The CHSFL Congratulates the 2021 CHSFL Player Award Winners
CHSFL AWARD WINNERS 2021
Monsignor Peter’s Memorial Award – Academic Scholarship Award
Scott Becker (Iona Prep)
Monsignor Peter’s Golden Eleven – Academic Scholarship Award
Andrew Bardak (St Anthony’s) Henry Belin (Cardinal Hayes) Thomas Stueber (Chaminade) Liam Dunn (St. John the Baptist) James McCauley (Archbishop Stepinac) Michael Solimando (St Francis Prep) Justin Axiak (Xavier) Matthew Skjeveland (Holy Trinity) Christian Terranova (Kellenberg) David LaGanga (Xaverian) Anthony Ulses (St. Joseph by the Sea)
John Bromm Memorial Award – Injured Player Award
Charles Zamora (Archbishop Stepinac) Jordan Alvarez (Archbishop Stepinac)
Ken Weinman Memorial Award – Injured Player Award
Nick Duryea (Kennedy Catholic) Jose Ruiz (Iona Prep)
Lieutenant Ronald Winchester Memorial Award – Unsung Hero
John Prince (Archbishop Stepinac)
Offensive Players Awards
Joseph Riverso Memorial Award Ajani Sheppard (Iona Prep)
AAI Offensive Players of the Year Christian Alacqua (Chaminade)
AA II Offensive Player of the Year Mark Anthony Scott (St. John the Baptist)
Defensive Player Awards
Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Iona Prep)
AAI Defensive Player of the Year Hagan Wagner (Chaminade)
AAII Defensive Player of the Year Jameer Reader (Holy Trinity)
Joe Thomas Memorial Award Scott Becker (Iona Prep)
AAI Lineman of the Year Thomas Kemp (Chaminade)
AAII Lineman of the Year Irv Briggs (Holy Trinity)
Special Teams Award
AAA Special Teams Player of the Year Ellis Robinson IV (Iona Prep)
AAI Special Teams Player of the Year Michael Solimando (St. Francis Prep)
AAII Special Teams Player of the Year RJ Kocan (St. John the Baptist)
Championship Game Offensive & Defensive MVP’s
AAA Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Ajani Sheppard (Iona Prep)
AAA Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Zyian Moultrie-Goddard (Iona Prep)
AA I Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Thomas Stueber (Chaminade)
AA I Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Hagan Wagner (Chaminade)
AA II Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Josiah Brown (Holy Trinity)
AA II Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Dylan Brathwaite (Holy Trinity)
NYSCHSAA Championship Offensive Most Valuable Player Justin Joly (Iona Prep)
NYSCHSAA Championship Defensive Most Valuable Player Ellis Robinson IV (Iona Prep)
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK 2021
Week 1 Chad Case (Holy Trinity) Ellis Robinson IV (Iona Prep) Aaron Espinet (Monsignor Farrell) Devin Grant (Holy Cross) Thomas Kemp IV (Chaminade)
Tis the season where good deeds are rewarded tenfold and kings are gifted with gold!!!
Unable to break bread as one Christian flock for a second consecutive season because of ongoing health restrictions (COVID), nothing replaces the elegance of our Communion breakfast custom…But still we are overjoyed to commemorate these worthy disciples with the same passion and affection of yesteryear!
Today, your legacies are forever cemented as you are officially recognized as the finest of your craft!
Taking home the top offensives prizes in recognition of respective outstanding performances that yielded 6,601 yards, 77 touchdowns, and most importantly, THREE NYCHSFL title-game berths on behalf of their schools were…
Joseph Riverso Memorial Award – Ajani Sheppard, Iona Prep
AAA Offensive Player of the Year
Ajani SheppardJr. QB Iona Prep – Made Westchester County history last weekend during the 2021 CHSAA AAA State title when he became the first student-athlete to boast a 2,000-yard passing/1,000-yard rushing season, completed 181 of 255 throw attempts (71%) for 2, 357 yards and 22 touchdowns, while simultaneously rushing for an additional 1,041 yard and 16 more scores on 138 carries…In doing so, he wrapped up his junior campaign as the top overall rushing in the triple-A classification and finished a close 2nd in terms of passing yardage…Regarded as one of the top 2023 dual-threat field generals in the Empire State, with Sheppard captaining the offense, the Gaels averaged 36 points per game this fall en route to an 11-1 record on their way to Metro League (first in AAA since ‘08) and Catholic State team titles (first in program history)! Sheppard is formally the fourth member of the Gael QB fraternity that has hoisted the Joe Riverso Memorial Award. Preceding him among the brother brotherhood were: Mario Biaggi (2012), Robert Madison (2014), and Derek Robertson (2018)…Running backs, Jeffrey Mack (2008) and Sidney Weston (2010) are also former winners for IP!
