Dec 012021
 

By Matt Diano:

Offense:  Justin Joly (Sr.); WR/RB/DB – Iona Prep Gaels

A proverbial Swiss Army knife on offense for the Gaels, the 6’4, 220-pounder put a bow on an already immensely decorated scholastic career when he donned multiple hats as part of the 38-22 victory over St. Francis (Buffalo) that delivered the first New York State crown in program history to the New Rochelle based campus (Iona Prep)

Directly responsible or a major contributing party to the majority of the Maroon & Gold’s scoring drives, the newly back on the market standout (decommitted from Delaware on Monday; pondering interest from the likes of UConn, Stony Brook, Albany) amassed 125 yards of total offensive production and scored three touchdowns (two of which occurred in the 2nd half as part of streak of 21 unanswered points that blew the contest open)!

Handling the pigskin on 15 combined opportunities, #7 emerged with an 8-reception, 75-yard, 2TD effort as a pass-catcher, and was equally effective as an option out of the backfield, rushing for 50 yards and one additional score on seven carries!

With the game all square at 3 apiece, Joly struck for the first of his personal trifecta when he caught a shovel pass and took it the rest of the way for a 6-yard touchdown to put the Gaels on top 10-3, with 9:22 remaining in the 1st half!  He also was on the back end of a 38-yard pitch and catch (from Ajani Sheppard) that moved IP into the red zone (Red Raider 12)!

The edge having grown to 24-9 after an exchange of touchdowns runs (Colin O’Garro on a 1-yard punch across the line) in the third stanza, Joly’s elite mitts were put to good use as he hauled in a 12-yard TD grab off of a fade route to tack on some insurance (31-9) with 9:51 to go in regulation…The touchdown hook-up between the junior QB [Sheppard] and his favorite senior WR was their second of the afternoon and the 10th of the fall…

Doing it on both sides of the line of scrimmage, it was a Joly 4th & 10 tackle on defense that ultimately created a turnover on downs and set up Iona Prep with solid starting field position (own 40) with 7:54 still to play!…He later culminated their final scoring march of the fall when five minutes later, he took a handoff up the gut, spun out of a tackle, evaded a defender diving at his ankles and danced into the end zone on an 11-yard gain to salt away the “w” (38-9 with 2:44 on the clock in the 4th)!

For good measure, Joly even was the one to recover the onside kick attempt in the final 1:00 that enabled the Gaels to assume victory formation and commence the celebration!

 

Defense:  Ellis Robinson IV (So.); DB/Returner – Iona Prep Gaels

In that always fine line between defensive prowess and special teams’ excellence, the #4 national prospect in the class of 2024 [Robinson IV] is capable of doing it all!!!

Intercepting 8 passes this season despite hesitation from opposing quarterbacks to even throw the ball in his direction, the value that #2 brings to the “D” is hard to measure if you just read the stat sheet!

An individual who always steps up to embrace the “best on best” match-ups for the Gaels’ “no fly zone”, more times than not last Saturday, Robinson IV found himself one-on-one with the Red Raiders’ top target, Logan Reaska (entered having made 30 catches for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns)…Standing 6’4 and weighing 200+ pounds, the 11th grade receiver has been a nightmare for opponents all fall…But alas, with the Gaels sensational sophomore on the job, Reaska was limited to just two grabs (only the third time he failed to catch three or more passes this season) and generated just 25 receiving yards (tied for 2nd lowest)!

As part of the collective, gang-tackle, flock to the ball mentality, Robinson IV was part of a unit that succeeded in holding their foes from upstate to their lowest total of the season on the ground (37 yards on 24 attempts)!

Where Robinson IV was especially spectacular though was in his role as a punt returner!!!

On two separate occasions, he registered returns of 20 or more yards (long of 50) that acted as catalysts to series that eventually yielded points for IP!

With the game still scoreless, his 50-yard return to the opposition’s 20, was the signature sequence in what later became a 24-yard FG conversion by Sean O’Neill, that drew first blood and put Iona Prep in front, 3-0, with 6:12 remaining in the 1st quarter!

His second big return (in the last 1:00 of the half) again landed his school inside the red zone (St. Francis 17) and enabled the Gaels to push their margin of lead to 17-3 when six snaps later, Sheppard powered his way to the promised land on a 2-yard keeper!

Dec 012021
 

By Matt Diano:

98th Edition of Fordham Prep vs. Xavier

Jack Annicelli (Sr.); QB – Fordham Prep Rams

Suiting up for the Rams for the final time in his varsity career, next to a title, there was no sweeter manner in which the 6’3, 190-pound, field general out of Bedford could have concluded this chapter of his scholastic story, as he alongside fellow 12th grader, Jack Wolf)were the driving forces behind FP’s 27-13 victory on home soil over the Knights of Xavier this past Thursday!

The triumph, their third in the last four years, improved FP’s record in this historic annual showdown to 53-41-4!

His school trailing 7-0 to their rivals at the end of the 1st quarter, the cerebral stud (4.3 grade point average) ignited a streak of 27 unanswered points when he posted his first rushing touchdown of the fall on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to even the score in the early stages of the 2nd quarter…Prior to the short carry for the “6”, Annicelli was a marksman in the air, connecting with three different targets (Jericho Ancheta, Edward Louis Moore, and Tommy Gies) as part of a 4-for-4 performance that spearheaded the march down field!

Going back to that proverbial well and finding additional success was the scholar in the #14 jersey, who after a LONG completion to Kevin Dosin and a medium hook-up (14-yarder) to Gies, cemented yet another series with an identical 1-yard keeper with 4:10 remaining in the opening half!

Now holding the 14-7 edge, the Rams never looked back as Wolf (who recorded the final two TDs of his tenure as a FP football player to give him 7 overall in 2021) found paydirt from distances of 4 (10 ticks to go in 2Q) and 2-yards (onset of the third quarter) away to account for the Fordham Prep accumulation!

Annicelli and Wolf shared Most Valuable Player honors!!!  Both will put on the pads for one final occasion as NYCHSFL representatives when they participate this coming weekend in the 2021 Senior Bowl!!!

 

78th Edition of Cardinal Hayes vs. Mount St. Michael Academy

Rich Belin (Fr.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

In what was a figurative passing of the torch and a literal inheritance of the “Cardinal robe”, it was the 5’10, 177-pound fab freshman [Rich Belin] assuming the reins of a Hayes’ offense that older brother/All-State selection/Duke University bound, Henry, conducted flawlessly for three seasons (including a AAA title in 2019)!

Big brother a three-time POTW recipient (twice in the aforementioned 2019 playoffs; MVP of 2019 championship), the 78th Turkey Bowl versus the Mountaineers marked the first time in his young career that Rich has been bestowed with this distinction!!!

Utilized as a wide-receiver during the majority of his rookie year (28 grabs for 523 yards, 1 TD), if there was any rust in his return to his natural position, it was not evident as the 9th grader left no doubt that the family legacy of aerial excellence was sure to be preserved in the coming three seasons!!

Formally ascending into the role of QB1 for the Cardinals midway through the 2nd quarter, Belin connected on 3 of his 5 pass attempts (1TD) for 85 yards in his quasi coronation!

Hayes’ already leading 35-0 at the time, Belin continued to pad the cushion when he called his own number on a 15-yard scramble in the last 2:00 of the 1st half to send CH into the break with the commanding advantage (42-0)!

In the last 4:00 of the 3rd quarter, Belin, emerged with the first of what will be many touchdown hurls from 2021-2024 when he found sophomore, Elijah Ford, on a 60-yard homerun ball to round out his balanced day and polish off the 49-14 victory over MSMA!

The month of November has been quite good to #17!!!  On November 11th, he received his first official offer from Syracuse University…And today, in attention to his Player of the Week fame, he was extended his initial offer from the Ivy League as the University of Pennsylvania made it known that he is a top priority!!!

Cardinal Hayes has now come out on top of eight straight Thanksgiving melees; but the Mount clings to a 47-26-5 lead all-time!  

Nov 172021
 

By Matt Diano:

John Caufield (Jr.); QB/Punter/DB – Monsignor Farrell

Bestowed with the most flattering of praise from the Lion coaching staff following a 24-21 victory in the semifinals against Archbishop Stepinac, the 6’1 175-pound, junior hailing from Staten Island [Caufield was so perfectly described as “having his fingerprint all over the victory” this past Saturday evening.

Embattled in a contest where it was known that a back-and-forth shootout would favor the visiting Crusaders (who were seeking their seventh straight trip to the AAA finals), Caufield not only shined in his usual roles as a defensive back and a punter, but also went the extra mile, stepping up to take a few snaps as a wildcat quarterback as part of a deliberate attempt to control possession and keep the pigskin out of the hands of their always explosive opponents from White Plains.

Pitted against an AS offense that entered boasting a triple-A best 40.6 points per appearance versus fellow downstate Catholic programs, Caufield was an essential part of a collective effort that limited the Crusaders to nearly half their normal output (21) and allowed just 261 yards of total movement (Stepinac’s 2nd lowest total of the fall)…

Anywhere and everyone that he needed to be for the “D”, Caufield showed himself to be a complete safety, as he was equally efficient in stuffing the run and disrupting the aerial attack…Credited with eight total tackles (6 solo), including one hit that yielded a four-yard loss that created a 2nd & 14 situation, the two-year varsity contributor was at the heart of perhaps the biggest play of the season for the Lions…

Farrell clinging to the 24-21 edge (following what served as the game-winning, 23-yard FG by Thomas Lorenzo, with 2:38 remaining in the 4th), it was the 11th grader in the #10 jersey thwarting any hope the opposition had at a last-ditch comeback when on 3rd & medium on his own side of the field (Lion 37), he tracked the ball in the air and made an over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone for the win-clinching interception (his 3rd pick of the year) in the final 80 seconds of duration!!! He added two pass break-ups in the “no fly” zone to increase his total to 7 in that category!

