Of the previously cited sextet of possession-altering sequences, half came courtesy of Lecchese, as he was responsible for a pair of strips sacks, not to mention a potential game-saving interception!

The Eagles leading 20-13 in the last 2:00 of the third stanza, Lecchese registered the first of his set of forced fumbles when he brought the heat off the edge on a 3rd & 8 scenario and walloped the opposing Ram field general, jarring the ball loose where he completed the play by pouncing on it deep (the FP 7-yard line) inside enemy territory…

Approximately six minutes later (8:00 remaining in the 4th) and the score unchanged, it was déjà vu for Lecchese, as he exploded on a blitz, issuing a bulldozing hit from the blind side that created a free-for-all eventually recovered by fellow 12th grader, LB Giovanni Gentile…The massive thump occurred right after a long connection in the air advanced FP across mid-field to the STP 46….This marked the first of two drives that he personally thwarted during crunch time…

Money until the very end, Lecchese made a diving interception on the STP 21-yard line in the waning moments (:17 go) of the 4th quarter to preserve the “w”…The last-ditch attempt at an equalizing drive for Fordham Prep was initiated by a fumble recovery on their own 32 with 1:07 still showing on the clock.  They successfully marched to the Peter’s 32 before the Eagle turned ball hawk swooped in for the pick!

Putting the “strong” in strong safety, reaping praise is quickly becoming habitual for Lecchese.  In a week #4 loss to St. Anthony’s, his nine-stop/1 fumble recovery outing also secured the favor and compliments of DeCristoforo!

Anthony Castaldi (Jr.); QB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

One of our favorite times of the season is upon us!  There is nothing more American than Homecoming and no greater satisfaction than the thrill/joy of knowing that you treated the magnitudes of decorated alumni to an amazing show!

For the 5’10, 180-pounder from Wappinger Falls [Castaldi], that esteemed privilege belonged to him on the afternoon of October 9th!

Pitted against a Xaverian program that his school had never defeated (0-7) since Kennedy Catholic’s entry into the NYCHSFL in the fall of 2013, the junior Swiss Army Knife cut through the visiting Clippers in every possible manner in catapulting the Gaels to a 42-7 triumph that improved their league record to 3-0 versus in-state Catholic opponents.

Featured/referenced in week #2 [as part of teammate, Nick Mittag’s POTW write-up] in recognition of his impact as a wide receiver, this past weekend’s spotlight- commanding endeavor came about thanks to a reversal of roles!!!

Assuming primary snap-taking responsibilities for KC in week #5 after platooning with fellow junior, ZJ Suarez, earlier in the season, based on the demonstration of dual-threat excellence he demonstrated, it is difficult to fathom him relinquishing his QB1 status anytime in the near future!

Connecting on 12-of-15 throw attempts, Castaldi tossed for a career-high 161 yards and a pair of TDs…He proved quite adept on the ground to boot, carrying the pigskin on eight separate instances for a sum of 106 yards and two additional scores!!!   All in all, he accrued an outstanding 267 yards of production and had a hand (or leg) in 2/3s of the Gaels’ six overall trips to the promised land!

The boys of Somers already out to a 7-0 advantage following a pick-6 on the opening play from scrimmage by Mittag, Castaldi doubled the cushion in the last 60 seconds of the 1st when he lofted a beautiful 20-yarder into the corner of the end zone to a leaping Israel Centeno-Johnson (3 grabs for 40 yards, 1 TD).

Later in the contest, his poise and/or coolness under pressure was confirmed when despite having a Clipper defender bearing down on him, he surveyed the field and found Nick Duryea (3 catches, 91 yards, 1 TD) over the middle for a 40-yard touchdown strike!

Potent with his legs from both near and far, Castaldi cashed on TD runs from distances of 50 and 4 yards respectively to round out his coronation as the unofficial “Homecoming King”!

Oct 062021
 

By Matt Diano:

 Justin Joly (Sr.); WR/RB/Rover – Iona Prep Gaels

Let’s just put it out there; Justin Joly should have been a Player of the Week selection last week; Double-J could be a POTW pick next week, and so forth…That is just how much of a game-changing/revolutionary performer the 6’4, 220-pounder is on a consistent basis…There is no hesitation on our part when we proclaim that there will not be an outing this season that #7 fails to make a positive impression or significant contribution…After all, when you have accumulated over 80 grabs for close to 1,300 yards, and 13 touchdowns during a three-year starting career in New Rochelle, it is no longer a secret that you are a “weapon of mass production!!!”

Still riding the momentum/wave of a week #3 display that witnessed him catch six balls for 203 yards + a touchdown trifecta in the Gaels’ 63-20 victory over Christ the King, the future University of Delaware Blue Hen went off again this past Saturday in leading IP to a 34-7 triumph against Archbishop Stepinac in one of their biggest match-ups on the NYCHSFL fall 2021 calendar…

Adding to his program-best totals in all major receiving categories, the Lohud Super 11 honoree/team captain pulled in five catches for 102 yards to notch the fourth 100+ yard effort of his tenure per MaxPreps….Unofficially, he has now amassed the following stat line in his final year donning the Maroon & Gold: 26 grabs for 486 yards, with four scores!

October 2nd also afforded Joly the opportunity to showcase other dimensions of his very well-rounded skillset…Known/respected as the featured target when the pigskin is in the air, he complemented his impeccable reputation by thriving as both a ball carrier and a defender in the win that kept Iona Prep among the unblemished in league play (3-0).

His school plagued by the injury bug at the running back position, he was one of the student-athletes that Head Coach, Joe Spagnolo, specifically sought out to step up/assume responsibility in this area of the attack…Joly met the call to action by answering in the form of a 7-carry, 52-yard body of work, highlighted by a 38-yard TD run in the early moments of the 2nd quarter to double the IP advantage to 14-0.

If the first 90 seconds of the 2nd was an ode to the threat he poses any time the ‘skin is in his size 10.5 hands on offense, then the last minute-and-a-half provided the evidence that he is a “hawk” feasting on equal prey defensively as well!!!  The #2 ranked team in the Empire State holding a commanding 21-0 edge, Joly, having dropped back into pass coverage, darted in front of a Crusader WR and made a diving snatch for the interception to give Iona Prep possession on the opposing 29-yard line…Five snaps later, the junior tandem of Ajani Sheppard/Ryan O’Boyle, hooked up on a 15-yard TD connection to maximize the magnitude of the turnover…

Acing one test versus an expected AAA postseason contender, next up for the Gaels will be another clash versus a top tier foe as they go road tripping to Long Island to square off with their unbeaten (in NYCHSFL contests) brethren, the Firebirds of Kellenberg Memorial.

 

Chris Booras (Sr.); LB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

To have one successful goal line stand during the course of a single game is impressive; Two is remarkable; three is other-worldly; four is utter insanity; but FIVE in 48 minutes?  Well, after what the Monsignor Farrell defense achieved last Friday in their 16-8 victory over Cardinal Hayes, that feat can only be labeled as LIONESQUE!!!

Points being at a premium from the get-go, the MF “D” would bend periodically, but they refused to break…Time after time, no matter what the rival Cardinals tried to execute against them inside the red zone, the Anthony Garofalo molded corps stood up in the fight and prevailed…

Limiting the defending (2019) Metro Catholic Triple-A champs to an output 26.5 points below their average thus far this fall in NYCHSFL appearances (as well as the program’s lowest tally against an in-state opponent since 2014), was a COMPLETE TEAM endeavor; top to bottom, there was not a student-athlete on that side of the line of scrimmage who did not warrant POTW consideration…So, if you are the 6’1, 205-pound senior linebacker/co-captain [Chris Booras], to know that your head coach paid you the ultimate compliment by recognizing you as the catalyst/foundation behind the stifling effort, ought to be a source of immense pride!

Credited with 8 total stops, four tackles yielding negative yardage, two more hits for no gain, and even a batted ball under the primetime lights, the Staten Island student-athlete exhibited an aptitude for being at his best when the occasion demanded Herculean toughness…In all five of the cited stands, #44 in the home gold was visibly active!

The Lions having drawn first blood on their previous possession and Hayes driving in search of an equalizer in the last 4:00 of the 1st half, it was Booras being in the center of a 4th & 2 gang tackle on senior RB, Rex Roman, for the first suffocation of the night…

On the initial Cardinals’ series of the 3rd quarter, he prevented a touchdown on 1st & goal on his own 5.5 when he brought down Roman two yards shy of the end zone…

Just beyond the midway point (5:50 remaining) and Hayes on the 1-yard line, the super senior Mike LB greeted Roman on the doorstep to deny the 5’6, 150-pounder yet again…On 3rd down of this same drive, he correctly read play-action pass and  chased Duke bound senior QB, Henry Belin to the sideline, where junior DB, Nicholas Rossini and senior LB, Aaron Espinet (also ran for a team-high 114 yards and scored the winning TD on 18 carries) cracked him for a two-yard loss…

The score now deadlocked at 8-8 with approximately 3:00 remaining in duration, Booras flew across to the goal line on a 3rd & goal from the MF 7 to halt Belin at the 1…One snap later, he made the second/clean up hit to stuff sophomore, Kenneth Antoine to yield the turnover on downs…

The Espinet six-yard TD noted above putting Farrell back in front, 16-8, in the final 1:00, the visitors from the Bronx would not go quietly…Mounting a late rally but the clock (:15 to go) an unapologetic enemy, Hayes found themselves inside the 10, but Booras had another burst left in the gas tank, which he utilized on 3rd down when he sprinted to join a crowd that wrestled Belin to the grass to set up the deciding 4th down play (incomplete pass that was knocked down by Joseph Badynya, while the senior DE was applying heavy pressure).

 

Aidan Hanley-Piri (Sr.); QB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

We don’t know if the 6’2, 200-pound senior signal caller out of the Bronx [Hanley-Piri] is an enthusiast of the Righteous Brothers, but based on the way he’s slinging the pigskin in his scholastic swan song, he probably should be…In staying with the theme we introduced when he last garnered POTW distinction [week #3 of the Spring], subconsciously, whenever we are writing about him, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling” will be playing in our heads…Because he is most certainly one of the TOP GUNS on the  Downstate Catholic Football landscape this fall!!

