Dec 082019

By Matt Diano:

Reflecting upon and celebrating the achievement, glory, and blessings of their biggest, brightest, and most treasured competitors, the NYCHSFL community gathered together on Sunday December 8th for the annual ritual of sharing a meal at the 2019 Communion Awards Breakfast.

Hosted once again on the campus of Kellenberg Memorial High school, the festivities commenced with Fr.  Albert Bertoni of the Society of Mary providing the congregation with a lesson about preparing ourselves for the coming of Christ this Advent Season.
Then the time arrived to hand out some hardware…

Headlining our collection of 2019 award winners would be Chaminade senior lineman, Liam Brown, who took home the Monsignor Peter’s Memorial Trophy, in recognition of being named the top Scholar-Athlete in the NYCHSFL…A young gentleman who carries himself as a living example of all the characteristics and values that we as Christians are called to embody, Brown has selflessly excelled across the board…In the classroom, he has posted a cumulative grade point average of 99.4, is a three-year (soon to be four) Honor Roll student, an active member in the National Honor Society, doubled up as the top student-athlete recipient for both the football and wrestling teams in 2018 (expected to repeat this achievement), received the Louis J. Faerber trophy in 2017 as the owner of the highest grade point average in the Flyer freshman class, and transformed his passion for the sciences (emphasis on Medicine/Biology) into a 1st place ribbon at the 2019 Science Fair, among his many academic accolades…In the community, Brown is a dedicated disciple, serving St. Paul’s parish as a volunteer at “Friday Friends”, a program which provides companionship and mentorship to special needs children.  In addition, he is a devout representative of the Catholic League and Catholic 4 Life organizations, has given freely of his time as a peer tutor, was repeatedly selected by school administrators to serve as a role model at the Admitted Students Open House, as well as the Catholic High School Entrance examination.  Furthermore, he continues to spread the teachings of Christ as a multi-year educator within the PREP program…On the gridiron, the Wantagh resident was recently named to the All-League squad following a 2019 season where he captained the Flyers to their first title since 2014.  The anchor of the OL, Brown paved the way for the Flyers to rack up over 3,300 yards of total offense and 38 touchdowns en route to hoisting the hardware…Brown has been appointed to the United States’ Naval Academy and is presently awaiting notification of acceptance.


Signifying what may have been the most electric, dynamic, and/or explosive display of offensive prowess in the history of the Metropolitan Catholic League were a group of four extraordinary studs that together amassed totals of 8,084 total yards, 86 touchdowns, and three NYCHSFL team crowns over the course of the past two months…Claiming the Joseph Riverso Memorial Award as the Outstanding Offensive Players of the Year in their respective divisions were Clayton Proctor (A; Kennedy Catholic), Jordan DeLucia (AA-1; Kellenberg Memorial), Justin Lacks (AA-2; Moore Catholic), and Jalen Smith (AAA; Cardinal Hayes).

Proctor, who made it two years in a row that a member of his household emerged as the eventual single-A selection (older brother, Myles, won in 2018) for the Riverso, was nothing short of spectacular during a junior campaign that witnessed the boys from Somers celebrating the first title in program history…A true microcosm of the mind-blowing season he put forth this year, in propelling the Gaels to their aforementioned single-A crown, the 5’10, 170-pound field general out of Yorktown Heights was personally responsible for 420 yards and five touchdowns in earning Offensive MVP status in the championship contest….For the season, Proctor held the distinction of topping the “A” leaderboard in both passing and rushing yardage…Connecting on 69 of 153 attempts in the air, Proctor tossed for 910 yards.  On the ground, he was even more potent, calling his own number on 138 occasions for a total of 940 yards.  Not surprisingly, his 18 touchdowns in whole (11 rushing, 7 in the air) also bested his counterparts…With his entire senior year still awaiting him, there is no telling what Proctor has in store for the Gael faithful in 2020.


DeLucia, who requires no introduction following one of the most decorated three-year varsity careers in school, league, and Long Island history, became the third consecutive Firebird to have this award bestowed upon him (Matt Sluka was a two-time winner in 2017 and 2018)…Looking beyond the stat sheet (it is an impressive array of numbers) for a quick moment, perhaps the true measure of the legacy the future Harvard student leaves behind is the fact that every season he competed for the Blue & Gold varsity, the team advanced to championship weekend, riding a 22-game streak to titles in 2017 and 2018 before settling for the runner-up position this past year…A definitive difference-maker from the opening whistle of his sophomore season, the pride of Bellmore has been one of the most diverse and unstoppable forces in the Empire state during this previously cited three-year span…In 2019 alone, the KMHS tailback had a hand in 2,615 yards and 31 touchdowns.  The utmost epitome of what it means to be an “all-purpose back,” DeLucia’s 1,931 yards (6th in NYS) and 23 touchdowns (9th in NYS) on the ground was 1st among all AA-1 ball carriers.  To boot, his 603 yards (on 30 receptions) as a pass-catcher ranked 2nd.  He even managed to throw for a pair of touchdown passes in his swan song, completing 3 of 4 attempts for 81 yards…A 4th team All-State selection in 2018, it is a foregone conclusion that this special individual will easily be acknowledged again by the New York Sportswriters Association…DeLucia closes out this chapter with the following career statistics: 3,929 yards and 46 TD rushing on 403 carries (9.7/per), 1,077 yards and 10 additional scores on 52 receptions.


Speaking of storied careers that at times seemed to approach the realm of invincibility, you need look no further than the four years of dominance showcased by the Mavericks’ gem of a running back, Justin Lacks…Sweeping All-League honors (4-for-4), the 6’1, 215-pound Adonis is a certainty to add his third All-State (5th team as a freshman, 3rd team as a junior) distinction when the 2019 list is unveiled…The catalyst (Offensive MVP each year) behind bookend titles in 2016 (single-A) and 2019 (AA-2) for the Mavs, the 2019 season was a magical one for the Staten Islander, as the success of his team was complemented by individual glory…Posting the 4th highest rushing total this season in New York State, #6 in Red & Black accumulated 1,998 yards and scored 22 times on 232 carries (8.6 average).  In both cases, he blew away his AA-2 peers, finishing the season with more than a 1,000-yard edge over his closest competitor and recording double the touchdown quantity…Firmly cementing himself as a living legend, Lacks concludes his scholastic career as the All-time running leader in not only Staten Island history, but the entire five boroughs…Gaining no fewer than 1,058 yards and scoring no less than 11 touchdowns in any specific season, the NYC rushing king departs his throne with career totals of 5.486 yards and 66 touchdowns on 818 carries (6.7 average).   In 37 career appearances, he surpassed the 100-yard plateau 28 times, including eight 200-yard-plus performances.


The consummate “money player” during his two years on the Hayes’ varsity, the bigger the stakes, the better the 5’9, 165-pounder [Smith] performed…In seven postseason outings, including two NYCHSFL AAA title contests (151 yards, 1 TD in 2019) and the 2019 Catholic State title game (212 yards, 2 scores), Smith ran for over 100 yards in five (123.6/game average) and scored a total of six rushing touchdowns (while tacking on 176 yards and 1 TD on 16 grabs as a receiver)….A legitimate jack of all trades and an undeniable game-changer, despite being shelved for a few weeks with injury, Smith still managed to lead the triple-A division in both rushing yardage (1,371) and TD runs (14) in 2019.  His school reaped the benefits as the Bronx based institution won the title for the first time since 2016….So versatile in his ability to inflict damage, if need be, Smith could equally be utilized as a receiver at the next level.  As an 11th grader, he made 51 catches for 726 yards and nine touchdowns before transitioning into the backfield late in 2018…Smith, who fulfilled the prophecy we made in September by seizing the Riverso, wrapped up his curricula vitae with combined totals of 1,765 yards rushing and 907 yards receiving (2,672 all-purpose) and 26 touchdowns…Displaying a maturity superior to his chronological age, Smith is already on his way toward being an amazing humanitarian.  Prior to the start of his senior year, he initiated an online campaign where donors pledged money for every touchdown he scored.  The proceeds were to be used to purchase new security equipment as a means of school shooting prevention.  Hence, every one of the 15 trips to pay dirt were blessed with intrinsic goodness!


Flipping the script to our defensive personnel, this quartet of gifted stoppers were so sensational in their own right that there is no doubt that the iconic Paul “Bear” Bryant is up above tipping his fedora to them…Using the Bear’s own words, when it comes to this group of fine physical specimens, defense very much has translated into championships…Winning a combined six NYCHSFL crowns (in nine appearances) and two State titles among themselves, this senior foursome racked up 448 total tackles, 39 TFLs, 19.5 sacks, 8 forced fumbles, 6 fumble recoveries, and a plethora of additional feats this season, making them all perfect choices to forever wear the proverbial badge of Vincent O’Connor Memorial Award winner.  Your 2019 Defensive Players of the Year: Ethan Ortiz (A; Cardinal Spellman), Aidan Cappellino (AA-1; Chaminade), Artie Padilla Jr. (AA-2; Moore Catholic), and Kevin McKenna (AAA; Archbishop Stepinac).