As a punter, he was superb in flipping the field and/or forcing the nemesis to start their drives in undesirable positions…Booting the pigskin away on five occasions, he averaged 32.6/per, including a long of 48, placed multiple kicks inside of or close to the opposing 20, and even delivered the razzle dazzle when he earned a first down on a fake punt + run, gaining 5 yards…

No role was “out of bounds” for Caufield during the semifinals.  Having not recorded a single carry up to this point, he took a pair of direct snaps directly up the gut to pick up gains of 6 and 11 yards respectively to end the night with 22 yards on three carries.  The 11-yarder, which came on Farrell’s final series of the contest, preceded Lorenzo’s successful field goal by two snaps!

The Lions will now go hunting for the program’s first crown since they won back-to-back hardware in 1999 and 2000.  Their opponents will be the #1 ranked squad in NYS, Iona Prep.  When the two programs met up in week #3, Caufield was among the leaders with five stops as MF held the Gaels to 24 points, the fewest put up this fall by IP!

 

Irv Briggs IV (Jr.); Two-Way Lineman – Holy Trinity

Earlier in the week, a Holy Trinity enthusiast posed the question on twitter, “Can anyone score on our 1st string defense?”…The answer to that question seems to be a quite emphatically, NO!, as the still undefeated (9-0) Titans pitched their sixth shutout of the season (three straight), 28-0 against Holy Cross, to drop their seasonal average to a mind-blowing 4.33 points allowed/per game!!!

Turning in a dominant performance on both sides of the ball was the 6’4, 260-pound, 11th grader [Briggs IV]…The fourth of his name, big #75 for HT was numero uno in terms of his overall command in the trenches!

Pitted against a Knight opponent that was fresh off of their highest point total (43 in the quarterfinals) of the fall and featured one of the best overall players in the person of Devin Grant, with Briggs IV setting the tone, the Green & White infantry was nothing if not stifling in every moment of a 48-minute showcase of power, toughness, and Impenetrability!!!  As a unit, they allowed just 43 yards of offense (all on the ground) and kept the Buffalo bound dual-threat [Grant] to a modest sum of 17 yards rushing on five tries!

Already among the team leaders in stops, Briggs bolstered his impressive stat line by recording three tackles, making two stops for a negative yardage, harassing Grant to the tune of a pair of QB hurries, and even knocked down a pass attempt!

Putting on his offensive hat, he was a road grader for HT, as they accumulated 238 yards of territory taken and struck for 28 points!!

All that now stands in the way of the Hicksville based program from enjoying an immaculate coronation (would be their first since 2008) is a rematch from week #4 versus St. John the Baptist...When the two Long Island schools collided on October 3rd, Briggs IV was credited with two tackles as the Titans prevailed, 45-21!

__________________________________________________________________

Matt’s “BEST OF THE REST”

*Ajani Sheppard (Jr; QB; Iona Prep): It was just another day at the office for the Gaels’ junior, dual-threat field general.  Racking up a combined total of 286 yards of offense in a 35-28 double overtime win in the semifinals against St. Anthony’s, Sheppard connected on 15-for-18 passes for 121 yards (1 TD pass to Michael Senatore), while simultaneously rushing for 165 yards and three scores on 20 carries.  It was Sheppard’s 11-yard run in the second overtime that proved to be the game-deciding factor…Sheppard heads into the AAA championship contest ranking 3rd in the NYCHSFL in both passing yards (1,977) and touchdowns tossed (17).  His ground numbers of 913 yards and 13 touchdowns place him 8th and tied for 5th among all personnel in the Metro Catholic League.

*Jaden Codrington (So.; DB; Iona Prep): Whereas Sheppard was the “Savior” on offense, that honor on the other side of the ball belonged to this 5’10, 150-pound 10th grader from the Bronx…Needing a defensive stop in order to preserve the victory, it was Codrington picking off a pass in the end zone to send Iona Prep to the ‘ship.  The interception by the Gael sophomore was one of three on the day posted by the team.  Joining him in the category were Ellis Robinson IV and Kieran Connolly.

*Nicholas Matos (Jr.; WR; St. Anthony’s):  A member of one of the deepest wide-out corps on LI, in the NYCHSFL, and probably all of NYS, if you were to tell us that a Friar receiver was going to have a breakout day, we might have guessed 4-5 other names before landing on Matos.   However, even though his school did not walk away with the “w”, we were blown away by the junior out of Seaford, as he was responsible for career-bests across the board, hauling in 4 receptions for 137 yards and a pair of TDs in the heartbreaking loss.

*Ethan Yak (Sr.; RB; Monsignor Farrell): While most people were likely expecting to see Messiah Burch go off (which he did; 190 yards and 2 TDs on 18 carries), Yak was a heck of a pleasant surprise as he capitalized off of Stepinac overplaying his heralded teammate by striking for a 55-yard TD run…All in all, he accumulated a season-best of 78 yards on five opportunities!

*Chris DeMartino (Sr.;OLB; Archbishop Stepinac): While his team came up a little short of advancing to the title game for a seventh straight occasion, there was nothing more that the 5’10, 195-pounder out of Thornwood could have done this past Saturday.   Establishing new career-highs in total tackles (16; 9 solo) and sacks (3), the senior ought to keep his chin up and cherish the positives that occurred in his final afternoon as a Crusader.

*Dae’Shawn Allen (Jr.; WR; Archbishop Stepinac): Mr. Excitement was again electrifying in the final game of what was a magical junior campaign.  Someone who has already solidified himself as a serious threat to win an Offensive Player of the Year award (if not this year, then next), the Greenburgh resident tied his season-best of nine receptions en route to posting his third 100-yard receiving day of the fall (101).  He would account for two of the Crusaders three overall TDs, as he caught a touchdown pass and returned a kickoff to the house!  At present time, his yearly totals of 55 grabs for 951 yards, and 10 scores put him atop the leaderboard (all divisions) in every receiving category in the NYCHSFL!

*Thomas Stueber (Sr.; QB; Chaminade): There is just something about postseason football that seems to bring the best out of Flyer senior signal callers.  Two years ago in the AA-1 title contest, it was Ryan Walsh completing 16 of 20 attempts for 250 yards and a pair of TDs to lead the Crimson & Gold to the crown…This past Saturday afternoon, Stueber got the party started one week earlier, as he recorded his first multi-TD throwing game of the season in the 31-0 semifinal win against Fordham Prep.  Hitting on 5-of-7 aerial attempts, he also set a new season-best of 139 yards…Both TD passes (from distances of 54 and 58 yards) went to fellow 12th grader, Mike Miller, who ended the day with his own personal-best of 124 receiving yards (on 4 catches).

*Timothy Tomlinson (So.; Kicker; Chaminade): The Flyer alumni association already proudly boasts current University of Maryland punter, Anthony Pecorella, and it sure looks like they might have another future NCAA power-5 specialist in the person of the 6’0, 170-pound 10th grader out of Centerport [Tomlinson]…Regarded as one of the top-15 kickers in the nation among class of 2024, Tomlinson showed why he is going to be quite coveted in a few years when he broke his own school record by drilling a 54-yard field goal in the semifinal win over the Rams.   In addition, he was a perfect 3-for-3 on PAT attempts!  Furthermore, he routinely drove the ball deep into the end zone on his kickoffs, yielding touchbacks on all five of his chances!

*RJ Pacheco (Fr.; RB; Moore Catholic): There is an old adage in amateur sports that says that by the time you reach the postseason, there is no such thing as a freshman anymore.  For the 6’0, 185-pounder out of Staten Island, all we can say is that he did not look like a 9th grader and much like a former Mav great, he was not [Justin] Lack[ing] in any area this past weekend in helping MC advance back to title weekend…One week removed from an outstanding 71 yard/1TD effort (13 carries) in the quarters, Pacheco was twice as good in his second taste of playoff football, as he shattered his previous high-mark, rushing for 140 yards on 21 carries to register the first of what surely will be many century games to come in his bright future!  For good measure, Pacheco was also on the back end of two of QB, John Michalski’s three completions for 16 yards!

*Troy Telesford (Sr.; LB; Moore Catholic):  The senior leader of the linebacking corps inched closer to reaching the 100-tackle milestone (currently sitting at 96) in his swan song campaign when he registered an 8 stop (5 solo) afternoon in the Mav’s 18-7 victory against St. Francis Prep…The centerpiece of the cohort that limited the visiting Terriers to a mere 136 yards of total offense (just 35 rushing), Telesford also established a fall-best of 1.5 sacks (gives him 5.0 in total in 2021)…His most significant contribution however came in the form of turning defense into offense as he scooped up a fumble and raced 15 yards to the promised land for the touchdown!!!

*Sebastian Villavicencio (Sr.; LB; St. Francis Prep): Suiting up for the Terriers for the last time in his scholastic career, the 5’10, 185-pounder played his heart out in the losing effort…Racking up 10 stops (his third double digit tackle performance this fall), Villavicencio also had an interception in the semifinal round!

*Mike Solimando (Sr.; WR; St. Francis Prep): Like his teammate, last Saturday witnessed the closing of one chapter of the 6’1, 175-pounders story.  And even though the team ending was not what he desired, Solimando should be proud of his last afternoon as a SFP football player….Emerging with a season-best 5 receptions for 50 yards, the Middle Village resident accounted for the lone TD of the day for the Terriers, as junior QB, Isaiah Decruz, found him on a 25-yard connection, where Solimando shimmed, shook, and dodged multiple defenders in refusing to being denied of the “6”!

