Dec 012022
 

Article by Matt Diano

More important than what a scoreboard read on a dreary Wednesday night at Mitchel Field, the memory that will last a lifetime is that for one final occasion, the best and brightest of the NYCHSFL’s class of 2023 got to strap on some pads and play the game they love…It is this sense of camaraderie, of passion, and of sportsmanship that defined us on November 30th, as former rivals were transformed into teammates and brothers!!!  

That having been said, a score was kept and when the final horn sounded after 60 minutes (running time) of fierce action that witnessed both sidelines pour their entire being into the pursuit of victory, it was Team Long Island owning the gridiron, as they piggybacked off of the St. Anthony’s Catholic State title win (27-20 over St. Francis) by emerging with a 38-21 triumph over the contingent from New York City!!! 

A proper send-off that was much closer than the final box score will suggest (was 24-21 at the end of the 3rd quarter), those in attendance that willingly weathered the storm were treated to non-stop action as the two all-star rosters took turns trading explosive “home run” plays from start to finish… 

Jumping out to a 14-0 lead less than 5:00 into the opening quarter were the representatives from “Strong Island” as it was 2x Metro Catholic championship team member, Andre Kirton (Holy Trinity) turning on the rockets to returning the opening kickoff 95 yards to the house to give LI the 7-0 edge just 17 ticks into the contest…

The cushion doubled approximately 4:30 minutes later when Holy Cross running back, Nakai Maupin, plunged into the end zone from 1-yard out…This score was set up when the St. John the Baptist duo of Sean Dennehy (knocked it loose) and Elijah Alvarez (pounded on the football) created a turnover on the first play of scrimmage by NYC to give possession immediately back to LI on the opponent’s 28…Chaminade WR, Gavin Creo, hauled in a 12-yard pass over the middle from UPenn bound QB, Devin Page (Kellenberg) to move the ball to the 16…Maupin then had a 15-yard run to put himself on the doorstep!

The score unchanged for the remainder of the 1st and the majority of the 2nd, Long Island successfully tacked on a late FG (beat the buzzer) when HT’s Evan Glusic, booted a 31-yarder between the uprights to send his squad into the locker room up 17-0….As he did on the earlier march, Creo was again instrumental, helping his unit cash in on optimal starting field position (short punt gave them the “rock” on the NYC 35) by catching a pair of passes for 10 + 5 yards from Isaiah Decruz (St. Francis Prep) to propel the ball inside the red zone (City 17)!

Down three scores after 30 minutes, the four borough (Queens with loaned to LI) flock wasted no time in putting themselves back in the ballgame, as turnabout was fair play on special teams…

After watching Kirton take the kickoff to the promised land to commence the 1st half, it was Serge Lagardere (Stepinac) giving the Island a dose of their own medicine when he returned the favor to begin the 2nd half, bolting down his own sideline and not stopping until he reached paydirt to cut the deficit to 17-7 a mere 12 seconds into 3Q…

After forcing a punt on “D”, the comeback effort continued on “Gotham’s” first official offensive series of the 2nd half, as Lagardere would take the pitch on 2nd & 9, spin out of a tackle, and toggle “ludicrous speed” mode on his way to a 55-yard cruise that moved the ball from his own 41 to the LI 4-yard line…Mauricio Cetina (Monsignor Farrell) fought his way in from a 1-yard out three snaps later to bring his brigade to within 17-14 (6:01 to go in the 3rd quarter)….

Both offenses clearly clicking on all cylinders, the short touchdown run by the Lion tailback [Cetina] was the first of FOUR consecutive marches up and down the field from the two opposing armies during the next seven minutes as points started flying on the board in droves…

In response to the NYC touchdown, Maupin struck for his second TD trek of the night, as he took the HB draw to the outside, made one cut back to the middle and then was gone in a flash, motoring 62 yards undeterred to make the score 24-14 (4:58 left in 3Q)…

The 10pt difference lasted all of 1:11, as Staten Island played pitch-and-catch with Westchester when Moore Catholic All-State field general, John Michalski, threw a 75-yard bomb to Stepinac’s Gjok Dedvukaj (mid-stride adjustment to grab the ball over the other shoulder) to again trim LI’s edge to 24-21 (3:47 remaining in the third stanza)…

Preserving the trend of back-and-forth jabs, it was soon-to-be Fordham Ram (baseball), Matthew Dieguez (Chaminade) converting a 4th & short on the last snap of the third quarter (road paved by fellow Flyer, Mason Dietrich) and then going big when on the second play of the 4th quarter, he dropped back and unleashed a 40-yard missile into the waiting arms of Jayson Zeva (SJB) to supply some insurance (31-21; 13:54 still to go in regulation)….

Pulling away in the last 12:00 of the 2022 season, Long Island finally broke the streak of TD exchanges, when Kellenberg defensive back, Sean Cannon, capitalized off of a 2nd & 23 heave from Michalski by leaping up for an interception on the NYC 37 with 11:54 showing on the clock…The Firebird was more than pleased to reap the benefits, but equal credit must be bestowed onto the persons of Titans—Christopher Bacon & Irv Briggs IV…Routinely in opposing backfield harassing rival QBs, it Bacon earning the sack that created the 2nd & forever, while Briggs (committed to UConn) applied the pressure on the desperation hurl…The B&B boys had previously produced a turnover on downs at the onset of the 2nd quarter (10:54 before the intermission) when they united for a combo sack on 4th & short! 

With blood in the water, Kirton’s 20-yard run on a reverse put the pigskin inside the City 20, and then it was the Ethan Cummings show the rest of the way, with four carries in a row from the KMHS RB culminated on a 1-yard power-run where he fearlessly bulldozed his way at and through two defenders who met him at the goal line to close out the scoring, 38-21 (8:05 to go in the 4th)…

 

During the postgame festivities, the four individuals recognized were as follows:

*Long Island Defensive Player of the Game: Christopher Bacon (Holy Trinity)

*Long Island Offensive Player of the Game: Nakai Maupin (Holy Cross)

*New York City Defensive Player of the Game: Shawn Keegan (Monsignor Farrell)

*New York Offensive Player of the Game: Serge Lagardere (Stepinac)

 

Dec 012022
 

Article by Matt Diano

WHAT A COMEBACK!!!! 

For the first 34:49 of action, a St. Anthony’s offensive attack that averaged in excess of 40 points per game this season just could not get anything going…But in the last 13:11, they refused to be denied as they stormed back from a 20-0 deficit to score 27 unanswered points en route to claiming the program’s first Catholic State crown, 27-20, over the host Red Raiders from St. Francis High School

A Black & Gold juggernaut that had grown accustomed to passing at will on their foes, despite the best efforts of senior field general, Dante Torres, the blistering winds simply prevented the vertical game from ever finding its rhythm, as for the first time all season, the Fordham bound signal caller was held without a passing touchdown (snapped a streak of 20-straight appearances with at least one “6” in the air)…ENTER FRANK RUTA!!!

A mainstay on the Friar varsity since his sophomore year, the 5’9, 200-pound senior RB hailing from Hewlett [Ruta] stepped onto the field with 11 touchdown runs this season…He’ll be making the long drive home to Suffolk with 13 now on his resume as he both ignited and then capped off the STA output by notching his fourth multi-score performance of his swan song campaign….Certainly not a bad way to go out!!!

