Nov 022018
 

BY Matt Diano:

#1 (East) Kellenberg (8-0) vs. #4 (West) St. Peter’s (4-4)

When: Saturday November 3rd, 2018

Where: Mitchel Athletic Complex

Time: 7pm

Synopsis

The furthest thing from your typical 1st round match-ups, the closer we get to this game, the more people in the NYCHSFL circle are speaking about it as if it could be the potential title game played prematurely.

For the past two seasons, NOBODY has given the defending Double-A Champion, Firebirds a run for their money except for this Eagle squad, who darn near pulled the upset in week #7 before falling by one point, 33-32, on a Kellenberg touchdown in the last 1:00 of regulation.

Winners now of 19 straight games, speaking to the KMHS faithful, many are being candid in admitting that all of the teams the Blue & Gold could have faced this weekend, St. Peter’s may have been the opponent they least wanted to see because of perceived match-up issues.

A contest where it became evident early that whomever had the ball last was likely going to win, St. Peter’s would jump out to a two-score lead early in the game before Kellenberg recovered and eventually took their first lead of the evening in the second half…The entire 4th quarter was a pressure cooker as the two programs traded scores, with STP holding a 32-26 lead as late as 1:38 remaining.

With both schools performing as well as they have all season on the offensive side of the ball, our gut tells us that just like the initial showdown, if you are a betting man/woman, take the over in turns of total points scored on November 3rd….Every sign points to another classic and if you are in the area, you best make it a priority to get down to Mitchel Field to watch what will be an epic rematch.

Matt Sluka

Kellenberg, the lone undefeated team in the NYCHSFL regardless of classification, comes in averaging a double-A best 39.3 points per game this season behind what may be the greatest offensive backfield in the history of the school…Rushing for a cumulative total of 2,283 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground in 2018, Kellenberg enjoys so much depth in this area of the game that they are almost impossible to game-plan against because if you shut one Firebird down, at least three others are capable of making you pay.

At the head of the proverbial snake is returning NYCHFL Offensive Player of the Year/2nd Team All-State pick, Matt Sluka (QB), and junior tailback, Jordan DeLucia….Sluka, who ran for 134 yards and three touchdowns (including the game-winner on a 1-yard keeper) in the win over St. Peter’s on October 20th, led all of New York State in rushing yards and touchdowns by a signal caller in 2017 and could repeat the feat in his senior season should the Firebirds go deep into the playoffs.  At present, his 13 touchdowns is tops among Empire State field generals and his 805 yards (81 carries) ranks 5th….DeLucia, who is fresh off of his highest single-game total (226 yards + 1 TD on 9 carries) of the season in a 41-0 win over Fordham Prep in the regular season finale enters the postseason as KMHS’s #1 rusher overall with 900 yards on 86 attempts.  Like Sluka, he too has punched the pigskin into the end zone 13 times with his legs.  In the previous “w” over St. Peter’s, he ran for 86 yards on nine carries and scored one touchdown…Another name that it is imperative that you know is that of senior RB, Frankie Roder.  Overlooked a bit this season because of the stellar play of his two teammates, you should never forget that it was only a year ago that the Franklin Square resident ran for 800+ yards and 15 touchdowns…Not receiving the same quantity of carries this season has cut into his numbers a bit (32 touches for 248 yards, four touchdowns), but he should still be considered mighty dangerous.

When not busy racking up major mileage with his feet, Sluka is nothing if not the epitome of a dual-threat QB….Making the conscious effort to improve his passing during last off-season, the progression has showed, as he is converting on nearly 70 percent (60-for-87) of his throw attempts and is on pace to shatter his previous bests for yards and touchdown tosses.  With 981 yards in the air and 10 additional touchdowns, you see why we feel he should be prominent in the conversation for Newsday Nassau Player of the Year….The red-headed stud completed 7 of 8 passes for 88 yards and one touchdown in the win over STP.

Aiding Sluka in re-writing his personal record book has been fellow seniors, Matt Mongelli (17 grabs for 452 yards and a team-leading eight touchdown catches), Bobby Filshie (12 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD), and Sean Boll (5 catches for 110 yards)…Mongelli was kept out of the box score during the first meeting, so you know he will looking to make amends…Filshie,  who might still be riding the high of scoring his first career TD last week had a 2-catch, 19-yard effort last month against the Eagles, and Boll is a home-run hitter who may not catch a large number of balls, but picks up huge chunks of yards when the ball does find its way into his hands….DeLucia (13 catches for 259 yards, 1 TD this season) will also be a major presence in the aerial attack, as his three catches for 54 was the team-high against St. Peters.