Tormenting the Kingsmen of Nazareth Regional for a second year in a row [23 of 31 for 315 yards and SIX TDs in May en route to Player of the Week honors], Hanley-Piri was every bit the assassin/marksman in the 36-6 triumph this past Saturday that notched his school their first win of the season (1-2)…Darn-near perfect on his throws, the multi-sport student-athlete (is also a RHP on the varsity baseball squad) was hurling dimes in every direction, as he partnered with eight different, including four different recipients on his quartet of TD passes, to post a 14-for-15, 220-yard masterpiece in the air!

This grandiose demonstration of precision came on the heels of a 10-for-16, 212-yard, 3-TD affair in a hard-fought loss the previous weekend in a rematch of the 2019 “A” title game versus Kennedy Catholic

Wasting no time in getting the Pilots on the board, one senior connected with another, as Hanley-Piri and Nathaniel Cooke united on a 6-yard crossing pattern to break the ice!  Moments later, the 2pt try was converted on an out-route to Mark Piri to make the score 8-0 less than 2:00 into the 1st quarter.

Six minutes later, the All-Piri duo struck for “6” as a short dart into the slot was transformed into a 45-yard, to the house highlight thanks to the nimble and slick moves of the 5’9, 150-pounder on the back end of the exchange…Cutting, side-stepping, and especially dodging, [Mark] Piri started out closest to his own bench but wound up running the final 30 yards directly in front of the opposing sideline to increase the lead to 16-0 [Devon Richardson with the 2pt rush]…

Spellman’s lead having grown to 22-0, Hunter Scott made his entrance at the TD party approximately halfway through the 3rd quarter, catching a screen pass and cruising to the pylon from a modest distance (3-4 yards) to give Hanley-Piri his third touchdown throw of the day…Miles Piegari had the 2pt grab to further enhance the margin [30-0].

The punction of an exceptional weekend occurred seven ticks into the 4th as Hanley-Piri linked brought the curtain down on his marvelous matinee with one bonus TD toss, an 11-yarder to senior wide-out, Dylan Ramlochan!!!

 

Sean Cannon (Jr.); DB/Punter– Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

As we were taught in the 2000 cinematic classic, “The Replacements”, the greatest fear (aside from spiders) that a football player can have is the onset of the feeling of “quicksand”!!!

In the Firebirds’ 35-8 victory last Sunday over Chaminade in the 2021 rendition of the Marianist Bowl, that quicksand had a name and a jersey number…#11 SEAN CANNON!!!

Kellenberg up 7-0 only seconds into the game following a 99-yard touchdown return by Senior, Jaden Lyons, on the opening kickoff, their hosts from Chaminade were marching in pursuit of an equalizer…Instead, in the blink of an eye, they found themselves buried even deeper when on 3rd & 10 inside the KMHS 29, Cannon undercut a throw to the wide side of the gridiron, intercepted the pass and sprinted 75 yards to paydirt to double the Blue & Gold lead to 14-0…

The first quarter pick-6 being the signature contribution for the 6’2, 180-pound, 11th grade, honor roll (4.0 GPA) member, it by no means encompassed the universal impact from horn to horn that the “Amityville Horror” had in delivering the “w” to Uniondale!!!

Entering the showdown of religious order brethren already atop every major defensive back category at Kellenberg, Cannon continued to bolster his imposing junior statistical resume by topping all Firebirds with 12 cumulative stops (many of which were in open space, third-level situations), while also successfully breaking up two other throws in his vicinity…Through four games, he has now amassed 36 tackles, logged two INTs, and been the primary coverage man on four PDs….His domineering presence among the last line of defense showing no indication of drop-off, pretty soon, it might be necessary to designate a spot on the Mitchel Athletic Complex as “Cannon Island.”!

Epitomizing the cliché about countless ways to skin a cat (the “cat” being victory in this specific regard), Cannon was quite valuable on special teams too…Handling KMHS’s punting duties, when his lockdown play at defensive back wasn’t dictating field position, his boots were doing the talking…

Averaging 38 yards on his five kicks, which included a 60-yarder that flipped the field to begin the 4th quarter, Cannon’s most consequential boomer came 3:30 into the 2nd quarter…The ‘Birds having just allowed a safety, but still enjoying a 21-2 edge, he launched a moon shot with such cosmic hang time that the gunner [senior, Kevin Murray] was able to get all the way down and strip the Flyer return man to create an extra possession for Kellenberg on the opposing 37…A few snaps later, junior QB, Devin Page (9 of 14 for 95 yards w/3 TDs) and senior WR, Gilbert Rivera, cashed in on the opportunity, playing pitch/catch on a 22-yarder to make a bad situation worse (28-2) for their Mineola hosts.

Currently sitting at 3-1 overall (3-0 in NYCHSFL contests), Kellenberg is going to lean heavily on their star DB when they welcome in Iona Prep on October 9th…The potential Cannon/Joly one-on-one dual will be worth the price of admission!!!

 

Dylan Braithwaite (Jr.); WR/CB– Holy Trinity Titans

You think you had an exciting weekend? The 5’11, 160-pounder, junior [Dylan Braithwaite] says, “Hold my Gatorade…

Suiting up for HT for just the fourth time after transferring into the Hicksville based program following a decorated start to his scholastic career in his home district of Valley Stream Central, the young gentleman with the 4.3 speed selected one heck of a day to reinforce his reputation as the two-way superstar he was advertised as being before trading Blue for Green…

Spending his Saturday afternoon in the Garden State after being extended a homecoming invite by Monmouth University, 24 hours later, Braithwaite displayed why the Big South Conference member believes he has the potential to be one great future (Ball) Hawk on the collegiate level!

Billed as a preview of what many pundits predict will be the AA-2 title match-up next month, Braithwaite was a spark plug on both sides of the line of scrimmage in Trinity’s 45-21 road victory over St. John the Baptist in a collusion of unbeatens…

Surging the Titans to a 28-0 advantage at the intermission, three of Braithwaite’s six catches (for a sum of 154 yard) resulted in touchdowns for “Roy’s Boys” (Head Coach/HT alumnus, Kahmal Roy)…

Just missing a true hat trick (thanks to a short TD run by fellow 11th grader, Christopher Bacon in the 2nd quarter), Braithwaite broke a scoreless tie in the 1st when he and field general, Zion Woodhull-Trippett (5-of-8, 106 yards, 2 TDs) joined forces for the first of a pair of opening-quarter scoring strikes from a distance of 32 yards…Their second collaboration was even more spectacular as this time the damage came from 41 yards out!

The identity of the person slinging the ‘skin may have changed in the 2nd quarter, but the byproduct remained the same, as sophomore signal caller, Rocco Rainone, hit the #9 jersey with a 19-yard bullet to culminate the latter’s 18-point sabbath!

As an accompaniment to the main course he served on offense, Braithwaite would exhibit the stellar defensive back skills that secured him 2nd Team All-Long Island status as a sophomore last spring, as it was his pass deflection in the 4th quarter that ricocheted the ball into the waiting arms of sophomore teammate, Josiah Brown, who proceeded to race 70 yards to the promised land for HT’s sixth and final touchdown!

Sep 292021
 

By Matt Diano:

Christian Alacqua (Sr.); RB – Chaminade Flyers

To watch the 5’11, 185-pounder out of Manhasset compete the past three weeks is to ask yourself, is it impossible to have a “once-in-a-generation” caliber talent on campus TWICE in a matter of three seasons?

Sidelined for much of his abridged junior campaign due to the injury bug last spring, the future Cornell University lacrosse midfielder is turning heads and making jaws drop with the way he has come out of the gate on fire in his swan song on behalf of the Kevin Dolan Crimson & Gold ground attack!!

The successor to 2019 3rd Team All-State selection/2x Newsday All Long-Island 2nd-team honoree, Mario Fischetti Jr. (now playing in the backfield at Williams College), [Christian] Alacqua has been so remarkable at the onset of the fall that he has the Flyer faithful feeling overcome with a sense of déjà vu….

Less than a year removed from the conclusion of the aforementioned Fischetti’s decorated career (ran for a cumulative mark of just south of 2,000 yards in his two varsity seasons), Alacqua is leaving no doubt that lightning has struck Mineola twice!

An individual that could have feasibly garnered POTW distinction every week thus far (including the week #2 loss to Cardinal Hayes), the co-captain donning the #11 jersey has surpassed the century mark in all three appearances and has delivered no fewer than two touchdowns in any contest! Thus, to call his most recent outing his finest yet is no minor form of flattery.

Establishing new personal-bests in both yardage gained (187) and TD runs (4) on a modest 13 carries (14.4/per), the multi-sport sensation was the vision of a cheetah in an open desert in leading Chaminade to their highest point output since 2014 in a 45-14 victory over St. Peter’s this past Saturday afternoon!

Busting for double-digits on all four of his treks to the house, Alacqua notched his first score late in the 1st quarter (Flyers up 3-0) when he started left and then cut back right to cruise 37 yards down the visiting sideline to increase the advantage to 10-0…

The second quarter proved to his most fruitful as he notched a pair of touchdowns approximately four minutes apart to further give his school separation (24-0) before the intermission…Aided by textbook blocks from junior TE, Jack Francesa, and senior WR, John Schmatz, Alacqua traveled 20 yards untouched for his second score of the game with 8:07 remaining in the half…The hat trick came from a distance of 11 yards away, as he headed up the gut and side-stepped an attempted ankle tackle en route to arriving at the promised land.

The “w” secured and Chaminade now up 31-0 (Hagan Wagner returned the 2nd Half kickoff 70 yards), Alacqua added one final highlight when on the ensuing snap after an Angel Jimenez interception, he found a hole and sprinted 52 yards to complete the “haul” with 6:15 to go in the 3rd quarter.

Through three games, Alacqua’s mind-blowing stat line reads as follows: 47 carries for 464 yards (9.9 average) and eight rushing touchdowns…He also has two receptions (1 TD grab) for an additional 60 yards!

Every game pivotal under the new postseason qualification structure, the “Fortes” brotherhood will be relying on their gifted tailback to continue a historic march up the record books when they welcome Kellenberg Memorial on October 3rd for the latest edition of the Marianist Bowl…The showdown is a rematch of the 2019 NYCHSFL AA-1 title game (won 29-12)…The last time the Firebirds stepped into Gold Star Stadium in 2018 they handed the Flyers a 42-14 defeat on their way to a second consecutive perfect/title-winning year…Hence, the rivalry is at a boiling point!