*Nicholas Servidio (So.; DE/LB; Holy Cross):  The 10th grader out of Flushing was a bright spot for the Knights in their 28-0 semifinal loss to Holy Trinity….Tying his season-best of four stops (3 solo), Servidio recorded a pair of sacks that yielded a loss of 16 yards!  These were the first QB bags of the fall for the young gentleman in the #72 jersey!

*Mark Anthony Scott (Sr.; RB; St. John the Baptist): The senior vaulted himself to the top of the NYCHSFL (all divisions) leader board in yardage (1,418) and TD runs (18) following a monstrous/record-setting performance that witnessed him accumulate 356 yards and find the end zone FIVE different times (on 22 carries) in the 42-28 triumph against Kennedy Catholic.

*Stephen Charvat (Sr.; LB; St. John the Baptist): Turned in a splendid defensive effort that saw him set a new best of 18 tackles (10 solo) while also registering a 15-yard pick-6!

*Anthony Castaldi (Jr.; QB; Kennedy Catholic): One half of a backfield duo that put on a real show in a losing semifinal effort to St. John the Baptist, the 11th grader signal caller was not his sharpest in the air, but more than made up for it by rushing for a season-best 148 yards (and 2 TDs) on 23 carries.  One of his four completions (64 yards) did result in a touchdown to give him a hand in 18 of his school’s 28 points!

*Chris Kalle (So.; RB; Kennedy Catholic): The Robin to Castaldi’s Batman, the 10th grader out of Thornwood closed out his incredible sophomore campaign by logging his fifth 100+ yard effort of the season (third in his past four appearances) by gaining 111 yards and scoring once on 18 attempts.  This solid afternoon enabled Kalle to reach two milestone as he officially surpassed 1000 yards for the year (1,049) and hit double digits in TD treks (10)…He also happened to be on the receiving end of Castaldi’s 22-yard TD hurl…Defensively, he racked up five stops and broke up two passes to round out an overall stellar demonstration of ironman football!

Nov 102021
 

By Matt Diano:

Jaziyah Welch (Sr.); RB – St. Francis Prep Terriers

When you reach the postseason, there is no time for worrying about injuries/illness; every scenario becomes “next man up” with the hope that the person you turn to can at least provide some semblance of a contribution…And in the case of the 5’7, 165-pound 12th grader from West Hempstead [Welch], he more than earned his keep in sending the Terriers’ to the NYCHSFL AA-1 semifinals behind the dramatic 28-27 overtime victory against St. Joe’s by the Sea this past Saturday evening…

The only lower seed [#6] to prevail in any of the nine quarterfinal match-ups contested across the three Metro Catholic divisions, SFP entered the weekend without the services of the program’s leading rusher in 2021, Jaden St. Ford (222 yards and 1 TD on 51 carries this season)…However, despite the absence of their key personnel member, Francis Prep really hummed on offense, as their 28-point output marked a season-best and was nearly 3x the average of the 10 ppg that scored during the course of the regular season.  The ground attack, anchored by Welch, was especially potent as it accumulated for fall-bests of 203 yards and three touchdowns on 31 attempts…”Not bad” for being short “short staffed.”!

Stepping onto the field last weekend having carried the pigskin just 21 times (for 130 yards) in his swan song campaign, Welch literally and proverbially maximized the opportunity afforded to him against the Vikings, as he surpassed his previous body of work in one night, sprinting to the tune of a 13-handoff, 141-yard effort that vaulted his school to the dub!

Kept out of the end zone (the only element missing from an otherwise miraculous performance), #33 was the catalyst of all catalysts as his long runs were essential in setting up his teammates to garner glory!

SFP deep in a 21-7 hole at the break, Welch sparked the comeback on the squad’s opening drive of the 2nd half when his 55-yard gain paved the way for junior signal caller, Isaiah Decruz, to culminate the drive with a 1-yard sneak to cut the deficit to 21-14.

One series later, Welch continued to be zoned in, as he added a 41-yard trek to his resume to further keep the momentum rolling for the Terriers!

Per his twitter, the past two weeks have been a banner occasion for his entire family tree.   In addition to posting the finest day of his scholastic career this past Saturday, his cousin, Dakim Griffin, set a new record for rushing TDs in a season for Half Hollow Hills East, when he scored four times on October 29th to give him 29!

The Terriers will look to punch their ticket to the NYCHSFL finals for the first time since 2011 (“A” runners-up) when they head to Staten Island to square off with second-seeded Moore Catholic…In the previous meeting (26-6 win for the Mavericks), Welch carried the ball twice for 14 yards.   It goes without saying that he’ll be asked to do considerably more in the upset bid!

 

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

Welcome back to the Player of the Week list, John Michalski.   Previously honored in week #1 of the spring season, the 6’2, 195-pound, field general from Woodbridge (NJ) is such the epitome of “superstar” that an argument could be made and won for his POTW inclusion on each occasion that the Mavericks are victorious!

So as to not water down/diminish the significance of the award in his case, we tend to pick our moments and save them for when he is truly other-worldly!  And that privilege showed itself last Saturday in the #2-seeded Mavs’ 35-21 quarterfinal triumph at home against a very determined Xavier Knights.

PERFECT thru the first 36 minutes of competition in the air (10-for-10, 298 yards), Michalski would conclude the afternoon by registering his second 300-yard tossing effort of the fall (319 yards versus Stepinac on Sept. 24th) behind an 11-for-17, 303-yard, two-touchdown affair…The dual-threat “bell cow” added 76 yards and two additional TDs with his legs!

Buried deep into his own zone, #11 delivered a perfect pass over the middle to a leaping Matthias Lighten (2 grabs for 137 yards, 1 TD), who out-ran the Knight secondary to finish off the 85-yard strike!

Later in the game, he found his top-target this season, Nick Jordan (4 catches for 29 yards, 1 touchdown) on a 10-yard hook-up!

Michalski’s TD-scoring treks came from distances of 5 and 4 yards respectively to round out his outstanding Saturday in the “master of all trades” role!

Polishing off the sweep of Xavier this year, the first round of Double-A-1 postseason marked the second time that Michalski tormented his guests from Manhattan.  When the teams played in week #4 (28-14 MC), he hurled for 221 yards and three TDs (10-for-16) and ran for 97 +1 on just eight keepers!

A bona fide candidate to win the League Offensive Player of the Year, JM’s most recent dynamic demonstration raised his stat totals to the following:  103-for-174, 1,618 yards and 14 touchdowns aerially; 494 yards and 5 TDs via land on 50 carries!  His 2,112 yards of universal production is tops in the AA division and ranks 2nd among all NYCHSFL student-athletes (2,624 for Iona Prep’s Ajani Sheppard).

As his next act, Michalski will try to book a second straight appearance to title weekend for the Mavericks (defending AA-2 champs) when he leads the herd into battle against aforementioned St. Francis Prep…When they initially met on October 9th, he racked up 333 yards of offense, chucking for 248 + 3TDs (18-for-27), while tacking on 85 yards on the ground (9 tries)!

 

Frank Ruta (Jr.); RB – St. Anthony’s Friars

If you are going to pick an occasion to have the best night of your high school career, then a hotly contested quarterfinal bout versus an opponent that has routinely knocked your school out of the playoffs the past six years, is about as good a time as any to flip that switch and go all beast mode!

Haunted by the memories of losses to Cardinal Hayes in the 2015, 2016, 2018 and 2019 triple-A bracket, the Friar faithful were able to exhale with sighs of relief this past Friday night as vengeance was theirs following a 42-28 triumph at Cy Donnelly Field against the rival/defending AAA titlist, Cardinals.

And the man of the hour under the illumination of those FNLs was the 5’9, 195-pound 11th grade tailback[Ruta].

Recording just 34 yards and one touchdown on seven carries during the regular season meeting [September 24th], the Hewlett resident “went off” in his first taste of postseason football (there were no playoffs last spring) last weekend, surpassing the century mark for the second time this year (103 yards) and establishing a new single-appearance best of four scores to propel St. Anthony’s into the semifinals!

Doing much of his damage during the latter 24 minutes of the war, Ruta would strike once in the first half, as he plunged across the goal line from 4-yards away to give STA a 21-0 advantage with 3:06 left in the 2nd quarter.  Prior to the TD run, he was on the back end of a 35-yard wheel route (on 3rd &13) from fellow junior, Dante Torres (12-for-23, 188 yards, 1 TD throwing; 8 carries, 25 yards, 1 touchdown running) that advanced the ball inside the opposing red zone (Hayes’ 10)….

A Cardinals’ rally (including a TD on their first series of the 2nd half) drew the visitors from the Bronx to within 21-14…#8 in Black & Gold made it his mission to not allow them to get any closer, as he reeled off THREE TD runs between the 3rd and 4th quarters!

Capitalizing off of an amazing strip sack by senior LB, Michael Maguire, that handed STA possession at the CH 13, Ruta gave the “boisterous” home crowd exactly what they were demanding when he broke to the left of the line and ran to paydirt two snaps later to increase the edge to 28-14 with 5:28 remaining in 3Q.

Developing into a ping pong clash of alternating scores from both sidelines, Ruta twice answered Hayes’ touchdowns in the final stanza, bouncing to the outside and then barreling over 2-3 Hayes’ defenders to convert an 8-yard TD run (made the score 35-21) with 9:10 to go in duration.

His fourth and last tally of the twilight occurred when he issued the “death blow” on a 21-yard scamper with 3:54 showing on the clock to account for the final score!

Ruta and the Friars will now ready themselves for an epic rematch in the semis versus the #1 ranked team in the state/#1 seed Iona Prep…In the 35-34 loss on October 22nd that was settled by mere feet, Ruta (10 carries, for 75 yards) and Joshua Escobar (85 yards on nine attempts) combined to chew up 160 yards against the Gaels vaunted defense…

Ruta is now a two-time POTW selection in his varsity tenure; he was previously recognized during week #2 of the spring season after a 3TD showing in a win over Stepinac!

