Nov 302016
 

By Matt Diano:

Justin Felder (Jr.); RB – Holy Cross Knights

When the 2016 season started, the junior from Jamaica was not even slotted to be Coach Tim Smith’s #1 option out of the backfield….However, when injuries demanded that the 5’8, 180-pounder assume a larger role, Felder was ready for the promotion, gaining 600 of his season total 905 yards in the weeks since taking over as the Knights’ primary ball carrier. 

Entering the final contest of his 11th grade season riding a streak of four consecutive games with a rushing touchdown and 100+ yard performances in two of his last three outings, the recently named All-Catholic honoree truly did have a heck of a finale, accumulating 208 yards on only 13 carries (an average of 13.0/carry), including a 49-yard “burst” (to quote Coach Smith) up the gut that put the “w’ on ice for Holy Cross in their 54-16 victory over Campus Magnet….His pair of TD runs tied his previous career high, while his total yardage established a new benchmark in what his coach hailed as his best performance to date.   Previously (October 22nd), Felder’s two highs (201 yards, 2 TDs) came in a heartbreaking 36-33 last second loss to AAA titlists, Cardinal Hayes….Hence, to be able to dominate the game while also picking up the third win of the season for the team had to make the experience all the more sweet. 

One of only two juniors from Holy Cross named to the aforementioned All-League squad (the other being DE Michael Taylor), in addition to his 905 rushing yards, Felder concluded the year having scored nine touchdowns…Despite a very heavy workload down the stretch (had 84 more touches than the next highest ball carrier), Felder averaged 6.6 ypc on his 138 handoffs. 

As we prepare to put 2016 in the rear-view mirror and begin our focus on what gifts 2017 will bestow upon us, Felder’s effort on Thanksgiving solidifies his position as “one to watch” next season…If he remains healthy, all signs point to him well exceeding the 1,000 yard milestone as a senior. 

 

Matthew Valecce (Jr.); QB – Fordham Prep Rams

Named to the Players of the Week list for the second time this season (also honored in week #3), the returning All-State signal caller will never forget Thanksgiving 2016 for as long as he lives because it was on that day that he officially became the TD passing King of Catholic Football….

Throwing 17 touchdowns as a freshman, 27 in 2015, and 24 coming into Turkey Day, per the New York Sportswriter’s Association record book, the 6’4 resident of the Bronx needed only one TD toss to surpass legendary St.Dominic’s field general, Tony Capozzoli’s (’72-’75) mark of 68…Instead of just breaking the record, Valecce would put some separation between himself and the ex-Bayhawk icon, throwing for three touchdowns to move himself into a tie for 11th all-time in New York State with 71. 

Completing 21 of his 31 attempts to finish the game with 319 yards in the 93rd edition of this historic rivalry, there may not have been a bigger connection during his three-year varsity career than when Valecce hit fellow junior, Liam McHale, on a 30-yard strike for the game-winning score with 2:18 remaining in the fourth quarter….Trailing 18-13 at the time, Valecce’s flair for the big moment held major significance for the Ram program as a whole, as their 21-18 come-from-behind victory last Thursday means that for the first time since 2011, the Maddow Trophy will call Fordham Road home. 

Earlier in the game, the two-sport student-athlete (also does quality work on the baseball diamond) who holds a remarkable 4.25 grade point average, hooked up for his favorite target, Will Loffredo, on 60 and 36-yard passes to give FP a 13-0 first quarter lead….The respective 12th and 13th times that these two teamed up to put “6” on the board moved the junior wide-out [Loffredo] into a tie for 2nd in NYS this season for touchdown receptions…His 1,239 yards (had 10 catches for 158 to close out 2016) ranks 3rd in the Evil Empire. 

With Valecce and just about all of his weaponry back in 2017, it might not be premature to label Coach Pete Gorynsky’s program as one of the early title favorites next season. 

 

Carlos Fernandez (Jr.); RB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

While it would be an understatement to say that C.J. O’Neil and company have been focused on a much grander goal since winning the AAA League Title on November 19th, even the prospects of winning the first Catholic State title in program history could not interfere with tradition….Playing in the 74th edition of the Turkey Bowl, the Cardinals went on the road and emerged with a 43-24 victory over a very determined Mount St. Michael Academy squad…The win marked the first time in the over seven decades of battling for Bronx bragging rights that Hayes was able to win four consecutive years…However, despite their seemingly polar opposed records this season, the game was much closer than the final score suggests, with the Mountaineers trailing only 22-16 at the onset of the third quarter. 

A big reason why the heavily favored Cardinals were able to withstand the advances of their motivated hosts was the performance of the junior tailback, Fernandez, who scored one touchdown in each half to be the lone Hayes’ student-athlete to notch multiple scores. 

One of three running backs to receive eight or more touches as a apart of a balanced rushing attack intended to keep everyone fresh and healthy for the BIG ONE later this week, Fernandez’s 45 yards (5.6 average/carry) may not come across as game-changing, but in his case, the quality far out-weighted the quantity, as it was his 1-yard run that turned an 8-7 deficit into a 15-8 advantage at the end of the 1st quarter.

Later in the game (Hayes leading 30-16), it was Fernandez again being the one to inflict major damage when he trekked six yards in the fourth quarter to put the dagger in the MSM upset hopes.

A first-time All-Catholic selection in 2016, Fernandez’s versatility was second to none….Leading the triple-A champions in rushing yards with 603 and finishing 2nd (behind only QB Christian Anderson) with eight ground touchdowns, the 5’6, 170-pounder also tallied 23 catches for 334 yards, to finish 4th on the team in both categories.  His three receiving scores ranked 3rd among Cardinals. 

As they ready themselves to face off against a Canisius program that is giving up less than 13 points per game this season, it goes without saying that Fernandez will need to channel Liam Neeson and use his set of skills in the hunt for the crown.    

Tahshawn Brinson (So.); RB Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

A rare second selection from the same team, the more we thought about it, the more apparent it became that if were going to feature Fernandez, we also needed to shine a light on the team’s leading rusher, Tahshawn Brinson.  

Less than one week removed from being named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the NYCHSFL AAA title victory over Stepinac, the 5’10, 190-pound super sophomore who calls the Bronx home, showcased the full array of his diverse skill set, averaging 9.3 yards per carry on eight touches to accumulate 74 yards…With his team already leading 15-8 at the time, Brinson exploded from 10-yards out to double the Cardinals’ edge at the break.
He now will head into the State title game on December 4th with an offensive stat sheet that reads as follows: 82 carries for 448 yards and five running touchdowns…His more than five yards (5.46) per rushing attempt is almost a full yard more any other member of C.J. O’Neil’s prized squad.  
Also a master of finding and getting to the ball on the other side of the line of scrimmage, Brinson would record six stops on defense, further confirming the belief that he will be among the top two-way players in 2017.  

Louis Blackwell (Sr.); LB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

Unlike the three gentlemen who preceded him this week, there will be no “sure to dominate again next season” tag for Blackwell who played his final game in the Crusader colors last week…For an individual and a class that had known nothing but triumph for much of their scholastic careers, it was fitting that the All-Catholic linebacker and his class of 2017 peers had the opportunity to go out on top, as they used a big second half to pull away from White Plains, 49-32, in a battle for town bragging rights. 

Leading by a modest score of 35-26 at the half, whatever Head Coach, Mike O’Donnell, told his defense during the break more than did the trick, as the unit, led by Blackwell (ended the game with a team-high 14 stops) darn-near pitched a shutout over the course of the final 24 minutes, surrendering only a meaningless touchdown at the sub-1:00 mark.  

An anchor and example-setter in his final season donning the Red, White, and Blue, Blackwell’s 124 tackles in 2016 ranked him in the top-10 (6th) in New York State….Reaching double digits in eight of the Crusader’s 12 games, only twice (September 9th against Cornwall, 15; September 17th against Iona Prep, 14) did the 6’2, 220-pounder equal or surpass his output from last week. 

Blackwell is the fifth player from the defensive side of the ball to receive POTW recognition this season….He joins an elite company of teammates that included: Trill Williams (week #2), Tyger Winston (Week #7), Devonte Myles (Week #8), and Gene Brown (semifinal round)…Myles and Brown accompanied Blackwell on the All-League squad, while Williams (who missed much of the year with an injury) recently committed to play collegiately at Rutgers University.      

Nov 162016
 

By Matt Diano:

stepinac-crestGene Brown (Sr.); DL – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

In the lead-up to last weekend’s semifinal game, we said that “if there was one outstanding unit to keep an eye on”, that it would be the Monsignor Farrell defense….Now, while we do not know if this comment was responsible for lighting a fire in the belly of the Crusader’s senior defensive lineman [Brown]; what we can attest to  with complete certainty though is that he played like man with a statement to make a point to prove, as it was the “D” from the two-time defending AAA champions that won the day, as they avenged an earlier 23-20 regular season loss by doubling up the host Lions, 20-10, in a CHSFL semifinal contest. 

A team captain who Coach Mike O’Donnell described as “playing the game with high energy and never stopping until the sound of the whistle,” the 6’2 245 pounder was a standout in last year’s title game victory over Cardinal Hayes, recording six tackles and a sack to help lead the Crusader’s to a their second championship in as many years….Expect a money player like him to come up just as big this coming Saturday as he looks to extend his scholastic career all the way to November 26th for the 3rd Annual State Title game.

Currently being actively recruited by Delaware State, the Bridgeport resident was so outstanding in the Catholic semis that if you were a college recruiter in the area to watch, he commanded your attention and demanded that you write his name down….Making six solo tackles and assisting on five more, Brown’s 11 total stops was tops on the Crusaders as he was a big reason why the third-seed from Westchester was successful in holding Farrell star tailback, Gavin Monreale, under 100 yards for the first time in five weeks and only the third time overall in 2016.   The Lion senior ended his high school career having been limited to 90 yards while simultaneously being kept out of the end zone…In fact, the 112 yards of ground production marked a season low for Farrell as a team. 

A true all-service lineman, Brown’s ability to beat his man off the snap also wreaked havoc on the Farrell passing game as he tied a season-high with two sacks (now has five on the season and 11 in his two-year career) and was credited with a hurry on two additional plays….The result of this constant pressure was that MF QB, Frank Patalano, was not able to get comfortable under center and thus was forced into his statistical worst game of 2016, tossing for only 32 yards and completing just five of his 14 pass attempts…This performance was a polar opposite of his level of play in the first meeting between these two teams, where he boasted a 55% completion percentage, chucked for a season-high 267 yards and hurled a pair of TD passes. 

 

ht-crestJared Williams (Sr.); RB/DB – Holy Trinity Titans

The third senior member of the Titan backfield honored this season as a player of the week, the 5’10, 185-pounder who calls Massapequa home proved to be a stud on both sides of the ball last Saturday, as his steady effort was paramount in enabling the Tony Mascia coached program from Hicksville to advance to Championship Weekend for the first time since being the AAA runners-up in 2009 (last won a title in 2008 in the double-A division) behind a 28-7 win at home over Long Island rivals, St. John the Baptist.

A team-first player who has handled the uncomfortable predicament being at the same position as a likely All-State candidate [Umari Taylor] about as well as you could ask of a 17/18-year old, Williams’s modus operandi seems to be “it’s not about the number of touches I get; it’s what I do with them that counts.”….All season long, he has made a routine out of capitalizing to the fullest on the 5-15 carries he is afforded…The owner of a 7.6/carry average, Williams has rushed this season for 523 yards (third on the team) and is tied for 2nd in TDs scored with eight. 

Absent when the Titans and Cougars kicked off 2016 with an opening week showdown [won by HT 32-25], Williams was sure to make his presence felt this time around as it was his 18-yard TD dash that really solidified Trinity’s victory, as it tacked an additional six points onto what was already a two-score (21-7) lead…This TD scamper (as well as the ensuing PAT) was the only points scored during the final 24 minutes….He concluded his afternoon having gained 67 yards on 13 carries. 

Defensively, Williams was a part of a secondary that prevented SJB junior QB, Will Shaw, from completing a single pass, as he went 0-for-4 in attempts….  Not only did the Trinity 12th grader not allow a yard in the air, he actually helped subtract yards from the Baptist total, recording one of his team’s four sacks for a nine yard loss. 

 

hayescrestEmmanuel Oliver (Jr.); WR – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

Much like the person who preceded him on this list [Williams], the 5’4 junior wide out who hails from Yonkers is used to getting overlooked or being underappreciated….And this unfortunate fact has nothing to do with his stature….Instead, because he happens to share a sideline with who may be the hottest receiver in NYS at the moment, Lucas Nunez (17 TD receptions, nine of which came in the three game leading up to the Catholic semifinal round), it has become too often a common occurrence for his fellow 11th grader to not receive the respect, adulation, and credit he deserves during the Cardinals streak of six wins in their last seven contests. 

The leader in passes caught this season with 47 grabs for 551 yards and two touchdowns, nothing that the Cardinal offense has been doing of late (averaging 47.5 per game in the postseason) would be possible if not for Oliver forcing opposing defenses to divert resources away from his teammates to keep him under control….Last Friday, it seemed that the top-seeded St. Anthony’s Friars made the mistake of not checking him and in doing so, the path was laid for him to have his finest game of 2016, as he looked up at the night sky having just finished off a 12-catch, 112-yard evening that culminated in the visitors from the Bronx knocking off the Friars, 49-35, to return to set up a rematch of the 2015 triple-A game against Stepinac. 