AA-I Offensive Player of the Year – Christian Alacqua, Chaminade
Christian Alacqua Sr. RBChaminade – Stepped in to fill the cleats of one of the Flyers’ all-time greats in the backfield (Mario Fischetti), Christian so incredible in his only season as the primary RB that he darn-near equaled all of his predecessor’s accolades and like Fischetti, was successful in leading the Crimson & Gold to brass ring in the AA-1 division!…Carrying the ball 148 times for 1,327 yards and finding pay dirt on 16 occasions, the team captain/Cornell University bound (lacrosse) student-athlete ranked 12th in all of New York State this fall in total rushing yards (2nd in the entire NYCSHSFL; 1st in the AA-1)…In 10 appearances in his swan song year, the Manhasset resident surpassed the century mark on eight unique occasions, highlighted by a career-best 203-yard effort on October 16th as part of a win against Fordham Prep…Alacqua also notched SEVEN multiple TD performances, including striking for a pair in the Double-A-1 title contest versus Moore Catholic! He may have worn the #11 and #16 jerseys during the season, but he was undeniably the #1 reason the Flyers are celebrating back-to-back crowns in Mineola! He is the first Chaminade player since 2013 (Sean Cerrone) to formally be a recipient of OPOY honors!
AA-II Offensive Player of the Year – Mark Anthony – St. John the Baptist
Mark Anthony ScottSr. RBSt. John the Baptist – Scott ranked in the top-10 in the entire Evil Empire in both yardage (1,624; 6th) and rushing touchdowns (19; tied for 8th) and closed out his senior season as the all-around top back on the Catholic football map!!! His aforementioned totals swept both major ground categories…The owner of a mind-blowing average of 11 yards per handoff, the Port Jeff Station product ran for no fewer than 115 yards in any game he participated in this fall. To truly appreciate how special and invaluable he was to helping deliver the Cougars back to title weekend for the first time since 2014 (23-10 loss to Holy Trinity), you need look only at his three postseason efforts. Amassing 619 yards w/8 touchdowns during this stretch, his 356/5 performance in the semis against Kennedy Catholic may have been the finest day posted by a NYCHSFL representative this season!!! Even in defeat, his talents jumped off the page, as illustrated by the 140-yard/1TD display he put forth in his last day (the league finals loss) as the heart of the Cat!!! As of November 5th, he remained a free agent as it pertains to college services. But we’re adamant in stating that whomever lands him is getting the FULL PACKAGE (stars in the classroom with a 3.7 GPA to accompany his gridiron greatness)!!
In speaking on the clash between offense and defense, author, Sun Tzu, stated, “Invincibility is a matter of defense; vulnerability is a matter of attack; Therefore, skillful warriors are able to be invincible, but cannot cause opponents to be vulnerable…And while we have nothing but the utmost respect for the “Art of Warrior” creator, he never met extraordinary gentlemen such as our three Defensive Player of the Year selections, because these standouts more than wreaked havoc and elicited fear to any opposing offense lined up across from them!
Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award – Zyian Moultrie-Goddard, Iona Prep
AAA Defensive Player of the Year
Zyian Moultie Goddard Jr. LB Iona Prep – A bona fide blue chipper that commands your attention on every snap, as we wrote earlier in the season when was named as a POTW, the 247 Sports 3-star linebacking prospect [Moultrie-Goddard] is so dominant that even in the lone defeat suffered by the Gaels in their league and state title claiming season, he still was every bit the most impactful player on either sideline…The pulse of an IP D-Unit that surrendered just 15.5 points per contest versus NYCHSFL foes (best in AAA) this fall, the three-year starter/2x team captain was credited with 81 total tackles (45 solo) this season, including 21 of which that resulted in a loss of yardage. In addition, he added five sacks to his resume…Named as the DMVP of the 2021 AAA League championship (aided in limiting the then top rusher in triple-A to a modest 37 yards), is comes as a shock to no one that he is entertaining offers from power-5 conference institutions such as Arizona State, Syracuse, Tennessee, and West Virginia among others!…Described by the Iona Prep coaching staff as a “young man of the highest character”, when he was not busy serving as “landlord of the house pain”, he found the energy to be a considerable asset on offense, as he ran for 9 touchdowns (323 yards) while utilized as a short-yardage “big back”!…Moultie-Goddard is now the third Gael since 2010 to seize the Vincent O’Connor Memorial Trophy. He joins previous winners, Michael Longo (2010; AAA) and Rodney Samson (2016; AA)!