The gents from South Huntington down by the previously cited margin of 20-0, it was the #27 jersey getting his team on the board and shifting momentum when with a little over 1:00 remaining in the 3rd quarter, he exploded for a 32-yard trek to cut the hole to 20-7…

Following a clutch 4th &2 stand, courtesy of a gang tackle from Vincent Spina, Thomas Mackel, and Joseph DeChiaro gave St. Anthony’s possession back on their own 47, it again Ruta delivering a big gainer, as his 30-yard cruise advanced the ball to the Red Raider, thus acting as a catalyst to Torres’s eventual 4-yard keeper (7:01 remaining in the 4th quarter) that further trimmed the STF lead to just 20-14…

On the ensuing kickoff after the short touchdown run by Torres, the football gods continued to bestow favor on the Metro League representatives, as place-kicker, Griffin Goldstein (who also did banner work as an LB), booted a pop-up, which St. Francis allowed to hit the ground, thus creating an opportunity for Kenyon Miles to dart in and scoop it up to immediately restore control of the pigskin on the opposition’s 31…

After connections to Ian Strong and Timmy Longo moved the ball to the STF 12, the march almost came to a very abrupt conclusion, as two big stops from the Red Raiders initiated a 4th &1 scenario…A mis-snap that could not be grasped resulted in a loose ball, where Ruta demonstrated incredible instinct, as he picked up the pigskin and did just enough (2-yarder) to extend the series…

Later in this same drive, moments after Ruta had a 3-yard scoring play negated by a holding penalty, the Friars again found themselves plagued by tough predicament, as they stared 3rd & Goal on the 16 in the face….But alas, when their school needed them most, senior leaders made senior-level contributions, as Torres hit Strong again (15-yard hook-up where the Rutgers bound stud dragged his feet on the sideline) to put STA on the doorstep, and then polished off the go-ahead pilgrimage by striking for his second rushing TD of the night (his 13th of 2022) from a distance of 3-yards away to vault the Friars in front, 21-20, with 3:56 still to be contested in duration…

Deciding that the offense should not be the only ones to have some fun during crunch time, on the next possession of the ballgame for St. Francis, it was future Penn State Nittany Lion (for lacrosse), Jaeden Jenkins knocking down a 4th & Long pass attempt from STF senior QB, Steve Otremba, to generate a turnover on downs on the STF 23 with 2:30 to go in the state finale…Prior to the pass break-up, DeChiaro had a tackle for a 2-yard loss on 1st down, and the trio of Goldstein, Preston Carey, and Samuel Cook stuffed a scrambling Otremba on 3rd & 12!!!

Two snaps after the forced turnover, it was Ruta again rising to the occasion, turning the corner, accelerating down his own sideline, and the diving at the pylon for the 23-yard trip to paydirt to make the score 27-20 (with a mere 92 ticks standing in his way of hoisting state hardware)!!!

To the credit of Head Coach, Jerry Smith, and his squad of proud Raiders, the host school did not go down without a heck of a fight, as a couple of key runs, aided by a pass interference penalty allowed them to get as close as the STA 21…However, on the final sequence (:10 remaining in 4Q), it was MacKell stripping the ball, forcing OT, Marcus Harrison, to pounce on it as the clock trickled down…5,4,3,2,1….FRIARS=CHAMPS!!!

Wrapping up 2022 with a 6-4 overall record, despite the heartbreaking defeat tonight, the Red Raiders have nothing to hang their heads about…

Dominating both sides of the ball for the majority of the contest, workhorse, Ricardo Kidd, accounted for his 11th and 12 TD runs during the 1st half, as he opened the scoring when he followed up a turnover on downs (stifled STA on 4th & 1 to take over on the Friar 46) by breaking free for a 29-yard TD run that handed St. Francis a 6-0 lead 3:30 into the 1st quarter…

The Hamburg hierarchy now up 12-0 (12-yard run by Terrence Pendergrass w/3:28 to go in the 1st), Kidd sent his cohorts into the locker room riding a wave of adrenaline as he built off of a 32-yard scamper by Otremba, by punching it in from 10 yards out with 1:19 to go before halftime!

Defensively, just a sampling of the personnel that the Red Raiders received signature performances from included, but not limited to the following…Balaam Miller (generated a turnover on downs in the 1st quarter when his QB pressure resulted in an incomplete pass on 4th & 7 on the STF 31); Shane Giesser (returned a botched punt attempt to the Friar 29); and Pendergrass/Kynan Ulanga (combined to produce a turnover when the former jarred the ball free after a long completion to KJ Duff; the latter jumped on it at his own 10 to thwart a promising St. Anthony’s series)!

While no one can argue that they played and conducted themselves like champions, St. Francis falls to 0-4 in Catholic State title games (bridesmaids in 2015, 2018, 2021, and now 2022)!

 

Recipients of special honors during the postgame ceremony were:  

*Character Student-Athletes: Christian Oliva (St. Anthony’s) & Steve Otremba (St. Francis)

*Defensive Most Valuable Player: Griffin Goldstein (St. Anthony’s)

*Offensive Most Valuable Player: Frank Ruta (St. Anthony’s)   

   

Nov 282022
 

Article by Matt Diano

 

Charlie English (Sr.); RB/SS – Fordham Prep Rams

Singled-out for recognition for the third time this season (previously POTW honors in weeks 1 and 7) the 5’11, 175-pounder [English] will forever remember the final occasion in which he donned the Ram colors on the gridiron…

Participating in the 99th rendition in one of the greatest traditions in scholastic sports (first meeting occurred in 1887) before taking his talents to Middlebury College next fall to play for the Panthers, English capped off a brilliant varsity tenure by shining on both sides of the ball in Fordham Prep’s 41-25 victory over rival/2022 AA-2 Champs, Xavier!!

The victory, the fourth in the past five chapters for the Bronx based program, raised their overall lead in the saga to 53-41-4!!!

Literally saving his finest showing for the very end on offense, it is not very often that a player can overshadow a teammate’s 5TD passing display (Matthew Moorehead; 16-for-241), but that is exactly what the senior captain succeeded in achieving, as he rushed for a career-high 173 yards on 16 carries to crack the 1,000-yard milestone for the year (1,001 on 171)…

His last act being a 66-yard TD run (his 13th of the season) late in the 4th quarter that closed out the scoring for FP, even when he was the not the one punching the ball across the goal line, his fingerprints were evident…

On Fordham’s first series of the morning, it was his 41-yard dash that moved the ball across midfield and into the red zone (own 30 to opposing 19) to set up Moorehead’s eventual 25-yard connection to Tommy Gies (3 receptions, 51 yards, 2 TD hauls) to break the ice (7-0 3:30 remaining in the 1st)…

Demonstrating his versatility out of the backfield as a pass-catcher, the longest of English’s 3 grabs (career-best 74 yards) occurred on the last possession of the 1st half, as his 43-yard catch put the Maroon & White on the doorstep (XR 4), and served as a precursor to a 4-yard play-action strike from Moorehead to Keegan Doody (4 receptions, 51 yards) with :07 remaining before the break to increase the cushion to 28-12!

On defense, he tied his season-high of 8 stops (5 solo, 3 assisted) and crushed any hope of an 11th hour Knight comeback, when he picked off Xavier QB, Shane Zaletofsky, on the Ram 29 (FP up 34-25) for his second INT of 2022!!…The INT came just moments before the aforementioned touchdown blast! 

Concluding the fall with 51 tackles and the 2 INTs, English ranked 4th and 2nd on the squad in those categories to complement his starring role on offense!!

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Kenneth Antoine (Jr.); RB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

If legendary NFL Coach and/or broadcaster, John Madden, was still alive; there is no doubt who his “Turducken” selection would have been following a 38-18 triumph that gave Cardinal Hayes their ninth straight victory (in the 79th installment) in the battle for Bronx bragging rights over 2022 NYCHSFL AA-2 runners-up, Mount St. Michael Academy

Officially credited with three touchdowns (career-high) on the morning of November 24th, the 5’10, 180-pound Harlem resident was even more dynamic and instrumental than the box score suggests…

The “w” still very much in the balance (Hayes leading 26-18), Antoine would truly put his personal stamp on the victory when he accounted for a pair of second half touchdowns (one in each quarter) to create the eventual cushion/separation…

Having already extended the drive when he converted a 4th & 1 on his own side of the field (Hayes 40) by picking up a 9-yard gainer, Antoine culminated a 6:28 march when he struck for his second ground TD of the day on a 2-yard plunge up the middle to make the score 32-18 with 3:12 to go in the 3Q….On the prior snap, he ran for a 9 yards to put himself on the cusp!!….A 26-yard scamper from Sophomore QB, Rich Belin (advanced the ball to the Mountaineer 25), as well as a 15-yard hook-up in the air to Alfredo Perez (to the Mount 10) aided the successful series!

With 4:44 still to be play in regulation, he completed his hat trick on the ground when he followed up a TD QB keeper from Belin that was called back due to a penalty by finding a hole on the ensuing snap and cruising 14 yards to the house…The scoring run was his fourth 10+ yard contribution to the drive, as he also had treks of 19, 12, and 12 at various moments throughout the nearly 6:00 sequence of action! 