Setting the tone for a #2 ranked defense that has something to prove after getting pushed around a bit by the massive offensive line of the Eagles will be reigning AA Defensive Player of the Year, Danny Wilson (43 tackles, 1 sack), Jake Deakin (30 tackles, 1 INT), Paul McGuinness (25 tackles, 2 sacks), and Thomas Brzezinski (25 tackles, 3 QB bags)…We are anticipating a heavy dose of power running from St. Peter’s, but should they go to the sky, Peter Talierco (3 INTs) will be ready.

As it pertains to George Mahoney’s Eagles, this is a team that over the course of the second half of the regular season proved that when necessary, they are capable of putting a big number up on the scoreboard…In addition to posting the highest total of the season against their quarterfinal opponent Firebirds, the Staten Island based school most recently posted their second 40-point performance of the season when they knocked off Mount St. Michael Academy, 42-18.

Owning a win (15-0) over Western Conference champion, Xaverian, during week #6, despite their 4-4 record, anyone who has been paying attention is well aware of how potent St. Peter’s is when they bring their “A” game to the turf.

Sonny Badyna

And while season statistics were not available at the time of publication, three names that we know the Firebirds will have to concern themselves with are Sonny Badyna, Kaiwan Taylor, and Eric Torres….Badyna is a remarkable story, as he successfully transitioned from a throw-first QB that hurled for nearly 1,700 yards as a junior into a beast on the ground who has posted several multiple rushing touchdown games this season.  One of his finest showings within the new scheme occurred in the contest against Kellenberg when he ran for 137 yards and scored four TDs on 28 carries.  This was at least his second 4-TD outing of the season as he previously did the deed in earning POTW honors during a week #2 win over St. Joe’s the Sea….Taylor, who had a nine-yard touchdown run in the road loss during week #7, will also be coming into the postseason with guns ablazin.  In the aforementioned regular season finale victory over the Mountaineers, Taylor would account for 24 of the Eagles 42 points by scoring on four separate TD occasions…Torres would be the catalyst in the victory over Xaverian as it was his TD run that created momentum.

Being the linchpin for a defense that will need to be the best it has been all year is another former Player of the Week, Frank Cullen….When honored during week #6, it was noted that since his moved to the Mike LB position, the Eagle defense as a whole has taken on an entirely new identity.

Perhaps the ultimate wildcard that we cannot help but mention is senior place-kicker, Nick Guglielmo…Earning player of the week honors just days ago, the 6’1, 190-pound Brooklyn resident brings something to the table that we have never seen before.  During the course of the 2018 season, his kick-offs have been so funky that it has caused major havoc for any opposing team trying to field them…Just as he did during the week #8 win over the Mount, when Guglielmo faced the ‘Berg, he twice was able to steal possessions with onside kicks…Putting the “special” in special teams, what makes an individual like Guglielmo such a game-changer is that even when you know it is coming, he is so polished at his art that he still is able to execute at key moments.  If he has his voodoo working this Saturday, it could spell doom for the champs.

 

#2 (West) Fordham Prep (5-3) vs. #3 (East) St. John the Baptist (3-5)

When: Saturday November 3rd, 2018

Where: Flowers Park @Fosina Field

Time: 7pm

Synopsis

A rematch of last year’s quarterfinal, won by eventual double-A runners-up, Fordham Prep (35-6), many of the key names and faces have changed for the Rams this season, but the wins continue to keep rolling in.

Replacing not just their head coach [Pat Deane stepped in for Peter Gorynski], but four All-State players on the offensive side of the ball, at the onset of 2018, we were sincere when saying that we thought that this might be a rebuilding year on East Fordham Road….But, showing themselves to be a team that refused to rebuild and instead just reload, the Rams have forced us to eat a big dish of crow by exceeding all expectations.

A big reason why the transition between old and new regime went so smoothly was the immediate impact of senior quarterback, Derek Bufano….The successor to one of the greatest signal callers in the history of the NYCHSFL [3x All-State, Matthew= Valecce], in his first year as the varsity starter, the Cortland Manor resident has done a banner job of moving the ball up and down the field with poise and precision…Connecting on 55.1 percent of his throw attempts (103-for-187), the 6’0, 165-pounder led all AA quarterbacks with 15 touchdown passes and was second in the division with 1,490 yards through week #7.