At a time when too much credit (we are as guilty as anyone of this offense) is given solely to those who score touchdowns, Oliver is a classic facilitator.  He does not need to be the one to hog the headlines; he is so good at making the timely catch at the right moment that he knows that his value far outweighs the stat sheet…That having been said, after feeling as if we may have slighted him in the AAA preview, we could not be happier to see him breakout and give the Catholic Football watching world a sampling of the weapon he is capable of being when he makes the decision to assert himself as a primary target. 

Single-handedly responsible for being on the backend of 43 percent of quarterback, Christian Anderson’s completions (28-for-42), Oliver was one of two Cardinal juniors who went over 100 yards receiving, as he was joined by Elijah Jones (6 catches for 115 yards).

Catching only two balls for 38 yards when the Friars and Cardinals closed out the regular season with a 41-40 barnburner (the only game that CS has lost down the stretch), the increase in his output certainly has to be considered a major reason why the outcome flipped in favor of Coach C.J. O’Neil and company. 

Looking forward to Championship Weekend, it should be noted that prior to his career high in receptions last weekend, Oliver’s best effort during the regular season did come against Stepinac, where his seven snatch, 115-yard, 1 TD performance were all part of a banner individual day in an otherwise melancholy team moment (lost 45-24)….However, this is not the same Hayes’ squad and after what he did on November 12th, we might be seeing a new, super-powered version of Oliver to match.  

 

spellmanNoah Stewart (Jr.); RB/OLB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots

Stewart only ran for 36 yards on seven carries last weekend….While modest in quantity, there was not a bigger catalyst than the 5’9, 160-pounder from the Bronx as two of those touches resulted in scores, helping the visiting Pilots to a 28-20 win over Xaverian….The “w” on November 12th erases what must have been nearly two years of frustration as the second-seeded Clippers entered the A-Division semifinal having defeated visiting Spellman three times (including the 2015 title game) last season and in both previous meetings in 2016….But alas, if the Pilots go on to win the brass win this coming Saturday, the only one of the three match-ups that are going to get remembered is the one where they ended on top.  

Entering the game with only one TD this season, Stewart picked an ideal time to notch the first multiple-TD game of his career as his 12 points were the missing ingredient after losses of 29-14 and 17-14 to the defending Single-A titlists. 

With All-League running back, Rodney N’guessan reading to play the final game of his varsity career, might last weekend have been a proverbial passing of the torch to Stewart ranks second on the team behind RN in just about every running category….For the year, Stewart has rushed for 353 yards and three TDs on 54 carries…No matter what happens this weekend at Mitchel Field, we feel safe in saying that he has cemented himself as a player to watch in 2017. 

Identical to Oliver, Stewart is probably very happy to be seeing the Moore Catholic Mavericks lining up against him and the Pilots for all the marbles….The reason for this is simple; it was against this same MC defense that he posted his high in yardage gained, running for 81 yards on nine touches in narrow 18-16 loss….However, if there is a pattern that seems to be emerging with this student-athlete, it is that the more times he plays against you, the better he becomes.  

Congratulations and good luck to all teams playing this Saturday at Mitchel Athletic Complex on Championship Saturday!

Nov 092016
 

By Matt Diano:

legagneurChristian Legagneur (Sr.); RB/CB – St. John the Baptist Cougars

In the CHSFL Double-A Quarterfinal preview, we said that when they get on a roll, the Cougar running attack was very capable of taking a game over….That is precisely what the story was last Sunday, as their trio of tailbacks combined to run for an astounding 604 yards and six touchdowns in a 45-31 road victory over St. Joe’s by the Sea in the classic #4 vs. #5 seeded match-up….The two score margin of win over the weekend represents a four TD turnaround as it was the Ralph Carusillo coached Baptist squad that dropped a 36-20 game early in the 2016 regular season. 

While it was junior, Daniel Parker, who led all Cougars in total yards accumulated on the ground, rushing for 257 yards on 19 carries, the most important production of the game was complements of the 5’8, 170-pound resident of Bay Shore [Legagneur]….A selfless player who even when the ball was not in his hands, he demonstrated his commitment to the team by acting as a blocker, Legagneur finished the Lord’s day having gained 182 yards o n only 10 carries, scoring three first half touchdowns, including back-to-back TD runs (40 and 20 yards respectively) in the opening 12 minutes that propelled the underdog Cougars to a quick 21-0 lead. 

Following a SJS KOR for a TD that could have easily swung momentum into the corner of the fourth-seeded Vikings, Legagneur posted his longest scoring dash of the evening, breaking to daylight from 62-yards away to once again give the West Islip based school a three-TD advantage

Legagneur did not even take a single handoff in the second half of the game; otherwise, as Carusillo said, “his already gaudy numbers would have been even higher.” 

Like all of the great Baptist players that have walked the halls before him, Legagneur is far from a one dimensional student-athlete….Not only has he proven adept at scoring TDs of his own, he has also demonstrated a knack for helping the “D” from surrendering them…Regarded by his coaches as a shutdown defensive back, Legagneur’s lived up to his reputation, successfully defensing three pass attempts while concurrently holding Joe’s by the Sea’s top receiving threat [Dom Anderson] to only three catches for minimal yards….He also logged three tackles. 

St. John the Baptist has now advanced to the AA semifinals for a third straight season, highlighted by a runner-up finish in 2014.  They last won a Catholic crown the previous year (2013), while playing in the A-Division. 

 

giannicoAntonio Giannico (Sr.); RB – Archbishop Stepinac

After battling an ankle injury for much of his swan song campaign, the Catholic Football enthusiasts are finally getting an opportunity to see what the 5’11, 205-pound team captain from Mahopac can do….Regarded as one of the best pound-for-pound players in the Lower Hudson region, Giannico is and has always has been a difference maker during his two-years as a starter on the Crusader varsity. 

A thorn in Chaminade’s side in each of the past two weeks, Giannico burned the Flyers for 120 yards and a touchdown in the regular season finale…This past weekend, in the AAA quarterfinals, he elevated his game even further, posting the second highest single-game total of his scholastic career (had a 200 yard game in 2015), as he gained 167 yards and scored on two of his 20 touches to lead the two-time defending Triple-A titlists to a 44-21 victory….Sunday marked the first time in 2016 that Giannico posted a multiple TD game on the ground.  He now has six scores on the season and is driving towards a 1,000 yard season as a bullet point on his decorated high school resume.   His 287 yards the past two weekends puts him at 795 for the season, meaning he will need to average a just a little over 100ypg to reach the milestone if the Westchester based program is able to make a third straight appearance in the league finals. 

Already enjoying a 3-0 lead at the time, Giannico increased the Stepinac lead to 10-0 with a little over 3:00 remaining in the opening quarter when he broke for an 18-yard gain on 4th down…His second score of the half and the game came not too long after as he displayed his short yardage capabilities, punching the ball in from the 4 with 8:00 left in the first half to make the score 17-0.

Entering the semifinals on a hot streak, having run for consecutive 100-yard contests (as noted above), Giannico is probably not too sad to see the Farrell Lions as the opponents.  In two career games against the Staten Island rivals, he has averaged 151.5 yard/game and has scored four total touchdowns…When the two schools met on October 15th, Giannico ran for 103 yards and 1 TD in a 23-20 loss…If the trek for three in a row is to push on, Giannico will need to be even better November 12th

No matter what happens in the coming weeks, Giannico is all but guaranteed that he will continue in the recent tradition of being a Stepinac player who goes on to compete at the next level…While Stetson and Bryant are currently leading the race for his services, the two service academies (West Point and the U.S. Naval Academy) have also shown interest.   

 

Ki’shyne Shipmon (Jr.); WR/DB – Iona Prep Gaels

img_0053What Giannico is to Chaminade, the 11th grader from Yonkers has been to Fordham Prep….In both of the meetings between the Gaels and the Rams, Shipmon has been a man on a mission as a member of the IP receiving corps. 

Just three weeks removed from a five-catch, 134 yard, two touchdown performance in Iona Prep’s 70-20 regular season victory over FP, the 5’10, 175-pounder was at it again last Saturday, posting a career high with three TD receptions (on seven total grabs amassing 107 yards) as the #3 seed from New Rochelle made a statement in the quarterfinal round, winning by shutout, 41-0….By virtue of his devilish trio of 6’s that he put on the board, Shipmon increased his seasonal totals to 40 catches for 564 yards and eight TDs….He ranks in the top-2 in all three categories, trailing likely All-State teammate, Michael Degasparis (66 for 971) in receptions and yards, and Johnryan Freeman (9) in touchdowns snatches….All three are juniors, so the Iona Prep passing game should be just as devastating in 2017 as it has been this season. 

Doing his most damaging work in the first 15 minutes of regulation, Shipmon and senior QB, Michael Apostolopoulos were perfectly in synch at the onset of the game, as the former (who finished the day 17-for-21, with four TD passes) connected with the latter once in the first quarter (25-yard catch) and two more times in the first four minutes of quarter #2 (27-yarder followed by an 18-yard strike) to give the host Gaels a 27-0 advantage at the half.

Shipmon also deserves of a round of applause for his ironman play in the defensive backfield….In addition to a fumble recovery, he anchored a unit that held returning All-State field general, Matt Valecce, to one of the lowest yardage games of his career, as he tallied just 99 yards on his 13 completions….Last weekend’s loss also marked the first time with Valecce under center that the usually high octane Rams failed to score a single point. 

With full focus now shifted to the semifinal round, it is worth noting that when IP met defending titlists, Xavier, Shipmon had his second highest reception total of 2016, making eight grabs for 64 yards.  

 

Jalen Johnson (Sr.); RB/FS – Xavier Knights

For almost the entire season, when compiling this list, a deliberate attempt has always been made to chronicle unique players….Therefore, the fact that the 5’9, 180-pound two-way player from Brooklyn is the first repeat selection of 2016 speaks volumes of the impact he must have made in order to put himself in a company all his ojalenwn. 

Faced with the prospects of seeing his scholastic career ended last weekend when the defending champs faced off against archrival, #2 seed, Christ the King, in a loser goes home quarterfinal, Johnson was nothing short of miraculous in carrying (in all senses of the word) Chris Stevens’ squad to one of the biggest upsets in CHSFL history (perhaps bigger than the recent presidential election outcome), as the Knights shocked the Royals 28-27 on the road to keep their quest for a repeat alive. 

Contained to the tune of a very modest and un-Johnson-like 12 yards on 11 carries when the two decorated Double-A programs squared off during the opening weekend of the 2016 season (won 24-12 by Christ the King), last Saturday was anything but humbling, as he exceeded the 100-yark mark for the fourth straight week, as he racked up 145 yards and two TDs on a workhorse-esque 29 carries. 

Recording both of his scores in the first half on runs from distances of nine and five yards respectively, Johnson was the main reason that the Knights trotted off into the locker room with a 20-0 edge after 24 minutes….This cushion would prove to be more valuable than anyone could have realized at the time as CTK fought back in the third quarter, scoring three unanswered TDs to lead 21-0 at the end of 3. 

Fully aware that the game might be slipping away and that his career was only 12 minutes from its demise, Johnson channeled his inner-Dylan Thomas, “refusing to go gentle into that good night” as he did something that he had not been asked to do all year long; he throw a pass !!!  And what a toss it turned out to be, as he hit fellow senior, Rory Kinsella, on a 46-yard strike for what proved to be the game-winner!!!

Johnson, who despite his offensive struggles during round #1, thrived on defense, notching a pick-6 for one of his two INTS on September 10th, was without question the defensive MVP in the rematch as well, as he once again emerged with a two pick day, including the victory-clincher with 90 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter….His first interception was important too as it set up Xavier’s third TD of the 1st half….With four INTS in two games, when CTK junior QB, Demetrius Wilson, lays his head to sleep, Johnson is his personal sandman. 

To fully appreciate all that Johnson has meant to Xavier this season, consider that at present time, he is the team leader in the following categories—-rushing yards (711), running touchdowns (13), All Purpose production (1,055), tackles (50; had 12 tackles apiece in each game against CTK), and INTS (4; all against King). 

Having toppled one AA giant, the path to a second straight brass ring does not get any easier, as Xavier must now face Iona Prep, who defeated them 28-22 on October 22nd…On the bright side, Johnson had a great game in the losing effort, running for 145 yards and two scores…If he just matches this level of playmaking, there is every reason to think that the Cinderella story can be extended to a grand final chapter. 

 

marcoMarco Mongelli (Sr.); QB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

The lone player selected in a week in which his team was defeated, our decision to include Mongelli had as much to do with his willingness to do whatever the team asked as much as it did on the stats he compiled in the Firebirds; 36-29 quarterfinal loss to AA top-seed, Holy Trinity. 

A wide receiver by trade, the Port Washington resident was the team leader in yards and touchdowns with 592 and seven respectively…He also ranked third and fifth among all AA players in these categories through the first 7 games…Therefore, when he was asked to go under center for the first time since 6th grade during the regular season finale (a 12-0 loss to Xavier), it could and should be said that he was sacrificing a lot in the name of putting team ahead of self.   However, this altruistic nature is one that comes without effort for the 5’11, 170-pound honor roll student and PREP Teacher (cut into his work time to teach Religion once a week instead of practicing).  Thus, when a call had to be made as to who would step in to fill the cleats of injured starter, Joe Grimm, Mongelli’s name was always atop the list of options. 