AA-I Defensive Player of the Year – Hagan Wagner Sr. DB Chaminade
Hagan Wagner Sr. DB Chaminade – Labeled by the Head Coach, Kevin Dolan, as the “most indispensable performer” on a squad that pitched three shutouts and allowed a mere 4.2 points against fellow AA-1 opponents (15.9 if you factor in all competitions), Wagner falls into that category of new breed hybrid safety/linebacker that influences and/or takes over the game in an infinite manner of ways…Deriving as much satisfaction and pride in being a stout run stopper as he is a ball-hawking air traffic controller, the multi-sport gem (also plays for Chaminade’s nationally ranked lacrosse program) exhibited the full array of his tools in earning the Defensive Most Valuable Player award of the Double-A-1 championship (43-7 over Moore Catholic), as recorded close to double-digit stops, scooped up a fumble inside the Mavs’ red zone, and posted his second pick-6 of the season in propelling the Flyers to a repeat of the hardware…For the year, he was the proprietor of a stat line that read as follows: 75 tackles (49 solo), 9 TFLs, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions for TDs, 3 pass break-ups, and two forced fumbles! Simply put, Wagner is the name; turnover creating machine is the philosophy for the #45 jersey…Wagner is now the second straight honoree from the all-boys Marianist school [Chaminade] to win this award. In 2019, Aiden Cappellino accepted the plaque!
AA-II Defensive Player of the Year – Jameer Reader, Holy Trinity
Jameer Reader So. LB Holy Trinity – Only a sophomore, this might be just the beginning of the trophy collection that the 5’10, 185-pound LB out of Freeport [Reeder] will assemble in the coming years…A key component in a defense that pitched SIX shutouts and gave up just 49 points in all on their way to an immaculate 10-0 tally (only unbeaten school in the NYCHSFL in 2021), the ultimate compliment that can be paid to Reeder Is that among a roster filled with worthy candidates, he was man that received the bid from Hed Coach/Titan alumnus, Kahmal Roy!…Reeder compiled a curriculum vitae consisting of the following bullet points: 38 total stops (22 solo), 4 TFLs, 2 caused fumbles/1 fumble recovery! He is now just the second member of the Green & White tradition to win DPOY, providing company to former NFL (as a TE) player, Andrew Quarless, who won in 2004!
Turning our attention to the Goliaths of the Catholic football landscape, true to what is uttered by 1 Samuel (verse 17:4), our three beasts in the trenches proved time and time again that they were made in the mold of champions…Whether it was along the OL, the DL, or, as an ironman battling for all 48 minutes they embraced every challenge and selflessly put the well-being of their teams ahead of personal interests at all times!!! Elite linemen are a special breed unto themselves; and none were more spectacular than these…
Joe Thomas Memorial Award – Scott Becker, Iona Prep
AAA Lineman of the Year
Scott Becker Sr. OL Iona Prep – Hailed as the “best lineman I ever coached” by Gaels head man, Joe Spagnolo, the 6’2, 295-pound, senior out of Briarcliff Manor [Becker] may have played all five positions during the season, but he should be most candidly adorned with the moniker of centerpiece!! The trend-setter/2-year captain of an offensive line paved the way for the New Rochelle based school to accumulate 4,811 yards and score 56 touchdowns on his watch, the future Princeton Tiger (selected the Ivy League institution from a list of 20+ offers, including all three major service academies and all other Ivies) emerged with over 90 pancake blocks this season and routinely registered double-digit block performances! A combination of strength (squats 600/380 bench) and athleticism, Becker’s greatest trait is the integrity and leadership abilities he brought with them each and every week of his final year wearing the Maroon & Gold!…With his selection today, he becomes the second Iona Prep player ever (as well as the second in the past three opportunities) to be named the Joe Thomas Memorial Award recipient…In 2018, former 1st Team All-Stater/current Merrimack College roster member, Anthony Bonavita, established the precedent!