Unblockable during his junior and senior seasons, Ortiz followed up a 139-stop year (4th in NYS) in 2018 by recording 84 tackles for the Pilots in his last season wearing the Red & White.  Both years, he finished as the overall tackle king in the “A” division…In addition, 2019 saw him increase his sack total by 100%, as he bagged the opposing quarterback on two occasions to finish 3rd in the category…Showcasing amazingly awareness, he was credited with a pair of fumble recoveries in 2019…A bona fide ironman who rarely came off the field, the 6’0, 177-pounder out of Mount Vernon, was also a major asset this season in the Spellman backfield, rushing for 841 yards and eight touchdowns…Finishing his career with 227 total tackles, on 15 different occasions, Ortiz registered double-digit stops, including six times this past year.


Without question the most improved of our four selections, Cappellino belongs at the top of the list when it comes to the breakout stars of 2019 in the entire Empire State…Not even appearing on the 2018 stat sheet, the standout from Sayville made up for lost time in a massive manner in his final season in Mineola…The heartbeat for a defensive corps that surrendered just 13.4 points per game versus fellow double-A foes (18.2 including all games), #41 in Crimson & Gold flew to the ball with unrelenting, unforgiving intensity.  As a result of his impassioned play, he immediately and consistently put himself in a class of his own, collecting 19 tackles for a loss and five sacks to lead AA-1 in both categories.  His 120 total tackles was 2nd in the division only to teammate, Brandan Coward (145)…The senior captain rounded out his resume this season by forcing and recovering one fumble apiece.


Like a fine vintage, the four-year Mavs’ varsity member [Padilla] grew sweeter and more valuable with each passing season.  Joining Lacks as one of the few remaining components off of the roster that won the 2016 title, the 215-pound gem out of SI went from recording just one tackle as a freshman to 64 stops and two sacks as a sophomore, and then 71 (6 TFL) as a junior…And still, despite this steady climb, nothing could have prepared for the Catholic football community for the monumental, out-of-this world effort he demonstrated as a senior…The backbone of the #2 overall defensive cohort in the NYCHSFL (15.5/game surrendered), there was nothing that Padilla did not do this season in capping his career as a champion…Posting AA-2 highs in tackles (140; 4th in NYS), stops for a loss (12), and sacks (8.5), Padilla was an endless nightmare for the opposition…In 10 outings this season, he posted double-digit stops in nine…Padilla was also a master at creating turnovers as indicated by his three forced fumbles this season…His career numbers are as follows: 276 tackles, 18 stops for negative yardage, 10.5 sacks, 1 interception, 4 fumbles caused.


A three-year mainstay and human highlight reel for a Crusader program that made three trips to the league finals (titles in 2017 and 2018) and won back-to-back state crowns during his tenure, the multi-sport (lacrosse and football) University of Utah bound playmaker [McKenna] is the next in a lineage of renowned Stepinac defenders…The fifth AS representative to win the O’Connor in the past six seasons, when you are in the company of reigning ACC Player of the Week, Trill Williams (2017), you know you had an incredible season and a prestigious career…Recording no fewer than 89 tackles (2017) in any of his three years donning the Red, White, and Blue jersey, #32 was a 4th-Team All-State pick in 2018 following a 117 tackle, 10 sack, 11 QB hurry junior campaign…Asked to do a little more on offense as a senior (237 yards and 2 TDs rushing; 13 catches for 167 yards and 3 touchdowns as a receiver), some of McKenna’s gaudy numbers from a year ago may have waned slightly, but in many ways, he actually put forth a more complete and universal display…Putting an exclamation mark on his career with three straight double-digit tackle games (including a season-best 15 in the AAA finals), McKenna ended 2019 with 104 tackles, 8 stops behind the line of scrimmage, 4 sacks, 6 hurries, 4 pass break-ups, 4 caused fumbles, a pair of loose ball recoveries, and a blocked punt…With him at the helm, the Crusaders posted the top-ranked defense in triple-A, permitting just 15.9 points per game…McKenna’s final tallies are as follows: 310 tackles, 13 TFL, 14 sacks, 19 hurries, 2 INTs, 5 PDs, 4 forced fumbles, 3 recoveries, and two blocked punts…The 310 stops made him the all-time school leader in the category.

Relishing their rare moment in the spotlight were the often overlooked and/or taken for granted unsung heroes of the trenches…By far one of the most demanding roles one can undertake in the realm of athletic competition, former Kansas City Chief pro bowl WR/KR, Dante Hall, offered this praise to the men who muster the courage to accept the challenge: “Defensive and Offensive linemen control this game; and any true fan already knows that.”…Current University of Nebraska Head Coach, Scott Frost, reflected on his playing days, uttering, “Every great team I played on, the linemen were the bell cows of the whole team.”….With these sentiments in mind, the likes of Anthony Badagliacca (A; Cardinal Spellman), Anthony Casillo (AA-1; St. Peter’s), Elijah Tobin (AA-2; Holy Trinity), and Ajani Cornelius (AAA; Archbishop Stepinac) were fitting choices to be this year’s Joe Thomas Memorial Trophy recipients.

Selected in Week #8 of the 2019 season as a NYCHSFL POTW, for the past two seasons, the 6’0, 280-pound beast from the Bronx [Badagliacca] has been a two-way engine powering the offensive and defensive lines…With Badagliacca serving as the Pilots’ primary road grader, the Spellman running attack averaged 190+ yards and scored 26 touchdowns between 2018 and 2019…As a pass protector this year, he provided such a comfortable pocket that sophomore QB, Aidan Hanley-Piri, enjoyed increases in all of his 2018 statistics, improving his completion percentage by seven points and tossing for 127 more yards…Defensively, big #77 finished the year tied with Ortiz for 2nd on the team with 2 sacks, while also contributing 22 total stops, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, and a pair of punt blocks…As if he was not busy enough, Badagliacca handled placekicking duties as well for CS, converting 7 of 8 PAT attempts and nailing his lone field goal try.


A linchpin of the offensive line during each of the past three seasons, Casillo might as well have been nicknamed “Bisquick” because no matter where he lined up (either center or guard), he served pancakes week in and week out…Laying the tracks for 2,693 yards and 24 touchdowns as a sophomore and 2,891 yards last season, there would be no senior slump for the 280-pound Staten Islander, as his work made it possible for teammates, Kaiwan Taylor and Michael Politi, to have banner years as ball carriers for the Eagles…Like a genuine leader, Casillo embraced a much larger role on defense in 2019 too and his efforts did not go unnoticed as his game film was saturated with flashes of brilliance where he bulldozed opposing OLs to record repeated tackles for a loss.

The only non-senior among this four-person brute squad, the 6’1, 250-pounder out of Amityville [Tobin] has already established himself as one of the premier two-way linemen in Nassau & Suffolk and he still has all of 2020 to add to his esteemed reputation…A plug and play phenom on both sides of the ball from his first varsity practice as a sophomore in 2018, there is every reason to believe that this is only the first of two Thomas Awards that he will adorn his mantel…A punishing blocker that fits the Titans’ bread-and-butter ground attack to a “T” (as in Tobin), in his two years wreaking havoc on the OL, the Green & White have accumulated 4,459 yards and run for 47 touchdowns…The caliber of superstar that has the God-given ability to not only elevate his own game, but simultaneously make everyone around perform at a higher level, the best piece of evidence you need when assessing the importance of Tobin is that since he has joined the line-up, THREE Titan ball-carriers have achieved All-League status…Building off of a strong sophomore campaign last season where he was credited with 19 tackles, 9 TFLs, and four sacks on defense, Tobin jumped levels on defense in 2019, concluding the year with 31 stops, 11 tackles for negative yardage, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a blocked punt.  In recognition of his stellar body of work, Tobin received his first All-League bid on “D“.


Last, but by no means least, is the behemoth from Harlem, Cornelius…Standing 6’5 and tipping the scale at 315 pounds, there was never a second during the past three years where the magnitude of his performance failed to match the scope of his stature…A Goliath among Davids from his spot at Offensive Guard, Cornelius has been an integral and priceless cog in a machine that has scored 1,193 pounds, rushed for 7,274 yards, passed for an additional 7,057 yards, while accounting for 152 touchdowns from 2017-2019…As noted above in the McKenna write-up, during this stretch, the Crusaders won two NYCHFL Triple-A titles, as well as back-to-back state titles…Presently holding scholarship offers from six different NCAA Division I programs (Morgan State, Howard, Bryant, Hampton, Delaware State, and Rhode Island), last summer, Cornelius gave a verbal commitment to the Bison [Howard] and could make it official in the coming weeks during the early signing period.

Garnering the last set of individual awards for excellence in a particular aspect/phase of the game were the talented lads that brought the crowd to their feet, via either a big kick/punt return or a clutch field goal…Holding down the fort for the future Adam Vinatieris, Devin Hesters, or Billy “White Shoes” Johnsons (for your old schoolers) of the world were your 2019 Special Team Players of the Year— Liam Mullholland  (A; Kennedy Catholic), Joseph Pasqua (St. Francis Prep), Cameron Holmes (Moore Catholic), and Mekhi Green (Archbishop Stepinac).