 

Derek Bufano

Filling the cleats of Liam McHale, Will Loffredo, and Thomas Walsh, who combined to make 185 catches for 2,872 yards and 36 touchdowns have been Matthew McCarthy (33 catches for 512 yards, four touchdowns), Owen Loffredo (20 grabs for 259 yards, w/two TDs), and an incumbent from the 2017 season, Jack Goodkin (19 catches for 290 yards, four TDs).

Conversion project, Zachary Wallace, has also thrived in his junior season at running back after spending all of 2017 in a different kind of backfield, AKA the secondary…The perfect complementary piece to the passing attack, in his first year on offense, the New Rochelle resident is just six yards shy of 600 for the season and has scored five touchdowns on his 71 carries…Wallace has also caught three touchdowns passes on seven total grabs.

In their five wins this season, the Rams have averaged 33.4 points per game, as opposed to 10 points per game they put up in their three losses…Hence, what the trend tells is that should this game turn into a fireworks display, where 6’s are plentiful, the flow will favor the host team.

Anticipating the usual run-heavy approach common to St. John the Baptist, the onus will be on the likes of George Gaspar (67 tackles), Mike Rice (44 stops), Jaysen Sanz (37 tackles), Liam O’Shea (19 tackles; 2 sacks) and Arthur Long (16 tackles, 2 sacks) to plug any and all holes in the trenches.

Facing a Rams team that has allowed over 300 yards on the ground in each of their past two appearances, the name of the game for Ralph Carusillo and the St. John the Baptist Cougars will be misdirection, misdirection, and mo

Bobby Spano

re misdirection….Masters of the triple-option scheme, SJB is accumulating just under 200 yards per game (196.9) and have scored an average of two touchdowns on the ground…Featuring the duo of senior Bobby Spano (585yards, 4 TDs) and sophomore, Jayden Louis (391 yards on 67 carries, with 3 touchdowns), the West Islip school will attack you from every angle.  Simply put, if the person is wearing a jersey on Saturday, consider them a potential ball carrier…David Amelemah (141 yards, 1 TD), Nick Delcore (88 yards, 1 TD), Christian Maisel (2 touchdowns on just 3 carries), etc, add to the Baptist rushing depth.

Having thrown the ball just 71 times through seven games (28-for-71; 517 yards, 3 TDs), unless put in a situation where it becomes necessary, we are not counting on junior quarterback, Nick Mazziotti, to turn into a gun-slinger overnight…However, on the few occurrences where the Cougars throw just to catch FP off-guard, Delcore (the team’s QB last year) appears as if he will be the likely target.  With 15 catches for 375 yards and two touchdowns, the 6’2, 180-pounder out of Smithtown, leads all receiving categories for his team…Maisel (5 snatches for 131 yards) is the only other SJB student-athlete with multiple TD receptions this season.

Larry Conde (37 tackles, 2 sacks), Jakob Melendez (38 tackles), Sebastian Lebron (15 tackles, 1 pass break-up), as well as Delcore (31 tackles, 2 INTs, 2 PDs), Maisel (24 stops, 1 INT), and Amelemah (13 tackles, 1 INT, 3 pass defenses) will occupy a last line of defense that will need to be on their toes against one of the top pass attacks in the NYCHSFL.

Nov 022018
 

By Matt Diano:

#2 Iona Prep (6-1) vs. #7 Chaminade (2-6)

When: Saturday November 3rd, 2018

Where: Iona Prep High School

Time: 5:30 pm

Synopsis

A rematch of a game played last week, the second-seeded Gaels were challenged early (led 19-14 at the half) but eventually would pull away during the final 24 minutes to win 47-14.

A program that is not short on talent on either side of the ball, Iona Prep features the #1 overall offense in the NYCHFL with regard to points per game (42.7)..Held under 40 just once this season (scored 33 in their lone loss this season to St. Anthony’s), the gentlemen from New Rochelle are capable of moving forward with equal proficiency by air or by ground.  We are not exaggerating when we proclaim that we do not detect a known weakness at any of the offensive skill positions.