Responsible for bookend tallies, Antoine drew first blood with 7:00 remaining in the 1st quarter, when on three consecutive snaps, he broke for a 43-yarder to move the ball to the opponent’s 5, added a 4yrd gain to the 1, and then punched it in!

The Cardinals holding a 13-3 edge, his runs of 21 (to the Mount St. Michael 31) and 15 yards (to the 1) respectively was later cashed in on a 2-yard lunge up the middle by Belin to increase the margin to 20-3 (11:53 still to be contested in the opening half)!

To capture just how insanely good #22 was on Thanksgiving, consider that he notched a trifecta, just missed another (on the later Belin sneak), and had a 26-yard TD sprint in the last 2:30 of the 2nd quarter wiped out by penalty!! 

Antoine’s banner day in his junior finale wrapped up 10 rushing touchdown campaign in 2022!

Nov 272022
 

CHSFL Annual Communion Awards Breakfast 

Sunday, December 4th @ Kellenberg Memorial High School

(Mass – 9:30 am followed by breakfast)

Tickets are $25.00

Tickets will be sold through member schools  

Parents, coaches and players are required to have a ticket for admission

Tickets will NOT be sold at the door

Jacket & tie recommended

 

Nov 272022
 

Senior Bowl Game: Wednesday, November 30th 7:00 PM @Mitchel Field

Admission is Free

City Practice Schedule:

Monday, November 28th (5:30-7:30 PM) @Mount St. Michael

Tuesday, November 29th (5:30-7:30 PM) @Monsignor Farrell

Island Practice Schedule:

Monday, November 28th (5:30-7:30 PM) @Mitchel Athletic Complex

Tuesday, November 29th (5:30-7:30 PM) @Mitchel Athletic Complex

 

 

Nov 252022
 

ARTICLE BY MATT DIANO

#1 St. Anthony’s (10-1; Metro) vs. #1 St. Francis (6-3; Monsignor Martin)

When: Wednesday November 30th, 2022 @5pm

Where: Polian Family Field on St. Francis High School Campus(4129 Lake Shore Rd, Hamburg, NY 14075)

 

Players to Watch (St. Anthony’s)

*Dante Torres (Sr; QB)—-Completed 68% of pass attempts this season (166-for-244) for 3,204 yards and 35 touchdowns; rushed for an additional 474 yards and 11 scores on 65 carries

*Frank Ruta (Sr; RB)—Leading rusher for the Friars this season, having accumulated 876 yards and scored 11 TDs on 105 hand-offs….

*Darius Morant (Sr; RB)—2nd on the team with 651 yards (6 touchdowns) on 117 attempts; is also dangerous out of the backfield as a pass-catcher, having hauled in 12 receptions for 130 yards! 

*KJ Duff Jr. (Jr; WR)—Holding scholarship offers from the likes of Rutgers, Syracuse, UConn, etc., the 247Sports 3-star prospect recorded 40 catches for 955 yards and 12 touchdowns in his 11th grade campaign

*Ian Strong (Sr.; WR/Rover)—The rare two-way player for STA, Strong makes a significant impact on both sides of the ball, as he ranked 2nd in all major receiving categories with 28 catches for 773 yards and 10 TD grabs….On defense, he tied for the team-high of 3 interception, while also ranking 3rd in total stops (74)…He is committed to Rutgers! 

*Tim Longo (Sr.; WR)—Registered 23 receptions for 398 yards and 4 touchdowns as part of a loaded receiver corps!

*Alex Menghi (Jr.; TE)—Collected 19 catches for 267 yards and 1 touchdown

*Nick Matos (Sr.; WR)—A threat to stretch the field, he averaged 22.4 yards per catch, racking up 404 yards and 5 touchdowns on 18 grabs!

*Carson Ciancuielli (Sr.; OL)—-The senior anchor of the offensive line; the 6’2, 285-pounder starts at LT and has done a banner job of protecting his QB’s blind side for each of the past two seasons!

*Joseph DeChiaro (Sr. LB)—The most active player on the Friar defense; posted a team-best 90 stops in 2022, while also contributing 5 TFLs, 2 sacks, and forcing a pair of fumbles!

*Vincent Spina (Jr.;DB)—Fresh off of being named as the DMVP of the Metro Catholic title game; currently ranks 2nd on STA in both total tackles (86) and QB bags (3)!

*Jayden Platt (Sr.; DB)—totaled 55 tackles and 1 interception in his swan song at CB!

*Preston Carey (Fr.; DT)—The Fab frosh who already has power-5 offers from Georgia, LSU, Michigan, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Syracuse, etc….Took an amazing job plugging and/or bringing pressure up the middle….Credited with 53 tackles, 2 TFLs, and a sack in his rookie year!….First freshman to start on the varsity defense in school history!

*Thomas Mackell (Sr.; DL)—Made 52 tackles in 2022, including a team-best of 7 for negative yardage; also led all Friars with 4 sacks!

*Tyler Dunne (Sr.; DL)—Racked up 32 stops and 2 sacks!

*Griffin Goldstein (Sr.; LB/PK)—Stepped into the starting line-up after an injury to a junior teammate [Dante Vardaro]…Has filled those cleats admirably, making 22 total stops and tacking on one sack!!…He also handles placekicking duties and has been extremely consistent throughout his varsity career!

*Jaeden Jenkins (Sr.; DB)—One of two converted WRs that has shined since moving to the othe side of the line of scrimmage….Is fresh off of a downstate title appearance in which he notched a pair of INTs to earn him a tie for the team-lead…He possesses a real talent for creating turnovers as in addition to his interceptions, he also ranks 1st in fumbles induced (2) and recovered fumbles (3)…A pure athlete that will be playing lacrosse for Penn State at the next level!

*Kenyon Miles (Sr.; DB)—The other conversion product, Miles is still regarded as a WR recruit at the college level for Villanova….The Wildcats may rethink that after watching his tape as a CB…He flies to the ball and delivers brutal impact upon contact…In the 2022 NYCHSFL title contest, he had both an INT and a forced fumble…For the year, he was credited with 18 tackles and 2 picks!

 

Players to Watch (St. Francis)

*Steve Otremba (Sr; QB)—-Between his arm and legs, the multi-year starting field general combined to generate 17 touchdowns, completing 83-of-157 pass attempts for 1,135 yards (11 TD passes), while rushing for another 218 yards and 6 scores on 64 keepers….Had a monster performance in the 2021 State title game, throwing for a season-best 237 yards (19-of-32) in the loss to Iona Prep!

*Ricardo Kidd (Sr.; RB)—The #1 option out of the backfield, as a senior, Kidd ran for 1,228 yards and 10 touchdowns…In last year’s state title game, he gained 45 yards and scored 1 TD on 14 hand-offs!

*Terrence Pendergrass (Jr.; RB/LB)—An impact player on both sides of the ball, he complemented the run game this season by accumulating 604 yards and a team-high 11 touchdowns on 105 attempts…Defensively, he has shown a propensity to make plays in the opposing backfield, as 8 of his 27 stops were TFLs; he also recorded a pair of sacks, 2 hurries, and a forced fumble!

*Logan Reaska (Sr.; TE/DB)—The primary target in the vertical attack, of the 86 total receptions and 11 touchdowns secured by the receivers, the 6’5, 215-pounder was responsible for 30 and 6 (498 yards)….Committed to Harvard, per the defensive stat sheet, Reaska only registered 9 tackles in 2022.  In the 2021 State title game, he was among the team-leaders in stops with 7, while also making a pair of receptions for 25 yards on offense!

*Kynan Ulanga (Jr.; WR/DB)—Listed on the Red Raider roster as “athlete”, the 11th grader is the only other member besides Reaska to collect double digit receptions (11 for 99 yards)…More than likely, his value will be more pronounced on “D”, as he enters having racked up 43 tackles, 5 pass break-ups, and an interception…

*Marcus Harrison (Jr.; OL)—A mountain of a gentleman, standing 6’8 and tipping the scales at 295 pounds, the prized OT has garnered interest/offers from Buffalo, Rutgers, Syracuse, Temple, Boston College, and most recently Pitt!