Following in the foot-steps of 2018 winner, Brendan Lebitsch, Mullholland became the second Gael in a row to be honored for his ice water veins…Successfully connecting on 19 of 20 point after tries, and going 4-for-5 on FG attempts (long of 39), the 6’0, 170-pounder from Mahopac amassed 31 points this season, which was more than three times the amount of any other place-kicker in the “A” division this season…Emerging with one of the signature plays of the 2019 season, Mullholland booted a 27-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock to send the single-A title game to overtime…Remarkably, his biggest kick of the season came just 24 hours removed from an assist on the soccer pitch that resulted in another Gael title.  Hence, there clearly is no situation too big for the Kennedy 11th grader.

Indisputably a cherished weapon in the battle for field position, Pasqua’s 300 total yards on 14 kick returns ranked 10th in New York State…Spotlighted by a four return, 97-yard effort on October 20th, the Williston Park resident reached or exceeded 50 yards as a returner in three of nine games this season…While not as pronounced, he also gained 11 yards on three punt returns…Not just limited to specialist duties, Pasqua tallied 377 yards of total offense as a ball-carrier (222 on 39 carries; 3 TDs) and target out of the backfield (155 yards on 11 receptions; 1 touchdown catch)…Five of his 29 tackles on defense yielded a loss of yardage.

The Ultimate triple-threat for the Mavs this season, there was not a single area of the game that Holmes did not impact at one time or another during this championship winning season in Staten Island…Belonging to what is likely a very exclusive club, the 6’2, 185-pounder out of the Garden State pulled off a rare feat in 2019, returning both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns this season…Extremely balanced in his resume as a special teamer, Holmes accumulated 470 yards (6th most in New York) in this dual capacity, concluding his senior year with 243 on 9 KOR (27.0 average) and 227 (3rd in the state) on 13 punt returns…One of, if not the top WR in AA-2 this season, Holmes’ totals of 31 catches (1st) for 602 yards (3rd) and 8 TDs (3rd) ranked in the top-3 of all major receiving categories in the division…On defense, he registered 48 tackles, 1 sack, and was the team-leader with both 3 interceptions (including a pick-6 in the AA-2 finals) and 6 pass break-ups.

Entering his swan song as the #1 running back on the depth chart, the injury bug forced Green to adapt to a new role and adapt he did, finding his calling as an invaluable returner for Coach [Mike] O’Donnell’s Crusaders…Tallying a AAA best 113 yards (11 attempts) as a punt returner, Green may not have been afforded as many opportunities as a KOR, but certainly maximized the chances he did get, averaging 22.8 yards on four returns (91 yards overall)…The cumulative total of 204 yards tops in the division…Wearing the famed #6 jersey for Stepinac, even if not fully healthy, Green lived up to his captain tag in every possible way, making 37 tackles, causing and recovering one fumble apiece, and breaking-up 3 passes on “D”, while rushing contributing 192 yards (24 carries; 2 TDs) and 116 yards (11 catches; 1 score) respectively as a rusher/receiver.

Other notable awards presented on Sunday were:

Monsignor Peter’s Memorial Golden Eleven Award

Frank Scafuri (Monsignor Farrell)

Christopher LoRusso (Kennedy Catholic)

Jordan DeLucia (Kellenberg)

Michael Tartaglia (Archbishop Stepinac)

Brian Holder (Holy Trinity)

James Donaldson (Xavier)

Anthony Casillo (St Peter’s)

Eric Terrano (St Francis Prep)

Ethan Ortiz (Cardinal Spellman)

Thomas Resker (Xaverian)

James Colesanti (St. Joseph’s by the Sea)

John Bromm Memorial Award

Dominick Battaglia (Monsignor Farrell)

Adrian Ordonez (Cardinal Spellman)


Ken Weinman Memorial Award

Derrick Nyarko (Nazareth)

Christopher Ramos (St. John the Baptist)

Anthony Rosati (Xaverian)


Lieutenant Ronald Winchester Memorial Award

Joshua Rivera (Xaverian)

Dec 032019
Due to the weather, field availability, and travel concerns Senior Bowl practices for today and tomorrow have been cancelled. 
The Senior Bowl game on Sunday is also cancelled.
College Night at Holy Trinity will be held as scheduled, Thursday (12/5) beginning at 7:30 pm.  This event is for CHSFL Seniors only.
A combined practice for Senior Bowl participants will be held prior to College Night from 4pm-6:30pm at Holy Trinity.  
The Communion Breakfast will be held as scheduled at Kellenberg on Sunday (12/8). Mass starts at 9:30AM followed by breakfast and the awards ceremony.  Senior Bowl participants will be honored at the Communion Breakfast.  Tickets are required and may be purchased at member schools. 
Dec 032019

By Matt Diano:

Matthew Geruso (Sr.); RB/Punter – Xavier Knights

Donning the Maroon & Blue one final time, the 5’10, 195-pounder out of Hoboken put forth a performance that would have made Frank Sinatra proud as he most certainly did it “HIS WAY” in leading the Knights to a 40-14 triumph over Fordham Prep in the 97th rendition of the prestigious Turkey Bowl.  The victory for Xavier, their 41st in the history of the rivalry (52-41-4 now in favor of FP) snapped a three-year skid.  The 40 points recorded by the Knights represented the highest output by the school on Turkey Day since 1976 when they prevailed 40-30.

Holding absolutely nothing back and leaving every bit of blood, sweat, and tears on the gridiron, Geruso played some of his finest football in the last 24 minutes of his scholastic career, running to pay dirt on three separate occasions and adding a successful two-point conversion to tie personal-bests for touchdowns (3) and points (20) in a single outing.  The 143 yards he generated on 15 carries was a 2019 season-high and was second-most of his career, bested only by a 157-yard performance as a junior versus St. Francis Prep.

Xavier leading 13-7 at the time, Geruso capitalized off of a great kick-off return by Anthony Bruno to open up the second-half by plunging the ball across the line from a distance of four yards out for the first of his aforementioned three scores.

As his school’s advantage continued to expand (28-7), Geruso showed no signs of taking his foot off the pedal, as he exploded for a 77-yard trek to the house early in the 4th quarter to change the scoreboard to 34-7.

As the clock dipped below 2:00, Geruso put an emphatic exclamation on the morning when he converted on 4th & 11 by busting through a hole and cruising 32 yards for his last TD of the day and the 15th of his swan song campaign.

When not busy chewing up massive quantities of yardage on offense, Geruso found another purposeful use of his powerful legs, flipping the field and burying the Rams with punts of 43, 50, and 50 yards apiece (all inside the 20).

Not surprisingly, in recognition of his stellar body of work, Geruso was the recipient of the Most Valuable Player award last Thursday.

Rightfully named to the All-League team earlier in the week, Geruso concludes his 2019 season with a stat line that reads as follows: 608 yards and 15 touchdowns on 109 carries (5.6/per), an additional 237 yards passing (14-for-37 in the air), and a remarkable 14 punts inside the opposing 20 (36.8 average overall).

His two-year varsity stay ends with him having accumulated 1,414 yards and 22 touchdowns on 236 hand-offs (6.0 per carry).


Sidiki Kone (Sr.); DB/KR – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals

The very definition and/or epitome of well-roundness, the 6’0, 195-pound three-way student-athlete from the Bronx will not soon to be forgotten by the 650 Grand Concourse faithful.

Entering the finale of his high school career having accounted for nine touchdowns this season in three different ways (7 rushing, 1 receiving, 1 pick-6), the recently named All-NYCHSFL selection added two fresh scoring methods in the Cardinals’ 38-0 victory on Thanksgiving over Mount St. Michael Academy.

Making his impact felt literally from the first whistle, Kone fielded the opening kick-off of the contest at his off 30-yard line and then turned on the jets for the 70-yard TD return to immediately give Hayes the 7-0 lead…

With approximately eight minutes remaining in the first half, #2 added his second TD of the morning when he emerged from a group of Hayes defenders to scoop up a fumble and walk into the end zone from 2-yards out to make the score 32-0 at the break.

A catalyst behind the Cardinals’ ability to pitch their first shutout since the 2014 Turkey Bowl, Kone complemented his fumble return by also racking up six total stops in helping Hayes to their seventh consecutive win in the annual series.