AA-I Lineman of the Year, Thomas Kemp IV, Chaminade
Thomas Kemp IVSr. DL Chaminade – Praised by Coach Dolan for his knack for making open-field hits and an aggressive/but not reckless style of pursuit, during each of the past two seasons, Kemp has been that person that the rest of the defensive line has leaned on as the example/tone-setter!!! Identical to his already cited/honored teammate [Wagner], big #76 was an unblockable menace along the front-7, consistently disrupting all facets of opposing offensive schemes…Finishing the fall 2nd on the Flyers with 81 total tackles (29 solo), the Hempstead resident thrived in the area of penetration, as his 21 TFLs topped all NYCHSFL personnel and ranked 10th in all of New York…He added three sacks to his body of work and even transformed “D” into “O” when he recorded a safety on 10/23 against St. Francis Prep…After three months of putting a lock on enemy offenses, Kemp locked down his future when he announced his intention to remain in-state and compete collegiately at Stony Brook University!
AA-II Lineman of the Year – Irv Briggs IV, Holy Trinity
Irv Briggs IV Jr. OL/DL Holy Trinity – Briggs the only one of the trio that performed double duty this season in taking his team to Titletown, is the next in a long, but ever-growing lineage of two-way brutes for the Titans…Walking that same path that landed former HT ironmen, John Stroughn (Utica) and Elijah Tobin (2019 NYCHSFL LOY; now attending AIC) scholarships, while his “forefather” are doing their thing on defense in college, Briggs is so versatile on both sides of the line that he feasibly could pencil in anywhere whenever he enrolls in the fall of 2023….As an OL (LT), he was the human insurance policy for a primarily two-quarterback system that combined to toss for over 1,600 yards and 23 TDs, while concurrently sealing the edge for a dynamic RB committee that generated 1,400+ yards age struck on 23 occasions!!!…On defense (DE), he racked up 17 solo stops (28 total tackles) and 4 TFLs for #1 cohort (regardless of division) in the NYCHSFL!
Rounding out our celebration of occupational superiority were the fellows that took the “special” in special teams to a whole new stratosphere during the 2021 season…Two of them equally decorated and renowned in the more conventional/popularized phases of the game; the other a pure savant that bound for the NCAA DI level, no matter which side of the boot they were on (kicking or receiving), these players contributed the “extra” to all of the extraordinary deeds garnered by their school!
Special Teams Player of the Year
AAA Special Teams Player of the Year – Ellis Robinson IV, Iona Prep
Ellis Robinson IV So. Returner Iona Prep – One of the most feared defensive backs in New York State (tops in the Empire w/8 interceptions), it became very obvious early on that opposing teams were not only hesitant to throw the ball in his direction, they were outright opposed to allowing the #4 overall 2025 prospect in the land [Robinson IV] have any touches period…Because his opportunities were few and far between, it became essential that he capitalize each and every time an opportunity did materialize…Averaging over 20 yards per return during the NYCHSL season, Robinson IV posted a head-turning 25% TD rate, as he recorded takebacks of 89 (KO) and 46-yard (punt) versus St. Anthony’s and Chaminade to finish with two scores on just eight attempts!!! In the AAA Catholic State finals, he continued to showcase the inherent difference his presence creates when two of his punt returns (50 yards to the opposition’s 20; 21 yards to the St. Francis 17) later transformed into 10 points thanks to the ideal starting field position!…Robinson IV currently holds 30 FBS scholarship offers; rather than name them all, let us instead just say that any and every major power-5 program has his name jotted on their Christmas list!
AA-I Special Teams Player of the Year – Michael Solimando, St. Francis Prep
Michael Solimando Sr. Ath. St. Francis Prep – “WE OVER ME” is the mantra that every coach prays will resonate with his/her pupils. And in the case of Terrier Head Coach, Rich Carroll, he hit a jackpot in the 6’1, 175-pound, Queens Village resident [Solimando]…Sporting a 98+ grade point average and heralded for how coachable he has been during his scholastic career, there was no role that Solimando deemed insignificant. Like an unbottled genie, no matter what task was requested of #11, he enthusiastically gave 150%!!!!…One of those “in all places at once” type of performers, if high school football was factored into labor statistics, he personally would lower unemployment by 10-15%…Instrumental in every detail of the “third rail” of football, in addition to being a spark plug as a return man (32.7-yard average + 2 touchdowns on nine kickoffs; 10.1/per on six punts), Solimando also served as the holder on all field goals and PATs, and never shied away from gunner duties!!!…A true energizer bunny that never left the turf/grass, he mastered all of these distinct roles while in the midst of being irreplaceable on offense (21 grabs for 328 yards w/2 TDs as WR) and defense (29 tackles, 3 INT, highlighted by a pick-6))!