 

Mark Anthony Scott (Sr.); RB – St. John the Baptist Cougars

There is just something special about week #3 that seems to bring out the best in #22 in the Cougar jersey…Earning the first POTW selection of his scholastic career in the third week of the 2021 spring season following a 260-yard, 3-TD affair on the ground against Kennedy Catholic, the 5’11, 175-pounder out of Port Jefferson Station was on pace to shatter all career milestones this past Saturday, but SJB was in such firm control that Coach, Phil Alba, elected to allow his invaluable senior tailback to rest for the majority of the final 24 minutes of the contest…

The program off to their first 3-0 start in “forever” after last weekend’s 48-14 drubbing at home over Mount St. Michael Academy, to say that Scott has been the heart and/or soul of the resurgence in West Islip might be the most significant understatement of the century…

Carrying the pigskin just 10 times all afternoon, 40% of his touches yielded “6” as he accrued an incredible 162 yards and took it to the house on four separate occasions as part of the SJB’s monster ground attack (7 total rushing TDs)…

Registering a “true hat trick” (three consecutive scores) between the 1st and 2nd quarters, the bona fide stud sporting the 3.7 GPA ignited the offense to the tune of touchdown runs from distances of 42, 9, and 19 yards out as the Cougars raced (literally in the case of Scott) to a 21-0 lead over the Mountaineers…

The advantage sitting at a comfortable 28-6 early in the 3rd quarter, Alba afforded his magical maven one final series…Seizing the opportunity, Scott punctuated his day by bolting 36 yards to the end zone to cap off the 24-point performance!

Per Newsday, Scott will head into week 4’s clash of unbeatens against Holy Trinity having amassed 449 yards and 7 touchdowns thus far in his last year wearing the Red, White, and Blue!

 

Christopher Moore (Jr.); MLB/RB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

If there has been one common theme during the Firebirds’ recent rule of prominence (Champions in 2017, 2018; runner-up in 2019), it is that at every turn, [Kevin] Hanifan & company have enjoyed the luxury of featuring a variety of dynamic play-makers on either or both sides of the line of scrimmage…The evening of September 25th bore witness to the next in this lineage in the person of the 5’11, 170-pound, junior, linebacker residing in Massapequa, Chris Moore.

It’s on week #3 and thanks to the multi-sport [slated to be a starting pole on the KMHS lacrosse team in the spring] primo scholar-athlete [4.0 GPA], the NYCHSFL faithful may have already seen the defensive play of the year during Kellenberg’s 38-10 victory on neutral territory over the previously undefeated Rams of Fordham Prep.

The Uniondale based institution up 21-3, but momentum beginning to shift when an untimely turnover in the initial stages of the 3rd quarter put the Rams in business, it was #32 in the Blue/Gold/White curbing any chance of an FP rally…Two snaps removed from the KMHS blunder, Moore answered with a ferocious counterblow via a “Holy Trinity” of defensive excellence, as he stripped the Fordham Prep tailback, scooped up the pigskin, and paraded 60 yards to the house to swing mojo right back into the favor of the Marianist machine!

A key cog on a D-Unit that limited the opposition to their lowest output this far this season (entered averaging 21.5/game), in addition to his aforementioned gallant three-in-one spectacle, Moore was immensely consistent from first whistle to final horn, making 8 total stops.

Getting into the act on offense, prior to his defensive score, Moore experienced the thrill of recording the first official touchdown of his varsity tenure, when he “bounced a run designed to go up the middle to the outside and dashed 15 yards to “Broadway” to close out a 21-point first quarter (21-0) for Kellenberg.

 

Isaiah Decruz (Jr.); QB – St. Francis Prep Terriers

As the expression goes, “Our real heroes seldom wear capes.”….And such was absolutely true of the 5’10, 175-pound, junior signal caller out of Jamaica [Decruz] in the Terriers’ 18-10 triumph this past Saturday night over Xavier.

Launching the gents from Francis Lewis Blvd into the win column for the first time this fall, the first-year starter under center was dynamic with both arm and legs for the full 48 minutes of regulation.

Responsible for 138 yards of total offensive production, the 11th grader may not have thrown often, but when he did, the ball was on the money, as he connected on 4-of-5 aerial attempts for 65 yards, including a 26-yard, over-the-shoulder TD strike to senior TE, Andre Blakney, in the last 1:25 before the break to send SFP into the locker room with the 6-3 lead over the host Knights.

Demonstrating immense burst and elusiveness with his other limbs, Decruz was Houdini-like in his ability to escape and scramble his way out of trouble…Clearly a master improviser, when viewing game tape, there were moments that we were sure he was “dead to rights” only to be left in awe by a move he’d made to keep a play alive…Credited with a team-best 75 yards on 12 keepers, to watch this kid shake, shimmy, and glide whenever the ‘skin was in his hands was a work of art!

As impressive and worthy as his stat line reads, what was equally as inspiring were the contributions he made that might never get otherwise acknowledged in a box score or brief game summary…September 25th was accurately a tale of the sum of the parts being greater than that finished product…It was not just the plays themselves, but the “clutchness” that accompanied them.

The paper will show that he had a hand in one touchdown.  What won’t be spotlighted in that prior to the TD hurl, he had a long completion to Mike Solimando (2 catches for 34 yards) that moved the ball across mid-field and laid the tracks for that eventual score…

Also not properly represented would be the TWO priceless third down conversions he orchestrated in the 4th quarter that enabled the Terriers to both exhaust clock and cement the win with a bonus TD in the last 3:30.

St. Francis prep clinging to a 12-10 edge, Decruz moved the chains on “3rd & a mile” when he found a hole and scrambled for 25 yards to cross over into enemy territory (Xavier 47)…A few snaps later, he extended the drive again when he rolled out and hit a sliding Solimando just outside the Knight 30….He then called his own number (#5) repeatedly on QB options to put the ball on the doorstep…Senior RB, Jaden St. Fort (45 yards on 7 hand-offs) did the rest, plunging across the goal line to ice win!

 

Dante Torres (Jr.); QB – St. Anthony’s Friars

During the period stretching from 1993 thru 2013, the words “football” and “championship” were practically synonymous terms in South Huntington…A genuine dynasty that collected 14 AAA crowns and finished as bridesmaids on the other six occasions, the Friars built of yesteryear built a legacy that will forever survive the test of time…

Since 2014, St. Anthony’s advanced to title weekend just once and have been unable to adorn the trophy case with hardware…

THE TIDE IS ONCE AGAIN HIGH, TRADITION is about to be restored, and at/under center of the uprising is the 6’3, 195-pound, junior sniper hailing from Massapequa [Torres]…

One of those rare student-athletes that you know it destined for greatness just from taking one glimpse at them, if you watched the #3 jersey as a Freshman in 2019 you could not help but envision what was in store for him in the coming years…And now that the future is the present, he sincerely has exceeded the most ambitious of expectations…

The epitome of what it means to be a dual-threat quarterback, there was not a piece of his arsenal that went undeployed in the Friars’ 48-28 triumph under the Friday night lights on September 24th against defending (2019) triple-A league champs, Cardinal Hayes

Putting forth the most exquisite collective effort of his still budding varsity career, Torres sniped his way to career-bests in passing yards (316) and touchdowns thrown (3), as he completed 16 of 26 attempts versus the visiting Cardinals.  But this told just half the story…When he was not busy tearing up the opposing secondary with lasers, he proved to be quite adept as a runner.  Carrying the ball just six times, he accumulated 80 yards + two additional scores to round out a stunning five TD night!

The Black & Gold already out to a 7-0 lead (67-yard TD trek by senior RB, Joshua Escobar, on the second snap of the game), Torres hooked up with his favorite target, sophomore wide-out extraordinaire, KJ Duff Jr. (6 receptions for 193 yards) on a 3-yard jump ball in the end zone to increase the St. Anthony’s lead to 13-0 less than five minutes into the 1st quarter…This touchdown exchange between the two blue chippers marked the first of three drives that the duo teamed up to culminate…Earlier in the series, they connected on a 20-yard completion on 4th & 11 to put the ‘skin at the Hayes’ 6-yard-line.

3:20 into the 2nd quarter, Torres’ legs did the talking as he made the opponent pay for a turnover on downs by faking a hand-off, cutting right and then cutting back to the middle of the gridiron for a 54-yard dash to the office to further pad the cushion (20-0)…

STA’s fourth touchdown of the opening half came with 6:13 remaining as Torres went back to Duff, lofting a perfect toss over the shoulder of the 6’5 phenom, who then spun and shed a tackler to conclude the 43-yard TD pitch-and-catch to put Joe Minucci’s brood up 27-0.

Hayes finally on the board (27-7), Torres snuffed out any reason for hope in the last 19.1 seconds before the intermission when he punched in a 1-yard QB keeper for his second rushing TD and fourth overall “6” in a matter of 24 minutes…

The encore for Torres and his partner in crime & punishment [Duff] came approximately 90 seconds into the 4th when the former hurled an immaculate dart over the middle and then let the latter leave defenders in his wake and rack up the YAC for the 50-yard punctuation!

Holding campus visit invitations from the likes of UCONN, Dartmouth, and Princeton among other interested suitors, Torres enters the fourth week of the regular season [vs. St. Peter’s] having thrown for 659 yards and four touchdowns on 46 of 75 passing (61.3%)…And he’s just getting warmed up!

 

Sep 222021
 

By Matt Diano:

James McCauley (Sr.); QB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

Judy Garland delivered the famous line, “There’s no place like home.”; Elvis Presley sung, “Home is Where the Heart is.”; And for the 6’2, 190-pound, senior signal caller for the Crusaders [McCauley], “home” can be found on Mamaroneck Avenue and it truly is the ONLY place he wanted to write the final story of his scholastic chapter!!

The back-up field general for Head Coach, “Mike O’Donnell’s 2019 NYCHSFL triple-A runners-up as a sophomore, the cerebral assassin (boasts a grade point average of 104; posted an SAT score of 1340) spent his junior season leading Georgia prep powerhouse, Carrollton, to an 8-3 record en route to earning individual 2nd Team All-Region honors in his lone year in the “Peach State”.