Even though the “experiment” may go down as an “L”, when this young man reflects upon his high school football career, we are hopeful that he remembers to place the character he demonstrated in front of any box score…In the days since that final whistle blew, the actual result of the game has faded in the minds and hearts of his coaches and the Firebird Faithful.  What has survived is the respect, love, and deep gratitude they collectively share for their student-athlete for his efforts.  His performance over the last two weeks with his and his fellow Seniors HS Football career on the line was nothing short of remarkable…Most 8th seeded 1-7, teams without their QB would have all but packed it in at the thought of playing a 7-1, #1 seeded opponent ….Mongelli embracing his new role and being a great leader sparked the entire teams performance.

Well aware of the predicament plaguing Kellenberg, Holy Trinity did what you would expect of any well-coached football program, they stacked the box….However, despite having to contend with unfavorable obstacles , Mongelli willed his way to a very fine game, rushing for 79 yards and two TDs on 11 touches….His only completion of the game, an 18-yard strike on 3rd down was also the key play in setting up the score that put the Berg up 29-22 in the 4th quarter…They previously enjoyed leads of 19-7 (1st quarter) and 22-14.

Leading 12-7 at the time, Mongelli’s first touchdown rush closed out the opening quarter, as he dashed from 18-yards out to increase the advantage to 19-7…His second “6” broke a 22-22 4th quarter deadlock, as moments after that aforementioned 20-yard completion, he took off and sped 13 yards to the end zone. 

The 29 points scored by Kellenberg with Mongelli captaining the offense is the second highest total they posted in a game in 2016….So I guess the golden lesson is that gifts truly do come from the most unexpected of places.

 

Nov 022016
 

By Matt Diano:

Devonta MylesDeVonte Myles (Sr.); CB/OLB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

In a preview of an upcoming AAA quarterfinal match-up, the 6’0, 185-pound senior from Yonkers was, as his coach phrased it, “all over the field” last Saturday, recording a team-leading total of nine tackles in ensuring that the two-time defending League Champion Crusaders earned a top-3 seed behind a 41-17 victory on the road over Chaminade. 

One of the centerpieces on a defensive unit that held the host Flyers to their lowest point total since week #3 and their second lowest production of the 2016 season, Myles not only did a banner job in controlling the opposing offense, he also provided a few points of his own when he picked up a fumble and raced 25-yards untouched for the second defensive touchdown of the season for the Crusaders (Trill Williams had a pick-6 against Iona Prep during week #2). 

A student-athlete whose athleticism allows him to successfully transition between the linebacking corps and the defensive backfield, Myles is the next in an ever growing line of Mike O’Donnell mentored players who will without question take his skills to the next level…Presently, he holds scholarship offers from both Wagner College and the Central Connecticut State University. 

 

DomsTommy Rooney (Jr.); RB/SS – St. Dominic’s HS Bayhawks

The first Dom’s student-athlete honored this season, Rooney made himself a “must include” this past weekend when he was involved in just about every significant play in the Bayhawks 12-6 double overtime victory over Nazareth Regional…The “w” upped St. Dominic’s season record to 2-6 overall and completed the sweep over their Single-A rivals from the Brooklyn. 

Trailing 6-0 with a single second remaining on the clock, it would be an All-Rooney transaction that extended the contest when the elder [Tommy] found sophomore WR, Jack, on a 15-yard strike off of a halfback option for the equalizing touchdown…This was the first and only pass play called by Head Coach Robert Ploth, and it certainly delivered the desired result. 

After exchanging scoreless overtime drives, the visiting Kingsmen were driving and appeared well positioned to regain the lead at the onset of the second OT period, as a 10-yard run would set up 1st & Goal from the Dom’s 10…Hunting for the go-ahead score, NR made the mistake of challenging the 5’9, 180-pound junior, as he read the play perfectly from his safety spot, stepping in front for a potentially game-saving interception on the goal line. 

 Having now put his school in the driver’s seat, Rooney would be rewarded for his remarkable clutchness, as Ploth and staff called his number on all four plays during the drive, which culminated with him breaking away and finding the end zone from nine yards out for the winning TD…As depicted by his coach, “Rooney was met at the 1-yard line by four defenders but lowered his shoulders and barreled over them; he refused to be denied.”

On the afternoon, Rooney compiled 45 yards on 15 touches on offense and finished fourth on the team in tackles with seven stops…Two of his four touchdowns this season have been scored against Nazareth as he was equally outstanding and instrumental in the Bayhawks’ 20-18 win during week #3, posting highs in yards (108) and YPC (12.0/touch)…For the season, he is averaging 4+ yards per carry, rushing 66 times for 285 yards…On defense, both of his INTS in 2016 came against the Kingsmen. 

 

fattell-lionNoah Lancia (Sr.); C/NG – Monsignor Farrell Lions

For the third week in a row, a two-way lineman commanded our attention and earned the privilege of being held in the company of his more popular skill position brethren….An anchor on both sides of the ball who played every snap in his school’s 7-0 victory last Friday night over crosstown nemesis, St. Peter’s, Lancia ability and willingness to go above and beyond and always do what the Lion coaching staff asks of him is what makes him that diamond in the rough intangible type student-athlete of which you must always take into account. 

A two-year starter in the pivot for the Farrell offensive, the 6’1, 265-pound 12th-grader is accustomed to being the consummate road grader/track layer…With him captaining the O-line, 100+ yard games on the ground have been second nature for the Staten Island school.  In fact, between Stephen Viegas in 2015 and Gavin Monreale this season, 13 times in the past two years, the primary ball carrier for the Lions have surpassed the century mark, combing to rush for 2,547 yards and 23 touchdowns….With Lancia leading the way, 151 (100 in the second half) of this yardage come on October 28th, as Monreale averaged 4.3/carry on his 35 touches. 

Lancia’s toughness and durability was especially valuable on defense as an injury to superstar/week #1 POTW honoree, Adley Raboy, left Farrell short on depth, forcing the him to assume a much larger role on “D”….As stated above, when called upon to do more, the senior playing in the final regular season game of his scholastic career had no trouble responding with conviction, as he tallied five tackles as a nose guard and was a part of a collective defensive effort that held St. Peter’s renowned tailback, Bobby Wing, to only 40 yards in the second half (106 yards total)….Last Friday was also the first time since the 2014 season that the Eagles were goose-egged. 

On a night where the 1991 NYC Championship squad was honored at halftime, it was Lancia who received the spoils during the postgame celebration as he awarded a game ball by Coach Tony Garofalo in recognition of ALL he did to help the Lions lock up the #2 seed in the AAA playoffs. 

 

mooreJustin Lacks (Fr.); RB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

The last time the Mavericks played against Cardinal Spellman, the contested ended in heartbreak for the freshly reinstated program from Staten Island, as they dropped a 30-24 double overtime war to the returning Class-A runners-up….The rematch this past Saturday afternoon was every bit as epic, nerve-wracking, and memorable as Moore Catholic would clinch the top-seed in the Single-A playoff by avenging their week #3 loss by a score of 20-18…The victory to close out the regular season raised the Nick Giannatasio guided Mavs’ record to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in league competition (note: the previous loss to CS was considered a non-league game). 

In a game highlighted by a 75-yard third quarter punt return [by freshman, Ian Brown] for the winning TD and a goal line stand in the closing seconds of the 4th quarter [lead by junior, John Ford], our selection of the diaper dandy tailback, Lacks, was one of the many directions in which we could have gone to commemorate the biggest win in five years for MC. 

The provider of the team’s only two offensive touchdowns of the afternoon, the fab frosh from South Plainsfield, NJ had a coronation of sorts in only his eighth career varsity game, establishing a new career high in ground gains with 170 (his third 100+ yard game; went over 100 in both games versus Spellman) on 23 carries and matching his previous best with the aforementioned pair of TD runs (which he has now accomplished three times this season, including both games against the rival Pilots). 

A Staten Island Superman for Moore Catholic in their two games against Spellman (as referenced above), should these two teams meet in a few weeks for the “A” crown, the Pilots are going to need to find some way to contain the  6’0, 185-pound rookie, as his two-game totals were 307 yards and four TDs on 58 carries. 

Lacks first touchdown run over the weekend came on a 55-yard dash that gave the visiting Mavs a 6-0 lead….However, while much shorter in distance, it would be his 1-yard plunge in the third quarter (trailing 16-6) that might have been more important as it got the school back in the game by cutting the deficit to four points (16-12). 

As he enters the home stretch on what has been a brilliant inaugural campaign, Lacks finds himself on the cusp of a 1,000 yard, double digit touchdown season as he will need to average 121 yards and one TD per game (if they advance to the finals) to hit the two main milestones….Currently he sits at 757 yards and eight running TDs to lead MC in both categories.

 

Siddiq Muhammad (Sr.); RB – Christ the King Royals

As the immensely gifted halfback [Lacks] preceding him is just beginning his legendary scholastic career, Royals senior, Siddiq Muhammad, is beginning to take sight of the finish line and he is sprinting towards it as fast as he can….And in his case, we emphasize FAST !!!!

Exceeding 100-yards only once as a junior, the 5’10, 215-pound Adonis has accomplished the feat five times in seven games in his swan song….Included in this scrapbook of dynamic senior performances was his effort last Saturday night when he ran for 143 yards (second best single game total in his career) and two first half touchdowns to lead the returning AA silver medalists to a 41-7 win over Fordham Prep. 

Like Lacks, if Muhammad (673 yards and seven rushing TDs) and the Royals are able to go the distance (which as the #2 seed, they are expected to do), he should have little trouble reaching 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns for an offensive unit that when things are clicking, can be borderline invincible. 

Even though the final tally suggests a one-sided game, it is worth noting that at the time that Muhammad did the majority of his damage, the outcome was still very much in question…In fact, it could be argued that his two scores in the final 2:00 of the half were the proverbial straws that broke the camel (or in this case, the Rams’) back…..Seeing the Royal leading 13-7 at the time, Muhammad found a hole and ran 60-yards undeterred to increase the advantage to 20-7…Then, on the last play of the opening 24 minutes, Muhammad punched the ball in from the 2-yard-line to open up a three score game, 27-7. 

Muhammad and the Royals commence with their quest for the program’s first Catholic Football title since 2003 when they square off with Xavier in a rematch of the 2015 AA game…When the two team met in the first week of the 2016 season, Muhammad was out of the line-up; thus, he will be looking to get his own personal revenge on November 6th

Good luck to all teams competing in the playoffs this weekend and check back next week for the top performers in the Quarterfinals of the AAA & AA Playoffs. 

Oct 272016
 

By Matt Diano: If you ever find yourself doubting the old saying that “it’s not over till it’s over,” consider the 7th week of the Catholic Football season where overcoming multiple touchdown deficits were the norm. 

All five of our selected student-athletes this week found their respective teams trailing at one point, two of whom were really walking a fine line as they trailed in the final 2:00 of regulation. 

Another of our POTW picks was the man responsible for helping his team post the biggest upset of 2016 as the CHSFL’s last unbeaten program fell.

mount-crestBryson Welch (Sr.); RB – Mount St. Michael Academy Mountaineers

The second member of the MSMA backfield honored in the past three weeks, Welch joins fellow senior, Justin Montoyo (week #5 selection) among the many student-athletes recognized this season for going above and beyond in leading their respective school’s to triumph…The “Thunder” to Montoyo’s “Lighting”, at 6’1 and 220-pounds, the Mount Vernon resident possesses the best of both worlds, having the size of a fullback but the explosiveness of a player much smaller…All of his physical gifts were on full display last Saturday when the Mount overcame an early 8-0 deficit to score 22 consecutive points in a 22-16 victory over the present day #1 team in the single-A division, Moore Catholic in a non-league clash of A vs. AA squads.

Referring to his team’s ability to control clock by maintaining drives, Mountaineer Head Coach,   Mario Valentini, pointed especially to Welch in this regard as the “big back” repeatedly delivered first down runs on 3rd and 4th downs to enable the offense to remain on the attack.

A true workhorse, Welch’s 25 carries were 19 more than the next closest ball carrier, as he amassed 138 yards (5.5/touch) and scored one of the Mount’s two ground TDs…In doing so, he further increased his team’s leading total to 510 yards (96 carries; 5.3 average)…Welch added a two-point conversation to end the day having accounted for more than a third of MSMA’s total points.

One of the attributes that won us over the most was that the 12th grader seems to have a sense and appreciation for the fact that with each passing week, he comes closer and closer to writing that final chapter in his scholastic career…With these sentiments in minds, as he draws nearer to the end, he seems fully committed to going out with a bang…..A 100+ yard rusher in each of the past two games, since a modest 23 yard effort on September 18th in a narrow loss to Kellenberg, Welch has turned up the juice, dashing for 84, 54, and 91 yards prior to weeks 6 and 7.  He has recorded touchdowns in four of his last five games, a pattern Valentini will need for him to extend as the Mountaineers fight for one of the last spots in the AA playoffs.