AA-II Special Teams Player of the Year – RJ Kocan, St. John the Baptist
RJ Kocan Sr. K/P St. John the Baptist – Kocan who has committed his thunder bolt leg to Morgantown (West Virginia University) thrived in his dual role as PK/punter for the AA-2 runner-up Cougars…. Indisputably priceless as a flipper of fields, the future Mountaineer averaged 36 yards per punt, placing nearly 1/3 of his attempts inside the 20…There was no letdown off the tee either, as 65% (37 of 57) of his kickoffs resulted in touchbacks…The limb was as precise as it was mighty, as Kocan converted 4 of 6 FGs (long of 30) and went an impressive 43-for-45 on point-after tries!
Golden 11 Student Athletes:
Andrew Bardak – LB St Anthony’s
Henry Belin – QB Cardinal Hayes
Thomas Stueber – QB Chaminade
Liam Dunn – OL St. John the Baptist
James McCauley – QB Archbishop Stepinac
Michael Solimando – WR St Francis Prep
Justin Axiak – 3B Xavier
Matthew Skjeveland – LB Holy Trinity
Christian Terranova – CB Kellenberg
David LaGanga – OL Xaverian
Anthony Ulses – OL St. Joseph by the Sea
Monsignor Peter’s Award – Scott Becker Iona Prep
Scott Becker Sr. OL Iona Prep sits at the helm of the proverbial table as the conferee of our most prestigious and sacred award (The Monsignor Peter’s Memorial Trophy) as the 2021 Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was Iona Prep star offensive lineman, Scott Becker!!!
Exceptional and multi-faceted to the core definitions of both words, the Princeton University pledged chap devoted his free time not only to the pursuit of academic excellence, but also towards being a pioneer/active constituent among the student body, not to mention a pillar of the off-campus community!
Cultivating and then subsequently maintaining a magnificent grade point average 97.4 to complement the cumulative 1380 (Math-700; Verbal-680) he registered on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT), Becker was unrelenting and ambitious in pursuing a most demanding course load that featured Advanced Place options in concentrations of Government, U.S History, Calculus, and Language & Composition!..He is a double honor society inductee (National Honor Society; Spanish Honor Society) as a symbol of acknowledgment for his starch dedication to developing the mind!
As a continuation of his desire to be a future policy influencer and/or “shaper of the world”, Becker held executive seats in his chosen extracurricular activities, acting as the Vice President of the International Relations Club, while concurrently serving as a House Captain within the school’s Student Congress!
Gleaning joy from the humility of giving, Becker was a cherished patron within all of Westchester after volunteering at the Hope Soup Kitchen, and the Walk to End MS…He was a football camp counselor to further exhibit his generosity!
A proverbial Swiss Army knife on offense for the Gaels, the 6’4, 220-pounder put a bow on an already immensely decorated scholastic career when he donned multiple hats as part of the 38-22 victory over St. Francis (Buffalo) that delivered the first New York State crown in program history to the New Rochelle based campus (Iona Prep)
Directly responsible or a major contributing party to the majority of the Maroon & Gold’s scoring drives, the newly back on the market standout (decommitted from Delaware on Monday; pondering interest from the likes of UConn, Stony Brook, Albany) amassed 125 yards of total offensive production and scored three touchdowns (two of which occurred in the 2nd half as part of streak of 21 unanswered points that blew the contest open)!
Handling the pigskin on 15 combined opportunities, #7 emerged with an 8-reception, 75-yard, 2TD effort as a pass-catcher, and was equally effective as an option out of the backfield, rushing for 50 yards and one additional score on seven carries!