Unofficially, Kone’s wrapped up his tenure as a Cardinal having collected 118 tackles, 16 TFLs, 5 sacks, and 3 interceptions…Primarily a defensive player in 2018, he was afforded the opportunity to be more active this season on offense and he made the most of this increased role, averaging over five yards per carry (258 yards on 52 attempts); his previously cited seven TDs on the ground was tied for 2nd on the team


Dec 022019


Last First Class Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
Carino Joe 12 QB 6’2 198 Somers, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Cornelius Ajani 12 OL 6’5 315 Harlem, NY Archbishop Stepinac
McCauley Quentin 12 WR 6’2 185 Bronx, NY Archbishop Stepinac
McKenna Kevin 12 RB 5’11 180 Somers, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Bethea Chris 12 OL 6’0 265 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Mendez Kazunari 12 OL 5’10 330 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Smith Jalen 12 WR 5’9 165 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Williams-Molitor Dylan 12 WR 6’0 200 Manhattan, NY Cardinal Spellman
Badagliacca Anthony 12 OL 6’0 280 Bronx, NY Cardinal Spellman
Brown Liam 12 OL 6’0 230 Wantagh, NY Chaminade
Fischetti Mario 11 RB 5’7 165 Glen Cove, NY Chaminade
Gerbino Antonio 12 OL 5’11 210 Whitestone, NY Chaminade
Wood Donavan 12 WR 6’1 180 Sound Beach, NY Chaminade
Battle Tahliq 12 WR 5’8 180 Long Island, NY Christ the King
Billips Jahrell 12 WR 5’6 150 Queens, NY Christ the King
Bodden Noah 11 QB 6’4 225 Long Island, NY Christ the King
Murphy Tirek 12 RB 6’0 215 Queens, NY Christ the King
Loffredo Owen 12 WR 6’2 190 Sleepy Hallow, NY Fordham Prep
McKillop Matthew 11 RB 5’9 175 Scarsdale, NY Fordham Prep
Bagwell Jaden 11 WR 5’7 130 Springfield, NY Holy Cross
Morales Jonathan 11 OL 5’10 235 Farmingdale, NY Holy Trinity
Robbins Kameron 10 RB 6’0 175 Baldwin, NY Holy Trinity
Sinclair Jaden 11 WR 6’0 150 Westbury, NY Holy Trinity
McFadden Franklin 11 RB 5’9 190 Yonkers, NY Iona Prep
Rohde Kevin 11 OL 6’4 250 Purchase, NY Iona Prep
Turton Avery 12 WR 5’10 185 White Plains, NY Iona Prep
Washington Jarel 11 WR 5’11 185 White Plains, NY Iona Prep
Wilson Darius 11 QB 6’2 185 Bronx, NY Iona Prep
DeLucia Jordan 12 RB 6’0 175 Bellmore, NY Kellenberg
Foley Sean 12 OL 6’0 215 Long Beach, NY Kellenberg
Ligarzewski Will 11 OL 6’0 215 Oceanside, NY Kellenberg
Mongelli Maximus 11 WR 5’11 160 Roslyn, NY Kellenberg
Settino Dan 12 QB 5’10 180 Bethpage, NY Kellenberg
Proctor Clayton 11 QB 5’9 170 Yorktown Heights, NY Kennedy Catholic
Rhett Jaleel 12 OL 6’3 290 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Stella Steven 12 OL 6’6 310 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Tait Christian 12 WR 6’3 180 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Wessels Matt 11 WR 5’10 180 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Curran Jr. Anthony 12 OL 6’2 255 Staten Island, NY Moore Catholic
Heineman Nick 12 QB 6’0 195 Staten Island, NY Moore Catholic
Holmes Cameron 12 WR 6’2 185 Elizabeth, NY Moore Catholic
Lacks Justin 12 RB 6’1 215 Staten Island, NY Moore Catholic
Perlongo Anthony 12 WR 6’2 190 Staten Island, NY Moore Catholic
Sorrenti Craig 12 OL 6’0 240 Staten Island, NY Moore Catholic
Brown Camren 10 QB 5’10 150 Bronx, NY Mount St. Michael
McDuffie Justin 12 RB 5’9 181 Brooklyn, NY Nazareth
White Jalen 12 WR 6’0 180 Brooklyn, NY Nazareth
Ciancuielli Luke 12 OL 6’4 250 Oakdale, NY St. Anthonys
Escobar Mario 12 RB 5’10 180 Jericho, NY St. Anthonys
Jernigan Jaden 12 WR 6’3 205 Elmont, NY St. Anthonys
Miller Gavin 12 OL 6’5 290 Bay Shore, NY St. Anthonys
Jones Omarion 12 WR 5’9 160 Queens, NY St. Francis Prep
Terrano Eric 12 OL 6’0 260 Queens, NY St. Francis Prep
Jaycox Thomas 12 OL 6’4 275 East Islip, NY St. John the Baptist
Louis Jayden 11 RB 5’6 150 Central Islip, NY St. John the Baptist
Maisel Christian 11 WR 6’1 195 Amityville, NY St. John the Baptist
Cordero Matthew 11 OL 6’4 280 Brooklyn, NY St. Joseph by the Sea
Doyle Danny 12 OL 6’4 275 Staten Island, NY St. Joseph by the Sea
Gaor Kyle 12 RB 6’0 205 Staten Island, NY St. Joseph by the Sea
Tucker Jackson 11 QB 5’11 180 Staten Island, NY St. Joseph by the Sea
Casillo Anthony 12 OL 6’2 285 Staten Island, NY St. Peters
Politi Michael 12 WR 5’7 165 Staten Island, NY St. Peters
Greene Shane 12 RB 5’10 175 Brooklyn, NY Xaverian
Resker James 12 QB 6’0 170 Queens, NY Xaverian
Bernie Frank 12 RB 5’10 220 Brooklyn, NY Xavier
Geruso Matthew 12 RB 5’10 195 Hoboken, NJ Xavier
Last First Class Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown High School
Barnes Zach 12 LB 6’0 170 Thornwood, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Green Mekhi 12 DB 5’10 170 Elmsford, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Richards Cory 12 DB 5’9 163 Yonkers, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Tartaglia Michael 12 DL 6’2 270 Mohegan Lake, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Wilkins Brendan 12 LB 5’10 175 Katonah, NY Archbishop Stepinac
Barnes Damon 12 DB 5’10 185 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Blackstock Tafari 12 DB 5’7 170 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Burgess Nicholas 12 LB 5’10 210 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Kone Sidiki 12 DB 6’0 195 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Tetteh Michael 12 DL 6’3 240 Bronx, NY Cardinal Hayes
Ortiz Ethan 12 LB 6’0 185 Mount Vernon, NY Cardinal Spellman
Booth Robert 12 DL 6’3 230 New Hyde Park, NY Chaminade
Cappellino Aidan 12 LB 5’11 195 Sayville, NY Chaminade
Coward Brandon 12 LB 5’11 205 Westbury, NY Chaminade
Eaton Christopher 12 DL 6’3 220 Queens, NY Christ the King
King Chris 11 DL 6’3 235 Queens, NY Christ the King
Lester Zephron 12 DL 6’1 270 Queens, NY Christ the King
Palmaccio Michael 12 LB 6’0 235 Queens, NY Christ the King
Yearwood Narain 12 DB 5’10 190 Queens, NY Christ the King
Halbert Sean 12 DB 5’10 165 Manhattan, NY Fordham Prep
Rice Mike 11 LB 6’1 210 Manhattan, NY Fordham Prep
Bailey Octavous 12 DB 5’10 150 Jamaica, NY Holy Cross
Duncan Chase 12 DL 6’0 235 Baldwin, NY Holy Cross
Grant Devin 10 DB 6’2 175 Elmont, NY Holy Cross
Smith Jaeden 12 DB 5’10 150 Fort Greene, NY Holy Cross
Tobin Elijah 11 DL 6’1 250 Amityville, NY Holy Trinity
Barranger Luke 11 LB 5’11 195 Bronx, NY Iona Prep
Dukes Marquis 12 DB 6’0 195 Middletown, NY Iona Prep
Dunbar Jordan 12 DB 6’1 185 Sleepy Hallow, NY Iona Prep
Gadson Nick 12 DL 6’2 225 Bronx, NY Iona Prep
Bradshaw Anthony Tucker 12 LB 5’9 180 Westbury, NY Kellenberg
Bernal Aidan 12 DL 5’11 205 Ossining, NY Kennedy Catholic
Ononaji Ikenna 11 DL 6’1 205 Yonkers, NY Kennedy Catholic
Booras Steve 11 DB 5’9 170 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Denmark Justin 12 LB 6’0 170 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Field Chris 11 DB 6’2 180 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Ortalano Chris 12 LB 6’0 180 Staten Island, NY Monsignor Farrell
Padilla Jr. Artie 12 LB 5’10 215 Staten Island, NY Moore Catholic
Coleman Colin 11 LB 5’9 170 Bronx, NY Mount St. Michael
Fraser Theodore 11 DL 5’10 200 Bronx, NY Mount St. Michael
Alvarado Nick 12 DB 5’9 160 Smithtown, NY St. Anthonys
Gifford Grant 12 DL 5’11 205 Oakdale, NY St. Anthonys
Kittelberger Robert 12 DB 5’11 165 Wantagh, NY St. Anthonys
Taylor Christian 12 LB 6’1 225 Wantagh, NY St. Anthonys
Artis Kaleb 10 DL 6’4 250 Westbury, NY St. Francis Prep
Chung Daniel 11 LB 5’8 190 Bayside, NY St. Francis Prep
Annitto Christopher 11 LB 5’10 175 Amityville, NY St. John the Baptist
Ruvolo Nick 12 LB 6’0 205 Staten Island, NY St. Joseph by the Sea
Ryan Aidan 12 DB 5’9 175 Staten Island, NY St. Joseph by the Sea
Badon Sean 12 DL 6’1 340 Staten Island, NY St. Peters
Martello John 12 DB 5’11 175 Staten Island, NY St. Peters
Hansen Derin 12 DL 6’2 195 Staten Island, NY Xaverian
Resker Thomas 12 LB 6’1 175 Queens, NY Xaverian
Rivera Joshua 12 DL 6’1 230 Brooklyn, NY Xaverian
Bruno Anthony 12 DB 5’8 145 Staten Island, NY Xavier
Cohen Brandon 12 DT 5’10 250 Queens, NY Xavier
Donaldson James 12 LB 6’1 210 Brooklyn, NY Xavier
Dec 022019