Lining up under center for IP will be senior standout, Derek Robertson….The owner of the Westchester County single-season passing yards record with 2,774 as a junior in 2017, with a deep run into the AAA playoffs, the two-year starter is on pace to surpass all of his already lofty previous milestones…He heads into his second varsity postseason having completed 164 of his 250 attempts (65.6%) for 2,100 yards and 23 touchdowns (just four short of his 2017 total)…In the week #8 showdown between these two teams, Robertson would be completely locked in, as he connected on 24 of 31 attempts for 296 yards and a pair of touchdowns…As he looks to advance the Gaels to the semifinal round for the second time in as many tries during his scholastic career, look for another big day out of the 6’2, 185-pound Yonkers native.

Frankie McFadden

Outside and in the slot, the Gaels tend to rely on three equally efficient senior receivers—Matt Panker, Sean Fleming, and Camari Glasgow….Last Sunday, Panker, who leads the AAA division in all pass catching categories (47 catches for 733 yards, 10 touchdowns) would be his usual self, grabbing eight balls for 106 yards + 1 TD….Glasgow would also make eight catches (134 yards, 1 TD) during the regular season finale and now has season totals of 38 receptions for 537 yards and five TDs….Fleming, who had been held to no fewer than four catches in any previous game during the season, would have a rather uneventful day during week #8, making just one snatch for five yards.  If need be, look for him to be more assertive this weekend, as he takes to the field having made 41 grabs for 407 yards and four touchdowns in 2018.

A workhorse in the backfield this season for Iona Prep, super sophomore, Frankie McFadden, made his varsity debut in last year’s quarterfinal round and shined, running for 71 yards and a score on only 13 carries in a win over Monsignor Farrell…There has been no drop-off as a 10th grader, as he currently is tied for the overall AAA lead with 10 rushing touchdowns and is third in yardage with 766 yards on 123 carries.  In last week’s game against the Flyers, he would have his easiest load of the season, carrying the ball just nine times, but still accumulating 83 yards and finding the end zone once….Reigning NYCHFL Player of the Week honoree, Jayden Lambert, should also be considered a factor this weekend following a very solid showing last week.  Gaining just 40 yards in limited action through the first seven weeks of the season, the two-way student-athlete would come close to matching his career high (77) by rushing for 71 yards on four touches versus Chaminade.

For the visiting Flyers, who are looking to advance past the first weekend of the postseason for the first time since winning the AA crown in 2014, the key to trying to steal this game is ball control…If the Marianist program under the guidance of Mr. Kevin Dolan tries to engage in a shootout, it will not be a pleasant day for the Crimson & Gold.   As has already been proven, the Gaels are too skilled and athletic and if this became a battle of big-gainers, the clear advantage resides with Iona Prep.

On the contrary, as they demonstrated in their biggest victory of the season over defending League and State titlists, Archbishop Stepinac, on October 5th, when Chaminade is able to have long, sustained drives where the firepower of the opponent can be negated, then all bets are off for the Mineola based school.

Conor McCormick

Tasked with the job of keeping the chains moving will be senior quarterback, Thomas Rogan and fellow 12th grade tailback, Brandon Janosko….More of a pure athlete than a polished gun-slinger, Rogan has struggled a bit when airing the ball out.  He has been at his best when his offensive line gives him a seam and allows him to use his legs to scramble.  The Dartmouth bound attackman on the lax field has the ability to take it to the house on every snap.  However, because we have already established that time of possession is the best friend the Flyers can have this Saturday, we would be content seeing him chew off 5-7 yards per carry…Janosko, who was credited with both of Chaminade’s touchdowns during week #8 has been coming on strong down the stretch.   Carrying the ball 20+ times for more than 80 yards in the aforementioned victory over Stepinac, he is the ideal grinder that can be used as a complementary piece to Rogan.

Spotting the pass to properly set up the run, Chaminade happens to have one of the best WRs in the NYCHFL in the person of Conor McCormick….At 6’3, 205-pounds, he is a match-up nightmare for most defensive backs…If the Flyers can get him in one-on-one coverage, he will be able to use his size to win a lot of 50/50 balls, thus becoming another potential weapon in the upset bid.

While it has been hit or miss on defense, Chaminade has more than their fair share of potential play-makers in the persons of front-7 members, Phillip Arnold, Matt Grimm, and Connor Dempsey….In the “w” over Stepinac, all three young men recorded double-digit stops….Sean Tariche and Dan Schaefer, will need to play the game of their careers in the defensive backfield to prevent Robertson and his trio of game-changers from taking over.