*Teddy Roberts (Jr.; LB)—The top man on the Red Raider totem poll in terms of stops in 2022 (53), Roberts has recorded 4 TFLs, 4 QB hurries, and 6 pass break-ups!  

*Balaam Miller (Sr.; DL)—”The furnace” for St. Francis, the 6’4, 260-pounder brings serious heat off the snap…2nd on the team with 50 tackles, he posted leading quantities in the categories of TFLs (10), sacks (3), and QB hurries (6).  To boot, he caused a pair of fumbles this fall!…Miller was credited with 7 stops in the ‘21 state finals!

*Brady Greenough (Jr.; LB)—A top-4 tackler in his junior campaign for St. Francis, Greenough amassed 33 stops (3 TFLs), 3 QB hurries, an INT, and a forced fumble this season!

*Shane Giesser (Jr.; DL)—Very versatile lineman that is great at getting his mits on the ball and knocking down passes before they can get to their intended target….Made 29 tackles this fall, and added 2 QB hurries, 1 sack, 6 pass break-ups, and a fumble recovery!

*Dylan Walker (Sr.; CB)—-The statistically best cover corner on the Red Raiders; look for him to match-up with Duff…Recorded a mind-blowing 19 pass break-ups, while also adding an INT, and 26 total tackles!

*Connor Miller (Jr.; LB)—Another member of the vaunted LB corps; Accrued 24 stops (2 TFLs), 1 sack, a forced fumble, and a recovery!…Made 3 tackles in last year’s state finals!

*Ethan Metro (Jr.; LB/DL)—Collected 26 tackles (3 for a loss of yards) and 3 pass break-ups…His length (6’4) is a very potent weapon!

*Jeremiah Neely (Jr.; CB)—Saw action as a sophomore in last year’s state championship, making 2 stops….As a junior, he accumulated 26 tackles and broke up a pair of pass attempts! 

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How St. Anthony’s Got Here:  Averaging just under 50 points per game (49.3) in their three-game journey to the school’s 15th overall CHSFL crown (1st since 2013), there has been no weak spot for the Friars on offense….Torres was great during the regular season, but has been even more remarkable during the playoffs, as his six TD affair in the win over Iona Prep (14-for-19 passing, 336 yards, 4 TD throwing; 145 yards, 2 rushing TDs) gives him postseason sums of 953 yards/12 touchdowns in the air, as well as 243 yards/5 touchdowns on the ground)…..On the receiving end of all of these missiles has been one of, if not the deepest and most talented wide-out corps in the entire Empire State.  Anchored by the towering presence of Junior, Duff Jr, (13 receptions, 336 yards, 4 TD grabs in playoffs). And Rutgers bound senior, Strong (6 catches, 191 yards, 2 TD snatches during the past three weeks), the depth chart goes no fewer than five deep as you can expect Longo (9 receptions, 105 yards, 2 touchdown hauls), Menghi (6 receptions, 79 yards), and Matos (6 catches for 150 yards + 2 touchdowns) to all make noise…Duff is fresh off of a 7-catch, 205-yard, 4-TD grab effort in the Metro title game, while Longo posted a career-highs of 8 grabs/2TD snatches in the quarterfinal victory over Christ the King!….On the ground, the senior duo of Ruta & Morant have each picked their moments to shine during the postseason.  Ruta (262 yards, 2 touchdowns on 37 carries in three games) ran for 108 yards versus CTK, and scored one TD apiece in the semis and championship wins over Chaminade and Iona Prep; Morant (199 yards, 1 TD on 38 hand-offs in the playoffs) exploded for a 143-yard/1 TD night in the semis versus the rival Flyers….DeChiaro (28 tackles, 2 TFLs, 1 sack), Spina (21 stops, 1 INT), Strong (27 tackles, 1 INT), Goldstein (17 stops, 1 sack), Platt (17 tackles), Mackell (12 stops, 2 TFLs, 1 sack, 1 INT), Jenkins (11 stops, 2 INTs),  Miles (12 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 punt block), and Carey (11 tackles, 1 sack) are part of the resurgence defense that have won the respect of the peanut gallery during the back-half of the 2022 season!!!…

 

How St. Francis Got Here: For the Red Raiders, it was all about the ground attack in their 56-20 conquering of Canisius in the 2022 Monsignor Martin title contest….Scoring five of their six offensive touchdowns on the ground, Kidd (168 yards on 18 carries) and Pendergrass (74 yards on 13 carries) both recorded a pair, while Otremba (28 yards on 5 keepers) tacked on one with his legs….Playing his own personal game of pitch-and-catch, Otremba also teamed up with Reaska for all sky activity, with all five of his completions (5-for-11, 140 yards, 1 TD) going to his favorite target, highlighted by a 70-yard TD hook-up!!…. Giesser turned defense into offense when he scooped up a loose ball and returned it 47-yards to the house…Pendergrass (7 tackles, 1 sacks, 1 caused fumble), Metro (5 stops, 2 PDs), B. Miller (5 tackles, 1 sack), Kion Ulanga (1 tackle, 5 pass break-ups), Robert Kendall Jr. (4 stops, 1 induced fumble), C. Miller (4 tackles), Andrew Krug (4 stops), etc., were all part of a shutdown ensemble that limited the Crusaders to just 257 yards of total offense, while earning 7 QB hurries, an astounding 14 pass break-ups, and manufacturing two fumbles….

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Synopsis: While you never want to rule out any team, especially when that program is the returning state runners-up, on paper, all signs point at this being an uphill battle for the host Red Raiders…Facing off against Long Island just once during the 2022 campaign, St. Francis dropped a 21-18 contest to NYCHSFL quarterfinalists, Kellenberg Memorial…That loss alone, when coupled with the fact that the Friars rolled through the postseason without ever being in danger adversity tells us that the smart money has to be on the road warriors from South Huntington….Should STF hope to have a chance to win their first state title in their fourth attempt (bridesmaids in ‘15, 18, and ‘21), it will be imperative that they exercise strict ball control/clock management and try to make this a low-scoring finale…Given that the strength of the team is their vaunted ground attack, if they can pound it out and keep the Friar offense on the sidelines, then like they taught us in the “Little Giants”, ‘one time” becomes a definitive possibility….Flipping the dial, if you are coach Minucci and his STA charges, you want to do what you have done all season….LIGHT UP THE SCOREBOARD!!  Undefeated against NY opponents in 2022 (their lone loss being to NJ powerhouse, St. Joe’s Regional), there is not a foe that the Black & Gold do not believe they can out-gun if necessary.  They are a team that seems to thrive on bringing the fans to their feet…So anticipate contrasting styles where the winner will be the one that is able to force their will onto the opposition!

In seven renditions of this unified title game (started in 2014), Metro enters with a 4-3 advantage, including wins in three of the past four meetings!!!  Iona Prep beat St. Francis, 38-22, last November!!! 

Nov 242022
 

Article by Matt Diano

Fordham Prep-41; Xavier-25

A traditional showdown that was much closer than the final score indicated (was as tight as 28-25 with 8:06 remaining in the 4th), a few costly turnovers and/or mental mistakes down the stretch allowed the Rams to pull away en route to the 41-25 victory in the 99th Annual Turkey Bowl over the 2022 NYCHSFL AA-2 champs from Xavier

The Maroon & White having now prevailed in four of the past five on-field meetings (including the virtual game played in 2020 due to Covid; also won by FP), they raised their overall lead in the saga to 53-41-4!!!

Propelled by a career-day from junior signal caller, Matthew Moorehead, who tossed a personal-best 5 touchdown passes (after entering with just 10 during the season) on Thursday morning, the 41-points generated by the boys from the Bronx was the most they have accumulated during the rivalry since 2008 when they won 41-28!!

The offenses on both sidelines coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders, the first five possessions of the day all resulted in touchdowns, as the Rams carried a 28-12 advantage into the break…

Commencing with his statement-making display and drawing first blood was Moorehead, who after having an 11-yard TD completion to Edward Lewis Moore, negated on a penalty, responded on 3rd & 16 when he hit Tommy Gies on a 25-yard dime over the middle to give FP a 7-0 lead approximately 3:30 into the 1st quarter….