Senior Bowl Practice Schedule;

City Practice Schedule
(12/2) Monday at Fordham Prep (4:30 – 6:30) (CANCELLED)
(12/3) Tuesday at Fordham Prep (4:30 – 6:30)
(12/4) Wednesday at Monsignor Farrell (4:30 – 6:30)
Island Practice Schedule
(12/2) Monday at Mitchel Athletic Complex (4:30 – 6:30) (CANCELLED)
(12/3)  Tuesday at Mitchel Athletic Complex (4:30 – 6:30)
(12/4) Wednesday at Mitchel Athletic Complex (4:30 – 6:30)
Combined Practice
(12/5) Thursday at Holy Trinity High School (4:30 – 6:30)

Photo by Harrison Keller (CHSFL)


College Night – Thursday, December 5th @ Holy Trinity High School (7:30 pm) – Open to Seniors and their parents from member schools only.  No Ticket Required.


Communion Awards Breakfast – Sunday, December 8th @ Kellenberg (Mass – 9:30 am followed by breakfast) – Tickets will be sold through member schools.  Tickets are $20.00. Parents, coaches and players are required to have a ticket for admission.  No Tickets will be sold at the door. Jacket & tie recommended.


Senior Bowl Game – Sunday, December 8th @ Mitchel Athletic Complex (1:30 pm) – No Ticket Required.

Nov 292019

Xavier-40; Fordham Prep-14

Spearheaded by their vaunted ground attack, the Knights snapped their three-year losing streak in this annual Thanksgiving tradition…Scoring three touchdowns apiece on the ground was senior, Matthew Geruso, and 11th grader, Andrew Scariano….Geruso, who was awarded Most Valuable Player honors in his final appearance in the Maroon & Blue, rushed for 143 yards and three second-half touchdowns (as well as punched in a successful two-point conversion) to tie his career-high of 20 points (previously set on October 26th in a win over St. Peter’s) in a single outing.  His TD runs came from distances of 4, 77, and 32 yards…Scariano, who notched the first three-score effort of his scholastic career, was a major catalyst during the opening moments of the 1st quarter, taking the ball to pay dirt from 60 yards away on Xavier’s first offensive snap of the game and then adding a 1-yard TD plunge (following a Christian Valentino fumble recovery) on their next possession to give the Knights the quick 13-0 edge…Scariano added his third TD of the game in the 3rdquarter on a 2-yarder…Leo DeRisi and Gregory Steffens, both played outstanding on defense, as each created a turnover (DeRisi strip and recovery in the 3rd quarter; Steffens INT in the 4th)…The Rams, which still enjoy a 52-41-4 lead in the series, got their points off of a 7-yard hook-up from Jack Annicelli to Christopher Devine in the 2nd quarter, and a two-yard run (after catching a long pass on a wheel route) by Matthew McKilop in the 4th.


Cardinal Hayes-38; Mount St. Michael Academy-0

Bouncing back from the heartbreak of their last last-second loss in the Catholic State title game less than a week ago, the Cardinals sent the class of 2020 off with a victory, as they made it seven in a row on “Turkey Day” against the Mountaineers….Suiting up in the Cardinal & Gold one last time, Sidiki Kone put his versatility on full display, scoring in 2/3 of the phases of the game by returning a kick-off 60 yards in 1st quarter to break the ice and then later returning a fumble recovery 10 yards to the house for his second touchdown of the opening half…Fellow senior/2019 NYCHSFL AAA title-game defensive MVP, Nicholas Burgess, also turned “D” into “O” during the first half, returning a fumble of his own 20 yards for the touchdown…Sophomore sensation signal caller, Henry Belin, accounted for three total TDs, connecting with Kuno Mendez, on a 55-yard strike in the 1st quarter, using his legs to run for a 10-yard score in the 2nd, and tacking on the final touchdown of the game when he teamed up with Jerald Munoz, on a 17-yard connection.


*= Our gratitude to Cardinal Hayes’ Henry Belin for providing live scoring updates via MaxPreps.

Nov 242019


By Matt Diano

In a showdown of Cinderellas, one team had to have the glass slipper YANKED off their foot and unfortunately for the NYCHSFL faithful, that school was Cardinal Hayes, as they dropped a heartbreaker, 25-24, to Canisius in the 2019 Catholic High School State finals.

Trailing 24-10 in the last 5:00 of regulation, Canisius put themselves back in the game when Joseph Dixon, fresh off of a 3TD performance in the Monsignor Martin finals against St. Francis, came up clutch again, punching it into the end zone in on an 8-yarder to make it a one-score difference (24-17).

Inducing a punt with under 2:00 showing on the clock after stuffing Hayes on 3rd & short, the Crusaders took possession at their own 15 as they went hunting for an 11th hour comeback…Completing pass after pass (including a trio of grabs by Eric Kegler) and aided by an untimely penalty against the Cardinals, Canisius sophomore gem, field general, Tyler Baker marched his cohort down to the CH 13…After three unsuccessful throws brought up 4th down with only :03 still to be contest, Baker played hero, hitting fellow 10th grader/the team’s leading receiver, Nik McMillan, with a 13-yard TD strike with zeros on the clock…With all of the momentum in their corner, instead of being conservative, Head Coach, Rich Robbins, elected to go for the “w“, handing the ball off to CJ Ozolings (who replaced an injured Dixon in the backfield).  The gamble paid off as the 6’1, 225-pound stud plunged over the line for the game-winning 2pt conversion…It was a bittersweet conclusion to a magical postseason journey for the boys from the Bronx [Hayes].

Tormented early by two first quarter turnovers, the Cardinals fell behind 7-0 when Baker, converted on 4th & 6 by running 34 yards to the promised land give Canisius the 7-0 lead midway through the 2nd quarter.

To their credit, Hayes did not hang their heads for long though, as on their ensuing drive, they found the end zone on a 9-yard TD run from senior tailback, Jalen Smith, to cut the deficit to 7-6…The score by #23, his 13th on the ground in 2019, was the first of three touchdowns the boys from the Bronx recorded in the final 6:00 of the half.

Dominating the possession battle for the rest of the 2nd in the most unusual of ways, the Cardinal & Gold followed up their aforementioned touchdown by immediately getting the ball back when they recovered a mishandled squib kick in opposing territory…A few snaps later, it was Tafari Blackstock exploding to the house from 19 yards out to put Hayes in front 12-7.

Like every shampoo bottle suggests, Hayes then rinsed and repeated, making it two kick-offs in a row where they came away with the pigskin…Starting their last drive of the half on the enemy 34, Hayes utilized a balanced attack to advance the ball inside the 12…And then, as he did on the last offensive series, Blackstock took the hand-off and powered his way across the goal to increase the lead to 18-7 with 1:27 remaining in the 2nd quarter.

Canisius threatened in the closing moments of the half, getting as close as the Hayes’ 5-yard line, but a BIG sack derailed the rally, eventually creating a turnover on downs when a Crusader pass attempt was incomplete to send the two programs into locker room with no additional points being put on the board.

After an exchange of turnovers (Hayes interception; Canisius fumble recovery) plagued both schools for much of the 3rd quarter, the hosts from Buffalo did manage to draw within eight points when Wisken Whited connected on a 28-yard field goal to change the scoreboard to 18-10.

Cardinal Hayes were able to come back over the top with an uppercut of their own, as Smith knifed through a gap and cruised 57 yards for his second touchdown of the afternoon to make the score 24-10 with 9:00 to play in the 4th…The long run gave the 5’9, 165-pounder his third 200+ yard rushing game of the year in his scholastic swan song.  It was also the fifth time in seven career playoff appearances that Smith surpassed the century mark.

With the victory, Canisius snapped Metro’s two-year winning streak and tied Archbishop Stepinac with three state crowns apiece (they are the only two schools to win the title in the six-year history of the event)…Hayes, who also lost to the Crusaders in 2016, fell to 0-2 in state championship contests.