However, with there being more reassurances that there would be action on the gridiron in New York despite the on-going pandemic (the uncertainty of such a year ago being the reason behind the transfer), the Rivals.com 3-star prospect knew in his heart that there was unfinished business to attend to and boxes to be checked back in White Plains….And thus far, despite Stepinac’s 1-2 overall tally (both losses to out-of-state opponents from New Jersey and Texas), their captain in the #6 jersey is making up for lost time!

Starting the first Metro Catholic contest of his career, McCauley needed only a single half to prove that he is going to torment opposing NYCHSFL secondaries every chance he gets in his swan song…Connecting on 9 of his 11 pass attempts, he tossed for 155 yards and 3 touchdowns in a commanding 47-0 victory on the road over St. Peter’s last Saturday!

The Crusaders already out to a 13-0 lead, McCauley made it three consecutive drives culminated by a TD when he hit Dae’Shawn Allen (3 catches for 98 yards) in space on a short route in front of the visiting sideline and then allowed his talented junior receiver to do the rest of the work to finish off the 47-yard hook-up that increased the Stepinac lead to 20-0 with just 5:00 remaining in the first quarter.

Changing ends of the field did nothing to disrupt the flow of McCauley as less than 60 seconds into the 2nd, he struck for his second touchdown hurl of the afternoon by converting a 4th & 5 inside enemy territory by firing over the middle on a 7-yard crossing pattern to sophomore, Jahi Gary, to further create separation (26-0) between the Crusaders and the host Eagles.

The scoreboard now reading 33-0 with 2:02 to play before the break, McCauley teamed with Allen for one final act, completing a beautiful 41-yard bubble screen that enabled the explosive 11th grader [Allen] to again showcase his ability to rack up massive amounts of YAC on his way to paydirt!

Performing like a marksman in the pocket, through three games this fall, McCauley has compiled a 71.2 completion rate (37-for-52) for 535 yards and five touchdown passes!

The road warriors in the red, white, and blue will finally be afforded the luxury of battling on their own soil when they welcome in the Mavericks of Moore Catholic during week #3…The Mavs countering by way of a gunslinger of their own, the presence of junior QB, John Michalski (781 yards and 10 TD throws in four games last spring) should set the stage for one heck of a proverbial shootout on the evening of the 24th!

 

Dowan Coachman (Jr.); RB/LB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

In the simplest and most precise terms, fall 2021 is a darn good time to be Moore Catholic Head Coach, Nick Giannatasio…Every direction he turns, the sixth-year herder of Staten Island stallions discovers one dynamic play-maker after another…As if It was not already an embarrassment of riches to return your starting QB (cited above), as well as your entire receiving corps (Nick Jordan, Michael Zeh, Matthias Lighten, Jay’len Johnson, etc.), and 80% of the OL from the abbreviated spring season, all signs officially point to week #1 signifying the birth of the newest superstar on Merrill Ave, two-way junior gem, Dowan Coachman

Making his first start in the offensive backfield last Saturday after serving as the primary back-up to 2021 graduate, Michael Peraino, in the spring, the 5’10, 190-pound 11th grader left no doubt that those glimpses of greatness he flashed last year (averaged 7.3/carry on 20 hand-offs for a total of 146 yards + 1 TD) were just the precursor to the breakout extravaganza he had planned for his last two seasons in Red & Black.

Establishing new personal-bests in every statistical rushing category, Coachman carried the pigskin 14 times for 81 yards, highlighted by bookend scores (first and last TD of the afternoon for the Mavs) in propelling his school to a 28-20 triumph in a clash for SI bragging rights against St. Joe’s by the Sea…

Drawing first blood in the war of cross-town rivals when he took the pitch and “bulldozed” (to borrow from SILive’s game summary) his way into the end zone from a distance of five yards out to give MC the initial 7-0 lead, it was actually the second of his pair of TD treks that rendered those in attendance speechless…

The defending AA-2 titlists (2019) clinging to a one-score lead in the 4th quarter, Coachman “sunk the Viking ship” when he erupted for a 32-yarder to the house to increase the MC advantage to 28-12!

Including a TD run this past May as part of a six-carry, 25-yard outing in a 28-0 shutout, all three of Coachman’s career touchdowns have come versus SJS!

Consistent with the theme of our previous edition (week #1) of the POTW list, Coachman joined his peers in cementing ironman status by racking up a double-digit tackle (10), one sack, one TFL effort from the linebacker position…

 

Nick Mittag (Sr.); OG/ILB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

Every year since 2016, there has been at least one exceptional Kennedy Catholic student-athlete recognized at the annual end of season Communion Breakfast…Over the years, we have witnessed Ed Longest win Lineman of the Year (2017),  Cole Esposito receive back-to-back Top Defensive Player honors (2017, 2018), a trio of Gaels (David Keogh-2015, Myles Proctor-2017, and Clayton Proctor-2019) go home with the  Joseph Riverso Memorial trophy (Outstanding Offensive Player), and finally Brendan Lebitsch repeat as the extraordinary specialist in 2018 and 2019…The 6’0, 210-pounder out of Ossining [Mittag] was so well-roundedly remarkable in KC’s 35-0 victory against Nazareth Regional last Friday, that he made a strong case for himself to be regarded as an early contender for every one of those individual accolades.

Tirelessly impacting every facet of the game, despite lining up at offensive guard when his team had possession, Mittag was “AT THE CENTER” of all that went right for the Somers based program in notching their first dub of fall 2021!

A catalyst in helping the Gaels’ to their first defensive shutout since week #1 of the abridged spring schedule [35-0 over St. Dominic’s), #55 emerged with school-highs in total stops (8; 5-solo, 3-assisted) and tackles for a loss (3), while simultaneously collecting one of the team’s three sacks, recovering a fumble, and adding three QB hurries to his resume…

Tagged as the anchor of the OL by his head coach, Dominick Tassone, Mittag set the tone/provided senior leadership in the trenches for a group that paved the way for KC to accumulate 250 yards (108 in the air, 142 on the ground) and 35 points of comprehensive offensive production….Sophomore tailback, Chris Kalle (65 yards on nine carries), was especially appreciative of the unsung work done by the offensive line, as he was the most pronounced beneficiary as indicated by his FOUR touchdown runs…Thriving in the comforts of a clean pocket, junior QB, ZJ Suarez connected on 9-of-11 aerially, including a touchdown pass to fellow 11th grader, Anthony Castaldi.

To polish off his incredible night, Mittag would also make quite the stir on special teams, as he was responsible for both blocking a punt and then pouncing on it to flip the field for the Gaels.

Up next for KC will be a match-up that has developed into one of the top rivalries in the NYCHSFL, the showdown with Cardinal Spellman…Splitting the last two “A” title games (Kennedy winning the most recent affair in 2019), when these two programs face off, something unexpected always seems to ensue!

 

Jameer Reeder (So.); RB/LB – Holy Trinity Titans

God Bless the youth movement in Hicksville!!!  For the second weekend in a row, it was a non-senior standing at the forefront of victory for the Titans as they traveled to the Bronx and came away with a decisive 34-12 conquering of Mount St. Michael Academy last Saturday afternoon!

Off to their first 2-0 start since the 2016 season that eventually saw them advance to the Double-A title contest, there is just something different in the “holy water” at Holy Trinity thus far this fall!  And that difference seems to be tied to the coming of age and/or immediate contributions of student-athletes that perhaps entered the year under the radar!

A week removed from recognizing junior RB/LB, Chad Case, today belongs to a standout that is even younger; SOPHOMORE, Jameer Reeder

Gifted and on a trajectory to stardom, the 5’10, 180-pounder from Freeport is held in such high regard by the coaching staff at Trinity that he not only was extended an invite to roster on the varsity as a 9th grader last spring, he also earned his way onto the field for valuable playing time!  That experience is paying dividends at the onset of his sophomore campaign as he has lent a steady and poised demeanor to the defense as a linebacker, while distinguishing himself as a “home run hitter” on offense from the backfield!

Playing a pivotal role in the Green & White’s effort to hold the Mountaineers scoreless thru three quarters, a mind-blowing 50% of Reeder’s six tackles in week #2 yielded negative yardage…

Offensively, the perennial honor roll student in the classroom (4.0 GPA, including AP courses) displayed his rocket legs when he took a 2nd quarter hand-off wide down his own sideline and then cut back to the middle of the field, sprinting 52 yards to the promised land to give the Titans a 27-0 lead….Clocked at 12.27 in the 100-meters at the CHSAA Freshman/Sophomore Track & Field Championships last May (took 4th), literally and figurately out-running the competition is becoming habitual for Reeder.  In the season-opener, he had a 30-yard TD burst in the 27-0 win over St. Joe’s Collegiate (Monsignor Martin; Buffalo).

 

Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Jr.); RB/LB – Iona Prep Gaels

The mark of a special player is that even in a game where their school ended up on the short end of the stick, you leave the field convinced that no matter the outcome, that person was without question the best player in the stadium that day…

Such was true of the 6’2, 245-pounder from the Bronx [Moultrie-Goddard] in the Gaels’ 21-7 loss to New Jersey powerhouse, Don Bosco Prep, on September 4th.

Like the rinse and repeat instructions on the bottle of shampoo, witnessing him perpetually invade the opposing backfield and rack up stops for a loss was all the evidence we needed to know that it would not be long before we would again [was previously a POTW selection during week #2 of the pring season] be writing about his chronicles of pain-inflicting glory!

Iona Prep’s 24-10 triumph over Monsignor Farrell this past Saturday afforded us the privilege that we inevitably knew was destined to come to fruition…

The Gaels’ finding themselves trailing the Lions 10-3 at the midway point of the third quarter, “Spags” [Head Coach, Joe Spagnolo] called upon his squad to rise to the challenge and demonstrate why they currently hold the #2 ranking in the Empire State (per MaxPreps)…The gentlemen from New Rochelle all responded, but none more than their 11th grade, three-year varsity member, captain in the #8 jersey!

Spearheading a defensive insurrection that refused to surrender any additional points in the final 17:25 of regulation,  the 247 Sports 3-star prospect (with scholarship offers from the likes of Syracuse, Arizona State, West Virginia, and Tennessee), dropped the hammer countless times during the comeback…Credited with 14 total tackles, 6 TFLs, and a 1.5 sacks to boot, like we stated about [Nick] Mittag above, these are the performances that not only translate into team success, but also individual prestige!