This exchange between the two gentlemen in the #18 and #15 jerseys respectively would be the first of a pair of pitch-and-catch scenarios that yielded “6” for Fordham Prep during the opening stanza….Following a 32-yard TD keeper from Knights’ senior QB, Shane Zaletofsky (his 16th of the year) that cut the deficit to 7-6 (PAT blocked by Will Wood), Moorehead lofted a ball into the corner for a 25-yard strike to Gies to close out the scoring (14-6) during the first 12 minutes of action…Prior to the TD passes, , a 41-yard run by Charlie English, and a long kickoff return from Jericho Ancheta served as catalysts to each series…

On Xavier’s second march of the morning, Mehdi Merah converted on 4th & goal, when he punched the ball across the line from 3-yards out to trim the hole to 14-12 (2pt conversion run was stuffed)…The short trek gave Merah 14 for his junior campaign!

Sandwiched around an induced turnover on downs (incomplete halfback pass try from Merah on 4th & long), Fordham Prep executed their third and fourth straight successful drives, as Moorehead hooked up with Ancheta on an 11-yarder to increase the cushion to 21-12 before a 4-yard play-action pass to Keegan Doody in the final :07 of the half accounted for the aforementioned midway margin…An English 43-yard reception was a precursor to Doody’s 1st TD grab of 2022!!!

Getting his school back into the conversion was the Knights’ senior running back, Gavin Gallagher, who punctuated the first two series of the 2nd half by banging his way in from 5-yards out (after making a 28-yard catch) to make the score 28-18 (2pt try snuffed out), and then exploding on a 34-yard jet around the edge that brought Xavier to within 3pts (28-25)!

Another key stop by the XR defense on the ensuing Ram drive seemingly swung all momentum into the corner of the Manhattan-based cohort….but then “tragedy” struck, as a mishandled punt return resulted in a turnover, where Fordham Prep immediately regained control of the pigskin on the opposing 19…A few snaps later, Moorehead and Ancheta teamed up for their second TD of the game, as the 11th grader tossed on the run and hit his senior WR on a 10-yarder that provided breathing room (34-25) with 6:50 to go in regulation…

Late in the 4th, English did it on both ends, as earned his second interception of the season, and then cemented his MVP effort (was named the award recipient) when he picked off Zaletofsky on the Ram 29…As a last impression on his varsity tenure, #22 then took a pitch to outside and cruised 66 yards to paydirt for his 13th ground TD of the fall!

The win caps off a 5-6 season for Fordham Prep (very ambitious schedule that featured multiple triple-A foes), while the loss drops Xavier to 7-3, but does not erase the memories of a less than a week ago when they hoisted hardware for the first time since 2015 behind a 29-22 triumph over Mount St. Michael Academy

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Cardinal Hayes-38; Mount St. Michael Academy-18

Victors for the NINTH straight occasion in the 79th installment of this All-Bronx tradition, the Cardinals of Cardinal Hayes High School jumped out to a 20-3 advantage early in the 2nd quarter and never looked back, as they went on to conquer the Mountaineers of Mount St. Michael Academy, 38-18, in “hostile (MSMA field) territory!!

Despite the now nearly decade-long streak of prosperity enjoyed on Grand Concourse, The Mount still holds a commanding 47-27-5 advantage overall in the historical and epic narrative of this Thanksgiving clash of for local bragging rights!!

Spurred by the outstanding exploits of junior tailback, Kenneth Antoine, who recorded the first three-day touchdown rushing performance of his varsity career to personally account for 18 of the team’s total output, the Cardinals got on the board when the #22 shirt [Antoine] followed up his own 43-yard dash that moved the ball the opposing 5 by later finishing off the march with a 1-yard TD that gave his school the 7-0 lead with exactly 7:00 remaining in the 1st quarter …

Aided by a long completion from Marc Pearson Jr., to Kameron Wheeler, as well as a pass interference call, Daithi O’Connor, booted a 34-yarder on MSMA’s ensuing possession to cut the hole to 7-3…

But just as quickly as they were back into the game, the Mount witnessed the margin increase, as Joshua Hicks fielded the ball around his own 11, cut to the Hayes’ sideline, and then cut back to the middle of the middle where he polished off the 89-yard lightning kickoff return that made the score 13-3 with 4:23 to go in the opening stanza…

The cushion grew to 20-3 after sophomore QB, Rich Belin, converted on a 3rd down keeper from 2-yards out for his 5th rushing TD of the year with 11:53 before the intermission…In advance of the scoring play, Belin also had a 17-yard connection to Taifah Mason, that moved the ball just short of midfield (48)…Antoine then broke for 21 on land to put the ball on the opponent’s 31…

Mount St. Michael Academy appeared primed to answer the Cardinals’ TD with a score of their own, as they drove to inside the Hayes’ 11 thanks to a great KO return from Travis Agonaya (+ personal foul for a hit out of bounds), followed by a 13-yard run by Jabril Carter, and an 11-yarder reception by Wheeler….But alas, the promising march was prematurely interrupted when junior DB, Deion Gonzalez lived up to his first name, reading play-action perfectly and picking off Pearson throw on the 1-yard line!!!

After squandering their previous opportunity, MSMA would capitalize in the last 6:00 of the 1st half, as a turnover on down that gave them possession on the Hayes’ 14 was cashed in with 5:14 to go by a Jonathan Otoo 7-yard run (his 7th of 2022) to bring the Mountaineers to within 20-10…

The visiting Cardinals had multiple touchdowns called back because of penalties in the last 2:40 of the 2Q, as Antoine’s 26-yard run up the gut was erased, and so too was a 36-yard connection from Belin to Mason to keep the scoreboard unchanged…

The beginning of the 3rd quarter was marked by a trade-off of touchdowns in the first 2:30 from the respective teams, as Hayes benefitted from a Mount fumble on the kick-off by taking over possession on the 41.  On his first snap of the 2nd half, Belin put the ball perfectly  over the shoulder of senior wide-out, Alfredo Perez, for the 41-yard bomb that made the score (26-10 just 18 ticks into 3Q)…

Coincidentally, the Special Teams’ gods than paid back the favor as Hayes fumbled a punt return, giving the pigskin back to MSMA…A 41-yard strike to Wheeler was then complemented by Pearson calling his own number on the 1-yard keeper (he then converted the 2pt conversion on a pass to Otoo) to make it an 8pt difference (26-18)!

The Cardinals pulled away in the last 16 minutes as Antoine built off of a 15-yard catch by Perez (put the ball on the Mountaineer 10) by taking it the rest of the way on back-to-back carries, including the 2-yard TD dive to give C.H. a 32-18 edge with 3:12 to go in the 3rd

Antoine wrapped up the hat trick with 4:44 remaining in the 4th on a 13-yard pilgrimage to the promised land to account for the final tally!…His trifecta gives him 10 in total this fall!

Nov 232022
 

AA-2 (Xavier Knights)

Shane Zaletofsky (Offensive; Sr.; QB/2B)

The on-field author of the “rags to riches” story that captivated the Metro Catholic football fan base from start to finish, in one year as the architect and/or conductor of Xavier’s vaunted single-wing ground attack, the 5’9, 150-pound hometown kid (resident of Manhattan), transformed a program that went 1-8 in 2021 into your 2022 NYCHSFL Double-A-2 titlists (7-2 record)…The crown was the first earned by the school since 2015!

Regarded as the odds-on favorite (at least in my humble opinion) to be recipient of the Offensive Player of the Year award in the division, Zaletofsky entered the title contest as the leading rusher in AA2 and did nothing but further bolster those immensely impressive numbers,  as he turned in a workhorse-like day, that saw him register 23 of the team’s 37 total carries, for 137 of their sum of 275 yards, and score 3 out of 4 ground touchdowns en route to the dramatic 29-22 victory over Mount St. Michael Academy, in a classic #1 vs. #2 showdown!!

Breaking a 22-22 deadlock with under half a minute remaining in the 4th quarter, it was Zaletofsky notching the hat trick on a 2-yard plunge across the goal line that served as the game-winner for the Knights!!!  

Responsible for bookend contributions, it would be the senior in the #3 shirt propelling Xavier to a 14-0 first quarter lead, as he motored on TD runs of 23 & 25 yards respectively on two of the cohort’s first three possessions!