Nov 222019

New York Catholic State Finals:

Cardinal Hayes (7-4) vs. Canisius (6-5)

When: Saturday November 23, 2019

Where: Stransky Athletic Complex @ Canisius. H.S. Buffalo, NY

Time: 1pm

Synopsis By Matt Diano:

Two programs that a month ago did not appear destined to be playing in their own league finals, let alone the state title game, both the NYCHSFL champion, Cardinals, and the Monsignor Martin titlist, Crusaders caught fire in the month of November, winning a combined six straight games, including each avenging a pair of regular season defeats in the postseason…Seeded 4th and 3rd in their respective league playoff brackets, Cardinal Hayes reached this point by lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of an average of 43.7 points in victories over St. Anthony’s (61-14), Iona Prep (45-34; ranked 2nd in the state at the time), and two-time defending state kings, Stepinac (25-7; ranked 4th in the New York State Sports Writers Association polls heading into the downstate championship contest)…For Canisius, who are seeking their third crown (2014, 2016) since the inception of a unified Catholic title game six years ago, defense has truly ruled the roost during their 2019 postseason resurgence…Surrendering 32 and 38 points to rivals, St. Joe’s Collegiate and St. Francis during the regular season, the Crusaders held those same foes to 6 (15-6) and 21 (27-21) points in the MM semifinal and final meetings…Both of our state finalist schools will take the field this weekend ranked in the top-30 by the NYSSWA, with the boys from the Bronx [Hayes] coming in at #5, and the pride of Delaware Avenue [Canisius] entering in the #27 spot…2019 will mark the second time that these two decorated programs have butted heads with the brass ring on the line.  In 2016, Canisius prevailed in a shootout, 50-44.


Sophomore QB Henry Belin

Blessed with insane athleticism and speed, CJ O’Neil’s Cardinals are a legitimate threat to score every single time they have the pigskin in their possession…There is NOT a single individual occupying a skill position that cannot be regarded as a potential play-maker/game-changer…Demonstrating poise beyond his years, sophomore QB Henry Belin, is fresh off of an Offensive Most Valuable Player performance in the NYCHSFL AAA title game, completing 12 of 18 passes for 209 yards and one TD pass.   Since the beginning of the postseason, the 6’3, 200-pound field general has boosted a 71.4% connection percentage (40-for-56) for an average of 220.3 yards per outing, and seven touchdown tosses…Fostering Belin’s quick emergence from game-manager to gun slinger down the stretch has been the presence of one of the most talented receiver corps in the Empire State.  Led by the likes of junior, Kuno Mendez, and seniors, Yayha Kone and Jerald Munoz, if Hayes is allowed to establish a rhythm in the air, it could/should mean bad things for the host Crusaders…Mendez entered last weekend’s league finals ranked in the top-10 in NYS in both yardage (1,041) and TD receptions (10); he then added a 34-yard TD grab on November 16th for his fifth score of the playoffs….Kone (23 catches, 316 yards heading into last week), who is second on the team with four TD snatches of his own, has explosive tendencies on the outside and will stretch the opposing secondary…Munoz, made 25 catches for 383 yards and three TDs thru the semifinal round of the AAA playoffs…Jonathan Jenkins and Damon Barnes, have also been in the aerial mix late in the season and could be sleeper factors if not given proper respect…Balancing out the offensive attack will be a lethal running back by committee consisting of Jalen Smith, Tafari Blackstock, Zachary Mitchell, and Sidiki Kone…Smith, the headliner of the group, topped all NYCHSFL triple-A running backs in yards (1,133 and touchdowns this season (12), including a 13-carry, 125-pound, 1TD effort in the win over Stepinac last week.  In six career playoff games between 2018 and 2019, he has surpassed the century mark in four…Blackstock, Mitchell, and Kone combined for 18 rushing touchdowns this season, with the former two each finding pay dirt once in the Metropolitan title contest…


Junior WR Jonathan Jenkins

Riding high after limiting a potent Stepinac offense (averaged 39.1 prior) to their lowest output of the season, the Cardinals defense will be anchored by senior MIKE, Nicholas Burgess, senior DL Micheal Tetteh, 12th grade defensive back, Na’Sir Douglas, as well as many of the names and faces already cited above…Burgess, the recipient of the Defensive MVP a week ago, following a seven stop, four TFL, career-best four sack effort, is first among all Cardinal defensive personnel with 70 tackles (9 for a loss of yardage)…Thru the semifinal round, Tetteh had collected 32 tackles, 5 TFL, and a pair of QB bags…Douglas (19 stops, 1 INT leading-up to the league finals) was outstanding last week, amassing four pass break-ups, including creating a turnover on downs in the red zone…Blackstock intercepted a pass in the win over Stepinac…Barnes put forth one of his best showings of the year two weeks ago versus Iona Prep, racking up 13 tackles and a sack…Before Burgess went off for four, [Sidiki] Kone was the season sack leader with three and was tied for the program-high with two interceptions…Juniors, Charles Miracle Oguamanam (5 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 sacks), Shawn Ward (2 sacks), and Elijah Fuentes were all remarkable in harassing Stepinac All-League signal caller, Joey Carino (7-for-22, season-low 108 yards in the air) last Saturday.

Senior 2Way Player Sidiki Kone

Lining up on the other sideline will be a Canisius squad that definitely looks like they will be the 2020 state favorites regardless of what happens in the 2019 season finale…Armed with an array of young talent (sophomores and juniors) on offense, even though we have not had a chance to see them with our own eyes, one look at the stat sheet tells us that this is a unit that knows how to move the chain and find the end zone…Averaging a tad over 30 points per appearance (30.3 to be exact), the Rich Robbins mentored arsenal is every bit as balanced and proficient when they have control of the ball…Recording four of their five postseason TDs on the ground the past two weeks, the cohort donning the Navy Blue and Vegas Gold, will counter Hayes’ laundry list of available rushing options by hitting back with a two-headed monster comprised of their own gifted 10th grader under center, Tyler Baker, and junior tailback, Joseph Dixon…Responsible for 1,670 and 17 of the team’s 2,217 yards and 36 touchdowns on the ground, Baker (846 and 11 on 93 carries) and Dixon (824 and 16 on 129 chances) both cruised to the end zone in the title win over St. Francis, with the former scrambling 36 yards for his lone TD, while the latter took it to the house three times from distances of 9, 5, and 2 yards out…Roderick Miller (also just a sophomore) has made the most out of his few opportunities, running for an average of nine yards per carry on 20 hand-offs…While using his legs to chew up large quantities may be Baker’s forte, let it be known that he is the furthest thing from one-dimensional…Connecting on 56.7 percent of throws (127-for-224), the 5’11, 175-pounder accumulated 1,581 yards and 13 scores with his arm.   The only red flag you could pin on him might be a modest touchdown to INT ratio of 13:9, but that is likely more a case of trying to do a little too much at times.  If he stays within himself, as he did last week in a 10-for-16, 109-yard showing versus St. Francis, he will be just fine…Presenting top notch targets to whom to throw will be two of the top-4 receivers in the large school division of the Monsignor Martin league this season, sophomore Nick McMillan, and 11th grader Riley Simpson…McMillan, whose most recent outing produced a 3-catch, 47-yard display in the win over SF, ranked 3rd in MM in 2019 with 37 grabs and was the silver medalist in yardage with 613.  His four TD catches were a team-high…Simpson, who had school-bests of four catches and 49 yards receiving in the finals victory, has been nipping at his teammate’s cleats all season for the top spot on the leader board; he enters the last game of his junior campaign having made 31 catches for 396 yards and three TDs…6’4, 200-pound senior, Eric Kegler, is a physical nightmare for the opposition; after recording just two receptions during the regular season, he has been especially active the last two weeks, making four catches for 23 yards in the wins over Joe’s Collegiate and St. Francis…Standing 6’5 and tipping the scales at 225, Junior TE, Hunter Glaser, is another big body that ought to be perceived as an asset in the red zone.  Still looking for his first grab of the postseason, Glaser (8 catches for 67 yards) is the only other student-athlete for the Crusaders with multiple TD snatches (2)…


LB Nicholas Burgess will look to lead the Cardinals Defense again

And while Hayes has Burgess setting the tone on “D”, Canisius has their own senior linebacker sitting at the head of the table…Tallying 32 stops, 4 TFL, 1 sack, and an INT so far in the 2019 postseason, CJ Ozolins (131 tackles, 15 stops for negative yards, 4.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, 6 pass break-ups, 3 fumbles caused for the year) has been lights out as he approaches his final days as a Crusader football player… 11th grader, Malachi Charleston, brings some serious momentum into this weekend after a nine-tackles, 3 TFL, 2 sack effort in the Monsignor Martin championships.  The 6’3, 225-pound DL, was at or near the top of several defensive categories for Canisius this season—2nd in tackles (60), 1st in TFL (20), 1st in sacks (6.5)…Nigel Dabney (50 stops, 5 tackles for a loss, 1.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles) has remained as locked in and consistent as ever in his last hurrahs, registering an 11-tackle, 1 fumble recovery day in the semifinal round and then following it up with an 8-stop game versus the Red Raiders, on November 16th

The Crusaders will have to keep Hayes RB Jalen Smith in check

Elijah Haqq further bolsters this stacked LB unit.  Making 11 total tackles (7 versus Joe’s Collegiate in the semis), the senior now has 49 stops, to go along with 3 TFL, 1 sack, and one caused fumble in 2019…The aforementioned [Riley] Simpson, who had a game-saving INT in the closing moments of the win over St. Francis, is a rock star in the secondary.  Tied with Ozolings for the team-lead with three interceptions (all of which have been posted in the playoffs), Simpson is second on the Crusaders with five pass defenses and is tops with two fumble recoveries…Speaking of the last line of defense, Donovan Davenport (27 stops, 1 INT, 5 PDs) and David Medley (35 tackles, 3 stops for a loss, 1 interception, 2 pass break-ups) will be asked to do a lot…Davenport had a two PD effort last week, while Medley has tallied 13 tackles in the playoffs…Amier Mohammad, who is 3rd on the team with 2.5 sacks and 4th with six tackles for a loss, will be counted on to bring the heat as a means of disrupting Belin.