 

Jack Wolf (Sr.); RB – Fordham Prep Rams

Quite literally a “Wolf in Ram’s” clothing”, the 5’9, 160-pound running back out of Rye [Wolf] was invaluable in helping Fordham Prep avenge their week #5 loss (20-13) to St. Peter’s, 13-12 in overtime, en route to securing a fourth straight AA semifinal appearance…

Emerging with a career-high 143-yards on just 13 attempts (11/per), Wolf may have only scored one touchdown in Friday’s night triumph; but that score came at the biggest moment of the season…

Trailing 12-6 and staring elimination in the face after allowing an Eagles’ touchdown in the first of the two OT possession exchanges, FP entrusted their dreams to the #7 jersey and he rose to the challenge when summoned…

Initially converting a 3rd & short by gaining 5 yards to move the chains (to the Peter’s 5), Wolf cemented the drive when he cut to the right side of the line of scrimmage and then refused to be denied, as he dragged a STP defender with him as he fell into the end zone for the equalizer.  This “6” was the first scored by the 12th grader since week #2 when he posted a pair of TD runs in a “w” over St. Francis Prep…The Liam Conlon PAT then served as the difference-maker!!!

While it would have been impossible to predict this big of a night for Wolf, his success certainly is not surprising… In fact, when you factor in the 19-handoff, 81-yard effort he gave on October 9th, two of his three highest outputs came versus the foes from Staten Island…

A “Ram turned work horse” for large chunks of the fall, Wolf has carried the pigskin (123) 81 more times than any other Fordham Prep player; his 623 yards is +472; and his five touchdowns makes him the ONLY FP runner with more than one score on the ground!

After rushing for a modest/season-low 19 yards on eight carries against semifinal opponent/top-seeded Chaminade on October 16th (week #6; 28-0 loss), it is imperative that he be as good, if not better, then he was in round 1 of the playoffs, should the Bronx contingent have aspirations of keeping this train chugging all the way to ‘ship weekend!

 

Bryce Davis (Jr.); RB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

“The land attack has not been as prominent as years past for A.S…”; That was what we wrote in our AAA preview last week, and boy could we not have missed the mark any more than did!

We don’t know if our comment motivated the 5’11, 165-pounder, or if he was always this good and simply bided his time before; but one certain is for certain; BRYCE DAVIS has arrived!!!

Like a “Dr. Seuss meets Walter Payton” mash-up, Davis was a one-man touchdown machine for the better part of the 1st half in the Crusaders’ 42-7 quarterfinal victory over Kellenberg Memorial last Saturday afternoon…

Emerging with touchdown runs on four of Stepinac’s first six possessions of the game, “Davis struck from close, Davis cruised from far, Davis made it look easy, but Davis also showed great heart (kind of rhymes).”

Rocketing the #3 seeds from White Plains to the 28-0 edge at the intermission, the Greenburgh resident broke the ice with 8:56 remaining in the opening quarter when he took a handoff 10-yards up the middle for the first TD of the game…

Just a little over three minutes later, he punctuated his second straight drive, following up a Firebird punt by taking the ensuing snap 76-yards to the promised land…

#9 notched the hat trick with 7:29 remaining in the 2Q when he closed out another impressive series for the Red, White, and Blue by taking it in from 3-yards out.  While he gets the spoils, the assists have to go to senior QB, James McCauley, and junior WR, Gjok Dedvukaj, who partnered up on a 34-yard connection one play prior!

His fourth and final touchdown of the game occurred in the last 37 ticks of the 2nd quarter, as he took the pitch wide to the left side of the line and went uninterrupted from a distance of 7-yards away to pull off the rare feat of 24 (points) in 24 (minutes).

All in all, the 165 yards and four touchdowns (on 13 tries) recorded in the 1st round of the playoffs shattered his previous career bests… He boosted his seasonal stat line on the ground to the following: 462 yards/9 TDs on 62 carries (7.0/per)!

Having advanced to the last six championship weekends, Stepinac will take the next step in extending their streak when they hit the road to face 2nd-seeded Monsignor Farrell in the semifinals.  The two schools did not square off during the regular season, but with the momentum he is bringing with him (7 of his 11 TDs in his last two appearances), we won’t make the mistake of sleeping/underestimating Mr. Davis ever again!

Nov 032021
 

By Matt Diano:

Kameron Robbins (Sr.); RB – Holy Trinity Titans

If you are a philatelist, you collect stamps; a numismatist collects coins; the lepidopterist collects butterflies…So what does the 6’0, 190-pound senior running back for the Titans [Robbins] stockpile? Player of the Week awards!!!! And the definition for that hobby is simply “beast”!

Making the POTW list for the third time in as many years (once each in his sophomore-senior campaigns) in the final regular season contest of his incredible scholastic career, the Baldwin resident was so lights out in HT’s 42-0 victory against Kennedy Catholic last Saturday afternoon, that he required just one half and five touches to leave yet another indelible mark on his home soil!

Posting a career-best three touchdown effort, #3 in Green & White took it to the house from distances of 15, 48, and 5 yards out between the 1st and second quarters to help the Hicksville based program establish a 26-0 advantage at the intermission!

The game still scoreless as the clock dripped just below 4:00 remaining in the opening quarter, Robbins got his team on the board when he took the handoff up the middle, did a spin move, and kept his feet long enough to fall across the line to make the score 7-0.

After Head Coach, Kahmal Roy’s defense induced a punt, Robbins struck for the second consecutive series, putting his toughness on display when he incorporated repeated stiff-arms to ward off would-be tacklers on his way to the 48-yard trek down the host sideline to double the lead to 14-0 less than 2:00 into the 2Q…

This long run cited above was the first of a pair of touchdowns earned by Robbins on the ground in the 2nd…Later (last 3:10; Trinity up 20-0), he culminated the fourth and final successful drive of the half, when he followed up a 38-yard completion from sophomore QB, Rocco Rainone (3-for-4, 88 yards, 1 TD) to 9th grader, Jayden Simpson, by going the rest of the way (5 yards) on the next snap to polish off his personal hat trick!

All in all, Robbins ended the afternoon with 67 yards to raise his senior total to 773 on 76 carries (10.2/per) and 10 touchdowns…In Trinity’s previous meeting with KC last spring, he torched the Gaels for 168 yards and 1 TD on 18 attempts!

Holy Trinity, who head into the postseason unblemished and as the owners of the top seed, will now enjoy a bye in the quarterfinal round of the AA-2 playoffs!

 

Devin Page (Jr.); QB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

Drew Bledsoe/Tom Brady, Jerry “Rev” Harris/Ronnie “Sunshine” Bass, Lance Harbor/Jonathan Moxon, and perhaps even for you NY Jet fans out there, Zach Wilson/Mike White, there is a long history (both genuine and fictional) at every level of our sport of cases where a team enters a season feeling very confident in the skill set of one signal caller only to be left dumfounded when they realize that the back-up is every bit as capable!

Such seems to be true in Uniondale for the Firebirds, as they have discovered a goldmine in the person of their 6’5, 185-pound, junior, dual-threat field general [Page]…

Uncertain of how much playing time he would receive at the onset of the 2021 fall season due to the presence of The Citadel committed senior QB, Ethan Greenwood, since being thrust into the starting-11 because of injury, the 11th grade honor student (4.0 GPA) out of Valley Stream has looked the part of a gentleman who is NEVER going to carry a clipboard again during his playing days…

Squaring off with Moore Catholic in a Saturday matinee that determined which school would secure the final at-large berth to the triple-A playoffs, Page answered the call to action by turning in the greatest game of his young career in a 35-13 triumph on the road against the Mavericks…

Demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice “life and limb”, it goes without saying that those limbs did all the talking on October 30th, as he was equally lethal by land or via sky during a 48-minute highlight reel that saw him account for 336 yards of offensive production while also having a hand in four of five touchdowns posted by the Blue & Gold attack!

Tying his career-high for touchdowns passes with 3 (previously achieved versus Chaminade in week #4), Page spread the ball out to five different targets on his way to an 18-for-24, 183-yard exhibition aerially!!!

As noted above, his legs did not disappoint either, as he set a new personal-best on the ground, concluding the “must-win” scenario with 151 yards and one additional TD on 13 keepers (11.6/per)…He now has rushing touchdown in two straight appearances

Getting KMHS off to a fast (yes, he was) start, on the initial series of the contest, Page called his own number on an RPO, faking the handoff and then exploding through a hole on the left side of the line to sprint 53 yards to paydirt to immediately put the visitors in front, 7-0!

Not going down without a fight (down 14-0), MC would climb back into contention when they hit on back-to-back TD passes (the second after a rare INT tossed by Page) to shave the deficit to 14-13 in the last 4:00 of the 1st half…But like every immortal athlete, Page did not allow the one error to rattle him.  On the contrary, true to the “short memory” mentality, he issued a poised response, guiding his team down the field before capping the ensuing drive by finding fellow senior, Peter von Schoenermarck (6 grabs for 67 yards), on a six-yard screen to send Kellenberg into the break up 21-13!

Just as he had done to start the afternoon, as soon as Page had the pigskin in his hands, there was no hesitation in getting back to work and throwing (literally) points up on the board…On the school’s first possession of the 3rd quarter, he lofted a perfect ball over the shoulder of Jaden Lyons (2 catches for 44 yards), and then allowed his senior receiver to do the rest to finish off the 41-yard hook-up that padded the lead to 28-13…

Early in the 4th, he went back to his favorite weapon, icing the game when he and von Schoenermarck played pitch-and-catch on a beautiful 18-yard fade for the insurance touchdown!