 

#3 Archbishop Stepinac (4-4) vs. #6 Christ the King (1-6

When: Sunday November 4th, 2018

Where: Archbishop Stepinac High School

Time: 1pm

Synopsis

It’s been five years since Archbishop Stepinac failed to advance to the semifinal round and by the looks of things, it will require a major upset from Christ the King to prevent Head Coach, Mike O’Donnell and the Crusaders from making it an even six.

One of the hottest teams in New York State at the moment, for the past three weeks, every second has had the tension of pressure of a postseason game for the boys from White Plains….Buried at the bottom of the AAA standings following a 0-3 start to league play, the Crusaders have looked like a completely different team since week #6, including a 52-26 head-to-head victory over this same Royals squad two weeks ago…As Crash Davis uttered in the iconic baseball film, “Bull Durham”, “Never ‘mess’ with a winning streak”, and with Stepinac taking the field riding a three-game rally, until proven otherwise, every opponent should be on high alert.

CJ Wise

Combining to rush for 257 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season meeting, Stepinac received huge efforts out of CJ Wise (396 yards +2 TDs; 20 catches for 229 yards, 2 touchdowns in 2018) and Mekhi Green (376 yards, 3 touchdowns)…Wise, ran for a career high 165 yards and two scores, while Green took his only carry of the game 61 yards for the TD….Add in the presence of the team’s #1 option out of the backfield, Malik Grant (709 yards, 4 TDs), who did not play during week #7, and it goes without saying that CTK is going to have their hands full in stopping their third seeded foes from running wild this Sunday.

Also at the forefront of Stepinac’s highest single-season point total this season in the win over Christ the King was junior QB, Joey Carino…Playing statistically his finest game of the 2018 season, the 6’2, 190-pounder out of Somers, NY would tie his career-high of three touchdown passes and post his second highest total in yardage with 226 on 13-for-20….Enduring some struggles at times during the first half of the year, Carino was developed from a quarterback who had an 8:5 TD to INT ratio after week 5 into a polished field general who has improved that number to 6:1 during the current winning streak…On the year, Carino is completing 53.7 percent of his attempts (94-for-175) and has thrown for 1,287 yards and 14 total scores.  Not a stranger to taking off with the ball in his hands, the 11th grader is also fourth on the team with 243 rushing yards and three additional touchdowns.

Coinciding with Carino’s turnaround has been the reemergence of senior wide-receiver, Shawn Harris…Regarded as one of the most feared true playmakers at the onset of the season, the Mount Vernon resident had been kept out of the promised land in five of Stepinac’s first six games…However, after catching on TD pass in the win over Monsignor Farrell, Harris exploded for all three of Carino’s TD hurls in the triumph over the Royals…Making five grabs in posting just his second 100-yard (102) receiving game of the year against CTK, Harris finished the regular season with a stat line that read as follows: 35 catches, 552 yards receiving, seven TD grabs…With two additional touchdowns coming as a punt/kick returner, there is never a time that the opponent should feel safe when #6 has the ball in his arms.

Fresh off of an incredible 11-sack effort in their week 8 victory over Cardinal Hayes, the Stepinac D-unit is also showing every sign of peaking at the perfect time….Surrendering 30 points per game during the program’s 1-4 start to the season, this talent-rich cohort has shaved nearly nine points off of that previous average during their last three contests…..Led by returning NYS sack king, Doug Simmons (58 tackles, 10 sacks, 8 QB hurries), the front-7 for AS is a who’s who of studs—Kevin Gray (#8 in NYS with 111 tackles; 7 sacks, 3 hurries), Kevin McKenna (79 stops, 9 QB bags, 5 hurries),  and Joe Garbowski (40 tackles, 7 sacks) are also forces that CTK will have to be mindful during all situations….De’Andre Smith, who led all Crusader tacklers during week #7 with 12 stops, is a hybrid linebacker, who covers the pass (5 break-ups) just as well as he handles the run (63 tackles)

On the flip side, while they may have fallen in the game, there was still plenty of positive things for CTK Head Coach, Jason Brown, to take away from the loss to Stepinac….Scoring a season-high 26 points, the Royals looked incredibly smooth with the ball in their possession.  They need to be just as good, if not better, during this weekend’s rematch.