For those unable to travel to upstate this weekend, a live webcast is  expected to be offered by the NFHS network…An annual pass (for the year) can be purchased for $69.99; a monthly subscription is priced at $10.99/per and can be canceled at any time. 


Nov 212019

By Matt Diano:

AAA Champions – Cardinal Hayes

Henry Belin (So; QB; Offensive MVP)—There is a saying in high school and college sports that “no one is a rookie anymore when the postseason rolls around.”  In the case of the Cardinals’ 6’3, 200-pound sophomore field general, no truer words could be spoken as it pertains to the way he has taken his game to the next level during the course of the past three weeks in propelling Cardinal Hayes to their first triple-A title since 2016.

Not named to the POTW list at any point during the regular season, Belin has now been selected twice (also selected following the quarterfinals) during the playoffs and in all fairness, probably had a compelling argument to be nominated for all three of his performances.

Completing 28 of 38 pass attempts for 452 yards and six touchdowns, while rushing for 56 yards and an additional TD on 14 keepers during quarter and semifinal round victories over St. Anthony’s and Iona Prep, even before stepping onto the field this past Saturday afternoon for the triple-A championship, Belin had already asserted himself as the breakout headliner of the 2019 playoffs and the future face of the quarterback position in the NYCHSFL…His stellar display on November 16th was just the cherry on top!

The only underclassman of our eight title-game MVP recipients, Belin connected on 12 of his 18 pass attempts for 209 yards and one touchdown (his 20th TD throw of the year) in the Cardinals’ 25-7 victory over two-time defending league and state kings, Archbishop Stepinac…It was the second time in as many opportunities in 2019 that he notched a 200+ yard game in the air against the Crusaders.  In the narrow (28-26) week #7 loss, he went 16-for-26, tossing for 272 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

His team trailing 7-0 at approximately the midway point of the opening quarter, Belin was instrumental in squaring the game on Hayes’ third possession, rushing for a 15-yard gain to move the ball into Stepinac territory and then later hitting Jonathan Jenkins on a 14-yard WR screen to advance the Cardinals to the opposing 2-yard line…Both plays set the stage for Zachary Mitchell’s equalizer.

The game still deadlocked at 7 apiece with 2:33 remaining in the first half, Belin put the Cardinals in front, 13-7, by throwing a perfect strike over the middle on 2nd & 13 to the NYCHSFL leader in receiving yards and TD catches, Kuno Mendez, for the 34-yard go-ahead touchdown.

Hayes up 19-7 in the early stages of the 4th quarter, Belin laid the tracks for one final bonus score when he played pitch-and-catch with Jerald Munoz, on a pair of completions totaling 34 yards to advance the ball to the Stepinac 35…A 23-yard run by Sidiki Kone, put the ball inside the red zone and then Tafari Blackstock culminated the drive with the 12-yard TD dash to account for the final tally.

Senior RB, Jalen Smith, who also garnered MVP consideration, posted a game-high 125 yards and one touchdown on 13 carries…In six career playoff games between 2018 and 2019, he has surpassed the century mark four times, racking up 627 yards and four touchdowns on 80 carries.

The Cardinals now turn their attention towards winning the first Catholic State crown for the first time in program history on November 23rd when they  head upstate to clash with the Monsignor Martin League champions, Canisius…A rematch of the 2016 state finals won 50-44 by Canisius, both programs had modest regular seasons as evident by the fact that they entered their respective postseasons seeded 3rd [Canisius] and 4th [Hayes] in their brackets, but have caught fire in the month of November, combining to win five in a row, including avenging losses in four of those games.


Nicholas Burgess (Sr; LB; Defensive MVP)—Extending his career by another week, the 5’10, 210-pound Garden Stater, stepped onto Mitchel Field last Saturday with only two sacks this season (per MaxPreps)…By the time the final horn sounded, he had not just increased that number, he had absolutely obliterated it, concluding the afternoon with FOUR QB bags en route to claiming top individual honors on the defensive side of the ball.

The centerpiece (literally as the inside linebacker) of Head Coach, CJ O’Neil’s defensive cohort, Burgess was the catalyst behind a concentrated, suffocating demonstration of determination that saw a lethal Crusader offense accustomed to scoring 40 points, held down to just 7, including a drought that spanned the final 47:22 seconds of the contest.

Consistently plugging the pocket, any time Stepinac QB, Joey Carino, attempted to step up and run, #10 in white was there to personally greet him for a minimal gain or a loss of yards…Not allowing him to ever establish a comfort zone, the Hayes’ “D” also forced the future Albany Great Dane [Carino] into his poorest performance of the year in the air, as he was able to hit on only 7 of his 22 throws for a season-low 108 yards.

His team leading 25-7 in the last 4:00 of the 4th quarter, Burgess’s coverage sack on 4th down on his own 44-yard line was the nail in the coffin, as it halted Stepinac’s last-ditch attempt at a late-game rally.

All in all, Burgess was credited with seven total tackles, four stops for negative outcomes, and the previously acknowledged four-spot in terms of sacks.

Charles Miracle Oguamanam was quite imposing himself, making five tackles, 3 TFL, and sacking Carino on three occasions…Na’Sir Douglas was incredible in the secondary, amassing four successful pass break-ups, including creating a turnover in the red zone when he defended a pass on 4th down late in the first half…Shawn Ward notched sacks on back-to-back snaps late in the 3rd quarter to put himself into the DMVP conversation.

The Cardinal & Gold “D” will need to continue to bring their “A games” this coming weekend, as they face a very formidable and balanced Canisius attack (150 in the air; 201.5 on the ground) that is averaging over 30 points per game.

AA-1 Champions – Chaminade

Donovan Wood (Sr; WR; Offensive MVP)—One of the most explosive student-athletes in the Double AA-1 league in 2019, there were multiple times this season that the 6’0, 175-pound wide out of Manor Park could have been bestowed a POTW nomination…However, perhaps the fact that the distinction came in his final appearance as a Flyer makes the moment all the more special.

Tying his personal-best for receptions in a single game with six (previously set in week #1) in Chaminade’s 29-12 victory over two-time defending champions, Kellenberg Memorial, in the AA-1 title game last Saturday evening, #4 in Crimson & Gold notched the first 100-yard receiving day of his two-year varsity career, finishing with 140.  He would also post his third two TD reception game of the year (week #4 versus St. Peters; week #8 over Fordham Prep).

Wasting no time getting the top-seeded Flyers off to a fast start, on his school’s first possession of the title contest, Wood caught approximately a 10-yard pass, but then spun up field and out-raced the Firebird defense to the tune of a 91-yard touchdown to make the score 6-0.

Trailing 12-9 in the early stages of the third quarter and in need of a big play to regain momentum, again it was Wood on the back end of a beautiful toss from fellow senior, Ryan Walsh, winning his one-on-one match-up with the KMHS cornerback and making a leaping grab on a back-shoulder route to put Chaminade back on top for good, 16-12…Prior to the touchdown grab, Wood also had a key catch on 3rd & 7 to preserve what ended up being the game-winning drive.

Serving as the team’s place-kicker as well, in addition to his pair of TD receptions, Wood converted a 25-yard field goal at the end of the 1st half (to give Chaminade a 9-6 lead at the break) and went 2-for-4 on PAT attempts to conclude the day having been responsible for nearly 60% (17 of 29) of the Flyer point output.

Walsh (16-for-20, career-high 250 yards passing, two touchdown throws), Paolo Maggio (personal-bests in catches and yardage with five grabs for 85 yards respectively), and Mario Fischetti Jr. (18 carries for 135 yards and two TD runs) also were given serious consideration for top offensive player honors.


Robert Booth (Sr; DL; Defensive MVP)—An individual that was immensely solid all season long, but really seemed to elevate his performance in the two rivalry games against Kellenberg, the 6’3, 225-pound defensive lineman was so active in flying to the ball during championship weekend that at times, it gave off the impression to those in the press box that there were multiple #51s occupying the DL for the Flyers.

Posting a career-best 13 total stops in Chaminade’s 28-26 regular season win over KMHS during week #6, the multi-sport student-athlete (committed to the United States Naval Academy to play lacrosse) may not have collected as many tackles during round #2 of the Marianist Bowl, but the quality of his efforts were every bit as important, if not more so.