The former reserve’s huge afternoon in the regular season finale put a bow on a once unforeseeable saga that has witnessed him complete 64.2% of his passes (86-for-134) for 1,089 yards and 13 touchdowns…Despite playing in the majority of just six games, his yardage and TD accumulation ranks 4th and 3rd respectively among all NYCHSFL (regardless of division) quarterbacks!

Sixth-seeded Kellenberg will travel to White Plains to face off with #3 Archbishop Stepinac…If Page continues his string of strong outings, do not be surprised to see the upset! Anything is and has been possible for the #14 jersey this year!

 

Messiah Burch (Jr.); RB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

Have you ever played that children’s game where you pose the question “what would you get if you combined two unrelated items?”  Well, in the case of the 5’10, 170-pounder from Staten Island [Burch], he’d be the byproduct of a union between a cheetah and a microwave!!!  He heats up in a hurry and once he gets in space, he is gone in a flash!

Hampered by injuries at the start of his junior season after absolutely rocketing onto the Catholic football scene last spring, it has only been in the past four weeks that Farrell HC, Anthony Garofalo, has uncaged his prized cat…And since his return, the Lions have been roaring to the tune of a 3-1 record (three game winning streak), including their most recent 35-6 triumph this past Saturday afternoon over St. Peter’s in an all-SI affair…

In danger of potentially missing out on the AAA playoffs in their entirety, by virtue of the win, the gents of Amboy Road not only punched their own ticket, they actually emerged as the #2 overall seed after all tiebreaker criteria was examined!

Carrying the skin on just eight occasions, the 11th grader with the 90+ GPA to accompany the 4.4 acceleration, succeeded in rewriting his personal record book on October 30th, ending the weekend with 201 yards and four TDs to propel the Maroon & Gold to their second 35+ storing game in a row (posted a fall-best 42 in week 7 against Xavier)

Responsible for the first 28 points of the contest (28-0 approximately 4:30 into the 3Q), Burch drew first blood for MF when he culminated the opening drive with an 11-yard run to the left…His resume grew exponentially better the longer the day went, as he added 82 (7:33 remaining) and 54-yard (2:03 to go) dashes in the 2nd quarter to send his team into the break with the 21-0 advantage…TD #4 for Mr. #4 (his jersey) came on a one-cut, 30-yard bolt down the gut where he was motoring at such immense speed that the ref (stationed on the goal line) had to hustle to get out of his way…

The statistical leader in every rushing category for the Lions this season despite his early absences, Burch had racked up outings of 145 yards/1TD, 90yrd/2TDs, and 129yrds/2 scores in his previous body of work versus Chaminade, Kellenberg, and the already mentioned Knights of Xavier…This adds up to 565 yards and nine touchdowns on a modest 36 tries (alarming 15.7/per average)…

Both of Burch’s career POTW accolades (co-recipient during week #3 of the spring) have now come at the expense of the Eagles…In the prior battle, it was his 137-yard, 2-touchdown effort that rescued MF from a 14-0 deficit and inspired their eventual 28-20 dub!

Holding current scholarship offers from Buffalo, Temple, Rhode Island, and UMass, with the way Burch runs so naturally and separates from defenders, there are sure to be MANY interested parties vying for this human jackpot!

Farrell, who last won NYCHSFL hardware when they repeated in 1999 and 2000, kick off their title intentions by hosting seventh seeded Christ the King, this coming Saturday at 4pm!

 

Tyler Bobe (So.); RB – Mount St. Michael Academy Mountaineers

If you are a person that subscribes to the attitude “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but rather the magnitude of the fight in the dog”, then you need to be in the proverbial corner of this this 5’7, 125-pound sophomore tailback [Bobe]!

Praised by the Mountaineer coaching staff for the amount of heart and perseverance he demonstrates on a weekly basis, if POTW awards could be/were bestowed upon the student-athlete that left nothing in the tank and upheld the mission of the NYCHSFL, then the undersized sophomore might shatter the record for most times recognized…

Already an “All-American” in the areas of guts, desire, and selflessness, the quality of the stat line would match the breadth of the character in last Saturday’s 30-6 victory for MSMA against Nazareth Regional

The catalyst/#1 option as part of an ensemble that combined to gain a season-high 177 yards and register their first multi-TD game on the ground, Bobe’s effort was invaluable as the Mount snapped a four-game skid and improve to 2-6 (1-5 in league) this year…

An individual that has been coming on strong and/or peaking down the home stretch, like many of the peers that preceded him in this week’s edition of the POTW list, Bobe’s selection coincides with him establishing new career-bests in yardage (76) and touchdowns (2)…His TD runs came from distances of 7 and 12 yards respectively!

A bona fide coming of age tale being broadcast before our very eyes, the compare/contrast of the first four weeks (92 total yards, 0 scores) of the season versus the final three (155yrd, 2 TDs) has been night and day for Bobe!

As he embarks on the postseason, he does so with his 247 yards and two touchdowns (on 61 carries) either leading or being tied for the top spot on the Mountaineer totem pole!

Seeded 5th in the AA-2 playoffs, Mount St. Michael will be road warriors this Sunday when they travel to Flushing to take on #4 Holy Cross

When the two squads collided in week #5 (26-20 win for the Knights), Bobe was limited to 8 yards on eight attempts…However, having since gone into a groove, we are predicting a much more substantial performance in the rematch!

 

Luke Carson (Sr.); RB/DB – Xaverian Clippers

True to the 1970s hit song for James Taylor, those in attendance for this past Friday’s clash between Xaverian and Cardinal Spellman, most definitely saw both “fire” and “rain” in the Clippers 13-0 victory over the visiting Pilots…The rain, or more accurately, “torrential downpour”, came courtesy of God; the fire on the other hand was provided by the 6’1, 145-pound 12th grader hailing from Rockaway Park [Carson]

Suiting up and stepping onto the field at the Aviator Sports Complex one final time in his varsity tenure, Carson did everything within his power to guarantee that he and his fellow 12th graders will not soon forget their senior night!

Taking the handoff 12 times, Carson overcame the horrendous weather conditions to establish a new personal best with 125 yards, highlighted by his third TD run of his swan song season!

The game knotted at the double goose-egg in the final 2:00 of the 1st quarter, it was Carson dealing the go-ahead blow on a 3rd & 8 draw, exploiting a hole on the right side of the line to dart 16 yards to the house to give Xaverian the 6-0 advantage…

Not the person who directly punched in the second TD of the night (3:27 to go in 2Q) for the Blue & Gold, Carson did contribute several key runs that moved his school into position for the “6”…Junior QB, Bobby Benoit, had the privilege of punctuating the drive on a 12-yard keeper!

Defensively, #41 was credited with two tackles in the collective shutout effort!

Carson rides into the postseason atop the leaderboard in every rushing category for the Clippers with 375 yards and three touchdowns on 60 attempts (averages of 6.3/carry; 75.0/game)!

The sixth seed in the AA-2 bracket will be bound for Somers this coming Friday night for a quarterfinal against defending (2019) “A” champs, Kennedy Catholic…The Gaels prevailed by a comfortable 42-7 margin during week #5, but per Maxpreps, Carson was not active for the game.  His involvement could/should narrow the gap considerably!

 

Tafari Johnson (Sr.); LB/TE – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

It would not be November in the Metropolitan Catholic Football League if C.J. O’Neil’s Cardinals were not flipping the switch and getting hot for the postseason…

As yearly a routine as the crops in Iowa and the rains in April, no matter what their win-loss record says at the end of October, the program from the Bronx can always be counted on to show up when the stakes are highest…

And this past Saturday afternoon, Hayes took a gigantic step in certifying themselves as authentic threats to hoist Triple-A hardware for the third time since 2016 when their 6’2, 210-pound senior iron man [Johnson] did a Superman impression one day prior to Halloween!!

Donning the invisible cape and “S” on his chest, the standout with the #20 on his back, acted as a hometown hero and/or difference-maker on both sides of the ball in the Cardinals’ 49-48 OT triumph over their rivals from Westchester, Archbishop Stepinac.

At the heart of FOUR sequences that were defining moments for Cardinal Hayes, it seemed that Johnson was always in the right place at the ideal time!

The Crusaders leading 21-13 and driving deep into Hayes’ territory late in the last 4:00 of the 1st half, it was Johnson preventing any further damage when he anticipated a pass over the middle, sprung in front of the intended target and picked if right on the goal line!!!

It was déjà vu for Johnson approximately 5:00 into the 3rd quarter (A.S. up 28-27) when he again stood in the way of the visiting team’s bid to create a cushion, as all that time spent on the tip drill paid off when a deflection landed in his arms just in front of mid-field to set C.H. up with amazing starting position…A 15-yard, undeterred run up the gut by sophomore, Kenneth Antoine, later in the series gave Hayes the edge for the first time all afternoon (34-28)…

Fast-forwarding to extra frames (scoreboard reading matching 42s), the Cardinals had control of the pigskin first and they capitalized, as Johnson put himself into the offensive mix when he was on the back end of a 9-yard TD toss over the middle from Henry Belin. 

After answering with an immediate touchdown of their own, Stepinac’s decision to be gamblers and hunt for the win (2pt conversion try) afforded Johnson to log one additional highlight…Lining up in the wildcat, the Crusader’s all-purpose offensive missile, Dae’Shawn Allen (had already scored three touchdowns), took the snap and bounced around the left side of the line where he was met/ambushed by Muhamed Boja and none other than our protagonist!

Allen ended the back-and-forth war with six total stops and multiple PDs as companions to his two invaluable interceptions!

Seeded 5th, the Cardinals will seek their vengeance in the quarterfinals when the take the pilgrimage to the South Huntington to lock horns with the #4 Friars of St. Anthony’s…When the two teams met on September 24th, STA emerged with the 48-28 win behind 581 yards of total production (316 in the air, 265 on the ground) on offense…If Johnson hopes to prolong his scholastic career, he will need to step up for a second week in a row!