Noah Bodden

Tying his 2018 best with 16 completions (on 31 attempts), sophomore QB, Noah Bodden, played turnover free football for the first time all season…His 164 yards in the air (3rd highest total of the season) would yield a pair of touchdown passes to Jarald Coleman (made 5 of his 7 catches this season during this one game) and star tailback, Tirek Murphy (3 grabs for 8 yards)…10th grader, Stanley Oxford (7 catches for 86 yards this season) had what was by far his best showing of the year, making a trio of snatches for a team-leading 47 yards in the defeat…The program’s top-3 targets this season, Dante Goodwyn (17 catches, 269 yards, 2 TDs), Jahrell Billips (15 grabs for110 yards), and Thaliq Battle (13 receptions, 292 yards, 1 touchdowns) all had relatively quiet games, making only four grabs among themselves.  Thus, if they contribute more, it will go a long way towards helping the Royals’ cause.

Speaking of Murphy, the 247Sports 4-star prospect who is still projected to be Ann Arbor (University of Michigan) bound in the fall of 2020, posted his only two touchdown game rushing of the season against the Crusaders.  Carrying the ball 19 times for 95 yards, Murphy threatened to cross the 100-yard barrier for the third time this season…He steps onto the gridiron for the quarterfinals having run for 580 total yards (on 110 touches) and scored six times…Senior, Andre McGann (37 carries, 125 yards, 1 TD) might expect to get some additional hand-offs this weekend after averaging 6.0/carry on his four attempts versus Stepinac.

While it need not be said, the offense is not the only unit that will need to show up on Sunday…Even if Bodden, Murphy, and the whole cast of freak CTK student-athletes have magic efforts, it will still be imperative that the defense find a way to keep Stepinac below 30…What this means is that leading-tackler Jahlil Watson (51 tackles, 3 sacks), Penn State lean, Jared Harrison-Hunte (38 tackles, 3 sacks), Zephron Lester (23 stops, 2 sacks), as well as sophomores Chris King (15 tackles, team-high 4 sacks) and Elijah Muhammad (19 tackles, 1 sack, 1 INT) among others will need to win their battles along the line of scrimmage….Seniors, Jahlani Sundar (24 stops, 1 INT) and Rudy Silvera (21 stops), both of whom had five tackles during the first go-around will need to keep Harris honest.

Worth noting is that because of the chaotic weather last weekend, Christ the King’s week #8 game was cancelled.  So, they will be extremely well-rested and have had two weeks to formulate a strategy.

 

#4 Monsignor Farrell (5-3) vs. #5 Cardinal Hayes (2-4

When: Saturday November 3rd, 2018

Where: Monsignor Farrell High School

Time: 5pm

Synopsis

An instant classic the first time these two storied programs met on September 28th (week #4), it was the Lions of Monsignor Farrell stealing the “w” when they scored a go-ahead touchdown off of a punt block in the final 4:00 of regulation and then bent but did not break on defense in the closing moments to emerge on the preferred side of a 26-24 war.

Trailing on the scoreboard for the much of the contest (including down 24-13 at the break), the Staten Island school did what it has been doing all season long, demonstrate perseverance in the heights of despair…Whether it be injury or deficit, the Tony Garofalo mentored brigade has taken everything thrown at it in 2018 and still managed to come out on top more times than not.

Vin Wagner Image Courtesy of SI Live

Proving pivotal in the comeback effort would be senior quarterback, Mike Regan, and 2017 Honorable Mention All-State selection tailback, Vin Wagner….Playing pitch and catch with each other on a pair of touchdowns (one in each half), it was a 6-yard strike in the first quarter that gave the Lions the initial 7-0 lead…But alas, their biggest hook-up of the evening and perhaps of the season came in the 4th quarter when still trailing by that same 11-point margin, the one 12th grader hit the other for a 46-yard momentum changer to make the score 24-18….The 6’5, 190-pound quarterback (59-for-102; 835 yards, 12 touchdowns in his swan song) concluded the evening having completed 10-of-24 pass attempts for 162 yards and the previously cited two scores…And while Wagner would be on the back end of the two touchdowns, it would be another Lion, junior WR, Christian Tait, serving as the primary option out wide, as he caught seven balls for 105 yards…Tait (43 catches for 618 yards and four TDs) has been one of the saving graces for Farrell this season as his breakout effort has enabled the Lions to overcome the loss of what was expected to be their top receiver this year, Lucas Turco (limited to 6 catches for 43 yards and two TDs)…Senior, Mike Travers (12 grabs for 147 yards and a pair of TDs) has caught at least one pass in six games this season and if ignored, could be the sleeper of the quarterfinal round.