 

sjb-pawFrank Guidice (Sr.); OL/DL – St. John the Baptist Cougars

At just about every stage of the 2016 season, we have been firm in our contention that Christ the King was one of, if not the best team in all of New York State…Winners of 14 straight regular season games, when the returning AA runners-up made the journey to West Islip this past Saturday, we’d be withholding the truth if we did not own up to the fact that we thought they’d be leaving with their perfect record very much in tact…..Fortunately for Coach Ralph Carusillo, unlike us, his players did not fall prey to playing the paper game.  Instead, they went out and battled for 48 minutes and when the final whistle blew, it was the host Cougars that ruled the day, pulling the upset, 26-13, over CTK. 

Holding the previously unbeaten Royals to their lowest point total in over two years (10/4/14 vs. Xavier), when originally submitting his player of the week nomination, Carusillo made the unusual request of asking if his entire defense could be honored…While we were unable to accommodate that request, we are happy to acknowledge that this victory was without a shadow of doubt a total team effort as the Cougars created eight turnovers (4 INTS, 4 fumble recoveries) and held their Middle Village foes scoreless for the final three quarters…The win on October 22nd , the third in a row for SJB after beginning the season 0-4, has the added benefit of serving as a major confidence booster.    Currently sitting in the #6 spot in the Double-A standings, if all goes as expected during the regular season finale next week, Baptist will find themselves on the same side of the bracket as Christ the King, as the two teams could square off in a potential semifinal.

Starring for Baptist in this monumental “w” over the previously 5th ranked team in the state was two-way lineman, Frank Guidice…A towering figure at 6’2 and just under 260 pounds, if it is possible, the 12th grader from Wantagh’s level of play was far larger than his physical measurements, as he emphatically checked out boxes in several statistical defensive categories, recording six tackles (3TFL), a sack and a half, three QB hurries, and forcing a pair of fumbles. 

Guidice’s knack for not only knocking the ball loose but also having the field awareness to quickly locate and grab hold of the pigskin proved to be a game-changer for the Cougars as it was his three-yard fumble recovery return for a TD in the second quarter that served as the game-winner, as it snapped a 13-13 tie and sent Baptist into the locker room on a high. 

Showered by praise by his mentor/head coach as “One of the top lineman in the league on both sides of the ball,” when Guidice was not busy blowing up opposing O-linemen, he was dominating as usual in the role of pulling guard extraordinaire….An invaluable part to an often uncontainable John the Baptist ground attack, it is not by accident or coincidence that over the course of the last two seasons, a backfield by committee consisting of double digit options has accumulated 5,724 yards and scored 57 touchdowns.  While the runners change, the constant in the equation is the big fella opening up craters along the line of scrimmage….Last Saturday, the damage done added up to 257 yards and three TDs among five different ball carriers. 

As beastly above the shoulders as he is below, the Honor Role student-athlete is a complete package.  His overall body of work in all endeavors have not gone unnoticed by college scouts as he has commanded the attention of the likes of Stony Brook University, Bryant, Marist, and Colgate University….It is with ultimate confidence that we proclaim that his best days on and off of the field await him.        

 

saHeron Maurisseau-O’Neal (Jr.); WR – St. Anthony’s Friars

Trailing 23-0 midway through the third quarter on the road against a very motivated Monsignor Farrell squad, all evidence pointed to the fact that last Friday night simply was not meant to go the way of the perennial powerhouse from South Huntington…All of this misfortune and frustration would turn around in an instance though when sophomore QB Greg Campisi, hooked up with 11th grader Heron Maurisseau-O’Neal on a 26-yard strike to get the visiting Friars on the board…While at the time, still trailing by multiple scores, this TD may have seemed minor in the larger scope of the situation, in truth, this first sign of daylight represented the initial spark that ignited a streak of 29 unanswered points over a span of six minutes 15 seconds to catapult STA to a 29-23 victory….Now 5-2 on the year (5-0 in AAA), this win guaranteed that no matter what transpires in week #8, the Friars will be your top-seed in the Triple-A playoffs. 

In addition to being one half of the duo that broke the ice, the 6-foot, 175-pound junior wide out also notched the eventual game winner, when he was again on the back end of a Campisi pass, this time from 49-yards out, with 8:23 remaining to put St. Anthony’s in the lead for the first and final time…The nearly 50-yard TD reception marked the first time in his scholastic career that Maurisseau-O’Neal recorded two TDs in the same game.

Fourth on a depth chart that features a trio of talented senior receivers, what stands out the most about the “HMO” is his talent for making something out of every opportunity he gets…Next year after Tyler Palminteri, Andrew Hancock, and Terrence Mooney have all moved on to the collegiate level, it goes without saying that he will naturally ascend into that top target role.  When that happens, expect for every game to resemble the 4th of July as this young man has already proven himself worthy of the “All-Firework” team, scoring touchdowns on 33 percent (12 catches, 4 TDs) of his catches in his rookie season on the STA varsity….if he is already this dangerous, imagine how combustible he will be after he and Campisi have developed a deeper rapport. 

 

stepTyger Winston (Sr.); WR/DB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

Locked in a back-and-forth game that saw each team take turns holding a slight edge, when St. Peter’s capitalized off of an ill-timed Interception and then scored on a 17-yard TD run a little later to claim a 20-13 lead with just over 2:00 remaining in regulation, momentum was firmly in their corner…But, as they seem to do whenever the occasion calls for it, the defending state champion Crusaders refused to roll over and perish, answering back with a TD of their own to send the game into OT. 

The O’Donnell mentored school from White Plains would score on the first possession of overtime, putting all of the pressure on the visiting Eagles….Needing to find the end zone in order to prolong the game, St. Peter’s bid to move up the AAA standing was halted when the 6’3 senior from New Rochelle [Winston] intercepted his second pass of the game to prevent the equalizer.

A part of a Stepinac secondary that has been decimated by the much hated injury bug (lost team captain, Trill Williams), Winston’s senior leadership was invaluable last Saturday as the D-back unit kept opposing quarterback, John Martinos, to under 100 yards passing (94), as he completed only seven of his 16 attempts, getting picked twice as noted above by Winston…Martinos was fresh off of a perfect 19-for-19, 320-yard game that earned him POTW honors in week #6.  Thus, to keep him that far in check says a lot about the level that Winston and company were performing at on October 22nd

Winston complemented his excellent effort on “D” by making a pair of catches for 10 yards. 

The 27-20 (OT) home victory snapped a rare two-game losing streak for Stepinac, improving their 2016 record to 3-2 in league play and 5-2 overall…Should the two-time defending AAA titlists win again next week in the regular season finale against Chaminade, they will secure the #2 seed in the postseason. 

 

hayesLucas Nunez (Jr.); WR/DB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

Seeing his team trailing by as many as three scores in the third quarter (27-8) to Holy Cross, it was the Bronx resident, Nunez, that put Hayes on his back, catching all three of his TD receptions in the second half (including the game-winner on a 46-yard Hail Mary on the final play from scrimmage) to turn what looked like a once insurmountable hole into a 36-33 victory…The “w” extended the winning streak for CJ O’Neil’s program to four games, putting them in the hunt for a top-3 seed as we head into the last week of the regular season.

Unlike his counterpart on this week’s list, Welch, when you look at the 5’5, 143-pound junior [Nunez], he does not immediately strike fear in you…But alas, inside that compact frame is the talent of a giant, as he is averaging 29.5 yards per catch this season and half of his 20 receptions have resulted in touchdowns.  His 10 TD snatches ranks him first in the AAA division (2nd overall regardless of league) of the CHSFL. 

The 11th grader from the Bronx erupted for his first TD of the game when quarterback Christian Anderson, lofted a perfect pass over his shoulder for a 48-yard strike to make the score 28-16….After a 33-yard scoring throw to teammate Carlos Fernandez made the score 27-22 in the third quarter, Nunez gave the Cardinals the edge (30-27) for the first time all evening when he beat his man over the middle from 38-yards out for the first of his two fourth quarter touchdowns….He proved just as elusive on the previously cited game-clincher, shedding his man and giving a distressed Anderson (was on the run) a much easier throw for his 5th and most important TD of the weekend. 

Nunez’s stat line last Saturday read as follows: 4 catches, 153 yards, and three TDs….Defensively, he also recorded four tackles and forced a fumble. 

Oct 192016
 

By  Matt Diano:

hayesChristian Anderson (Sr.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

It took four weeks to occur, but the sleeping giants that is CJ O’Neil’s Cardinals are wide awake and starting to look to clearly resemble the AAA title contenders we pegged them as at the start of the 2016 season….Losing their first three games of the year, the Bronx based program has been in the midst of a complete 180 since week #4, knocking off Xavier, St. Peter’s, and now Chaminade in back-to-back-to-back outings…..Through all of the ups and downs,  one student-athlete who has consistency made his presence known on a weekly basis has been the 6’0, 155-pounder senior under center, Anderson. 

Playing three of his best statistical games (in regards to quarterback rating) during the current winning streak, the always dynamic signal caller has thrown for an average of 230.6 yards, totally eight aerial TDs….The “do-it-all” overseer of the Hayes offense also posted his two best running games of the season in weeks 5 and 6, cruising to the promised land two times each against the Eagles and Flyers. 

 An individual who has already received college offers from SUNY-Albany and Central Connecticut, and is being actively scouted by Syracuse, Rutgers, and Temple among other major programs, Anderson’s stock most definitely increased last Saturday as he combined to pile up 336 yards on a neutral field to propel Hayes to a fiery 34-31 win over their foes from Mineola. 

Connecting with junior WR, Lucas Nunez (4 catches, 89 yards) on a pair of first half touchdown hurls, Anderson was instrumental in helping the Cardinals build a 20-0 advantage…While they never trailed at any point during the contest, the game did become very dramatic with the “visiting” Flyers getting as close as a two-point margin (26-24) in the 4th quarter….But alas, having already torched them twice in the air (as mentioned above) and once on the ground (went 60 yards untouched to make the score 26-17), Anderson delivered the fatal blow with 2:47 remaining in regulation, feeding off of junior teammate,  Carlos Fernandez’s 22-yard scrambler, by punching the ball in from the 1-yard line on a QB keeper to open up a 10-point advantage…His fourth overall score proved to be the game-winner as a Chaminade TD on their next position drew them within a final deficit of three.

Anderson’s stat line for week #6 read as such: 11-for-19 passing, 204 yards, 2 TDs; 132 yards rushing on 15 touches and two additional touchdowns….Easily one of the most respected dual-threat QBs in the Catholic League, his ground work represented the first time this season that the Hayes 12th grader surpassed 100-yards running….Despite not being as explosive with his legs as he was as junior, Anderson still ranks second on the team with 248 rushing yards and is the Cardinals’ leader with six TDs….When you combine these numbers with the 13 touchdown passes he has thrown (79-for-138, 1,323 yards), his total of 19 scores is only four less than his 2015 output.    

 

fattell-lionPaul Inzerillo (Sr.); PK – Monsignor Farrell Lions

If we were to tell you that a student-athlete would catch six balls, rack up over 200 receiving yards, and record multiple touchdowns and NOT be the most influential player on his team, you might give us a sideways look to convey your amazement….It is no exaggeration to say that quite possibly this scenario may never again be the case, but last Saturday, despite having a career defining afternoon, WR Rocco Miraglia was overshadowed by of all people, the Lions kicker [Inzerillo].

Converting on three of his four field goal attempts (including a 52-yarder earlier in the 4th quarter), the selection of the senior special teamer has everything to do with not only his willingness in embracing the big moment, but also in his ability to overcome the intense pressure and succeed with his team’s hopes squarely on his back (and leg)….Countless times at higher levels of the sport, we have watched as men many years his elder have succumb in the closing moments….However, instead of being a “Norwood”, Inzerillo showed himself to be a “Vinatieri” in the closing seconds of Farrell’s week #6 game against the defending State Champion Stepinac Crusaders, drilling a 37-yard game-winning FG with no time remaining on the clock to send the Anthony Garofalo mentored squad to a 23-20 victory on the road.   The “w’ improved Farrell’s overall record this season to 5-1, keeping them very much in the hunt for the top-seed in the triple-A playoffs. 

The 5’8, 165-pounder would put three other kicks between the uprights last weekend, as he initially gave Farrell a 3-0 lead when he hit a 40-yarder in the first quarter…Inzerillo was also a perfect 2-for-2 on PAT attempts in the third quarter, tacking on those often important extra points after each of Miraglia’s TD receptions….These two gentlemen, along with quarterback Frank Patalano, played such a pivotal role in this “upset” victory that it was only right that the winning kick was set up by a 58-yard completion. 

Through six games, Inzerillo has posted a 90 percent success rate, hitting on eight of his 10 FG tries, complemented by a 22-for-23 on PATs….Hence, should Farrell find themselves in another down to the wire war next week against St. Anthony’s, you know there will be no hesitation on the sideline to summon their special (teams) weapon.    