Of the eight total tackles in which Booth was credited, four of these stops were in the backfield and resulted in a significant loss of yards.   He also recorded his fifth sack of his senior season, and even added a pass defense to his resume, forcing a punt by getting his arms up and knocking pass a 3rd down pass attempt by Kellenberg field general, Daniel Settino, on the Blue & Gold’s second offensive series of the contest.

In fitting fashion, with Chaminade enjoying the 17-point advantage in the final 3:00 minute of the 4th quarter, it was Booth making one final stand when on 4th & 6th, he created a turnover on down by stopping Settino’s scramble attempt short of the sticks.

The anchor and captain of the Flyer “D”, Booth’s individual accolades were part of a tremendous collective effort by Chaminade on the defensive side of the ball that witnessed them hold a very potent KMHS office (entered averaging over 35 points per game) to the school’s lowest output since the 2016 season…Anthony D’Agostino, Brandon Coward, Aidan Cappellino, Liam McCormick, and Dylan Lomelo (1 INT) were all extraordinary in their own right on Saturday night.


AA-2 Champions – Moore Catholic

Justin Lacks (Sr; RB; Offensive MVP)—What a send-off it was for the 6’1, 215-pound three-time (soon to be four) All-Catholic selection from Staten Island…Donning the Maverick jersey one final time in his storied career, Lacks won his second NYCHSFL crown, earned bookend Offensive Most Valuable Player status during championship weekend, and even ascended to the top of the New York City record book in Moore Catholic’s 28-6 triumph over St. Joe’s by the Sea in the AA-2 title game.

Returning to the same turf at Mitchel Field Athletic Complex that three years earlier saw him run for 138 yards and four scores in leading the Mavs to just their second ever NYCHSFL team title (32-22 over Cardinal Spellman in the 2016 “A” championship, there was no better way to close out the scholastic chapter of his football story than to do it all over again in delivering the hardware to Merrill Avenue as a final testament to his legacy.

Carrying the pigskin 35 times this past Saturday morning, Lacks accumulated 225 yards on the ground and found pay dirt on two separate occasions.   It was the fifth 200+ yard running game of the year (8th of his career) for the Mavs All-State tailback, including a 36-carry, 251-yard, 3TD performance in week #7 in the first meeting between these two schools.

The Mavericks trailing 6-0 after surrendering a touchdown to the Vikings on the initial drive of the game, Lacks quickly issued a response and evened the contest when on 3rd & 6, he took the hand-off in the wildcat formation and darted 64 yards to the house for the first of his two aforementioned TDs.

Moore now safely in front by a score of 20-6 early in the 4th quarter, Lacks made history when he took the toss in the backfield and raced 48 yards to the promised land for his 22nd touchdown of the year (67th of his career)…In addition to providing additional insurance, the trek enabled the MC 12th grader to move into sole possession of the New York City career rushing record, surpassing Kadeem Walcott’s (Fort Hamilton) total of 5,400…For good measure, #6 then pounded in a 2pt conversion run to round out a 14-point outing.

Lacks continued to tack on bonus yardage in the waning moments of the title game, capping his tenure with 5,468…His 2019 total of 1,998 yards (8.6 average) rushing was best among all Catholic ball-carriers (all divisions) this season.


Artie Padilla (Sr; LB; Defensive MVP)—The cream of creams for a Maverick defense that concluded the 2019 season as the top-ranked unit in the NYCHSFL (regardless of division) by allowing just 15 points per game, Padilla was at the heart of a unified shutdown effort that held St. Joe’s by the Sea nearly 30 points below their season average (35.8 entering the AA-2 finals) and bottled up Vikings star signal caller, Jackson Tucker, limiting the dual-threat weapon to 178 yards of total offensive production (averaged 283+).

Equally involved and dominant in disrupting the passing game (Tucker threw for a season-low 87 yards and was intercepted two times) and stuffing the ground attack (the Vikings mustered just 104 yards rushing after averaging 235.2), the 5’10, 212-pound senior linebacker was unblockable in his pursuit of any and all SJS ball carriers, recording five of his seven total stops behind the line of scrimmage…Applying so much pressure to Tucker from the outside that he might as well have been his conjoined twin, Padilla logged his third consecutive two sacks performance…To boot, he even had a forced fumble [that Sea was fortunate enough to dive on].

Reflecting upon his body of work as a whole in his swan song campaign, there is no doubt that Padilla is worthy of serious consideration for league Defensive Player of the Year merit…Having amassed 140 total tackles (2nd in NYS) and 8.5 sacks in 2019, he sits atop the AA leaderboard in both categories.

If not for Padilla’s outstanding showing in the AA-2 finals, Anthony Perlongo (5 tackles, 2 stops for a loss, 1 sack, 1 blocked punt), Matt Heineman (6 stops, 1 sack), or Michael Peraino (6 tackles, 1 TFL) could have all been named as Defensive MVP on November 16th.

Senior, Cameron Holmes, played the most complete game for the Mavericks, as he scored a touchdown on both sides of the ball, catching a 15-yard pass on 4th down to snap a 6-6 tie and give MC the 12-6 edge 15 ticks into the 2nd quarter…Holmes later turned defensive into offense when he registered a 29-yard pick-6 at the onset of the 4th quarter to up the advantage to 20-6.

A Champions – Kennedy Catholic

Clayton Proctor (Jr; QB; Offensive MVP)—A season ago, an injury robbed Myles Proctor of the privilege of playing in the “A” title game; the result of his absence was a hard fought loss to Cardinal Spellman…On Sunday, November 10th, younger brother, Clayton, made sure that even if it was a year later than anticipated, there would be celebration in the family home…He delivered on his promise!

Emerging with what may have been the greatest individual single-game effort of the 2019 Catholic football season, the 5’10, 170-pound field general out of Yorktown Heights left “everything and then some” on the field in catapulting (he literally dove) top-seeded Kennedy Catholic to their first team title in program history, 39-33 (OT) over the rival Pilots.

A surefire candidate, if not the consensus front runner, to follow in his brother’s footsteps and win the “A” Offensive Player of the Year award at the Communion banquet next month, [Clayton] Proctor’s dual-threat capabilities were never in question, as evident by the fact that he was both the #1 passer (765 yards + 6 TD throws) and a top-3 rusher (665 yards and seven touchdowns) in the division…However, despite his mighty impressive track record, he managed to outdo even himself in ensuring that the hardware would be Somers bound.

More than doubling his regular season average of 204.3 yards of total offensive production in the championship contest, Proctor was deadly with all of his limbs, rushing for a career-best 275 yards and four touchdowns on 36 carries (7.6/per), while simultaneously flinging the pigskin for an additional 145 yards and one score on 12-of-18 in the air…The 30 points that he PERSONALLY had a hand in generating was more than any of our other three championship-winning schools were able put up in their respective triumphs on November 16th.

The Gaels trailing 7-0 late in the first quarter, Proctor recorded the first or his five scores when he connected with Bobby Piesco (2 catches for 31 yards) on a 17-yard TD pass to even the score at 7 apiece.

Approximately five minutes later, he let his legs do the talking on another equalizer, as he took the ball in on a 3-yard keeper to tie the score at 14-14.

With 6:12 remaining in the game, Proctor gave the Gaels their first lead of the night when he again called his own number, this time from 7 yards away to put KC on top, 23-20.

TD #3 on the ground/his fourth overall came with 3:09 still on the clock on a six-yard draw to make the score 30-20.

After an absolutely mind-blowing sequence of events witnessed Spellman score two touchdowns and then Kennedy respond with a game-squaring field goal with :01 on the clock, the game went to overtime.

Regaining possession after a clutch defensive stand by the KC defense yielded no points, Proctor fittingly had his hero moment, transforming a broken pass attempt into a 12-yard scramble, which ended with him diving at the pylon for the winning touchdown.


Aidan Bernal (Sr; OL/DL; Defensive MVP)—On an evening where the cumulative point total may suggest defensive struggles on both sidelines, the constant and consummate playmaker for the Gaels was their senior two-way linemen [Bernal].

A POTW selection in week #5 when he forced a fumble, intercepted a pass, and racked up 10 tackles in a 28-12 victory over Spellman, Bernal used the “A” finals to pick up where he left off in being a consistent menace to the Pilot offense.

Suiting up for the last time on his home field, the “captain and heart of the line” as hailed by Head Coach, Dominick Tassone, made sure he went out in memorable fashion, setting a new career-high with 15 total stops, tying his personal-best of six tackles for a loss (originally set in an Oct. 11th non-league game versus Woodlands), and tacking on a sack.

A young gentleman who most certainly has the respect of the rival Pilots, Bernal has been so good throughout his career when playing opposite them that it goes without saying that his graduation will likely bring a smile to the face of the Cardinal Spellman staff…According to MaxPreps, during his four years as a member of the KC varsity, he compiled the following stat line against Spellman: 51 tackles, 16 TFL, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, and 1 INT.

One of the hardest and busiest student-athletes on the field most weekends, he also serves as the linchpin of the OL as the starting center…For this reason, he shares in Proctor’s huge day!