Oct 282021
 

By Matt Diano:

Vaughan Johnson (Jr.); DT – Fordham Prep Rams

Like NFL Hall of Famer defensive stoppers, Harry Carson and Len Ford, the 5’9, 220-pounder from White Plains [Johnson] did just live up to the reputation of the #53 jersey last Friday night, he has been making the number infamous all season long on behalf of the Rams….Their most recent victory (9-6 over Christ the King), which snapped a four-game drought, was just the continuation of the habitual sovereignty that the Fordham Prep junior DT has enjoyed this season against rival offensive lines…

Entering week #7 tied (with teammate, Jaziah Moore) for the lead in the NYCHSFL (all divisions) with six sacks, the multi-sport (5th at the 2021 CHSAA City Wrestling Championships) student-athlete might as well change his legal name to “Furnace” because he was providing nothing but heat up the middle all night!

A disruptive force that plagued both the Royal run and pass attacks for the full 48 minutes, Johnson was the catalyst in the Rams allowing their fewest points in a contest this year and CTK being held to their second lowest output (6; also achieved by Chaminade in week 1)…

Concluding the night with a stat line that read as follows: 7 tackles and 3 QB bags, the 11th grade Catholic football equivalent to Aaron Donald raised his eyebrow-raising totals to 36 stops and 9 sacks!

Of equal importance to the impressive accolades is that more times than not, he delivered the “big bang” at an instant that his school needed it…

The first of his three sacks occurred in response to a 1st quarter interception by Christ the King that set up the “hosts” (neutral field) from Middle Village at their own 29…On the next official snap (after a false start call had already pushed them back), Johnson fired through the gut and clobbered the opposing QB to force them into a 2nd & very long.   The series inevitably ended in a punt and no swing of momentum could be generated…

On another occasion, with FP up 9-0 in the 3rd quarter, but CTK on the march (on the Ram 32), Johnson did not complete the sack, but the licking he applied caused a throw attempt to come up short where fellow junior, Giancarlo O’Leary, picked if off to maintain the shutout…

Johnson added his second and third sacks in the fourth quarter, including the last of the trio that helped to curtail Christ the King’s final drive (trailing 9-6) of regulation!

 

Photo by Geoff Walter

Hagan Wagner (Sr.); DB/Kick Returner – Chaminade Flyers

Last Saturday evening, the 5’9, 165-pounder [Wagner] for the Crimson & Gold was wearing #45 on his back.  However, the “21” jersey would have suited him just fine given the major “Prime Time” vibes he created in Chaminade’s 42-0 triumph over St. Francis Prep

In true Deion Sanders form, the senior classman from Hempstead pulled off the rare “double-trouble”, returning both a kickoff and then an interception for touchdowns in propelling the Flyers to a third straight victory (raised their overall record to 5-2/4-2 against AAA competition)…

Chaminade already holding a 9-0 lead, Wagner struck for the first of his two scores in the last 45 seconds of the opening quarter, when on the ensuing kick following a safety, he fielded the ball at his own 29, made a first move to the middle of the field and then cut back towards the visiting sideline where he sprinted the remainder of the way to paydirt for the 71-yard KO TD to increase the lead to 16-0 at the end of 12 minutes…This marked the second time this season that he turned a return into “6”.  In week #3 (9/25), he brought one to the house from almost an identical distance versus St. Peter’s...

The scoreboard now leading 22-0, just as he did in the 1st, Wagner waited until late in the 2nd quarter (1:05 remaining) to make another pilgrimage to the promised land…Afflicted by heavy pressure (initially waged by senior LB, Connor Collett), the SFP quarterback made an errant throw attempt across the field…Zeroing in on the desperation chuck, the Marianist rover undercut the route on the Francis Prep 30 and then ran untouched for the pick-6 to send his school into the break with the comfortable 29-0 edge..

His coverage skills no doubt exceptional, where Wagner deviated from the reputation of his Hall of Fame comparison [Sanders] was in his willingness to engage in the more physical aspects of “D”…Simply put, he did not shy away from contact, he sought it out, falling one tackle short of tying his personal-best (9 in week 6 vs. Fordham Prep) but succeeding in logging a career-high 4 TFLs…For good measure, he added a sack for the second weekend in a row while being credited with a pair of hurries.

He’ll head into the last regulation season game of his scholastic career (against Iona Prep) with season totals of 47 stops, 8 TFLs, 2 sacks, and of course, the one electrifying INT!

Chaminade has now pitched two back-to-back shutouts!

As they get ready to face one of the most potent offenses in the entire Empire State (Iona Prep), it is known without being stated that he needs to be the best he ever has been if the Flyers are to contain a Gael machine that is averaging a shade below 38 points per game versus NYCHSFL foes…Whether it is Justin Joly, Mike Ryan, or Mike Senatore, there is no easy assignment!

 

Serge Lagardere (Jr.); WR/Punt Returner – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

Dear opposing coaches, kick away from #32….Kick away from #32….KICK AWAY FROM #32!!!!

Asserting himself as a definitive contender for the Special Teams’ Player of the Year in the AAA division, the 5’7, 140-pounder, hailing from Stamford, CT. [Lagardere] is starting to make the art of the kick/punt return appear easy…

An act that in a typical season you may get to experience two, maybe three times at most if you excel at the craft, after the Crusaders’ 37-7 win at home over St. Joseph’s by the Sea, the 11th grader now has posted FOUR total touchdowns in this capacity (to go along with the four additional TDs he has put up in the traditional offense; 3-receiving, 1-runnning)…

Perhaps more mind-blowing is the notion that he has now accomplished the feat in THREE CONSECUTIVE outings, with October 23rd being the grandest of them all!!

Fielding three punts in total, Lagardere accumulated 111 yards, highlighted by dynamic 58 and 50 yard delivering in the 1st and 3rd quarters respectively that enabled Stepinac to establish a cushion…

The Red, White, and Blue juggernaut up 7-0 in the last 2:13 of the opening stanza, Lagardere parked himself under the punt on his own 42, darted all the way across the field and went untouched into the end zone to increase the advantage to 15-0…

Approximately three minutes and 20 ticks into the third quarter and AS now up 22-0, Lagardere completed the pair when he took the pigskin on a bounce at mid-field, made a man miss, and took the long road yet again, galloping down his own sideline for his second and final tally of the afternoon to further pull away from the Vikings (29-0)!

Lagardere’s previous exploits included a 76-yard KO return for TD against St. Anthony’s on October 9th, complemented by a 50-yard punt take back versus Christ the King on 10/16…

He also added two catches for 32 yards to further contribute to his school’s week 7 conquest that improved them to 6-2/5-1!

 

Henry Belin (Sr.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

Every season, we have our unofficial “Death, Taxes, &” selection.  It is reserved for that special student-athlete that no matter when it occurs, you just know at the start of the year that it is a certainty that he will eventually find his worthy way onto the list..

When fall 2021 rolled around and before a single snap went down, we knew without question that the individual destined to carry on this legacy would be the 6’3, 210-pound, Duke University bound signal caller extraordinaire, Henry Belin….

Twice named as a NYCHSFL POTW during his title-winning sophomore season in 2019 (including being Offensive MVP of the Triple-A championship), Belin did not garner the honors last spring; but that was probably more a case of the Hayes’ staff wanting to share the love as opposed to him not deserving the spotlight…Because, there is little to no doubt that whenever he steps on a football field, he ALWAYS attracts attention!

Regarded by 247 Sports as the top in-state QB prospect from the class of 2022, the 3-star general has had to deal with some frustrations (semi-rebuild in the Bronx) in his swan song, but he clearly has no plans to exit the stage quietly.   On the contrary, we might just be approaching his “finest hour” as we inch closer to the postseason!

The “sun” in a universe filled with offensive stars on each sidelines last Friday, neither Belin himself or anyone else in attendance is soon to forget the instant classic that was played at the Mitchel Athletic Complex on October 22nd!

Combining for 104 points (55-49), it required three overtime periods before a winner could emerge between the Cardinals and their hosts, Kellenberg Memorial…And in fitting form, it was the gentleman rocking the #3 that had the ultimate hand in deciding the fate of the contest!

Having a hand in all three of the Cardinals’ touchdowns in the extra frames, Belin got to be both savior and hero under the lights, as it was a 14-yard TD toss (across his body while on the run) to fellow 12th grader, Donovan Beauvoir, on 4th & goal in the first OT that extended the evening, before later connecting on a 10-yard swing pass to another senior, Rex Roman, for the game-clincher…Sandwiched around the two clutch throws was a 1-yard literal KEEPER that kept Hayes alive in the second overtime…

Accounting for 414 yards of total offensive production, the future Blue Devil was responsible for SIX touchdowns, as he went 21-for-30 in the air for 282 and 3TDs, while rushing for 132 and three more scores on 10 carries…

The defending AAA champs trailing 21-7, Belin struck for the first of his two 2nd quarter touchdowns when he hooked up with younger brother, Rich, on a 68-yard completion to cut the deficit to 21-14….To close out the 1st half (KMHS up 28-14), he scrambled across the line from a distance of 13 yards to again trim the margin.

After an exchange of scores in the 3rd quarter (one of the few he did not directly influence), Belin “squared the match” at 35-35 with about 8:30 to go in regulation when he shed multiple tacklers and scampered like a bat out of hell for a 64-yard touchdown run!  On a night where he was special from start to finish, this was the moment that was most representative of the incredible person and player Belin is, per Head Coach, C.J O’Neil.