 

seaDom Anderson (Sr.); WR/DB – St. Joe’s by the Sea Vikings

Farrell was not the only Staten Island school this week that picked up a “w” by virtue of a heroic effort on special teams in the waning ticks of the 4th quarter….The host Vikings of St. Joe’s by Sea also had saw their fate resting on the success/failure of one field goal attempt….However, unlike the neighboring Lions, Mike Corona’s squad found themselves on the other side of the equation, having to defend a 21-20 lead versus Xavier…. Needing only to convert a kick from the very makeable distance of 27 yards, if you were a betting man, you probably already had the win penciled in for the visiting defending Double-A Champion Knights…And, to be quite truthful, more times than not, your instincts would probably be correct….But alas, MAJORITY OF THE TIME did not mean a hill of beans last weekend, because SJS had senior, Dom Anderson, and if there is one thing we know, it is that the 6’3 future Ivy Leaguer (Cornell) is a playmaker….After all, when his team needed it most, he was there to register the two game-changing plays that enabled his school to improve to 3-2 in AA contests and 3-3 overall. 

One week removed a nine catch, 185 yard, 2 TD performance in a loss to Fordham Prep, Anderson (who ranks 1st on the Vikings in all major receiving categories), had been kept relatively under control by Xavier, as he entered the last half minute of regulation with four grabs for 77 yards and no touchdowns…But, as the Bee Gees once sang, “you can’t keep a good man down”, and for Anderson that translated into a 7-yard TD catch off of a slant pattern to turn a 20-14 deficit into a 21-20 edge. 

Needing to defend only for the remaining 30 seconds, SJS made things interesting to say the least when they got burned on a Hail Mary that put the ball on the Viking 5-yard line, thus setting the stage for act #2 of the All-Anderson variety minute….Timing the snap perfectly, Anderson exploded into the backfield, blocking the kick and saving the day. 

While nothing will compare to the two previously cited plays, it is worth recognizing that Anderson was tied for 3rd on the team with seven tackles, including one TFL as a key member of the Viking secondary…Offensively, he raised his team-high stats to 30 catches for 637 yards and six scores…. On “D”, his seven stops brings his total to 21. 

 

holy-trinity-50Will Corchado (Sr.); RB/DB – Holy Trinity Titans

A player to whom we owe an apology; when the season started, we made a very poor assumption that the key to defeating Holy Trinity was to limit the damage done by fellow Titan senior tailback, Umari Taylor…This statement is no longer close to accurate thanks in large part to the emergence of the 6’2, 180-pound resident of Elmont [Corchado]….If seeking evidence to support the fact that there is a multi-headed monster in Hicksville, you need go back no later than this past weekend where Corchado averaged an astonishing 23.3 yards per carry (140 yards for the game) and scored two first half rushing TDs to thrust HT to a 52-0 non-league win over Single-A title contender, Cardinal Spellman. 

The second Titan this season chosen for his outstanding play (Taylor in week #1), Corchado also happens to be the second consecutive student-athlete honored in the week in which his school celebrated a golden anniversary…Last week it was St. John the Baptist RB, Sean Cavanagh ringing in the 50-year anniversary of the school’s opening; this past weekend, Corchado left his own mark on five decades of Titan football glory. 

With his team already leading 10-0 in the first quarter, the team captain made his first trip to the end zone when he broke away for a 34-yard run to further pad the lead….Following a Taylor TD run that made the score 24-0, Corchado again found daylight before the conclusion of the opening half, posting his biggest gainer of the day when exploded on a 67-yarder to send the host school into the break with the 31-0 advantage. 

Now up 38-0, Corchado’s versatility as a two-way player was showcased in a colossal capacity, as he made it three straight quarters with a score when he stepped in front of a Judges’ pass and raced 44 yards for the pick-6….He also contributed four solo tackles from the cornerback position in aiding the defense in pitching their first shutout of 2016. 

Second only to Taylor in total rushing yards (340) and touchdowns scored (9), Corchado tops the HT charts this season with 10 catches and three receiving touchdowns….His INT on Saturday gave him the team lead in that category as well, with 2 on the year. 

 

kennedyEd Longest (Jr.); OL/DL – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

The boys from Somers are on fire as they are now riding a two-game winning streak following a 40-20 win on October 15th over Nazareth Regional to improve their record in 2016 to 2-3 in league play and 3-3 overall. 

Much like the dilemma we faced when having to choose between the two players from Monsignor Farrell, when evaluating the KC triumph over the Kingsmen, there were young man that immediately stood out as equally deserving….In fact, for the first time this season, there was genuine contemplation regarding whether or not to wave the “one-person per team” guideline to which we try to adhere. 

While the decision was ultimately made to opt for the player who was active on both sides of the ball, we would be remiss if we did not take at least a moment to acknowledge that senior, James Wieder Jr. (228 yards of total offense—106 rushing w/1 TD; 122 receiving w/3 TDs) could just as easily have been the individual who had his name called. 

 When weighing all considerations, the tie-breaking criteria that resulted in the 6’1, 250-pound dual-lineman being “our guy” is that there was a feeling that his work in the trenches was a precipitating factor in his teammate’s success on the ground….With the 2016 Catholic State Wrestling Champion (the first for the Gaels since the team was reinstated a few seasons ago) anchoring the O-line, a trio of Kennedy ball carriers averaged 9.2 yards on 21 attempts, combing for 194 yards and the aforementioned one touchdown. 

While it is impossible to discount the value he brings to the blocking game, where Longest really thrived (both over the weekend and all season) was on the other side of the ball, as in the words of Head Coach, Dominick Tassone, “he lived in the backfield most of the night” and “reestablished the line of scrimmage all game.”…Proof that the 11th grader who hails from Katonah was worthy of his coach’s high praise came in the form of a seven tackle (3 for a loss), 2.5 sack effort that saw him recover a fumble and log three QB hurries. 

Viewing the season as a whole, Longest has been so unbelievable in his defensive pursuit that he not only leads the Gaels in tackles, he enjoys a nearly 40 stop advantage in the category…His 17 TFL is 14 more than the next closest teammate, and his 2.5 sacks on Saturday moved him into the #1 spot with three in 2016.

st-petersJohn Martinos (Sr.); QB – St. Peter’s Eagles

The man who needs no introduction, Vince Lombardi, once said, “Perfection is not attainable; but if we chase perfection we catch excellence.”…This past Sunday, the Eagles of St. Peter’s caught everything including perfection in a 48-2 victory over St. Francis Prep that snapped a two-game losing streak. 

Fresh off of a three interception game in a week #5 loss to Cardinal Hayes, the 6’1, 188-pound field general from Staten Island, Martinos, was immaculate in his bounce-back effort, displaying sharp shooting precision in captaining Coach Mark DeCristoforo’s to a “w” that improved their overall record to 4-2 in 2016. 

Completing a career high 19 passes on 19 throw attempts, Martinos would also surpass the 300-yard mark for the first time in his varsity career, concluding his historic afternoon with 320 yards and two passing touchdowns. 

Demonstrating superior field vision, Martinos utilized six different receivers, four of whom notched multiple catch days…Sophomore stud, Chris Ledlum, who is quickly emerging as one of the preeminent young wide-outs in NYS, was on the back end of 10 of his quarterback’s completions, ending the day with 215 yards and one TD….Senior receiver, Kyle Volpe, made the most of his lone catch, taking it 30 yards to the house for the other of Martinos pair of touchdown tosses.

Following his storybook tale faultlessness, Martinos raised his completion percentage on the year to a strong 64.2% (88-for-137), throwing for 1,022 yards, and six touchdowns. 

The Eagles have a showdown with two-time defending AAA league Champions, Stepinac, next weekend, so you know that DeCristoforo and staff are praying the clock does not struck midnight on whatever magic the STP signal caller had working against Francis Prep. 

 

Oct 122016
 

By Matt Diano:

KeoghDavid Keogh (Sr.); QB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

In 2015, the Gaels only won two games….Due in large part to the off the charts play of their 12th grade quarterback [Keogh], the Somers, NY based program needed only five weeks to match that total as their 41-14 victory over St. Dominic’s on Friday the 7th has them firmly in position to claim a top-3 seed in the Single-A playoffs. 

The heart, soul, and backbone of the KC offense for much of his three-year scholastic career, the Mahopac resident has been known to put on a show or two….But alas, the demonstration of dominance he put forth in week #5 might have surpassed all the rest as he utilized every limb in his body to account for a 2016 Catholic Football high (thus far) of six total touchdowns (including five straight on the ground) to pad what were already some pretty darn fine numbers in his junior campaign. 

The 5’11 signal caller recorded the first of the Gaels four first half touchdowns when he hooked with fellow junior, Greg Brann, on a 20-yard strike to give the visiting Gaels a 6-0 lead…Brann’s second receiving TD of the season signified the only time that a Kennedy Catholic player not named Keogh was the end piece in a successful drive.

Keogh, who concluded the afternoon having compiled 112 rushing yards on only eight touches (14.0/carry), increased the KC lead with the first of his five ground scores, taking it to the house from the 8-yard line…This initial TD run would actually be among his shortest of the night, as he broke for dashes of 15 and 55 yards before the end of the 1st half to send his school into the intermission with a comfortable 27-0 lead. 

A Bayhawk mini rally in the second half more than cut the margin in half, as two straight touchdowns made the score 27-14….Sensing a shift in momentum, Keogh again put KC on his back, notching the final two scores of the final on runs of 20 and 15 yards respectively to cement the “w” for his head coach, Dominick Tassone. 

Lost in his never-ending collection of rushing TDs was the fact that the Gael captain had a more than respectable day in the air too, completing 7 of 15 pass attempts for 173 yards and the aforementioned opening touchdown of the game. 

The team leader in every offensive category in which he is eligible, Keogh has now accumulated 15 touchdowns (8 passing, 7 rushing), has passed for over 1,100 yards (61-for-134), and is creeping towards 400 yards rushing, having gained 338 (an average of 67.6/game). 

 

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

What a whirlwind experience the past two weeks have been for the Friar super sophomore, Campisi…A student-athlete who was not even on the varsity roster at the start of September, since being promoted prior to week #4, the 10th grade phenom has been breathtaking in his first two starts, leading St. Anthony’s to back-to-back wins over undefeated opponents [23-6 over St. Peter’s on September 30th; 38-23 this past week over 2x defending AAA titlists, Archbishop Stepinac). 

Given serious consideration for POTW honors following an 8-for-18, 2 passing touchdown effort despite horrendous weather conditions in the victory over the Eagles 12 days ago , the youngster continues to grow so much from week to week that it is frightening to ponder the level he will be playing at when the postseason rolls around….After leading the freshmen team to a JV B crown in 2015, there is now strong support for the argument that he can make it 2-for-2 by adding varsity gold next month.    

Underdogs on paper against a Crusader squad riding a 28-game CHSFL winning streak last Friday, if you were not previously aware of his age, you would have sworn that the Farmingdale native was a seasoned veteran with a wealth of big game moments already under his belt…Described as mature well beyond his years, to see the cerebral reads and wise decisions made by Campisi was to witness the coming of age of a future king. 

While it will not appear in any box score, one of the examples that immediately caught our eye in regard to the poise possessed by the 5’11, 180-pounder was the quick thinking he displayed in picking up a fumble in his own end zone and tossing it out-of-bounds with a receiver in the area to award what would have been at best a safety and at a worst, an opposing touchdown for the defending state champs…If his incompletions were good enough to draw our praise, imagine the admiration we felt on his successful attempts. 

Connecting on 19 of his 28 throws for 275 yards, the future Harvard Crimson Lax player (ranked #11 among class of 2019 prospects) must be a Bernie Sanders supporter because he was sharing the riches all evening, hitting six different teammates overall, and finding a unique target on all four of his touchdown hurls. 

Wasting no time putting points on the board, Campisi capped off the opening drive of the game when he paired up with junior, Heron Maurisseau-O’Neal, on a 13-yard pitch/catch combo to give the host Friars an immediate 7-0 lead. 

After a Stepinac rushing touchdown evened the game at 7-7, Campisi turned to his favorite long-ball threat, senior Terrance Mooney, in the second quarter, throwing the ball downfield and letting his polished receiver be the one to make the necessary adjustments to the tune of a 69-yard score that propelled STA to a 14-9 halftime lead. 

Facing adversity for the first time in his two-game varsity journey, when Stepinac posted the first score of the second half to take their only lead of the game (16-14), Campisi proved himself worthy of the title, “money player” by leading STA on a go-ahead drive that culminated with him lobbing an innocent looking screen pass to his most popular receiver of the game, Tyler Palminteri (8 catches for 55 yards) on 4th-and-9, which the latter broke for a 31-yard TD with 3:04 remaining in the third quarter to put the home crowd on their feet.

The cherry came approximately four minutes into the 4th quarter when Campisi made the #2 ranked team in NYS pay for an interception deep in their own zone, tacking on some insurance points by throwing a perfect pass over the middle to Andrew Hancock for a 20-yard score to increase the lead to 28-16. 

Through two games, Campisi is the owner of a 128.3 QBR as he has completed just under 58 percent of his pass attempts (27-for-46) for 416 yards and six TD passes (0 INTS)….With no more unbeaten teams left to slaughter, Campisi and the Friars will be favored to take another step towards locking up the top-seed in the AAA playoffs when they oppose Holy Cross in their third straight Friday Night Lights contest. 

 

Julius Arcaro (Sr.); QB/LB – Xaverian Clippers

Staying on the topic of potential #1 seeds for the postseason, defending single-A champions, Xaverian, has put themselves into a great position sit atop the bracket following a 29-14 win over Cardinal Spellman in a rematch of the 2015 title game….The “w” in the Bronx kept the Clippers undefeated in league play (4-0) and improved their overall record to 4-1 (only loss coming in a non-league game against Moore Catholic which they can avenge next week). 