With the game all square at 3 apiece, Joly struck for the first of his personal trifecta when he caught a shovel pass and took it the rest of the way for a 6-yard touchdown to put the Gaels on top 10-3, with 9:22 remaining in the 1st half! He also was on the back end of a 38-yard pitch and catch (from Ajani Sheppard) that moved IP into the red zone (Red Raider 12)!
The edge having grown to 24-9 after an exchange of touchdowns runs (Colin O’Garro on a 1-yard punch across the line) in the third stanza, Joly’s elite mitts were put to good use as he hauled in a 12-yard TD grab off of a fade route to tack on some insurance (31-9) with 9:51 to go in regulation…The touchdown hook-up between the junior QB [Sheppard] and his favorite senior WR was their second of the afternoon and the 10th of the fall…
Doing it on both sides of the line of scrimmage, it was a Joly 4th & 10 tackle on defense that ultimately created a turnover on downs and set up Iona Prep with solid starting field position (own 40) with 7:54 still to play!…He later culminated their final scoring march of the fall when five minutes later, he took a handoff up the gut, spun out of a tackle, evaded a defender diving at his ankles and danced into the end zone on an 11-yard gain to salt away the “w” (38-9 with 2:44 on the clock in the 4th)!
For good measure, Joly even was the one to recover the onside kick attempt in the final 1:00 that enabled the Gaels to assume victory formation and commence the celebration!
Defense: Ellis Robinson IV (So.); DB/Returner – Iona Prep Gaels
In that always fine line between defensive prowess and special teams’ excellence, the #4 national prospect in the class of 2024 [Robinson IV] is capable of doing it all!!!
Intercepting 8 passes this season despite hesitation from opposing quarterbacks to even throw the ball in his direction, the value that #2 brings to the “D” is hard to measure if you just read the stat sheet!
An individual who always steps up to embrace the “best on best” match-ups for the Gaels’ “no fly zone”, more times than not last Saturday, Robinson IV found himself one-on-one with the Red Raiders’ top target, Logan Reaska (entered having made 30 catches for 470 yards and 3 touchdowns)…Standing 6’4 and weighing 200+ pounds, the 11th grade receiver has been a nightmare for opponents all fall…But alas, with the Gaels sensational sophomore on the job, Reaska was limited to just two grabs (only the third time he failed to catch three or more passes this season) and generated just 25 receiving yards (tied for 2nd lowest)!
As part of the collective, gang-tackle, flock to the ball mentality, Robinson IV was part of a unit that succeeded in holding their foes from upstate to their lowest total of the season on the ground (37 yards on 24 attempts)!
Where Robinson IV was especially spectacular though was in his role as a punt returner!!!
On two separate occasions, he registered returns of 20 or more yards (long of 50) that acted as catalysts to series that eventually yielded points for IP!
With the game still scoreless, his 50-yard return to the opposition’s 20, was the signature sequence in what later became a 24-yard FG conversion by Sean O’Neill, that drew first blood and put Iona Prep in front, 3-0, with 6:12 remaining in the 1st quarter!
His second big return (in the last 1:00 of the half) again landed his school inside the red zone (St. Francis 17) and enabled the Gaels to push their margin of lead to 17-3 when six snaps later, Sheppard powered his way to the promised land on a 2-yard keeper!
Suiting up for the Rams for the final time in his varsity career, next to a title, there was no sweeter manner in which the 6’3, 190-pound, field general out of Bedford could have concluded this chapter of his scholastic story, as he alongside fellow 12th grader, Jack Wolf)were the driving forces behind FP’s 27-13 victory on home soil over the Knights of Xavier this past Thursday!
The triumph, their third in the last four years, improved FP’s record in this historic annual showdown to 53-41-4!
His school trailing 7-0 to their rivals at the end of the 1st quarter, the cerebral stud (4.3 grade point average) ignited a streak of 27 unanswered points when he posted his first rushing touchdown of the fall on a 1-yard quarterback sneak to even the score in the early stages of the 2nd quarter…Prior to the short carry for the “6”, Annicelli was a marksman in the air, connecting with three different targets (Jericho Ancheta, Edward Louis Moore, and Tommy Gies) as part of a 4-for-4 performance that spearheaded the march down field!
Going back to that proverbial well and finding additional success was the scholar in the #14 jersey, who after a LONG completion to Kevin Dosin and a medium hook-up (14-yarder) to Gies, cemented yet another series with an identical 1-yard keeper with 4:10 remaining in the opening half!