 

Matthias Lighten (So.); CB/WR – Moore Catholic Mavericks

A born star if we ever saw one, the 6’1, 175-pound super sophomore [Lighten] gave the Catholic Football pundits a glimpse of his two-way abilities last spring when three of his five receptions resulted in touchdowns on offense and he racked up 18 stops on “D” in just four appearances…

Now afforded the luxury of a full campaign to showcase his talents, the so-called “sophomore jinx” has not applied to the gem in the #7 shirt!

Impossible to miss on both sides of the ball, there have been days when offense took center stage and evenings when the Roselle, NJ resident was all about the “D”…In week #7, he was the whole package in the Mavs’ 20-0 win in the battle of Staten Island over St. Peter’s.

A chart-topper no matter what role he was assuming on Friday, Lighten posted a team-best/career-high 10 tackles (3 solo, 7 assisted), to go along with two successful pass break-ups in spearheading the defense to their first goose-egg instigating affair of the season…Since welcoming him to the big club, Moore Catholic has now shutout three opponents in his 10 occasions wearing the Red & Black…

Shifting his focus to offense, his five-grab, 55-yard display (best in both categories among MC targets) was the continuation resumption of the hot streak he has found himself on down the stretch…Making 17 of his 29 total catches for 197 of 383 yards during the past three weeks, Lighten is peaking at the perfect time of the year!

The last spot in the triple-A playoffs likely at stake in the regular season finale against Kellenberg Memorial, the Mavs will need for him to be that all-everything explosive playmaker that they have come to expect and cherish since his debut last April.

 

Chris Kalle (So.); RB/CB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

The box score is going to indicate that the 5’10, 155-pound, sophomore [Kalle] only scored one touchdown…And while that might be technically true, from watching the tape, it was quite apparent he did a heck of a lot more.  In fact, there was not a single point in the 29 earned by the Gaels in their Saturday matinee victory (29-8) against Mount St. Michael Academy that he did not in some way inspire…

With 6:03 remaining in what was a scoreless first half, the Thornwood resident got the proverbial ball rolling when he answered a Mountaineer interception with a pick of his own to regain possession for KC at mid-field…On the ensuing drive, Anthony Castaldi, who wore several different hats (QB, WR, etc.) drew first blood with a 21-yard keeper for the first of his three touchdowns to make the score 7-0.

Fast-forward to the last 90 seconds of the 3rd (MSMA now hanging on to an 8-7 advantage) and it was Kalle taking the first snap following an interception in the end zone (by junior, Luis Garcia), 36 yards into enemy territory…Pushed back a bit after the big run, Castaldi later was on the receiving end of a 44-yard bullet from ZJ Suarez to put the boys of Somers back in the lead…Kalle then caught a pass for the 2pt conversation to make the score 15-8 with 44 ticks to go…

Midway through the 4th and Kalle was again a catalyst as he strung together rushes of 32, 13, and 11 yards to move the Gaels into the red zone…Castaldi then knocked down the door from 5-yards away for the insurance TD (22-8)…

After doing so much to facilitate others, the moment of glory finally came for Kalle in the last minute and a half when he bolted up the middle for the 37-yard touchdown to culminate the scoring for KC!

All in all, he amassed 220 yards on 23 hand-offs to raise his total for the season to 670 yards…The TD in the waning moments was his seventh of the fall!!!

In addition to the well-timed INT, he was credited with four tackles from the secondary!

Oct 202021
 

By Matt Diano:

Leroy Biyo (Sr.); PK/MLB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

If James Brown was the “hardest working man in show business”, then when it comes to New York Catholic athletics, that moniker has got to attached to the 6’1, 155-pounder, senior, out of the Bronx [Biyo]…He is not just a dual-sport athlete overall; he’s doing double duty simultaneously!!!

In one of the absolute most fascinating tales we may encounter this season, Biyo’s journeymen to stardom conjures up memories of the Neil Diamond classic, “I am, I said” where the sing-songwriter describes a frog who dreamed of being the king and then became one.”

Already a full-time member of the Spellman varsity soccer squad, when Biyo originally joined the football team, it was to serve only in the capacity of a kicker/punter…However, as time passed and his passion grew, it was not long before he was requesting additional responsibilities and asking to be included in more strenuous contact drills…

Now just weeks later, he finds himself not just as a designated specialist, but also as a starting middle linebacker, as well as a kick returner!!!

The entirety of his vast repertoire came in handy this past Saturday in Spellman’s 19-16 triumph…

On most days, if we said that you collected 20 total tackles (8 solo, 12 assisted) on defense, most would assume that was your signature contribution.  But in the case of Biyo, it was his all-encompassing body of work on special teams that equally solidified his candidacy…

Successfully booting a PAT through the posts for his first point of the game, the strength of his leg enabled him to also dictate opposing starting field position as he registered a pair of touchbacks…

The icing on the cake for the Pilot 12th grader occurred when he emerged with one of the most electrifying plays of the year, bringing home the bread on a 98-yard kickoff return for what would be the ultimate determining factor!!!

 

Ajani Sheppard (Jr.); QB – Iona Prep Gaels

Last Thursday night, much of the high school football watching nation flocked to their televisions to see the #1 overall dual-threat signal caller in the nation, Arch Manning, suffer the first loss of his junior campaign…In hindsight, what the populace should have done is waited two days and demanded that a camera crew (aside from LocalLive) assemble to showcase the #2 DT quarterback in the Empire State [Sheppard]…Having watched both contests, we can attest to the fact that the Iona Prep 11th grader put on the more dazzling, entertaining, impressive exhibition in Iona Prep’s 35-21 victory over Cardinal Hayes in a collision of the preseason top-2 programs in the NYCHSFL AAA division…

The fourth Gael student-athlete this fall to have POTW acclaim bestowed upon him, after sharing the spotlight with teammates—Ellis Robinson IV (Week #1), Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Week #2), and Justin Joly (Week #4), the moment has arrived for the captain of the ship to finally receive his due credit and admiration!

As consistent as the chill on a typical October afternoon, the 6’2, 230-pound, Bronx native did nothing to weaken his Offensive Player of the Year candidacy on 10/16… Directly or partially responsible for 280 yards of cumulative production, he connected on 12 of 16 tosses for 178 yards and three touchdowns in the air and was equally potent on land, scrambling for 102 yards and an additional TD on eight keepers!!!

Not one who stepped onto the field last weekend in need of stat line repair, his demonstration against the visiting Cardinals was just the next chapter in a never-ending storybook of perennial grandeur that he has authored during the last month and a half…

Entering the contest having thrown for two or more touchdowns three times prior, while also exceeding the century mark with his legs once, Sheppard raised his yearly totals to the following:  64.3% completion rate (92-for-143) for 1,385 yards, w/13 TD hurls aerially…464 yards and eight scores on 58 carries (8.0/average)…

Drawing first blood less than five minutes into the 1st quarter, Sheppard hit Robinson IV on a 7-yard swing pass inside the red zone for the first of his three TD chucks to put IP up 7-0.

The lead increased to 14-0 at the midway point (Anthony Turner 1-yard run with 1:55 left in the 1st), just as he did in the 1st half, Sheppard wasted little time making things happen on the Gaels’ initial drive of the 3rd quarter …Facing 3rd & 1 on the Hayes’ 37, he laid the ball out perfectly in stride to fellow junior, Michael Senatore, who caught it on a wheel route and cruised to the end zone with no defender in sight to further pad the cushion (21-0, 10:12 remaining in 3Q…

In almost déjà vu fashion, Sheppard and Senatore went back to the well in the last 63 ticks of the third stanza and again struck gold as a broken coverage enabled the latter to be wide open for the 39-yard TD reception that made the score 28-7.

Still very much in control (28-14), Sheppard let his legs do some talking in the final 5:15 of duration, as he faked the handoff and then parked himself beyond the lockdown/pancake blocking of Turner, and allowed the 6’0, 240-pound senior to escort him 10 yards across the goal line to cap off the 4 TD endeavor.

Sheppard’s selection as a Player of the Week was the climax of a remarkable weekend for the IP QB fraternity…On Monday, former Gael great, Derek Robertson (2018 AAA Offensive POY) was the recipient of the Colonial Athletic Association Rookie of the Week award after going 20-for-40, 223 yards, and 2 TDs in Maine’s 27-16 win over William & Mary!

 

Dae’ Shawn Allen (Jr.); WR – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

If legendary pitchmen/inventors, Billy Mays and Ron Popeil, had ever delved into the realm of being sports agents, then there is little doubt that the 5’11, 165-pounder out of Greenburgh [Allen] would have been precisely the model client they sought…Two men who transformed “utility” into a sacred term, one look at the versatility of the young gentleman in the #7 Crusader jersey is all the convincing they’d need to know they had a “cash cow” and/or “best seller” on their hands!

So immensely talented and diversified in his skill set, Allen is not the cliché Jack-of-All-Trades; this standout from Westchester is a KING of all point-scoring disciplines!!!

Fresh off of an outstanding outing (155 yards of total production; 40 rushing, 60 receiving, 50 as a kick returner) in a key victory over St. Anthony’s during week #5, Allen was even more spectacular this past Saturday afternoon in leading Stepinac to their second consecutive win (improved their league record to 4-1) in the form of a 49-18 conquest of visiting Christ the King

Notching his second multi-TD effort of the season (caught two touchdown passes on 9/18 against St. Peter’s) and the third of his career (had a four-score game last spring versus Kellenberg), Allen found paydirt on THREE different occasions in THREE unique manners on his way to an 18-point individual master class!

Concluding the “w” over the Royals with 172 yards of flash (on a modest five handles), Allen recorded the first of the trifecta when he followed up a 30+ yard hook-up between Sr. QB James McCauley and Junior WR, Gjok Dedvukaj, by taking the pigskin around the corner and jetting 10 yards to the house for the rushing TD to give his school the early 7-0 advantage approximately 4:00 into the opening quarter…This was one of two runs he attempted on the day totaling 21 yards to now raise his fall sum to 103 (on 7 carries)…

Four-and-a-half minutes later, Allen made it two straight drives that he punctuated a possession with a “6” when McCauley found him on a short out route, which he turned up field, broke a tackle, and dashed the remaining 41 yards to convert the 46-yard TD connection…He tacked on a 12-yard grab during the contest to round out a 2-catch, 56-yard performance.