If you ask Head Coach, Mike Jioia, he’d tell that one of the primary reasons his team might be staring a repeat effort in the face this season has been the steady play of senior quarterback/middle linebacker, Julius Arcaro….Listed on the official roster as a tight end, the best decision that the Xaverian coaching staff could have made was to put the Brooklynite in a position to take the snaps directly, thus enabling the 6’0, 220+ pound beast of a man go to town and bulldoze anything or anyone that tries to contain him.

A little over one week removed from a 117-yard, three rushing touchdown performance in a 33-0 conquest of Nazareth Regional, Arcaro made it consecutive weekends reaching and blowing past the magic 100-yard marker, as he averaged 8.6 yards per carry on 14 touches to rack up a season-high 120 yards with his legs.  He also scored a running TD for the fourth game in a row to give him a team-high six on the season. 

Because he possesses the frame of a tank, Arcaro’s success on the ground was not the least bit surprising.  This is especially valid when you consider that the Clipper scheme has traditionally been one in which the field general takes on a heavy workload as a ball carrier….Where the senior captain did turn some heads though was in his proficiency as a thrower this past Saturday, tying a career high with eight completions (on 11 attempts) to emerge with his first 100-yard throwing game of the season (136 yards)…Arcaro even had his first TD pass of the season. 

Accounting for 256 of Xaverian’s 420 yards of total offense, Arcaro was not done making an impact…It was not enough to just have a key role in scoring two touchdowns and setting up several others, he also felt the urge to go all out on the defensive side of the ball, compiling four tackles and picking off a pass to help hold Spellman to their lowest point total of the season (entered with an average of 36.25 points per outing).

While it will go down officially as a non-league game, these two programs will battle again in less than nine days as Spellman will look to snap the losing streak to the Clippers on the 21st….No matter the designation (league vs. non-league), if Brooklyn>Bronx again, it will be a major confidence booster when the weather turns colder and it’s win or go home in the postseason.  

 

Justin Montoyo (Sr.); RB/LB – Mount St. Michael’s Academy Mountaineers

It did not take long for the senior from the Bronx to get his groove going in the Mount’s 15-14 victory last Saturday against St. Francis Prep….Exploding on the first series of the game for a 61-yard rushing touchdown, in the time it takes a person to tie his/her shoes, the 5’10, 180-pound two-year captain gave the host school a 7-0 lead.

As the game progressed Montoyo would continue to remain red hot in his performance, concluding the game with an average of 10.8 yards/touch, piling up 130 yards on 12 carries….This was the first 100+ yard game of the MSM Academy’s honor student’s three-year varsity career. 

Racking up just over 50 yards per outing in his swan song campaign, Montoyo needs just two yards the rest of the season to set a new career high…24 more yards and he will exceed his previous two-year total….Put another way, he is on pace to shatter all of the bullet points on this athletic resume. 

Defensively, Montoyo finished Saturday’s afternoon matinee as a part of a four-way tie for the team lead with six tackles (3 solo, 3 assists).    

 

Sean Cavanagh (Sr.); FB/KR – St. John the Baptist Cougars

Ask any high school student and he/she will tell you that there is no greater tradition in the realm of academia than the bliss and excitement of homecoming weekend….These warm emotions and feelings of euphoria take on even greater magnitude when it is the 50th anniversary of your school….Thus, aware of all of the nostalgia, pomp, and circumstance permeating the campus, it was only fitting that Coach Ralph Carusillo’s Cougars picked last Saturday to post their first victory of the 28-7 season….Pitted against one of their chief rivals, defending AA champs, Xavier (who handed SJB their only two losses of 2015, including knocking them out of last year’s playoffs), St. John the Baptist collectively rushed for 241 yards and scored the final 21 points of the game to win 28-7. 

At the center of this vengeance was the senior fullback, Cavanagh, who rushed for 100+ yards for the fourth straight game and tallied multiple ground scores for the third time in five games….Running behind one of the top offensive lines on Long Island, the 5’7 12th grader was a tackle shedding machine against the Knights, “never going down on first contact” per his head coach….When all was said and done, the student-athlete that calls Port Jefferson home had posted season highs in total carries (29) and touchdowns scored (3.  His 152 yards was his second highest effort…For the season, the National Honor Society member/A.P. Class enrollee has run 90 times for 592 yards and eight TDs.

The first of Cavanagh’s two 1st half touchdowns would be a 4-yarder to give the Cougars a 7-0 in the opening quarter….Still holding a seven point edge (14-7) at the time, #21 in your media guide doubled the lead in the second quarter when he trekked 20 yards to make the score 21-7. 

Baptist’s D-unit would pitch a shutout in the second half so the “w” was never in question…However, as a means of putting an exclamation on altogether fantastic day for the school and the team alike, Cavanagh added a nine-yard TD run in the third quarter…His eighth first down gainer of the afternoon served as the game’s finale, as the team was able to transition into victory formation. 

Effective in his role as both a kick and punt returner, Cavanagh complemented his huge day on the ground by fielding one of each yielding a total of 23 yards to increase his total output to 175 yards (his second highest quantity behind only the 285 he logged during week #2 against St. Joe’s by the Sea). 

 

Justin Otunba (Sr.); RB/CB – Fordham Prep Rams

When you are teammates with one of the top quarterbacks in all of the Empire State, it is not always easy to receive the adulation and respect that you deserve….The primary rushing option in an offensive scheme where the ball is often air born (28 pass attempts/game), the 5’9, 170-pound 12th grader, Otunba, has made it ritualistic to maximize the few touches per game he garners….Currently he is averaging nearly 11 (10.8) yards per carry in his 21 rushing attempts. 

Like Montoyo, week #5 bared witness to a career day for the Ram senior [Otunba], as he went from 92 total rushing yards in 2016 to 135 yards in a single day, as his eight carry showing represented the first 100+ yard game of his career.  

The Rams built a 28-0 lead in the first half behind four TD passes…However, their foes, St. Joe’s by the Sea did not go quietly, rallying for the next 14 points to cut what looked like an insurmountable deficit in half….Enter Otunba whose most important carry of the game was a back-breaking touchdown with 5:45 remaining in regulation to cement the 35-14 victory to improve FP’s record to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in AA match-ups…He now has three touchdowns total this season and his second in as many weeks.

Otunba and junior teammate, Daniel Almeida, shared the team lead with six stops apiece from the defensive backfield. 

Fordham Prep is next in action on Saturday the 15th when they face Iona Prep in a pivotal league game that could have serious playoff seeding ramifications…Both teams have identical AA records, meaning that the loser could be setting themselves up for a potential semifinal showdown against Christ the King….The Gaels’ defense have surrendered 135.4 yard and just under 2.0 (1.8) touchdowns rushing per game this season…So, the opportunity might be there for Otunba to play the role of difference maker in what we expect to be a high scoring, back-and-forth demonstration of offensive prowess.  

Oct 052016
 

chsfl_logo_footerBy Matt Diano: Easily the most balanced of our POTW lists this season, week #4 is like your granny’s pocketbook; it has a little something to appease everyone.

Offensively, the two running backs and one quarterback combined for 555 yards of total offense (373 rushing) and nine touchdowns (seven on the ground).

Defensively, the three-headed linebacker corps racked up 33 tackles, four sacks, and notched an interception.

We even found room this week for a kicker/punter who showed the Catholic faithful that special teamers are instrumental to the success of any and every winning program.

Four of our six selections were involved in games featuring undefeated teams, as two were key components in knocking off previously perfect opponents, while the other pair did everything within their power to ensure that their school remained on pace to run the board.

 

Charles Barsella (Sr.); LB – St. Anthony’s Friars

During the first three weeks of the season, it seemed that nobody would be able to stop the St. Peter’s running attack….Averaging 228.3 yards and four touchdowns a game on the ground, the Eagles had made a habit of dominating the clock and the field…Then they traveled to South Huntington last Friday night and the once invincible suddenly began to look mortal, as the DeCristoforo guided school fell from the ranks of the unbeaten, losing 23-6 to St. Anthony’s. 

A big reason why STP’s “O” would go cold last weekend was the outstanding play of the senior linebacker, Barsella, who recorded six solo tackles and assisted on five additional stops to add an 11 spot to his already team-leading total. 

A team captain who legendary Friar Head Coach, Rich Reichert, praised as “the leader on and off of the field,” Barsella and the rest of his mates on the defensive front were unrelenting and unapologetic in imposing their will in the trenches, holding the visiting Eagles to only 116 yards on 39 rushing attempts (less than 3.0 yards/carry) and forcing four fumbles, three which of they recovered…The defensive ensemble, anchored by the 6’2, 220-pound Baldwin resident smothered All-State candidate, Bobby Wing, all night, holding him to his first sub-100-yard game of 2016 (86 yards on 28 touches) and keeping him out of the end zone (he entered with 10 rushing TDs) for the first time all year.

As much as he thrives as a run stuffer, if you ask the STA staff, Barsella’s signature moment of the weekend came late in the third quarter, when leading 17-6, he single-handedly halted a drive that would have gotten St. Peter’s back in the game, as he intercepted opposing quarterback, John Martinos pass in the STA zone and returned it back to the opposite 33-yard line “to seal the win” as it was phrased by the Anthony’s bench. 

Things will not get any easier for Barsella or the Friars next week as they follow up one victory over a previously unbeaten team by going toe-to-toe with another in the persons of two-time defending AAA League titlists, Archbishop Stepinac. 

 

Liam Dvorak (Sr.); PK/P – Chaminade Flyers

It’s not very often that the sun shines brightest on a special teamer, so when the opportunity arose, we knew that we had to make it count…And we could not be happier with our selection of the 5’8 resident of Bayport. 

Dvorak, who is most famous for the work he does on the baseball diamond as a right-handed hurler/outfielder for the Flyers, showed that while it might be his arm that has attracted the attention of the likes of Notre Dame, the U.S. Naval Academy, and Cornell, he is still quite capable with all of his appendages….In the simplest of descriptions, HE WAS the Chaminade offense in the first half of their 24-16 home victory over Monsignor Farrell….Converting on all three of his field goal attempts (22, 20, 42), the National Honor Society member/4.0 student accounted for all nine of his school’s points as they headed into the locker room after 24 minutes holding a 9-3 lead against a streaking Lion foe that entered with an immaculate 3-0 record in 2016. 

Successfully tacking on an extra point with just 4:30 remaining in regulation to give Chaminade an eight point lead, Dvorak and his powerful leg were not done yet influencing the outcome of the game…With the win still very much up for grabs in the final 1:10, the senior classman who also handles punting duties, hit a boomer that buried Monsignor Farrell on their own 4-yard line…Forced to go just about the entire length of the field in pursuit of a tying score, the Lions might have been a little too aggressive in the air, resulting in a game-ending interception by senior defensive back, Campbell Goulet to ice the “w”.

 

Mausari Miller (So.); RB – Moore Catholic Mavericks

Perhaps the most unlikely of our honored student-athletes this week, the 5’9, 155-pound sophomore who his coach referred to as “the pound-for-pound toughest guy out there” had never run for more than 20 yards in a game during his short varsity career….Third on the depth chart behind the backfield duo of Diamond Massaquoi and Justin Lacks (who have combined to run for 174 yards), it has never been a question of ability for Miller; the only factor that has kept him under the radar Is a lack of carries. 

This past Saturday, with Massaquoi on the shelf and Lacks sitting out the first half to nurse his minor injuries, the 11th grader from Irvington, NJ at last was afforded the chance to assume a larger role and capitalized, topping the 100-yard milestone and punching in his first two varsity level touchdowns  to aid the Mavericks in their 34-7 victory at home over St. Dominic’s…The win improved Moore Catholic to 3-1, placing them firmly in the #2 position in the “A” standings. 

Doing the majority of his damage during the first 24 minutes of play (before Lacks returned in the second half), Miller opened the scoring for MC by finishing off a first quarter drive with a three-yard TD run to give the Staten Island school the early 6-0 lead…This would be the only points of the half that the program could muster as a Bawhawk second-quarter TD resulted in the host school heading into the break down 7-6.

An interception that was returned to the Dom’s 33-yard line to start the third quarter gave Moore Catholic a prime opportunity to regain the lead, which they did (for good), as Miller’s only rushing yards of the second half were big ones, as he found the end zone on a 10-yard run (after Lacks had marched the team into the red zone with six straight carries) to make the score 12-6 in favor of MC….Miller’s second TD of the contest was the ignition point of what would end up being a 28-0 rally that turned a once hotly contested match-up into a comfortable win for the Nick Giannatasio coached squad. 

Even though it did not officially add to his incredible stat line (112 yards on 23 carries), Miller did polish his “fantasy” resume by converting back-to-back 2pt conversion runs to conclude the afternoon having personally accounted for 16 of the team’s 34 points (47 percent). 

Equally important is that the Garden State’s coming out party means that an already deep Moore Catholic ground attack just proved that it has more artillery than any of us even realized…As we get closer to the end of the season when everyone is less than 100 percent, the luxury of being able to rotate running backs without a loss of quality is a potential difference maker for the Mavericks. 