“Humble Beast” was not one to leave the job half done either….Between six carries (63 yards) and one reception (6 yards), he accounted for nearly 70 yards of total offense as a complement to his superb execution on “D”.

Sep 162021
 

By Matt Diano:

Chad Case (Jr.); LB – Holy Trinity Titans

Speaking of virtuosic stoppers on “D”, the 5’8, 180-pound dynamo from Baldwin competed with such tenacity and firepower during week #1 that those in attendance must have thought he had been shot out of a cannon..

Going above and beyond in the HT 27-0 goose-egging of Monsignor Martin (Buffalo) league member, St. Joseph’s Collegiate, Case logged a double-digit (10) effort in tackles and cemented his POTW status behind a supplemental highlight package that included, but was not limited to, 1 TFL, 1 sack, and a fumble recovery…

With Case delivering the pain on behalf of a Holy Trinity defense that pitched their first shutout since 2018 (49-0 against St. Dominic’s on 10/28), it is no wonder why Titan third-year head coach/Class of ‘97 graduate, Kahmal Roy, was overjoyed when the young hammer elected to be a Titan!

Concentrated and/or employed most effectively on one side of the ball during kick-off weekend, like many of his peers who will follow him in this article, Case is far from a one-trick pony…If you had the privilege of observing him during the 6-on-6 flag season last fall, you are keenly aware that it is a question of “how soon”, not “if” he will transform into a 48-minute, every down, impact commodity in all areas of the game…Per Newsday, in his lone touch on offense, he broke for a 29-yard gain on the ground as a preview of the potential that is on the horizon!

Ellis Robinson IV (So.); CB/WR – Iona Prep Gaels

One of, if not the most highly regarded student-athletes to come out of the NYCHSFL in LEAGUE HISTORY, the 6’0, 170-pounder from New Haven, CT. demonstrated the dynamic play-making ability on both sides of the ball that has earned him the #4 overall composite ranking on 247Sports among all 2024 national prospects…Still very much in the infancy stage of his scholastic career, when it comes to his many suitors (already holds scholarship offers from 20-power-5 programs), #2 in jersey leaves little doubt why he is NUMERO UNO on the wish list!!!

Starring in an inter-state clash between what is arguably the top teams in both New York and Rhode Island, Robinson IV registered a pair of timely interceptions on defense (the only throws in his direction all evening) before further displaying his elite hands/ball skills by hauling in a 21-yard touchdown reception to lead the Gaels to an impressive 35-14 triumph at home over 3x defending RI State Champions, Bishop Hendricken.  The victory snapped the 25-game winning streak enjoyed by their guests from “The Ocean State.” IP has now handed the Hawks their last two losses, as prior to this past Saturday, the last time B.H. tasted defeat was in week #1 of the 2018 season (41-34).

The New Rochelle based school clinging to a 21-14 lead, Robinson IV restored the two-TD advantage when just outside of the red zone, he went in motion, caught a pass (from junior signal caller, Ajani Sheppard) behind the line of scrimmage, shed a tackle, and then darted down the host sideline via a “tight rope” act into the end zone to make the score 28-14!

Both of his picks were also significant momentum changers as the first occurred just outside the Iona Prep 30 and halted a promising Hendricken drive; the second setup the IP offense with ideal starting field position when in man-coverage, he beat his opponent to the spot and finished off the turnover right around mid-field!

The shutdown cornerback [Robinson IV] and the Gaels, who evened their record to 1-1 this season behind the win, will next turn their attention to preparing for a week #2 showdown with a Monsignor Farrell squad that looked quite potent in the air (Sophomore QB, Cristian Pinto, completed 6-of-10 for 171 yards + 1 TD).

 

Aaron Espinet (Sr.); LB/RB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

If you ask any former student-athlete what the highlight of their senior year was, most will tell you it was “the first game” and the “last game” played wearing our high school colors…The bookends of one’s swan song campaign just seem to hold a natural nostalgia that transcends much else that occurs.   And for the 6’1, 205-pounder out of Staten Island [Espinet], when he reflects back upon his 12th grade season debut, there is going to be a plethora of moments of which to remember…

The catalyst behind the Lions’ 34-20 victory at home under the Friday night lights over 16x Rhode Island State titlists (most recently 2017), La Salle Academy, there was not a single element of the game that the gentleman in the Maroon & Gold #23 jersey failed to impact!

Following a Farrell score on their opening possession to seize the immediate 7-0 edge, it was Espinet exploding up the middle untouched (on 3rd &15) for the first of his three sacks (one of which came on a 3Q 2pt conversion attempt) on the night to force La Salle into an impossible 4th down predicament that eventually ended in a turnover on downs…Less than 1:00 into the 2nd quarter (Lions still up 7-0), the MF captain would play a crucial role in generating his second turnover of the opening half when he applied a bone-crushing hit to the opposing quarterback to cause a fumble (recovered by fellow senior, Joseph Badyna, just short of the 50-yard line)…His personal TO count reached three when on 4th-and-long in the last 5:00 of the third quarter, he blew up a desperation pass attempt by chasing down the Ram receiver for a six-yard loss.  The tackle was one of 7 (5 solo, 2 assisted) he was amassed in the contest.

Shifting gears to offense, Espinet relied on his big frame to muscle his way into a commendable 5-carry, 43-yard, 2-touchdown evening on the ground…Building off of the aforementioned fumble that he was responsible for creating on “D”, he culminated the ensuing series by banging his way up the gut for the 7-yard TD run to double the lead to 14-0 (after a successful PAT) with 10:07 remaining before the break…The “big back” made it two consecutive scoring drives when he answered a La Salle touchdown with his second of the quarter on a 2-yard plunge across the goal line (3:35 to go in the half] to give the [Anthony] Garofalo guided cohort a comfortable 21-6 cushion heading into the locker room.

For good measure, Espinet got his name called on special teams to boot, recovering the onside kick (eventually negated by a LSA penalty) after La Salle scored approximately three-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter.

As referenced above, Farrell is scheduled to face off with the consensus preseason favorites in the AAA, Iona Prep, during the second week of the regulation season.  Should the beasts from Amboy Road hope to pull off the upset, it will be essential for Espinet to continue to be an imposing presence anywhere and everywhere on the gridiron!

 

Devin Grant (Sr.); QB/FS – Holy Cross Knights

If you perform a search for the 6’4, 190-pound standout hailing from Elmont on a major recruiting website, you won’t see any specific position recognized.  Rather, in acknowledgement of the universal and/or utter completeness of his array of tools, “ATHLETE” is utilized instead…In truth, “GODSEND” might have been just as accurate and applicable regarding how invaluable he is to Head Coach, Timothy Smith and the Knights of Holy Cross.

Returning to his roots as the snap-taker after spending his entire junior season as a wide-receiver (team-leader in all categories with 13 grabs for 194 yards and 4 TDs), there was not the slightest semblance of rust in his school’s 30-15 win over St. Francis Prep this past Saturday to avenge their lone defeat of the shortened 2021 spring season and claim the Battle of the Blvd. Trophy!!!

Like a prodigy that has honed and perfected his craft day-after-day for years, aside from the fact that he is two inches taller, #15 in the Green/White/Gold showcased the same unstoppable, dual-threat, highlight-reel caliber potential that yielded Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback, Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP!

Connecting on 6-of-8 throw attempts for 152 yards and two scores, if you can believe it, Grant was even more lethal with his legs, racking up 166 yards and two additional touchdowns on a mere eight carries in catapulting the Knights to 30 unanswered points from the 2nd-4th quarters.

Trailing 7-0, Grant got HC on the board when he hooked up with sophomore, Issac Glaudin, on an 89-yard TD reception (and then ran in the 2pt try) to instantly jump in front, 8-7…

The third quarter proved to be the most lucrative for the senior field general as he established breathing room for his squad by notching one TD apiece with his legs and arm…Cruising to the promised land on a 38-yard sprint 2:29 into the 2nd half, Grant later (:31 remaining) added his second aerial strike of the night to a super sophomore when he found Terrance Alexander on the 48-yard pitch/catch to increase the margin to 22-7.

As an exclamation to his thesis of offensive brilliance, Grant rounded out his four-TD affair with a 64-yard dash to paydirt in the last 5:00 of regulation…

An automatic/undeniable selection to the POTW list based off of the resume cited above, when it comes to his prowess on the other side of the ball, it suffices to say that “It’s in the genes.”….The nephew of NFL veteran safety/Holy Cross alumnus, Dean Marlowe (currently with the Detroit Lions), Grant exhibited the blue-chip skillset that inspired the University of Buffalo to lock him up in early-July as a centerpiece to their defensive backfield in 2022-2025…Collecting nine tackles in total, the future Bull was at the forefront of two turnover-inducing plays, as he forced + recovered a fumble, as well as recorded an interception in the midst of keeping the Terriers scoreless for the majority of the final three quarters of action.

 

Photo by Geoff Walter

Thomas Kemp IV (Sr.); DE – Chaminade Flyers

A two-year starter and the bar none backbone of the 2021 Crimson & Gold defensive line, the 6’3, 230-pound 12th grade DE out of Hempstead certainly set an example and raised the bar for the rest of his linemates in Chaminade’s 44-6 victory against Christ the King last Saturday night…

Consistently and thoroughly commanding the war in the trenches, “Milton Bradley” would be a fitting nickname for #76 he spent his weekend constructing a monopoly in the Royals’ offensive backfield!!!

Credited with a program-best 9 stops (4 solo), including quartet for a loss of yardage, one sack, and a forced fumbled (stalled a promising CTK drive that was inside the Flyer 25), Kemp IV, along with with fellow senior, Anthony Scala (4 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 sack), and 11th grader, Luke Ventura (4 stops, 2 tackles for negative yardage) formed a “Steel Curtain” within the 3-4 scheme to wreak havoc and prevent the Christ the King attack from ever gaining their proverbial footing.