Now holding the 14-7 edge, the Rams never looked back as Wolf (who recorded the final two TDs of his tenure as a FP football player to give him 7 overall in 2021) found paydirt from distances of 4 (10 ticks to go in 2Q) and 2-yards (onset of the third quarter) away to account for the Fordham Prep accumulation!
Annicelli and Wolf shared Most Valuable Player honors!!! Both will put on the pads for one final occasion as NYCHSFL representatives when they participate this coming weekend in the 2021 Senior Bowl!!!
78th Edition of Cardinal Hayes vs. Mount St. Michael Academy
Rich Belin (Fr.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
In what was a figurative passing of the torch and a literal inheritance of the “Cardinal robe”, it was the 5’10, 177-pound fab freshman [Rich Belin] assuming the reins of a Hayes’ offense that older brother/All-State selection/Duke University bound, Henry, conducted flawlessly for three seasons (including a AAA title in 2019)!
Big brother a three-time POTW recipient (twice in the aforementioned 2019 playoffs; MVP of 2019 championship), the 78th Turkey Bowl versus the Mountaineers marked the first time in his young career that Rich has been bestowed with this distinction!!!
Utilized as a wide-receiver during the majority of his rookie year (28 grabs for 523 yards, 1 TD), if there was any rust in his return to his natural position, it was not evident as the 9th grader left no doubt that the family legacy of aerial excellence was sure to be preserved in the coming three seasons!!
Formally ascending into the role of QB1 for the Cardinals midway through the 2nd quarter, Belin connected on 3 of his 5 pass attempts (1TD) for 85 yards in his quasi coronation!
Hayes’ already leading 35-0 at the time, Belin continued to pad the cushion when he called his own number on a 15-yard scramble in the last 2:00 of the 1st half to send CH into the break with the commanding advantage (42-0)!
In the last 4:00 of the 3rd quarter, Belin, emerged with the first of what will be many touchdown hurls from 2021-2024 when he found sophomore, Elijah Ford, on a 60-yard homerun ball to round out his balanced day and polish off the 49-14 victory over MSMA!
The month of November has been quite good to #17!!! On November 11th, he received his first official offer from Syracuse University…And today, in attention to his Player of the Week fame, he was extended his initial offer from the Ivy League as the University of Pennsylvania made it known that he is a top priority!!!
Cardinal Hayes has now come out on top of eight straight Thanksgiving melees; but the Mount clings to a 47-26-5 lead all-time!
First the first-time in program history, the Gaels of Iona Prep are your New York State Catholic Football Champions!!!
In the clash of the #1 and #3 ranked schools in the Empire State (per the MaxPreps polls), it was the hosts from the NYCHSFL building a 38-9 advantage before withstanding very late rally to upend Monsignor Martin representative, the St. Francis Red Raiders, by a score of 38-22!!!
A fierce contest that was always more competitive than the scoreboard indicated, the Joe Spagnolo mentored cohort responded to a St. Francis touchdown (7-yard run by Pittsburgh bound Jimmy Scott) on their first series of the 2nd half that made the score 17-9, but stringing together 21 unanswered points between the final 2:00 of the 3rd and the first nine minutes of the 4th to seize the commanding edge!
The major turning point occurred with 3:18 to go in the third stanza when a mishandled punt by the Red Raiders yielded IP starting field position of the opposing 4-yard line…Three snaps later, following a loss of 5 yards on the ground and then a 7-yard completion to Michael Senatore (only grab of the afternoon), it was junior running back, Colin O’Garro (16 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD) punching it in from 1-yard away for first of the aforementioned three straight successful series for the powerhouse from Westchester! The short gainer marked the second occasion in as many weeks (also had a TD run in the Metro title contest last Saturday) that the 6’0, 200-pound hometown (New Rochelle) kid found the end, zone to give him three TD runs overall this fall!
A pass break-up by junior DB, Terrance Walden, on 4th & 4 would give the pigskin back to Iona Prep on their own 47 in the last half minute of the 3Q and they again made their opponents pay for the prime starting real estate… Marching down to the Red Raider 12 after respective 13, 9, and 14-yard ground treks from Ajani Sheppard (12 carries, 70 yards, 1 TD), O’Garro, and Justin Joly (7 carries for 50 yards, 1 score), Iona Prep cashed on when Sheppard (15-for-21, 124 yards, 2 touchdown tosses) hooked up with Joly (8 receptions for 70 yards, 2 TD catches) on a 12-yard fade route (on 3rd & 8) in the end zone for their 10th TD exchange of the year (2nd of the day) to increase the lead to 31-9 with 9:51 to go in the 4th!