 

Demetrius Wilson (Jr.); QB – Christ the King Royals

Having returned so many weapons on offense from last year’s AA runners-up, when 2016 commenced, the feeling was that the Royals might serious threats to put up 30-40 points every game of the season regardless of opponent…Blessed with a wealth of speed, athleticism, and skill, endless waves of points seemed more like a destiny than a possibility….However, through three games (note: two of which were non-league games against perennial powerhouses—Poly Prep and St. Anthony’s), CTK had yet to connect all of the dots, averaging a modest (by their golden standard) 18.3 points per game and only exceeding the 20-point mark once after hitting it in all 11 of their games a season ago.

This past Sunday, the “48 minute scoring storm” that the experts were forecasting all along finally reached land, as the #6 ranked team in the New York State Class A polls put on a show for those in attendance, combing for 470 yard between their running and passing attacks en route to a 47-12 win on the road against St. Francis Prep.

A complete team effort that witnessed five different Royal student-athletes reach the end zone, there was no shortage of viable options from which to choose…Ultimately, the committee opted for the junior field general, Wilson, because his role as a dual-threat QB enabled him to have a hand in four of the team’s six total touchdowns…The Cambria Heights product was very balanced in the damage he inflicted, as he threw for two touchdowns and then ran for an additional deuce.

Undeniably the best performance of his still young varsity career, in week #4, Wilson established a career high in passing yards with 182, tied his previous best effort with the aforementioned two TD tosses, posted a 139.2 QBR, and even had a banner afternoon the ground, notching his first career multiple rushing TD game.

All in all, Wilson was directly responsible for over 50 percent of CTK’s total offense, as the 74 yards for which he ran, when added to the 182 he tossed added up to 256 yards…He accomplished all of this gaudy numbers despite only touching the ball 16 times (11 passes; 5 runs) all day.

The 6’2 junior completed 6 of 11 pass attempts, hooking up with star wide-out, Tosin Oyekanmi (3 catches, 100 yards), on both TD strikes, and ran for an average of 14.8 carry, to rank second on the team in this category.

Wilson and the Royals will look to keep the points train rolling next week when they face Iona Prep in a potential preview of the AA championship game…The visiting Gaels have scored no less than 31 points in each of their four games this season and are averaging 43.5 points/game in their two double-A contests…Hence, if Christ the King intends to maintain their status as the division’s prohibitive favs, it goes without saying that the offense is going to need to be locked and loaded on Sunday the 9th.

 

Rodney Samson (Sr.); RB/OLB – Iona Prep Gaels

Staying on the topic of the boys from New Rochelle, there was not a finer two-way player during week #4 than the Gaels senior, Samson….A shepherd on both sides of the ball as a running back and a linebacker, the 6’0, 205-pounder is so impactful that at times it seems like there are 11 of him on the field at one time…Such was the case last Friday in Iona Prep’s 56-27 road win over Kellenberg Memorial High School.

The team’s leading rusher in all four games this season, Samson rewrote his personal record book last week, setting new highs in yards in a single game with 187, average yards per carry with 12.5 on 15 attempts, and logging the first three touchdown game of his scholastic career….He was so good against the Firebirds that he doubled his season totals in rushing yards and touchdowns to 367 and six respectively.

The first of Samson’s three ground scores broke the ice in the first quarter, as he powered the ball in from the 2-yard line to give the road warriors the initial 6-0 lead…One quarter later, the senior captain once again used his size and speed in short distance situations to finish off a drive, taking the ball the final yard to increase the edge to 18-0….The resident of Ossining made it three straight quarters with a score when he found space and dashed 33 yards to spark a 21-0 IP streak in the third quarter to blow the game open, 49-14.

Defensively, Samson had a double digit today in tackles, recording 10 stops.  His strong defensive showing was complemented by a sack as well….Knowing how incendiary the Royal offense is capable of being when at its best, it might be on “D” where Samson will need to shine next Sunday.

 

Jonathan Brown (Sr.); LB – Holy Trinity Titans

Billed as a shootout between the top-2 offensive teams in the AA division, the Titan defense, led by the senior, Brown, held a Viking team that entered the contest averaging 39 points in their two double-A games, to a respectable total of 22, allowing the Hicksville based squad to runaway (literally and figuratively) with a 55-22 victory to stay among the four unbeatens in the Catholic League.

Providing the same caliber of leadership, poise, and intensity as his fellow senior and week #4 honoree, Barsella, Brown and the Titan “D-unit” held a St. Joe’s by the Sea team that had averages of 237.7 and 133.3 yards a game passing and throwing after three games to season lows in both categories with respective outputs of 114 and 89….The previously cited 22 points was SJS’s second lowest total, with the 12 points they scored in week #1 against AAA division member, St. Peter’s, being the only occasion where the Staten Island school produced an inferior quantity.

Second on the team in total tackles after week #3, Brown inched closer to team leader, Alexander Parciak, by making seven solo stops and lending a helping hand on five additional tackles to end the day with 12 (not including the three tackles he made on special teams)…The 12 halts (including one that induced a fumble) he made on October 1st represented the first double digit tackle game of the season for him in his last year wearing the Green & White.

Brown’s skillset did not just manifest itself in stuffing the run.  Instead, he also demonstrated an immense ability to be a disruptive force as a pass rusher, bagging opposing QB, Francis Perry, on three different occasions to increase his team-leading sum to six in 2016.

Head Coach, Tony Mascia, will need for his defensive front to be just as steady next weekend when HT plays host to Poly Prep in a non-league contest…The visiting Blue Devils feature Isaiah Wilson, who some recruiting pundits have pegged as the #1 overall OT in the nation…Thus, with this 350+ pound mountain throwing blocks, all of the Holy Trinity defenders are going to need to fight on every snap if they hope to stretch their winning streak to five games.

Sep 272016
 

chsfl_logo_footerBy Matt Diano: The quarterback position darn near had a monopoly on the NYCHSFL during week #3 as four or our six selections take the snaps for their respective schools… All four members of the honored QB fraternity threw for 250+ for a combined total of approximately 1,100 yards…In addition, the foursome averaged 3.75 TDs scored with a collective tally of 15 (13 throwing, 2 rushing)…There was an even split among the group, as two were returning POTWs from 2015, while the other half is making their debut on the list today.

The third week of the season was also chalk full of barn-burners as three of the six recipients were either the main components or significant assets in fourth quarter comeback victories.

For the first time this season, we have an underclassman among the chosen few, as a sophomore tailback from Brooklyn is new to our scrolls, but is certain to find his way back multiple times over the course of the next 2.5 years…The way he is making a habit of tearing up opposing defenses on the ground, we see a lot of pancakes (CHSFL awards brunch) in his future as well.

And finally, no Catholic Player of the Week article is official until we have an obligatory Monsignor Farrell representative…The only school to have one of their students recognized all three weeks of the season, the Lions are so gangbusters at the moment that a historic clean sweep is not the least bit far-fetched.

 

Francis Perry (Sr.); QB – St. Joseph’s by the Sea Vikings

Forget “Johnny Football”….If the last two weekends have been any indication of what we can expect the rest of the way for the senior signal caller from Staten Island, then the New York Metropolitan Catholic Football League has their own “Frankie Football”….The engine behind Joe’s by the Sea’s two-game win streak, as well as their first road victory since 2014, the 6’0, 160-pound field general [Perry] was so locked in during weeks 2 and 3 that the best way we can described the level of play is to say that he has been putting up “video game” statistics.

Fresh on the heels of a 259 yard throwing (17-for-25), 99 yard rushing effort that yielded five (3 in the air; 2 on the ground) scores in a 36-20 victory over St. John the Baptist on September 16th, Perry found a way to be even more exceptional last Saturday, rescuing Head Coach, Mike Corona’s Vikings from a 32-19 third quarter deficit by leading the school on a 23-6 rally to close out the game to steal the “w”, 42-38 over their hosts, Mount St. Michael Academy….Perry, whose third touchdown pass of the contest came in the final 2:00 of regulation and proved to be the game-winner, finished week #3 with an aerial stat line that read as follows: 21-for-31 (.678 completion percentage) for 274 yards, the previously referenced three TD tosses.  In addition, he was directly responsible for accounting for 105 of SJS’s 174 rushing yards, reaching the end zone on two of his 18 carries.  

Through three weeks, there has been a more prolific scorer in all of Catholic football as Perry’s 12 total touchdowns (7 passing, 5 running) is second to none!  Furthermore, with averages of 237.7 yards throwing and 92.3 rushing per game, unless someone finds a way to slow down the Senior Class Vice President, he is well on his way to shattering the 3,000 yard total offense milestone. 

With a date against the current highest scoring team in the NYCHSFL, Holy Trinity (41.3 points/game), on the horizon, Perry knows that if Joe’s by the Sea is to keep their AA league record immaculate, he will have to continue to raise the proverbial bar for himself….Circle the October 1st game on your calendar as the winner will give themselves the inside track on home field advantage come postseason.           

 

Matthew Valecce (Jr.); QB – Fordham Prep Rams

Twice a NYCHSFL Player of the Week selection as a sophomore in 2015, after week #1 [while honoring teammate, Will Loffredo] when we said that “Valecce deserved and was destined to get his fair share of praise” this season, we did so with the knowledge that as it pertains to the rocket arm of this young man, it is always a question of when and not if. 

A student-athlete who seems very determined and intent on rewriting the Catholic passing record book before his time roaming the Coffey Field sidelines concludes in the fall of 2017, the 6’5, 200-pounder who hangs his hat in Mamaroneck, is averaging just under 300 yards (296.7) per game in the air, and has hurled three or more touchdowns (10 total) in all three of the Rams’ games in 2016. 

The protégé of former Syracuse University starter/renowned northeast quarterback guru, Madei Williams (credited with the development of current Notre Dame sophomore/top-100 prospect from the class of 2014, Brandon Wimbush), unlike a lot of young men playing the QB position on the scholastic level, Valecce is the furthest thing from a game manager; on the contrary, he is a game changer who was blessed with such a golden arm that no matter the scenario or the opponent, he is a constant threat to take over the contest. 

If you need evidence to support the statement that no lead is ever safe when playing against Valecce under center, consider the act of heroism he performed on Saturday night when he connected with senior wide-out, Thomas Natkin, on a 51-yard TD strike on the last play from scrimmage (:03 remaining on the clock after the score) to send the home crowd smiling ear to ear following a miraculous 34-31 victory over Kellenberg Memorial High School. 

Throwing two of his four touchdown passes during the first 24 minutes of play, Valecce sent the Rams into the break leading 13-10…His third TD toss of the game in the third quarter increased the lead to 27-10 before the visiting Firebirds scored three unanswered touchdowns in the fourth quarter (the third of which came with only 1:02 on the clock) to seemingly put themselves on the verge of a huge come-from-behind triumph….But, as detailed above, the bigger the stage, the more clutch the returning All-Catholic honoree shows himself to be, as that dagger to Natkin (3 catches, 92 yards, 2 TDs) was his final act to close out a 17-for-28, 277 yard night….Valecce hit three different targets for touchdowns, and completed passes to five individual teammates overall as a means of showcasing his amazing field vision….Not one who normally gets recognized for his scrambling ability, Head Coach, Pete Gorynski, wanted to make sure that Valecce’s contributions on the ground did not go underappreciated as his 22 rushing yards were quite essential in helping to extend eventual scoring drives.

The owner of a 118+ quarterback rating will take his canon on the road next weekend for a showdown against Mount St. Michael Academy…Last season, he posted one of his best games of his sophomore campaign against the Mountaineers, completing 11 of 14 pass attempts for 205 yards and four TDs.  The 159.2 QBR was his highest of the 2015 season. 

 

Michael Apostolopoulos (Sr.); QB – Iona Prep Gaels

Making the list for the first time in 2016 and the second time (a 2015 week #6 recipient) in his two-year varsity career, if you look only at the Gaels’ 1-2 record (both losses in non-league games), then you would be guilty of missing the big picture….Even in the two games that did not go the way of Iona Prep, Apostolopoulos most certainly performed up to standard, as IP averaged 37 points during the first two weeks of the season…In these games, the 6’2 senior captain threw for 535 yards and four touchdowns while completing 56 percent of aerial attempts. 

This past Saturday, Apostolopoulos and the Gaels not only notched that first win of the season, but also further to revealed themselves as strong contenders for the AA throne when they knocked off 2014 runners-up/2015 semifinalists, St. John the Baptist, 31-10, on the road….Doing his part to put a large number on the scoreboard week after week, the Scarsdale resident came within five yards of a second consecutive 300-yard effort (threw for 342 yards against Stepinac), as he connected on 21 of his 35 attempts, accumulating 295 yards and two more TD passes…His senior totals now read as follows: 64-112, 830 yards, and six TD (versus only three INTS). 

Succeeding in the primary duty of any captain, Apostolopoulos has been masterful when it comes to making the people around him better.  Never was this fact more evident than in the case of junior receiver, Michael Degasparis…A player who everyone on the Iona coaching staff was confident could be an immense contributor as an 11th grader, the instant rapport and sixth-sense that the 6’2 wide-out enjoys with his senior signal caller has led to one of the finest pitch-and-catch duos in all of the Empire State thus far at the onset of 2016….Reaching double digit receptions in back-to-back weeks (13 catches for 211 yards against Stepinac; 11 catches for 142 yards against SJB), at the pace at which he is on the receiving end, all signs point at Degasparis posting program highs in both categories. 