While Kemp and company brought the “BOOM” on defense, a bevy of personnel were equally outstanding when the Mineola based institution had the pigskin…Splitting QB duties, senior, Thomas Stueber (5-for-12 passing for 112 yards; 33 yards rushing + 2 TDs on eight carries) and junior, Matthew Dieguez (2-of-6 throwing for 64 yards w/1 TD; 53 yards and one touchdown running on 6 keepers) accounted for over 260 yards of total production and four scores…12th grade tailback, Christian Alacqua, was the very definition of “all-purpose”, surpassing the century mark (101) and reaching the end zone twice (distances of 13 and 7) on 15 carries; The Cornell University committed lacrosse gem tacked on two grabs for 60 yards and one bonus TD to conclude his 18-point saga! Sophomore place-kicker, Timothy Tomlinson (the only 10th grader on the varsity roster), went 5-for-6 on PATs and converted a 35 yard field goal attempt to contribute eight points of his own!

Head Coach, Kevin Dolan, will need for Kemp and the rest of the “Marianist Militia” to match, if not exceed, their respective week #1 performances when the Flyers hit the road to square off with the defending (2019) triple-A champs from the Bronx, Cardinal Hayes!

May 122021
 

By Matt Diano:

Troy Telesford (Jr.); LB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

After scintillating performances on the offensive side of the ball during the first two weeks of the 2021 season (courtesy of John Michalski and Michael Peraino), it was the defense’s turn to take center stage in the Mavericks’ spring sendoff…And boy did they get their money’s worth and then some out of the 6’2, 225-pound junior linebacker [Telesford]…So accurately described in a tweet from Defensive Coordinator, Nate Ryan, as a “sideline to sideline killer”, the Brooklyn boy may have been playing on the school’s new red turf, but “black & blue” seemed to be his mantra for the day after delivering one bone-chilling hit after another in Moore’s 29-12 victory over St. Peter’s on May 8th…Hearing his name and #1 jersey called so often that at times it must have given off the impression that he had been cloned, Telesford finished the afternoon with a mind-blowing sum of 19 total tackles (3 solo), two TFLs, one sack, and even induced a well-timed fumble in being the catalyst towards holding the visiting Eagles to their lowest output of the shortened season (STP entered averaging just under 30 ppg and had scored 19 or more in all three previous appearances)..Sophomore wide-out, Nick Jordan, shined on “O”, making eight grabs for 193 receiving yards, including a pair of TDs (from distances of 32 and 72 yards respectively)…The defending NYCHSFL AA-2 titlists concluded the abbreviated campaign as one of only two (Cardinal Hayes the other) Metro Catholic programs from NYC to go unblemished (4-0)!

 

Ethan Yak (Jr.); RB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

If what Alec Baldwin (‘Glengarry Glen Ross”) said about closers is true, then the 5’8, 175-pounder out of Staten Island [Yak] deserved the entire pot of coffee based on the way he was culminating drives this past Friday in the Lions’ 46-6 conquest at home over Christ the King…The win avenged a pair of losses from last year…Demonstrating that quality will always be preferrable to quantity, the junior tailback carried the ball only six times and contributed 45yrds to a massive 326-yard cumulative evening on the ground for Farrell.  However, whenever he got his touches, he made sure they all counted, as half of his carries resulted in “6” being put up on the scoreboard…MF already out to a commanding 17-0 advantage, it was #26 in the White & Maroon putting the finishing touches on a dominant opening half when he struck for the first of his three scores by taking a misdirection draw up the middle for the 2-yard TD with 4:02 remaining in the second quarter to give the Lions a three-TD lead at the break…Yak’s second and third TDs of the night both came on a pair of 12-yard runs, as he found a hole and ran to paydirt in front of his bench in the last four minutes of the 3rd quarter (to make the score 37-0) and then rounded out the point explosion when he capitalized off of a CTK mishandled punt by taking the ensuing snap to the house with 2:48 to play in the 4th…The three-TD effort was a personal best for the 11th grader, who for good measure, added an 8-yard reception to complement his resume!…Week #3 Co-POTW selection, Messiah Burch, was exceptional yet again, rushing for a game-high 193 yards and two touchdowns…Defensively, juniors, David Goodman, Chris Booras and Aaron Espinal, not to mention swan songers (suiting up for the last time as Lions), Vincent Macaluso, Patrick Gardner, and Stephen Booras, were all nothing short of spectacular and/or domineering in creating multiple turnovers, dictating starting field position, and turning “D” into offense…Goodman, who also had an interception, was responsible for the first score of the game for the Lions when he recovered a blocked punt (by the younger Booras) in the 1st quarter…The elder Booras registered an interception…The entire D-unit lived in the opposing backfield, racking up infinite tackles for negative yardage en route to limiting the Royals to –20 yards rushing…Winners of only two contests in 2019, the Tony Garofalo mentored program boasted a very impressive 3-1 record this spring!

 

Jackson Tucker (Sr.); QB – St. Joe’s by the Sea Vikings

It is cliché, but hopefully for the 6’0, 185-pound field general out of Staten Island [Tucker], the old saying about “not how you start, but how you finish” will bring with it a sense of calming peace…For the past three years, there were few better, either in the NYCHSFL or in the entire Empire State, at patrolling the offense…Entering his final season taking the snaps for Vikings, the two-time All-Catholic selection/returning 3rd Team All-Stater probably had a much different vision of what the last hurrah would resemble.  A year removed from spearheading the program to a AA-2 runner-up showing, it goes without saying that images of grandeur and dreams of glory seemed feasible on paper…However, instead, as he took the field for the last occasion donning the Blue & Grey, the St. John’s University commit (baseball) did so in search of his first “w” of 2021 (0-3)…Rightfully/Fittingly, the football Gods were surely smiling down on #10 the evening of May 8th, as his 14-for-22, 196-yard, 3-TD outing enabled him to close the book on a decorated scholastic career as the hero/legend he has been on Hylan Blvd since stepping under center as a sophomore in 2018…Captaining the Vikings to the 25-17 victory at home over Xaverian, the future king of the diamond (center fielder by trade) for the Red Storm connected with a different target on all three of his aforementioned scoring passes to put a ribbon on the “gift” he has been to the Joe’s by the Sea faithful…Wasting no time in getting SJS on the board, Tucker punctuated the initial drive of the game by hitting fellow senior, Vincent Vazquez, for an 11-yard completion to give Sea the early 6-0 lead…The second bullseye of the night came in response to a Clipper TD, as JT teamed up with his biggest weapon, connecting with 6’4 11th grader, Jacob Stewart, on a 31-yard completion to regain the lead, 13-7, at the intermission…Tucker made It three quarters in a row with a touchdown pass when he notched what proved to be the difference-maker, spotting another of his senior brethren, James Speciale, in the flat for a 21-yard insurance score that padded the cushion to 25-7 at the end of 36 minutes…Per SILive, the junior tandem of Devin Malvasio and Mario DellaPasqua, were dynamite on special teams, with the former blocking a punt and the latter pouncing on top of the pigskin early in the 3rd to account for the remaining SJS TD…In his first season as the successor to Mike Corona (accepted the HC job at St. Joe’s Collegiate in February 2020), Joe George is officially in the win column at the helm of Sea!

 

Shane Smith (Jr.); Two-Way Lineman – Mount St. Michael Academy

Borrowing the phrase made infamous by professional wrestling Hall of Famer, Robert “Booker T” Huffman, how many times did the 6’2, 220-pounder from the Bronx [Smith] sack the Cardinal Spellman signal caller in the Mountaineers’ 16-0 triumph last Saturday?  FIVE TIMES, FIVE TIMES, FIVE TIMES, FIVE TIMES, FIVE TIMES…Lining up at defensive tackle for the first time in his high school career, Smith gave a performance that would have made “numbersake” (#72) Ed “Too Tall” Jones (106 career QB bags) proud in anchoring a MSMA defense that pitched just their fifth shutout in the past decade (per MaxPreps)…All in all, his collection of quarterback carnage yielded a comprehensive loss of 35 yards to the visiting Pilots…Speaking of past icons that turned the “7” and the “2” historic at the highest level, 6x Pro Bowler/1996 HOF inductee, Dan Dierdorf, surely would have had a tip of the cap and a kind word for the skill set displayed by Smith on the other side of the line of scrimmage…Providing the example/modeling the attitude in the trenches, the ultimate “iron man” (including special teams where he assumed kicking/punting duties) was the backbone of an offensive line that relished the dirty work in empowering a balanced Mountaineer attack that amassed 332 yards of total production (182 via sky, 150 on land) and scored twice (one passing, one rushing)…Sharing time under center, freshman, Marc Pearson Jr. and Nico Bustamante combined to complete eight of 17 attempts…Pearson (5-of-7 for 94 yards) also ran for 18 yards and emerged with the lone ground TD…Bustamante (a perfect 3-for-3, 90 yards) did the deed with his arm, hooking up with senior RB, Colin Coleman (28 yards running on 8 carries; 2 receptions for 95) for the aerial jackpot!  Week #2 POTW honoree, Eleazer Valera, topped all MSMA runners with 94yrds on 12 hand-offs…Sophomore DB, Kameron Wheeler, recorded an interception…Mount St. Michael Academy ends their season with a 2-1 record.

 

May 052021
 

By Matt Diano:

Aidan Hanley-Piri (Jr.); QB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

Someone please give Aidan Hanley-Piri a pair of aviator sunglasses and a Blue Angels jacket.  The past Sunday, people tuned in expecting to watch football; instead, the 6’2, 200-pound junior field general treated them to an air show en route to propelling the Pilots to their first victory of the spring, 40-28, over visiting Nazareth Regional…Working his way back into prime game condition after being hampered by an ankle injury suffered during week #1, the gentleman in the #2 jersey shattered not only established new personal bests, but also shattered quite a few school records with 48-minute display of aerial brilliance…Connecting on 23 of 31 throws, he hurled for a remarkable 315 yards, and SIX touchdowns to have a direct hand in all of Spellman’s scoring plays…And trust us when we say that pitted against a gritty Kingsmen foe that refused to go away on May 2nd, the Pilots needed every last point…His team already enjoying a 7-0 advantage, Hanley-Piri tossed his second TD of the opening quarter when he hit Mark Piri with a beautiful 46-yard over the shoulder pass…The second quarter would be all about playing pitch-and-catch with Logan Arroyo.  On two separate occasions, from distances of 15 (right at the first pylon) and 25 (diving catch) yards, the junior duo hooked up to send Spellman into the break with a 28-6 cushion…Answering the second of Nazareth’s two third quarter TDs (closed the gap to 28-22), Hanley-Piri regained momentum for CS when he culminated a well-orchestrated drive by finding sophomore, Nathaniel Cooke, on a 10-yarder to restore the multi-touchdown edge…Another Kingsmen score trimming the lead to 34-28 in the 4th, Aidan-Hanley delivered his most important strike of the afternoon, when on 3rd & long, he executed a perfect 23-yard “pump and go” to Miles Piegari to cement the “w”…All four of Spellman’s primary receivers posted multiple grab performances that yielded at least one touchdown apiece.  This masterful distribution of the ball earned the signal caller [Hanley-Piri} the ultimate praise from the coaching staff…Simply put, he made everyone on that field better on Sunday!