Following the 5-yard TD run in the 3rd quarter by Mehdi Merah that put Xavier back on top (trailed 15-14 prior), it was Zaletofsky initially being stuffed, but absolutely refusing to be denied, as he battled his way through the rugby scrum into the end zone for the 2pter that created a 7-point margin (22-15) that proved …This conversion proved quite pivotal when the Mountaineers struck on a 65-yard TD connection (Marc Pearson Jr., to Kameron Wheeler) on 4th & 9 late in the final stanza (3:00 remaining in regulation)…Now, instead of the PAT giving MSMA the outright lead, all it did was even the scoreboard…

Accumulating 293 yards and SIX touchdowns (3 apiece) in his two 2022 postseason appearances, Zaletofsky will now head into the 99th Annual Turkey Bowl (vs. Fordham Prep) with season totals of exactly 1,100 yards and 15 touchdowns on land…

A century-mark performer on the ground in 7 of his 9 outings this year (no fewer than 84 in a single game), if he is able to reach his eighth 100+-yard display, you best believe that the Knights will be in business as it pertains to winning for the second time in the past three gridiron meetings (note: does not include the virtual 2020 game won by FP)!

 

Sean Donohue (Defensive; Sr.; Safety)

Completing the back half of what we have casually labeled as the “Shane & Sean Show” was the 5’10, 165-pound, senior defensive back hailing from Queens [Donohue]….

A leader and/or trend setter, both by example and by empirical statistical evidence, for a unit that stepped onto field last Saturday as the owners of the top-rated defense in AA2/#2 overall in the NYCHSFL regardless of classification (allowing only 15.1 points per game), Donohue picked a golden moment to play what was undoubtedly the finest game of his scholastic career….

A 48-minute exhibition in which there was not a box in which he left unchecked from his spot as a Rover LB/Safety, it took him only a handful of snaps to make his presence felt, as he would intercept the first pass attempt of the game from the opposing QB [Pearson] and return it the MSMA 24 to set up Zaletofsky’s TD run on the ensuing play that enabled the Knights to quickly draw first blood!

A case of déjà vu, on the Mount’s next possession, #22 made it two consecutive possession-stealing plays, when he picked off yet another aerial try to give him a pair in a matter of minutes…

The INTs being the signature contributions that most will point at as the rationale for his defensive MVP selection, in truth, he was chosen for the comprehensive body of work he accrued from opening whistle to final buzzer…

Everywhere you looked, you saw #22, and every time the PA announcer made a call, you heard the Donohue name proclaimed!!

Amassing his second double-digit effort of the season, the 12th grader who is exploring both Penn State and the U.S. Naval Academy as potential college destinations, established a new career-best in solo tackles (9) and just missed equaling his personal-high in total stops (14 vs. Moore Catholic on Sept. 17th) by racking up 13 bone-chilling hits during championship weekend…

Earlier, we mentioned the importance of Zaletofsky’s clutch 2pt conversion…Well, these same sentiments could/should be just as easily extended to Donohue, who following the Mountaineers’ second TD of the game (14-12 in the 2nd quarter), prevented the foes from the Bronx from tying the contest when he spied Pearson on a QB keeper, chased hiSet featured image m down, and then dragged him for a loss of 3 yards to spoil MSMA’s 2pt bid!

To complement his fine fine (one for each interception) resume, Donohue tacked on two pass break-ups and a QB hurry to the box score!!  

As he readies himself for one final hoorah as a Knight gridiron great on Thanksgiving, he does so as the top man on XR’s totem poll with 72 tackles thus far in his swan song….To boot, he also ranks top-3 in several additional categories—-Fumbles caused (2; 1st), PDs (6; tied for 1st), Interceptions (2; tied for 2nd), Sacks (2; tied for 3rd), etc..

In recognition of his remarkable senior campaign, Coach Stevens has endorsed him as a DPOY candidate! 

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AA-1 (Holy Trinity Titans)

 

Andre Kirton (Offensive; Sr.; WR/DB/Kick Returner)

Not your traditional selection for Most Valuable Player dibs, the 5’8, 175-pound senior [Kirton] was cherished not for what he did on any one particular side of the ball, but rather for the countless offerings he made in a variety of ways that that delivered a second consecutive NYCHSFL crown to Hicksville (HT won AA-2 in 2021) in the form of a 20-14 victory over the Mavericks of Moore Catholic!

The Titans clinging to a 17-14 advantage with just under 5:00 remaining in duration after surrendering a touchdown, it was the #2 jersey electrifying the crowd on the ensuing kick-off, when he fielded the ball on his own 19, started down the visiting sideline, and then cut to the middle of the field to emerge with a 47-yard return that gave the Titans ideal position (MC 34) on their last possession of the 2022 season….The drive was eventually concluded by a 35-field field goal from Evan Glusic (2-for-2 on FGs) that increased the lead to 20-14 and put the Mavs in the unenviable spot of needing to score a touchdown in the last 96 ticks of action…

Something of a trend and/or habit for the “wearer of all hats”, just as he did late in the 2nd half, Kirton would be front-and-center for the most talked about sequence of the opening 24 minutes, as on the last snap before the break, he spoiled a trick-play attempt (halfback back from RB, RJ Pacheco to QB, John Michalski) when he out-jumped the future Sacred Heart University field general to pick-off the ball on his own 30…From there,  he shook off a tackle, darted all the way to the opposite sideline (in front of his own bench) and raced 55 yards behind two blockers before being pushed out at approximately the MC 15….If perhaps one or two more teammates were there to provide assistance, there is a down good chance Kirton would gone all the way to the house for the “6”!!!…Still, just by causing the turnover inside his own territory, he sent the Green & White into the locker room enjoying a 10-7 edge!  

On Holy Trinity’s initial series of the 2nd half, Kirton toasted his man on a deep route, pulling in a 43-yard grab that moved the pigskin from his own 44 to the opposing 13…Had an untimely fumble (high snap) not resulted in a fumble, there is a very high probability that his reception would have later “barred fruit” and provided insurance!  

Still riding the euphoria of hoisting the hardware for the second time in as many tries as an upperclassman, Kirton will now focus his attention on locking up his collegiate future…Per his twitter, he will be in Happy Valley/Beaver Stadium to watch Penn State square off with Michigan State this weekend!

 

Hopeton James (Defensive; Jr.; DE)

A sometimes overlooked or under the radar presence on a defense that has been ranked #1 (all classification) in points allowed the past two seasons, the 6’2, 205-pound 11th grader [James] certainly looked and acted the part of the game-changing superstar…

A disruptive beast who does not appear to have an “off” switch or know the meaning of “half-speed”, for four quarters on November 19th, he exerted and executed like a man who had a major beef/personal grudge with/against Michalski…

In the face of the Maverick quarterback time and time occasion, the #17 jersey is not traditionally known for defensive greatness in football; but it was elevated to that status during ‘ship weekend!!

Amassing 3 (!!!!) sacks during the title contest, as much as the quantity was impressive, it was the quality of his stops that commanded attention/respect!!

While his fellow DMVPs were all credited with official takeaways, the Titan DL carved his niche in a different manner, as his specialty was making the hit that either induced a punt or put the opponent in such a precarious position that they were forced to gamble…  

With one sack already in the bank, but HT trailing 7-3, James demonstrated his prowess as a run-stopper when on 3rd & 1 in the final 4:00 of the 1st half, he broke into the backfield and combined with senior, Irv Briggs IV, to stuff Pacheco for a 2yrd loss, forcing MC to kick the ball away…That punt would settle on the Titans’ 43 and was later turned into a 54-yard TD throw from Rocco Rainone to Chase Cruz, that gave the Long Islanders a lead (10-7) that they would never relinquish!!     

On the next possession for the #2 seed from Staten Island, it was James’s second QB bag of the afternoon (Moore on the HT 29) that pushed the Mavericks out of field goal range and acted as a catalyst/precursor to Kirton’s interception!!!

James wrapped up his personal trifecta (third sack of the game) with just over 5:00 to go in the 4th (HT up 17-7) when on 3rd & 7, he chased down Michalski to create a loss of nine yards…If not for a roughing the kicker call against HT that gave new life to Moore Catholic, this play would have taken on much greater significance as the FG attempt on the next snap was well short!   

All in all, the heat applied by James resulted in Michalski going just 1-for-6 in the air for a career-low 27 yards! 