After inducing a second straight turnover on downs (Joly tackled Kimal Clark two yards short of the sticks) on 4th & 10, Iona Prep hammered the nail in the coffin when they culminated a 60-yard drive on Joly’s third rushing TD of the season (11-yarder with 2:44 still to play)…Prior to the Delaware bound senior’s scoring sequence, it was fellow 12th grader, Anthony Turner (2 grabs for 22 yards) preserving the drive one snap earlier when he hauled in a Sheppard pass attempt on 4th & 9 for an 18-yard gain!
Never a squad that will meekly resign themselves to defeat, Head Coach, Jerome Smith, ought to be proud of the heart and fight demonstrated by his charges in the closing minutes of the game…Rallying for a pair of touchdown runs, with a perfect onside kick recovery serving as the connective tissue, in the last 3:00 of duration, the gents of Lake Shore Road earned respect and then some by the time the final whistle sounded…
After hitting Clark with a 33-yard dart to move the ball inside the IP 2-yard line, Otremba called his own number on a 2-yard keeper with 1:56 remaining to cut the deficit to 38-16!
Utilizing some pinball on his kickoff, senior specialist, Luke Nowak, ricocheted the old prolate spheroid off the hands of a Gael, thus allowing Hayden Marling to scoop up the loose ball…
Moments later, Ricardo Kidd, displayed some hidden talent (credited with only 31 receiving yards entering) as he caught and screen-pass and chugged 59 yards down his own sideline before getting stopped at the 1…Naturally, it was only fitting that he broke across the line on the next snap (his 9th rushing TD of his junior campaign) to account for the final score of the afternoon with 53 ticks unspoken for!
A second onside attempt in a row was secured by Joly, setting the stage for a couple of victory formation kneels and a Gatorade bath for Spags!!!
Unlike the crazy final 24 minutes of action, the first half was much more methodical as the two teams traded field goals in the 1st (24-yarder by IP’s Sean O’Neill with 6:12 remaining; 29-yard response from Nowak) on the ensuing drive…In instances, it was contributions from the special teams units that acted as catalysts…Ellis Robinson IV had a 50-yard punt return to the StF 20; facing 4th & 2, Nowak made a 5-yard catch (from Otremba, who serves as holder) on a fake FG + pass with 28 seconds remaining in 1Q!
Iona Prep did create some separation in the 2nd quarter, as Sheppard hit Joly on a 39-yarder to move the ball to the STF 12 and then later touched base with his favorite target on a 6-yard shovel pass to put the Gaels back on top, 10-3, with 9:22 to go in the half…
Fostered by another significant return (also of the punt variety) by Robinson IV, to advance the ball inside the red zone, Matt Ryan’s (2 catches, 17 yards; 1-run for 6) lone carry (off a reverse), coupled by a 3-yard run by O’Garro, and a 4-yard shovel to Turner put IP in business on the enemy 4-yard line…An offsides called for half the distance placed them deeper on the doorstep, and then Sheppard did the rest, using that 230-pound frame to bulldoze his way to the promised land for 16th ground tally of 2021 with a mere :20 left in the half!
By virtue of his 70 yards rushing (needed only 15), Sheppard will not only be celebrating a title; he will also relish in creating history as he is now the only individual in Westchester County to ever boost a 2,000 throwing/1,000 running single-season!
Zyian Moultrie-Goddard, Jayson Vavrica (at least 2 sacks), and Scot Mackie all heard their names praised repeatedly by the public address announcer after turning into outstanding defensive outings!
Clark, who if he did not reach the milestone, had to be quite close to a double-digit catching performance, shined in the defeat for St. Francis!
Iona Prep closes out their championship season on an 11-game winning streak (only blemish to NJSIAA Non-Public State runner-up, Don Bosco Prep)!
The Red Raiders, who fall to 0-3 in the NY Catholic State contest (previous losses to Archbishop Stepinac in 2015 and 2018), best hold their heads high after a very impressive 7-4 effort this year!
Both storied programs return quite an abundance of firepower in 2022; so we might just be witnessing the first chapter of a glorious/legendary saga!