The scoreboard now reading 42-0 at the start of the 2nd half, Allen completed the hat trick by taking the kickoff (after a minor bobble) up the gut and making a cutback or two along the way en route to a 95-yard TD return…His was the second of a pair of touchdown-yielding special teams’ players; earlier, Serge Lagardere brought a punt 50 yards back to the promised land to increase the lead to 28-0…On September 24th, Allen also went all the way for an 85-yard return versus Moore Catholic

For the year, Allen and the previously cited Dedvukaj are entrenched in quite the All-Crusader battle atop the program receiving leader board…Both have been credited with 29 receptions, with the latter [Dedvukaj] enjoying a 510 to 508 edge in yardage, but Allen up 4-3 in TD snatches…Lagardere is the final piece of the three-headed monster corps, with 15 catches for 173 yards and three TDs of his own!

 

Nicholas Bruno (Sr.); 2Back – Xavier Knights

For the first five weeks of the 2021 fall season, all the Knights and their 5’9, 145-pound 2Back [Bruno] experienced was a series of moral victories without the satisfaction of officially breaking into the win column…Plagued by injuries (lost three starting running backs in a week #1 loss to St. John the Baptist), not to mention the natural disadvantage of rust caused by the decision of the New York City school to forego participating last spring, if their collective performance on October 16th is an indication of anything, it is that the boys from West 16th Street are about to turn things around and reassert themselves as NYCHSFL Double-A contenders!

Picking up their first dub since the 2019 Turkey Bowl (40-14 over Fordham Prep; November 28th) by virtue of a 28-21 victory on Saturday night over St. Peter’s, regardless of the 1-5 tally that Xavier presently totes, there has been no denying the solo/individual excellence that has been delivered week-in and week-out by the senior tailback donning the #3 jersey…

Reaching/surpassing the century mark for a FIFTH straight appearance, Bruno established new personal-best for rushing accumulation (217 yards) and TD runs (3) while boasting an incredible 8.3 yards/per average on his 26 ground attempts against the Eagles…

Himself a resident of Staten Island, during the past three outings (opposed by Moore Catholic, St. Joe’s by the Sea, and St. Peter’s), he has single-handedly torched the hometown programs, racking up 100 yards and two TDs (28 carries) against the Mavericks before posting a 30-handoff, 210 yard/2-touchdown affair versus the Vikings…Factoring in the respective 122 (1 TD) and 117-yard displays from early match-ups with Kellenberg and St. Francis Prep, Bruno has amassed 780 yards (10th most in New York State) and crossed the goal line eight times thus far in his swan song campaign!

The present-day star of the Knights’ nationally recognized rugby dynasty, Bruno was at the heart of every successful drive that yielded Xavier a 21-0 lead in the 2nd quarter…

Having already run for one touchdown to give the Chris Stevens guided brigade a 7-0 advantage, Bruno struck again during the initial 12-minute opening quarter when on 2nd & 4, he faked a handoff and called his own number, cruising 29 yards up the middle to increase the cushion to 14-0.

Even on those instances when he was not the person to culminate the series, his influence was invaluable…The Knights still up 14-0, it was his 34-yard, 2nd quarter scamper to the Eagle 2 that set up fellow 12th grader, Justin Axiax (11 carries, 52 yards) for the two-yard plunge into the end zone…

The margin trimmed to 21-14 in the 3rd quarter, as he had done all night, Bruno regained momentum and provided some insurance when he weathered (no pun intended) down pour conditions to punch in his third score on a 4-yard keeper to restore the 14pt edge (28-21)…This combination of burst and toughness served as the difference-maker!

The younger brother of 2019 All-Catholic Defensive selection, Anthony [Bruno; Xavier class of 2020], it is a surefire guarantee that he’ll soon join his sibling in garnering this honor!

 

Jameson Sessa (Sr.); Two-Way Lineman – Monsignor Farrell Lions

In a day and age where members of Generation Z are too often accused of being “coddled” or “soft”, it is always extra special when we are afforded the opportunity to profile the exact antithesis of that misguided stereotype…After all, there is nothing more masculine, awe-inspiring, and courageous than the roles played by the boys that do their battling in the trenches…And in the case of the 6’2, 215-pound Staten Islander [Sessa], “rest” is about as dirty a four-letter word as exists in the English dictionary!

Named as a co-POTW honoree during week #3 of the spring season [along with RB Messiah Burch], there is no division in the direction of the limelight this time around…For a young man that does so many things that contributes to the betterment of the entire unit, it is somewhat fitting that Sessa is being recognized as the solo superstar of the Lions’ 21-17 comeback victory against Kellenberg Memorial last Friday night!

Occupying the edge on both sides of the line of the scrimmage, no matter if he was playing Right Tackle or Defensive End, #52 in the Maroon & Gold was regularly winning any and all exchanges in the combat zones…

On offense, he was a battering ram in both run and pass situations, continually sustaining his blocks to maintain a clean pocket for QB, Christian Pinto (8-for-11, 120 yards) while also doing road grader duties to create holes for a bevy of Farrell ball carriers that combined to rack up 165 yards and three touchdowns on 26 tries (6.3/per)…

Distinguishable from the get-go, Sessa made his domineering presence felt on MF’s opening drive of the evening…The Lions trailing 7-0 a little less than eight minutes into the 1st quarter, it was his essential blocks on consecutive snaps that facilitated a quick response to even the score…Picking up the Firebirds’ top sack man on the first of the two back-to-back sequences, he provided Pinto with the time necessary to launch a 38-yard completion to Mateo Bravato (2 grabs for 75 yards) to advance the ball to the KMHS 20…Subsequentially, he then won the one-on-one match-up again, enabling Burch (90 yards on 16 carries) to find a hole and dart 20 yards to the end zone for the first of what would be a two-TD showing for the junior speedster…

With 5:18 to go in the 1st half, Sessa helped Farrell take their first lead of the night when he pushed and trapped his man inside, making it possible for Cole Abbruzzese (39 yards on four attempts) to cut to the outside and run 17 yards to paydirt to send the host school into the locker room up 14-7!

Steady to the very last horn, when his team needed him most (trailing 17-14 with 3:25 still left unspoken for), Sessa and all of his OL peers answered the bell, routinely knocking Firebird defenders back, thus allowing the Farrell attack to methodically march down field by incorporating a plethora of medium distance runs, coupled with one huge gainer in the air…Moving 63 yards (10 plays) in just under 3:00, Burch’s three-yard plunge in the waning moments (:18 remaining) was the backbreaker!!!

Ponder this thought; his exploits on “D” were even more significant!!!!

Posting a season-best in total stops (8) and sacks (2), Sessa was a considerable reason why a Kellenberg offense that came into the game averaging nearly 30 points per appearance was held to just 17…

A stalwart in stuffing the run, three of his eight tackles resulted in no gain, as KMHS mustered only 75 yards on the ground…

Making sure to close out the “w” in emphatic style, Sessa sullied any chance of a Marianist miracle when he had had a highlight reel sack in the last 20 ticks to force the visitors 15 yards back and set up an impossible 3rd & forever scenario…The Lions later induced a turnover on down with :01 on the clock to seal the victory and improve their record to 3-2 in league (4-2 overall)!

 

Devin Malvasio (Sr.); RB/OLB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea Vikings

If there has been a theme to the Vikings’ on-going three-game winning streak, it is that if #11 [Malvasio] is running, then SJS is thriving!!!

Possessing both power and speed, the 6’2, 195-pound senior has shown himself to be an every down back capable of finding a hole and jetting 40+ yards or taking the handoff and muscling his way for those gutsy short and medium gainers…

In Joe’s by the Sea’s 27-20 victory on Friday night over St. Francis Prep, the multi-sport student-athlete [is also very gifted on the baseball diamond] displayed the full range of his artillery as an offensive weapon, chewing up grass like his name was John Deere to the tune of an 18-carry, 177-yard, 2-touchdown appearance…And as a bonus, he was rather good on defense to boot!

The barnburner all square at 7-7 in the last 75 ticks of the 2nd quarter, Malvasio would take the handoff straight up the middle and barrel over two Terrier defenders on the goal line to convert the 11-yard punch-in to give the Vikings the brief advantage…

After back-to-back scores from Francis Prep at the end of the 1st half (Kickoff return following the Malvasio TD) and eight minutes into the 3Q created a 20-13 deficit for SJS, a response was needed and Head Coach, Joe Goerge, knew which thoroughbred he was going to ride!!!

Facing 2nd & long with under 6:00 remaining in duration, Malvasio carried the ball up the middle, shook off an ankle tackle, kept his balance and cashed in from 42 yards out to draw the Vikings within a point (20-19 after an unsuccessful 2pt try)…

After the “D” hunkered down and forced a punt, Malvasio was again clutch in aiding the deciding final series of the evening, as he posted a big 17-yard run to move the ball just beyond midfield and then later added a 10-yard reception that put SJS inside the Terrier 15 w/:41 to go in the 4th…Not indicated in the box score is that directly following the grab, he had key blocks on two of the final three snaps, first picking up a pass rusher to give junior signal caller, Matt Wissman, time to connect with 11th grade WR, Andrew Deangelis, on the SFP 5-yard line and then escorting Wissman on a 5-yard keeper in the waning seconds (0:26 left) for the winning score!

On the other side of the ball, Malvasio was credited with six solo stops and assisted on countless others in going above and beyond to improve Sea to 3-2 in league competition!

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!