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AAA (St. Anthony’s Friars)

 

Dante Torres (Offensive; Sr.; QB)

Referring to him as “Superhuman” in our AAA title game recap, the truth is that the more we had the time to marinate on the subject, the more convinced we became that the 6’4, 190-pound, future Fordham Ram field general was shown the justice or flattery that he warranted after posting one of the most scintillating and mind-blowing performances in NYCHSFL title game history…

An individual that performed like he had something to prove, both to himself and to the pundits in each of the two match-ups with defending AAA League and Catholic State champion, Iona Prep, as a follow-up to a 560-yard (530 in the air)/7 touchdown (4 throwing, 3 rushing) during the regular season (48-42 STA victory on October 1st), the Massapequa resident went off in every way possible in vaulting the Black & Gold juggernaut to their 15th overall crown (1st since 2013), behind a 50-18 triumph over the Gaels!

Tormenting his nemeses from New Rochelle to the tune of a 481-yard/6 score demonstration to close out the championship weekend triple-header at Mitchel Athletic Complex, Torres connected on 14 of 19 pass attempts for 336 yards (4 touchdowns), while simultaneously using his other limbs to collect 145 yards and two additional TD on eight carries!!!

Not only a collision on the team front of whom many regard as the top-2 programs in the entire Empire State, but also pegged as a mano-a-mano shootout with his counterpart signal caller, Ajani Sheppard (reigning Metro & NYS Offensive Player of the Year), it is quite difficult to imagine anyone other than the young man in the STA #3 jersey stockpiling all of the local and state-wide accolades in 2022!!

Teaming up with his favorite target/consensus best WR on Long Island, KJ Duff Jr. (7 grabs for 205 yards), on all four of his touchdown strikes, the duo got the Friars on the board with 5:14 remaining in the 1st quarter when they capitalized off of a Jaeden Jenkins interception (his first of two on the night) by hooking up on an 85-yard exchange on the next snap to give the contingent from South Huntington an initial 7-0 edge!!!

IP having cut the deficit to 7-6 late in the 1st, Torres temporarily traded in the rocket (arm) for the turbo boosters (legs) in the 2Q as he called his own number on TD treks of 4 (10:37) and 76 (6:14 remaining in the half) yards to propel St. Anthony’s to a 22-6 cushion (2pt conversion pass to Duff after the first scoring run)…

“Sticking with the bro that he brought to the party”, Torres closed out an explosive 29-point opening 24 minutes when on 4th & 20, he tossed up a jump ball to his 6’5 weapon [Duff], allowing the heralded junior to high-point the ball, come down on the 1-yard line, and then walk the last few inches to polish off the 30yrd hook up!! 

The all-night tag team of #3 joining forces with #1 did not slow down in the second half, as they combined on mutual hat tricks (Torres’s third TD pass; Duff’s third TD haul) with 3:15 to go in the 3rd quarter, when the latter was somehow left undefended, making for an easy 29-yard pitch-and-catch down the sideline that increased the margin to 43-12…

The final act came on the first play of the 4th quarter, when Duff caught a WR screen, evaded a defender, and cruised into the promised land on an 11-yarder to cap off the Friars’ seven-touchdown/50-point endeavor!!  

On the lone score that Torres did not directly have a hand-in, let it be known that it was his 30-yard completion to Ian Strong (2 grabs for 69 yards) that advanced the ball across the midfield and paved the way for Frank Ruta (63 yards + 1 TD on 13 carries) to eventually dance in from  23 yards out midway through the third stanza (made the score 36-12)….

Having hurled for 953 yards (12 touchdowns) and scrambled for 243 yards (5 TDs) in three postseason appearances, Torres raised his monstrous 2022 stat line to the following: 166-for-244 (68%) for 3,204 yards (35 touchdowns); 474 yards & 11 scores on 65 carries!!!

In a career where he surely owns just about every school passing record possible, the final piece of his unforgettable legacy will come on November 26th as he suits up on one last occasion to face off against St. Francis (Monsignor Martin titlists) with the Catholic State brass ring at stake!    

 

Vincent Spina (Defensive; Jr.; DB)

Deemed as the most outstanding performer off of a starting-11 that could not have played a better game on November 19th, to truly capture and/or appreciate the breadth of both the individual and the unified effort, we have to remind you of just how darn good the Iona Prep offense was this fall…

Nine times in their previous 11 outings (all in a row), the Gaels scored 35 or more points…For the second straight season, the aforementioned Sheppard was the only person in Westchester County history to record a 2,000/1,000 season, as he generated 3,684 yards & 32 touchdowns in his swan song….Colin O’Garro, who seems to have a new college reaching out to him on a weekly basis, rushed for 1,319 yards and 17 touchdowns (both tops in AAA)…

Hence, the fact that Spina and the Friars limited them to their second lowest output of the season is itself an achievement worthy of celebration…

An all-encompassing “pest” or “bulldog” depending on the role he is being asked to assume out of the STA secondary, Spina not only posted team-highs with 12 solo and 14 total tackles (just missing personal-bests of 13 and 17 vs. Stepinac in the regular season finale), but he also logged an interception + return that set up the Friars on the opposing 20-yard line and later was cashed in by Duff’s 2nd TD catch of the night…

A mainstay among a last line of defense that forced Sheppard into an 11-for-22, 95-yard passing evening (his only sub-100-yard throwing day in the past two years), Spina’s INT was one of four earned by St. Anthony’s defensive backs, as he was joined on the list by Jenkins (2) and Kenyon Miles (1)…

Averaging 9.3/stops during the three-game playoff journey to Titletown, Spina currently ranks 2nd on the team in both tackles and sacks with 86 & 2 respectively!!  

 

 

 

Nov 202022
 

Two emphatic statements were made in the nightcap of our championship triple-header…..

#1 THE WAIT IS OVER…For first since 2013, the Friars of St. Anthony’s are once again the cream of the crop of the NYCHSFL Triple-A division!!!

#2 DANTE TORRES MIGHT BE SUPERHUMAN!!!

 

Amassing SEVEN total touchdowns in the 48-42 regular season victory on October 1st, the Fordham University bound senior field general almost unthinkably equaled those video game statistics, “settling” for six instead, as he passed for four and ran for an additional two scores as part of the juggernaut from South Huntington dethroning of defending Metro League and Catholic Champion, Iona Prep, by a mind-blowing margin of 50-18!!!  

Forced to punt on their initial drive of the evening, we hope that the parents of Dean Lambros managed to snap a few pictures during the, because their son was not on the field very often the rest of the way!!    

Striking for the first of his aforementioned four aerial masterpieces, on the next step following a Jaeden Jenkins interception (the first of a pair of picks for the senior DB) on the STA 15, the future Ram tossed up a 50/50 ball and allowed his dynamic 6’5 junior WR, KJ Duff to go up and get it for the 85-yarder that gave the Black & Gold the 7-0 edge with 5:14 remaining in the 1st quarter…

Torres to Duff would be a familiar expression uttered by the public address announcer, as all four of the former’s dimes found their way into the hands of the phenom in the #1 jersey, as Duff pulled off the rare feat of making one TD grab apiece in each of the four quarters to raise his season total to 12…

With the Friars leading 22-6 at the time (TD runs from distances of 4 and 76 yards by Torres with 10:37 and 6:14 remaining in the 2nd quarter respectively serving as the preceding sequences), Duff notched his second scoring snatch of the ballgame when on 4th & 20, he won a jump ball on the 1-yard line and then walked the final few inches into the end zone to further add insurance (29-6; 2:59 to go)…

The mat hatter occurred with 3:15 remaining in the 3rd quarter when he somehow was left wide open, allowing Torres to loft a beautiful 29-yarder into his arms to make the score 43-12!

Counting off each subsequent TD after he banked them, the magic #4 for Duff happened on the first play of the 4th quarter, as he caught a WR screen, shook off a defender, and then jogged across the line for the last of STA’s seven lucrative series of the evening!!!

Not to be left out of the party, senior RB, Frank Ruta, also took his turn at inflicting damage, as he tallied his 11th rushing touchdown of the season with 6:36 to go in the 3rd (36-12) when on 2nd & 14, he found a crease and jetted through it, dancing 23 yards to the house!!!  