 

Mike Solimando (Jr.); WR/CB – St. Francis Prep Terriers

If this past Saturday’s quest for Queens taught us anything, it is that if you give the 6’0, 170-pounder from Middle Village [Solimando] a literal inch, he’ll take a proverbial mile!!!  The consummate play-maker in the Terriers’ 27-14 triumph over rivals, Holy Cross, the junior may have donning the #11 jersey, but he clearly was the #1 thorn in the side of the previously unbeaten Knights…Finishing the evening with five total catches for a grand sum of 140 yards, and highlighted by a pair of touchdown grabs, Solimando was prominent in everything that STF was able to achieve on offense…His team holding a 7-0 lead at the time, Solimando doubled the cushion for the Terriers when on a 4th & 6, he made an adjustment on a ball thrown slightly behind him to haul in a 6-yard TD off of a roll out pass from Junior signal caller, Matthew Gonzalez, to make the score 14-0 at the break…The margin having grown to 20-0 in the 3rd, the 4.0 student-athlete was again on the back end of a TD connection, leaping and configuring his body in mid-air to snatch a 34-yard in front of his bench to notch the first multi-score game of his varsity career…Not to be forgotten is the fact that Solimando came darn close to making it a three-TD affair when earlier in the third quarter, he caught a screen pass, evaded several defenders and raced 70+ yards into the end zone before officials ruled that he stepped out at the Holy Cross 12…Taking a turn on the other side of the ball, Solimando added two tackles from his spot on the corner to help the Terrier “D” contain an HC attack that entered averaging 39 points per game to a much more modest number on the scoreboard…St. Francis (2-0) Prep will wrap up their 2021 campaign when they square off with defending triple-A league champion, Cardinal Hayes (3-0) in a contest of the unblemished!

 

Messiah Burch (So.); RB/DB & Jameson Sessa (Jr.); DE  – Monsignor Farrell Lions

Debuting our first package deal of POTW honorees, with the sun starting to set on the 2021 season and so little opportunity to honor the worthy, the Monsignor Farrell staff felt strongly about two players being equally deserving of the spotlight and we fully concurred!!!..Taking command of their respective sides of the line of scrimmage, if not for the contributions of both the 5’10, 170-pound sophomore tailback [Burch] and the 6’0, 200-pound defensive end [Sessa], May 1st would have ended on a much sour note for the Lions…Trailing 14-0 on the road in a collusion of Staten Island adversaries versus St. Peter’s, it was Burch providing the much-needed punch on offense in the 2nd quarter, while Sessa, who was a consistent menace throughout, picking the last 8:00 of regulation to emerge with his signature moment, in a reversal of fortune that saw Farrell battle back for the 28-20 victory over the Eagles…Concluding the day with an outstanding 137 yards rushing on 14 carries, it was Burch turning the tables and giving life to the Lions with 4:30 to go in the 1st half when he took a 2nd & 7 hand-off straight up the gut and did not stop cruising until he reached the promised land 28 yards later to cut the deficit to 14-7…One series later, #4 in the White/Maroon did his best Barry Sanders impersonation, cutting back repeatedly, shaking off defenders and demonstrating impeccable field vision on a 38-yard trek to paydirt that evened the score at 14-14 with 1:50 remaining before the intermission…Even when he was not the one credited with the score, Burch found a way to be the catalyst.  With Farrell leading 21-20 in the last 7:00 minutes of the 4th quarter, it was his 38-yard shake and bake dash to the opposing 25 that set up sophomore, Ethan Yak’s, 6-yard game-clinching TD run with 4:40 left in duration…On defense, it was Sessa’s stellar performance down the stretch that earned him the admiration of his coaches…Following a STP touchdown in the final 8:00 to narrow the Lions edge to 21-20, it was his stop on the 2pt conversion attempt that enabled the boys from Amboy Road to maintain their advantage…#59 came up just as big on the last series of the contest, utilizing a sack (after being the one to flush the QB out of the pocket) on 3rd & 24 in the waning minute to all but terminate St. Peter’s last-ditch effort to find an equalizer…All in all, Sessa collected six total tackles, the already cited well-timed sack, a pair of TFLs, and a copious amount of QB hurries that will not be reflected in the box score but were essential in disrupting the flow of a formidable STP attack that put up 50 during a week 1 victory [over St. Joe’s by the Sea]…Monsignor Farrell will ride their two-game winning streak into the spring finale when they host Christ the King under the Friday night lights!

Apr 282021
 

By Matt Diano:

Elijah Fuentes (Sr.); DL – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

A year ago, Coach CJ O’Neil’s Cardinals were mere moments away from hoisting a Catholic League State title before a Canisius touchdown pass (and 2pt conversion) with no time remaining on the clock ripped their hearts out…The memories of that loss are now serving as the inspiration behind what very much appears to be the best defensive unit the school has boasted in quite some time…Surrendering just 32 points total during the first two weeks of the 2021 spring (after allowing an average of 22+ in 2019) en route to victories over Monsignor Farrell & St. Peter’s, the defending NYCHSFL Triple-A champs are looking unbeatable at the halfway point of their abridged season…Acting as the heartbeat for these “pillars of pain” is the Syracuse University bound defensive lineman out of the Bronx [Fuentes]…Regarded as one of the top-10 in-state prospects (#8), as well as top-100 (94th) in the nation at his position by 247 Sports, the 6’3, 255-pounder wreaked all kinds of havoc in the aforementioned win last weekend over the StP…Facing an Eagles’ offense that put up “half a hundred” during week #1, Fuentes and the Hayes “D” pitched a shutout in the 1st half, allowing just 80 yards of total offense on their way to the 45-19 triumph…Doing his part and then some, big #99 in the White & Maroon tallied five stops (3 TFLs), including a pair of sacks…He was also credited with a forced fumble…Junior QB, Henry Belin, starred on offense, completing 13-of-20 pass attempts for 233 yards and four TD hurls (2x to Kuno Mendez, once each to Jaden Barrett and Gavin Taylor)

 

Michael Peraino (Sr.); RB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

Another week, another win, another birth of a rising star for the Mavericks in last Friday’s 20-7 defeat of Xaverian…Dating back to the 2018 regular season finale [Mausari Miller], the Staten Island based program had not had a running back whose name was not Justin Lacks rush for the century mark in a single game.  In fact, last season, no one aside from the living legend in the #6 jersey [Lacks] reached 100 yards total for the year…Cue Peraino…Accumulating just 28 yards on four carries as a junior, the 5’10, 200-pounder exploded during the second week of his swan song campaign, amassing 112 yards and scoring a pair of touchdowns on 11 carries to deliver the “w” to Merrill Avenue!!  Taking the pigskin to the house on treks of 24 and 10 yards respectively, Peraino was solely responsible for the 14-0 lead that the defending AA-2 champions enjoyed at the half versus the host Clippers… Junior lineman, Troy Telesford, stood out on defense, racking up a sum of 11 stops, including one sack, on behalf of a unit that limited Xaverian to a modest total of 100 yards (10 on the ground, 90 in the air) for the night…Up next for MC will be a rematch of last year’s finals versus St. Joe’s by the Sea…When these the two schools met last November for the crown, Peraino garnered Defensive MVP consideration following a six-tackle (1 TFL) effort!

 

Vincent Macaluso (Sr.); DB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

It was “goose-egg city” for the Lions’ defense this past Saturday in Oakwood, as Monsignor Farrell prevailed 42-0 in a battle of SI bragging rights over 2019 AA-2 runner-up, St. Joe’s by the Sea…The shutout on April 24th was the first pitched by the school since the opening game of the 2019 season (24-0 over Fordham Prep)…Spearheading the demonstration of lockdown/refuse to give an inch defensive mastery was the 5’9, 175-pound safety [Macaluso]…A captain in both title and example, Macaluso topped all Lion personnel by posting a career-best nine total tackles over the weekend… Registering four TFLs, the “modern-day hybrid” as hailed by MF Defensive Coordinator, Rocco Del Priore, in a quote to the SI Advance, was the main protagonist for a unit that successfully disrupted and made the pocket uncomfortable for opposing All-State signal caller, Jackson Tucker (just 10 yards on seven carries)…With Farrell already leading 7-0 midway through the 1st quarter, Macaluso nearly turned defense into offense when he scooped up a fumble and cruised 54 yards (initially ruled a TD) to the SJS 2-yard line.  His individual effort paved the way for junior tailback, Cole Abbruzzese, to punch in his second short-distance touchdown of the opening quarter to double the Lion advantage to 14-0…Splitting time under center on offense, the QB duo of senior, Chris Anarumo, and 11th grader Michael Martens, each tossed one TD strike apiece, with the former connecting with Junior WR Frank Esposito on a 43-yarder in the 1st half, while the latter found sophomore Shawn Keegan, from 5-yards away in the 2nd half…Having bested one intra-town rival in week #2, Farrell with try to make it two in a row when they square off with St. Peter’s on May 1st

 

Eleazer Valera (So.); RB – Mt. St. Michael’s Academy Mountaineers

The Mountaineer offensive scheme may have taken on a fresh appearance (they introduced some shot gun formation), but the MSMA tradition of perennial ground attack excellence was alive, well, and fully on display last Saturday in the Bronx as the [Head Coach] Mario Valentini guided program got their spring off to a promising start with a 38-12 conquest of Nazareth Regional…Forced to fill a void in the backfield that was created when the school’s top-2 runners from 2019 either transferred or elected to not return this season, it took less time than a blink of an eye for the Mount to unveil their next big superstar…The Mountaineers already leading 8-0, the 5’10, 170-pound sophomore [Valera] guaranteed that his varsity debut would be an unforgettable occasion when he found a hole and sprinted 21-yards to paydirt for the first of what hopefully will be a plethora of touchdowns during the next 2.5 years…He later scored his second TD from 3-yards out…Valera further complemented his banner day by accounting for six additional points on a trio of 2pt conversions to conclude the day with 18 total…Carrying the ball 18 times, he collected exactly 100 yards…Showing a glimpse of his versatility, he caught one pass for a gain of nine yards…Senior DL, Angel Medina, had fumble return for a touchdown to highlight a strong performance on the other side of the line!