While it may have been Degasparis’s #10 that got called most frequently, it was another junior, Johnryan Freeman, who had the two biggest catches of the day, as his touchdowns receptions of 5 and 35 yards capped off a 31-0 run between the second and third quarters.     

 

Roberto Auguste (So.); RB/DB – Xaverian High School Clippers

With nearly 2,000 yards of ground attack having graduated off of last year’s Single-A title winning roster, if there was one pressing issue entering the season for Head Coach Mike Jioia and his staff, it was who would step up and become the rock on which the rest of the offense could lean….The Clippers have found that person in perhaps an unlikely source as it has been the sophomore phenomenon, Auguste, who has carried both the ball and the torch with conviction through the first three weeks of the 2016 season. 

A 100-yard rusher in the first game of the season (100 yards on 11 carries in a 16-0 win over St. Dominic’s), the 5’9, 160-pound 10th grader nearly doubled that total this past weekend, averaging 8.4/carry on 23 touches (193 yards) and scoring a touchdown from 27-yards out to power Xaverian to a 25-22 victory over Kennedy Catholic in clash of 1-1 teams that could determine who earns the #3 seed in the postseason. 

Auguste added to his day by serving as a capable weapon out of the backfield as 26 of the team’s 50 passing years were accounted for on his three receptions….He also caught a key 2pt conversion pass to complete a 22-6 fourth quarter rally that saw the Clippers trail most of the game and as late as the 4:00 mark of regulation (22-17). 

Defensively, Auguste recorded four tackles from the secondary. 

Auguste and his more than 125 yard per game average on the ground will return to the friendly confines of the Aviator Sports complex this week when Xaverian faces out against Nazareth Regional….Look for him to surpass the 100-yard mark for the third time in four weeks as the Kingsmen have surrendered an A-Division high of 98 points (32.7/game) in losses to Spellman, Kennedy Catholic, and St. Dom’s.

 

Michael Nicosia (Jr.); QB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

It is never easy when you are asked to step in and fill the shoes of a departed All-State player at your respective position.  For the Crusader junior quarterback, Nicosia, the weight of that pressure was doubled as he had the unenviable task of moving under center with the full knowledge that the two gentlemen (Brandon Coleman-5th team in 2014; Tyquell Fields-1st Team last year) who preceded him in walking that path had both been recognized by the New York Sportswriters Association…And, during the first two games of his varsity career, the responsibility of trying to adhere to such an imposing standard may have gotten the best of the 6’0, 175-pound Thornwood resident, as he completed less than half of his passes (21 for 43) and accumulated only 252 yards and two TD throws in non-league conquests over Cornwall Central (Section IX) and Iona Prep.

Last Sunday, as Shakespeare coined, would be “a horse (in his case a thoroughbred) of an entirely different color” for the 11th grade field general, as he erupted in the most momentous of manners, hitting on 22 of his 25 passing attempts (88 percent complete rate) for 252 yards and four touchdowns to trigger Stepinac’s 42-24 victory over Cardinal Hayes in a rematch of the 2015 AAA championship game….His performance during this one 2.5 hour stretch removed any doubt that the Crusader air attack was alive and well.

Forced to wait an extra 21 hours when poor field conditions resulted in the game being pushed back and relocated to noon on his home field, Nicosia wasted little time in setting the tone for the type of afternoon it was going to be, both individually and collectively, when he made the Cardinals pay for an opening drive fumble, connecting with senior WR, Brandon Gasparre, on a 31-yard completion to register the first of their two touchdown hook-ups (also struck from 52 yards in the third quarter) less than four minutes into the 1st quarter to give the two-time defending triple-A titlists a 7-0 lead….His second TD throw of the half (to Antonio Giannico), which coincidentally also came from 31-yards away increased the Crusader lead to 20-7.

Back-to-back touchdowns by Hayes late in the second quarter and early in the third drew the game within 23-18, but the margin would not get any closer with Nicosia commanding the troops as he found Jonathan Gomez from eight yards out with 2:00 remaining in the third quarter and then went back to Gasparre 1:41 later for his fourth and final TD heave to make it a three-score game, 38-18, with only the fourth quarter still to be played.

Surpassing his career totals in completions (22>21), nearly equally his throwing yardage (252 vs. 254), and doubling his previous touchdown output (4 on Sunday compared to a total of 2 in weeks 1  & 2), Nicosia’s 157.0 QB rating on the day catapulted his season average from 76.7 all the way up to 109.0.  He also raised his three-week completion percentage to one of the league’s best at 63.2 percent.

With their sniper now in a comfort zone, Stepinac’s next step towards a three-peat will come against 1-2 (0-2 in AAA games) Holy Cross…In their two previous league contests against St. Peter’s and Monsignor Farrell, the Knights were victimized in the air to the unpleasant tune of a nearly 80 percent connect rate…Unless major adjustments are made in the secondary, the opportunity may be there for Nicosia to fire BBs all over the gridiron to his band of capable receivers (eight different targets were hit by Stepinac’s trio of quarterbacks).

 

John Kelly (Jr.); LB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

And the streak lives to see another week….For the third time in as many opportunities, the Lions have an honoree following a 33-7 win over Holy Cross that improved their record to 3-0 overall (2-0 in the league)…Most fascinating about the start of the 2016 season for the boys on Amboy Road is that both side of the ball are functioning so well that it seems that every weekend is turning into an intra-squad fight for bragging rights….In week #1, the defense were the victors as Adley Raboy’s four sack effort shined above the rest in a 41-0 shutout over St. Joe’s Collegiate of Buffalo…Last week, the offense took center stage, with running back Gavin Monreale, racking up 244 yards and three touchdowns in defeating Cardinal Hayes 24-18…This past weekend, the “D” returned to the forefront In the person of junior linebacker, John Kelly.

The cornerstone to Head Coach, Anthony Garofalo’s linebacking corps, Kelly entered the game averaging 11 stops per contest, including a 14 tackle performance in week #2 in the “w” over Hayes…He equaled his average on Sunday afternoon, making exactly 11 tackles to post his second straight double digit game.

In addition to stonewalling the Knight running game, the 6’1, 215-pound Staten Islander proved quite adept as a pass rushing threat, earning two sacks to bring his yearly total to three.

Perhaps sensing that he was due for a POTW nomination, Kelly refused to be shut out of the points scored category as he notched one of the team’s two safeties against Holy Cross.

In agreement to what we said about Apostolopoulos on the offensive side of the ball, the ultimate compliment we can give to Kelly is that with him on the field, there seems to be a new found energy that is spreading like a wildfire to the rest of his teammates….Since embracing the role as “head honcho” among LBs, Kelly’s clout has resulted in the Lions shaving off an average of 13 points per game, as thus far, they are giving up just a tad bit over eight points per outing a season removed from surrendering in the area of 21 points/contest.

Sep 212016
 

By Matt Diano: The name of the game in week #2 was versatility….Three of the four players honored were two-way performers that made their respective presences known as much on the defensive side of the ball as they did on offense.

In addition, all three of our divisions were represented, giving us the balance that we always seek in preparing this weekly column.

Combining to score 15 touchdowns and create four turnovers , this foursome more than demonstrated that there is much validity in the old saying that there is more than one way to skin  cat (or an opponent).

 

Stephen Lebitsch (Sr.); LB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

One of the senior leaders on a much improved Gael squad, Lebitsch was a one-man turnover creating machine this past weekend in helping the Somers based school to a 38-14 win over Nazareth Regional….Totaling four solo tackles and one assisted stop, the 5’9 175-pound linebacker forced a fumble, recovered a fumble, and added an interception in doing his part to put that first check in the win column for Kennedy Catholic.

The Hopeful Junction resident is the first “A” player to be honored this season and he is most definitely deserving as the Gael offense built a 20-6 lead at the half and then it was the defensive side of the ball that never allowed the opposing Kingsmen to get back in the game, holding them to only eight points in the second half.

As good as Lebitsch and his teammates were last weekend, they know they will need to be even better when they square off with defending Single-A champs, Xaverian, at home on the 24th.   

 

Gavin Monreale (Sr.); RB/S – Monsignor Farrell Lions

At the rate and skill-level level at which they are playing, the Monsignor Farrell Lions remain on pace to have a POTW honoree every week of the season as they have started the season a perfect for-2-for-2….Two weeks ago, it was the defensive line dominance of Adley Raboy (4 sacks) that won the day….Last Friday, it was another Staten Island senior [Monreale] who was so outstanding that even if his coaches had not nominated him, we still would have found a way to get him his much earned acclaim. 

In our preview, we cited the inexperience at the running back position as a potential concern….Now, after watching the 5’10, 170-pounder do his thing two weeks in a row, the ground game is the least of our worries going forward for the Anthony Garofalo mentored cohort. 

Just six days removed from an 83 yard, two touchdowns performance in the season opener, Monreale was a proverbial untamable beast last Friday, racking up 244 on 20 carries (12.2/touch) and a trio of 6’s to propel Farrell to a 24-18 victory over returning AAA runners-up, Cardinal Hayes. 

A match-up of the #5 (Hayes) and #7 (Farrell) ranked teams in NYC per News 12 Varsity, thanks in large part to Monreale’s refusal to be contained, the game would not be as close as the final score indicated as his touchdown runs from 7, 11, and 26 yard away, coupled with a 46-yard field goal by Paul Inzerillo, gave the host school a 24-6 fourth quarter lead.

When speaking to Staten Island Live about his career night, Monreale, always the modest gentleman, was very quick to deflect the attention off of himself and bestow it onto his offensive linemen—Nick Preza, Ryan Rivera, Noah Lancia, Paul Panettiere, and Matt Kindya. 

Also a starting safety on defense, while his effort on “O” is hogging all of the headlines, it is important to note that Monreale was also very steady on the other side of the ball, making three tackles, forcing a fumble, and defending two pass attempts to prevent the always dangerous Cardinals from establishing any momentum until it was too late.        

 

Jalen Johnson (Sr.); RB/FS – Xavier Knights

Like Monreale, it was another ironman, Knight senior Johnson, asserting his will in all areas en route to helping the defend13ing Double-A champions pick up what Head Coach, Chris Stevens called, “an important rebound win that put the 2016 season back in the right direction,” 33-8 over St. Francis Prep

Named a team captain prior to the game in recognition of his excellent play in week #1 when he scored all 12 of Xavier’s points (one rushing, the other an INT return) in a 24-12 reversal of last year’s AA title game against Christ the King, the 5’9, 180-pound Brooklynite continued his work as a master of all trades, scoring in a variety of ways for the second week in a row. 

 As a running back, Johnson rushed for an average of 7.3 yards per carry, accumulating 73 yards and one touchdown as part of an ensemble that totaled 176 yards and three scores. 

From the secondary, he made seven tackles, forced a fumble, and was an integral part of a collective defensive effort that held the Terrier offense scoreless, relinquishing only 23 yards on the ground and 12 in the air before being relieved by the second-string. 

Johnson would also return a punt 60 yards for a touchdown on special teams, as he finished the day with 151 yards of total contribution. 

By far the most productive of the Knight players early into the 2016 season, Johnson’s two-game totals thus far in his senior season are as follows: 18 tackles, two interceptions, 85 rushing yards, total yardage equaling 264 yards, and four touchdowns scored three different ways. 

 

 Atrilleon Williams (Jr.); RB/DB – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders

Pitted in a match-up between the #1 and #3 ranked teams in the Lower Hudson rankings, “Trill” Williams simply did what he always does….He picked his moments carefully, but when it was time to strike, he did so unapologetically and to the tune of a five score game, captaining the two-time defending AAA League champion/reigning Catholic State Champion Crusaders to their 21st consecutive victory over a downstate Catholic opponent, 42-34 over Iona Prep. 

A student-athlete that is so dynamic that he can affect the outcome of a game by possessing the ball only a handful of times, Williams’ quantity of touches did not even reach double digits, but yet, there was not a single moment during a 48-minute contest that he was not the most feared person on either sideline. 

Scoring the first of his quintet of TDs by being on the receiving end of a 20-yard pass from junior signal-caller, Michael Nicosia, to give Stepinac a 7-0 lead, Williams seemed to be the person whose number got called whenever Coach Michael O’Donnell needed to flip momentum. 

Utilized mostly on offensive as the quarterback in a wild cat scheme, anytime the 6’2, 180-pound NCAA DI prospect (has drawn the attention of Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Rutgers among his suitors) was unstoppable anytime he was inside or close to the red zone……Trailing 14-7 midway through the second quarter, Williams put the team on his back and ended the half by  logging TD runs from 26 and 4 yards out on back-to-back drives  to put the team into the lead (21-14) at the break…He started the third quarter in the same manner in which he concluded the  second, capping off a nearly five minute drive by dashing to the corner of the end zone from four yards away for his third rushing TD and fourth overall to increase the Stepinac lead to 28-14. 

The “never over till it’s over game” would set the stage for Williams’s fifth and biggest score of the game as Iona Prep (who tied the game at 28 only to fall behind by seven and then try a 2pt point to go for the win) recovered an onside kick with 1:25 remaining in regulation…Needing only to get into field goal range to attempt a game stealing three-pointer, the Gaels were inching closer when on 4th-on-5, Williams stepped in front of a Michael Apostolopoulos pass and cruised 70 yards untouched to emphatically slam that “w” into the record books.