While a 50-point outing tends to lend itself to the offensive personnel hogging the headlines, in truth, an immense amount of respect and commendation must also be extended to the Friar “D”….

Undeservedly chastised in 2021 and during the early stages of the 2022 campaign, it is no understatement to say that without the contributions they made tonight, Head Coach, Joe Minucci, would not be toasting his first career crown since being named the successor to living legend, Rich Reichert!  

Our rationale for making this claim is that if you look at the majority of the St. Anthony’s scores, more times than not, there was an instrumental defensive play that acted as a catalyst…

Above, we already referenced Jenkins’s interception that kept the contest scoreless in the 1st quarter….But also commanding our recognition though was the INT earned by wide receiver turned shutdown DB, Kenyon Miles, who on 3rd & 5 and the Gaels inside STA 18, stole the ball in the end zone….Torres’s 76-yard run came shortly after!!  

Junior, Vincent Spina, had an interception return to the IP 20 that later got cashed in on the 30-yarder to Duff…

Jenkins’s 2nd interception of the game (fourth in total for the team), on his own 17 with 7:58 to go in the 3rd was incredibly valuable as it halted a Gael march that if culminated, would have trimmed the deficit to 29-19….Instead, it denied Iona Prep and maintained a stranglehold on momentum….A 30-yard connection to Ian Strong advanced the ball inside IP territory, and then Ruta delivered the gut-punch!

All in all, the “D” generated SIX takeaways, as in addition to the four interceptions, it was fab freshman, Preston Carey, stuffing a run on 3rd & 5 to create 4th down (dropped pass) with 4:35 remaining in the 3rd, and Joseph DeChiaro doing the same on 4th & 8 with 8:26 to go in regulation that yielded turnovers on downs…

Iona Prep got on the board with 37 ticks to go in the 1st quarter when after a botched punt attempt (low snap) from STA ended with Xavier Wallace-Messam making a hit on the kicker that gave them possession on the opposing 25, Michael Senatore dove on a loose ball in the end zone after Old Dominion University committed All-State QB, Ajani Sheppard, lost control after being drilled on the goal line by Miles…

Speaking of Sheppard, playing the final game in a decorated scholastic career that witnessed him win both the NYCHSFL and NYS Offensive Player of the Year Award last season, the future Monarch notched his 10th rushing touchdowns of 2022 (scamper in the last :08 of the 4th) to go along with the 21 touchdowns he tossed during his swan song…

Freshman tailback, Brennen Pressley, accounted for the only other score of the game for the cohort from New Rochelle, as he found space up the gut from 8-yards out for a TD run in the last half minute before the break!

Your MVPs were Torres & Spina!

Undefeated this fall versus fellow Empire State opponents (only loss was to NJ powerhouse, St. Joe’s Regional), the Friars will look to double their lot next weekend as they travel to Hamburg for a date with Monsignor Martin titlist/returning state runners-up, St. Francis, on November 26th…. Having prevailed in three of the past four intra-state clashes, Metro currently enjoys a 4-3 edge over Buffalo!!!

Nov 192022
 

BACK-TO-BACK!!!  

For the second year in a row, it was a sea of Green & White jerseys celebrating on the field of the Mitchel Athletic Complex, as one removed from earning the AA-2 crown, the Titans of Holy Trinity High School completed the bump in status by hoisting AA-1 hardware following a 20-14 victory over the Moore Catholic in a battle of our top-2 seeds….

Entering the game as the owners of both the top-ranked offense and the #1 rated defense in the division, Head Coach, Kahmal Roy received signature efforts from his superstars on both sides of the line, as they fought back from an early 7-0 deficit (15-play, nearly 8:00 opening drive punctuated by 1-yard QB keeper from Mav’s senior All-State signal caller, John Michalski) by issuing a response in the form of a 17-0 point streak between the 2nd and 3rd quarters…

Commencing their rally with approximately 7:29 remaining in the first half, the Hicksville based program turned the tides in a monumental manner when the duo of Christopher Bacon (stripped the ball) and Melan Williams (pounced on the pigskin) halted a promising MC drive by generating a turnover that handed possession back to HT on the opposing 42…

Aided by an untimely 15-yard personal foul penalty called against the #2 seeds from Staten Island [Moore Catholic] the Titans did not cash in fully, but were able to capitalize to a degree, as a 40-yard blast off the leg of Evan Glusic cut the hole to 7-3 with 5:12 to go in the 2nd quarter…

A defensive stand courtesy of Hopeton James & Irvin Briggs IV (gang tackle to stuff Moore Catholic on 3rd & 1 and induce a punt) put the ball back in control of junior QB, Rocco Rainone, and this time, Trinity did not leave points on the table, as 6’0, 190-pound dual-threat stud was spot-on with his precision, connecting with sophomore WR, Chase Cruz, on a 3rd &6 out route, which the 10th grader transformed into a home-run hitter when he broke away from a tackler and then sprinted the rest of the way to polish off the 54-yard pitch-and-catch that instantly vaulted HT to a 10-7 lead with 64 ticks before the break!  

A huge return on the ensuing kickoff, followed by a 25-yard connection to Omar Osman, enabled MC to come as close as the Trinity 29 in the waning moments, but again it was [Hopeton] James curbing any thoughts of a late score, as he registered his second sack of the afternoon to disrupt the match down field…

No longer in a prime spot to collect points, Moore Head Coach, Nick Giannatasio, tried to dig into his bag of tricks, having sophomore RB, RJ Pacheco, attempt a pass…The gamble did not pay off as Dre Kirton darn-near recorded a pick-6, as he intercepted the throw and then bolted down the sidelines with a wall of blockers before eventually being knocked out of bounds on the opposing 11 to conclude the first 24 minutes!

A well-executed, but not necessarily flawless display from either sideline, the two schools would take turns squandering solid scoring opportunities during the first 5:00+ minutes of the 3rd quarter as Rainone/Kirton tried to ignite the offense by hooking up on a 43-yard completion that moved the ball inside the Moore Catholic 13….However, a fumble resulting from a high snap was scooped up by the Mavs’ Giovanni Maniscalco to cease that threat…

Next it was MC’s turn to burn a bridge, as Michalski aired it up on 3rd &9, but instead of his own man coming down with it, it was Titan sophomore, Enoch Thomas, emerging with the interception on the HT 32 w:/6:46 remaining in 3Q!

Less than 1:00 after the Enoch pick, it was Jameer Reeder putting it an end to the back-and-forth errors, as he turned the corner and followed the blocks of Jayden Simpson and Devon Gonzalez all the way to paydirt for the 58-yard TD pilgrimage that increased the margin to 17-7 with 5:47 still left in the 3rd quarter….

The scoreboard unchanged (HT forced a punt; MC created a turnover on a Mario Ferraro INT to close out the 3rd) as we dipped below the 5:00 mark in the 4th quarter, all hope seemed lost for the Merrill Avenue machine (Moore) when their field goal attempt fell well short of the goalpost….But alas, a roughing the kicker call provided new life and Michalski made certain to reap the benefits as he punched in his second rushing TD of the day (12th of 2022) in from 8-yards away to make the score 17-14 with only 4:40 showing on the clock…

On their final possession of a brilliant collective campaign, a Kirton kick return to the MC 34, aided by Rainone to Simpson slant on 3rd & 8 to move the chains would both exhaust previous seconds and put Glusic well inside his comfort zone, as he improves to 2-for-2 on FG attempts behind a booming 35-yarder with 1:36 to go in regulation…

Down to their last prayer at an 11th hour comeback, the Mavericks received an amazing KO return from Pacheco (to their own 45)…But the “w” was not in the card as a few snaps later, Briggs and Williams stuffed Michalski one-yard short of the chains to create a turnover on downs and cue victory formation!!!

In recognition of his entire body of work more so than just what he did on offense, Kirton was named as the recipient of the Offensive MVP….James (3 sacks) took the top honor among individuals on defense!!!  

The Titans cap off 2022 with a 9-1 record (only loss to AAA semifinalists, Chaminade)….Moore Catholic, who fell in the AA-1 finale was the second year in a row, should hope their chins high with a 9-3 resume (two of the losses to HT; the other to AAA semifinalist, Archbishop Stepinac)!