 

Apr 212021
 

Joshua Bagwell (Sr.); QB – Holy Cross Knights

Looking at the NYC week #1 schedule, it would not have been surprising to hear most pundits predict that that a senior signal caller would put on a show and unequivocally be rewarded with POTW honors in the battle of Queens between Holy Cross and Christ the King…However, what many of these insiders are now humbly forced to confess (myself included) is that while we were correct on the position, we missed on the individual…With all of the attention focused squarely on seeing what 247 Sports #1 rated NYS QB/2x All-Catholic/2019 1st-Team All-Stater, Noah Bodden, would do as an opening act in 2021, instead it was his counterpart [Bagwell] that owned the night en route to leading the Knights to the decisive 34-12 triumph last Friday…Completing nine of 14 throws for a sum of 111 yards, the 5’10, 150-pounder out of Springfield Gardens was at the forefront of three of Holy Cross’s five TDs on the night…Hooking up with junior WR, Devin Grant, on a pair of touchdown connections, Bagwell posted the third multi-TD pass game of his career (also throw two in back-to-back weeks versus Holy Trinity and Mount St. Michael Academy last season)…When not relying on his arm, #12’s legs proved to be an adept secondary weapon, as he called his own number on four keepers, gaining 24 yards (second most among Knight rushers) and tacking on a third overall touchdown…

 

Brendan McKeon (Sr.); WR/CB – St. Peter’s Eagles

What a difference a year can make!  When these two programs last met (October 2019) in a war of Staten Island bragging rights, it was the Vikings emerging with the 29-26 victory…The proverbial tables certainly turned this past Saturday and one of the primary catalysts at the heart of the reversal of fortune was the 5’11, 190-pound, team captain [McKeon]…Going above and beyond on both sides of the line in the Eagles’ 50-18 triumph on April 17th, the SUNY-Cortland bound standout seems well intent on making the most of every second he has remaining in the gold #6 jersey…Accumulating in excess of 100 yards of total offensive production as a ball carrier and/or receiver, McKeon boasted a remarkable touchdown to touch ratio of 3:5….No, you did not read that wrong! Handling the “prolate spheroid” just five times individually (two carries, three receptions), the STP senior accounted for 18 points, scoring on a 6-yard run before hauling in TD grabs of 28 and 27 yards respectively from QB Vincent Mazzone…Defensively, he put the “corner” in a cornerstone defensive effort that stifled a SJS arsenal that averaged over 30 ppg in 2019 and returned several play-makers at the skill positions (ex- 2019 3rd-Team All-State signal caller, Jackson Tucker)…Whether it was repeated pass break-ups, timely tackles, DB blitzes, or just good old fashioned lockdown coverage where the opponent did not entertain the notion of throwing to his side of the field, it is quite evident why [Cortland] Red Dragons’ Head Coach Curt Fitzpatrick, is smiling at the thought of having McKeon patrolling secondary for the next 4-5 years!

 

John Michalski (So.); QB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

No Justin Lacks…No Problem!  For anyone under the impression that the defending NYCHSFL “AA-2” titlists from Staten Island might be in the midst of a rebuild following the graduations of the multiple-time All-State/5,400+ yard rusher and several additional 2019 All-League personnel, the rumors of Moore’s demise have surely been greatly exaggerated…On the contrary, while the names and faces may be fresh in the spring of 2021, the unwavering tradition of lighting up the scoreboard is here to stay!!!  And at the center (more literally under center) of this reign of terror is the 6’2, 190-pound signal caller [Michalski]…Needing only 24 minutes (sat the entire 2nd half) in his varsity debut to make a bold and unmistakable statement about the dynasty being in capable hands, the Woodbridge resident was nearly flawless in MC’s 35-0 shutout over Nazareth on April 17th…Completing 10 of 12 attempts for 236 yards, the 10th grade field general ought to get a sponsorship deal from Domino’s Pizza, as he clearly “delivers everywhere.”…Connecting with a different target on all four of his touchdown strikes, Michalski registered his first career TD pass as the commander of the Mav attack when he hit freshman, Matthias Lighten, on a 27-yarder…Sophomore, Nick Jordan, was on the back end of the longest of his quarterback’s TD hurls as Michalski found him on a 30-yard pitch-and-catch…Michael Zeh, who like Jordan, is only a 10th grader, got himself into the conversation when he made the third TD reception of the evening from 19-yards out…Jaylen Johnson (yet another sophomore) put the exclamation on the remarkable collective display when he made a 3-yard TD snatch…Since the program’s return to the varsity level in 2016, Michalski’s yardage and touchdown pass totals are tops among MC QBs making their first varsity starts!

 

Anthony Rosati (Sr.); RB – Xaverian Clippers

Welcome back to the spotlight Anthony Rosati!!!  While all of our fine Metro Catholic League student-athletes were forced to endure a prolonged wait before getting back on the gridiron, for the 5’10, 173-pound senior tailback, the absence from the thing in which he loves/excels required an exercise in patience greater than most…Identified in the 2019 Double-A season preview as a potential rookie play-maker for Coach Michael Jioia’s brigade, the Brooklyn boy was sidelined for the entirety of junior campaign due to injury…At long last, Rosati was afforded the opportunity to transform all of that heartache, fortitude, and tireless work during the rehab process into a varsity debut of which he could/should be mighty proud!  Carrying the pigskin 10 times, #34 in White successfully surpassed the century mark in his first career appearance, concluding the contest with 110 yards (an avg of 11 ypc) in his school’s 34-0 blanking of returning “A” runners-up, Cardinal Spellman….The linchpin of a Clipper land attack that generated 218 yards and scored four touchdowns, that moment that Rosati has been dreaming about for the last 17 months came to fruition when he darted 14 yards into the end zone for the first of what we hope is many TDs for him this spring!

Apr 202021
 

By Matt Diano:

Maximus Mongelli (Sr.); WR/DB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

Last Friday marked the “last hurrah” for one of the most prolific families in Kellenberg and/or NYCHSFL history when the 6’0, 180-pound two-way player out of Port Washington [Mongelli] became the last of his four brothers to don the Blue & Gold for a final occasion in his school’s 35-25 road victory against St. John the Baptist…Dating back to the 2013 season, the quartet of “ginger gems” (Michael: 2013/2014, Marco: 2015/2016, Matthew: 2017/2018, Maximus: 2019/2021) racked up 150+ catches, over 3,000 yards of receiving output and were responsible for 35 touchdowns on behalf of the Firebirds…The latter three brethren combined to earn POTW honors four times (Max being the only 2x recipient; previously during the 2019 AA semifinals), with the last two leading KMHS to a pair of “AA” crowns in 2017 and 2018 (Matthew), as well as a runner-up finish in 2019 (Max)…Simply put, when 2021/2022 rolls around and we take a gander at the Kellenberg sideline, it is going to have quite the peculiar feeling as I personally have never covered a Kellenberg game without a Mongelli making his presence known…Wearing the infamous #12 jersey like his siblings before him, if you were to look at the stat sheet, his performance in the 2nd quarter alone would be grounds enough for selection.   Getting the job done on both sides of the line of scrimmage, Mongelli halted a promising Cougar drive early in middle stanza when he made a diving lunge to intercept a pass inside his own 15 to keep the Firebirds in front, 7-3…The Firebirds now trailing 10-7 with just under 4:00 remaining in the opening half, Mongelli immediately swung momentum back into the favor of the Marianist institution as he cruised over the middle to haul in a 30-yard, over-the-shoulder touchdown reception from Ethann Greenwood to answer SJB’s 35-yard TD connection (Kyle Chase to Bryce Robinson) two minutes prior…The Mongelli TD grab ignited a streak of 28 unanswered points between the 2nd and 3rd quarters, allowing KMHS to establish a cushion and give field time to the rest of the departing seniors…Concluding last Friday’s contest with 2 catches for 35 yards and the aforementioned TD, of equal importance when evaluating his full contribution were the aspects of the game that often get lost in a box score…Sensing a match-up problem, the KMHS coaching staff assigned him to shadow Robinson in the 2nd half and he answered the call, completely shutting down the gifted receiver as part of an overall five tackle, 2 pass break-up showing from the cornerback position…His coaches also applauded his selflessness in the blocking game as his willingness to sacrifice his body was key to enabling his fellow swan songers—Thomas Sluka and Griffin Chernoff to rush for a combined 168 yards, with each scoring a pair of TDs…Stringing together three consecutive wins to wrap up the spring, Kellenberg concluded 2021 with a 4-2 record!

 

Kameron Robbins (Jr.); RB/LB – Holy Trinity Titans

Another ironman who picked Bowl Week to have his finest effort of the 2021 season was the 6’1, 210-pound junior tailback/linebacker [Robbins]…Earning the second POTW distinction of his career (Week #5 of the 2019 season] in last Friday’s 27-7 win over Kennedy Catholic, the returning All-Catholic selection from Baldwin, may have been credited with just a single score (47-yard sprint two minutes into the 2nd quarter to give the Titans the 6-0 edge), but it was the consistency of his play on both ends that proved to be invaluable…Chewing up yardage on just about every carry throughout the afternoon, even when he was not the individual to punch the ball across for the TD, he was always instrumental in orchestrating the drive…Taking the hand-off 19 times, Robbins accumulated 173 yards on the ground (9.1/per)…Turning his attention to defense, #3 in Green’s contributions as both a run stopper and a pass rusher was a significant factor in HT’s success in holding a visiting Gaels squad to well below their seasonal average of 30+ points per game…Making six stops as a tackler, where Robbins especially made his mark on “D” was on a pair of perfectly timed QB hurries that either created a turnover on downs or forced a KC punt…The “w” no longer in doubt (27-0), he was not on the field when Kennedy scored their lone touchdown late in the 4th quarter giving time to other players on the field.

 

Tomorrow we will post the Players of the Week from NYC Week 1!