Even though there is a confidence on Amboy Road that the team can move the ball in the air, the smart money would suggest that come this weekend, Hayes should be equally prepared for the power running game that Wagner has brought with him the past two seasons…Ranked 2nd in the AAA division with 859 yards this season (108 carries) with three touchdowns, the 6’1 220-pound brute has posted four games of 100-plus yards this season.  On two of these four occasions, including the game against the Cardinals (26 carries, 201 yards), Wagner went above and beyond, rushing for 200+ yards in a single outing…Regan (5 keepers for 60 yards against Hayes) has been considerably more active in the scrambling aspect of the QB position this season and has cemented himself as a dual-threat by topping all Lions with four touchdowns and finishing behind only Wagner in yardage with 331 (an average of more than 10 yards per attempt).

Spearheading the defense that pitched the shutout during the final 24 minutes of play several weeks back were junior linebackers, Anthony Pollio (8 tackles, 2 sacks), Sean Shivers (7 stops), and Christopher Ortalano (7 tackles)…Pollio, enters this Saturday as Farrell’s leader in both tackles (32) and sacks (5)…Ortalano, who actually had the game-winning return off of the block from Vincent Renna, is second on the squad with 29 stops and also has an interception this season….Shivers rounds out the top-3 with 23 tackles in 2018….Another 11th grader, DE Domenick Battaglia (20 tackles 1 sack) notched his lone QB bag in the win over Hayes…Senior DB, JonMichael Monaco, was superb in the secondary, making five tackles, intercepting a ball, and being credited with two pass break-ups during the week #4 victory.

Hayes, who despite being 0-1 this season against Farrell, should be comforted by the knowledge that with the exception of that one key unexpected turn of event (AKA the punt block), they controlled large parts of the first meeting.

Finalists in 2015, champions in 2016, and semifinalists a season ago, Head Coach, CJ O’Neill, knows how to motivate his studs when the stakes are the highest…Earlier this month, 2018 NFL #2 overall draft pick/current New York Giant rookie sensation, Saquon Barkley, made a surprise visit to the Bronx campus and offered wisdom and encouragement as the fifth-seeded Cardinals take their first steps towards defying the odds and winning another triple-A title

Sofian Massoud

Anchored by one of, if not the most well-respected field generals in the NYCHSFL/returning 3rd Team All-State pick, Sofian Massoud, when Cardinal Hayes plays up to their potential, they are a scary draw for any team in New York State….Tossing for over 3,000 yards and 32 touchdowns as a first-year starter under center in 2017, the 247sports 3-star prospect has not put up the same video game caliber statistics as a junior, but is still as lethal as ever with his arm…In the initial meeting against Farrell, the 6’2, 175-pounder was not as sharp as he would have liked in terms of precision (20-for-42; 47.6 percent), but still managed to hurl for 247 yards and three touchdowns in the losing effort.

Adding to allure of the two-year starting quarterback is the confidence he seems to have in himself to spread the pigskin all over the field.  His vision is so top notch that if the opposing defense loses sight of their man for just a split second, a big gainer is likely to ensue…In the loss to the Lions, Massoud would hit four different receivers for at least two catches each and all three of his TD strikes were to unique targets…And while he may not have the luxury of competing alongside the likes of former Cardinal legends/All-State selections, Lucas Nunez (66-1,399-15 in 2017) or Elijah Jones (39-1,017-14 last season), there remains no shortage of speed and skill among the receiving corps….Sweeping the Cardinals in all major pass-catching categories was junior, Jalen Smith, who through seven weeks of the regular season had made 35 catches for 500 yards and seven touchdowns.  Against Farrell, the 5’9, 165-pounder had a career night, catching a personal best 10 passes for 109 yards and 1 TD….Providing a second wave of targets are the senior trio of Micheal Escobar, Angel Tamarez, and Tafari Mason….All three recording double-digit receptions this season, Escobar made four catches for 72 yards, Tamarez 4 for 39, and Mason 2 for 27 versus Farrell.

Jeremye Brown-Allen and his nearly 600 yards and five touchdowns this season will also be a name to know this weekend.  Running for 100-yards twice this season through week #7, the 11th grade running back just missed another century performance against the Lions, falling two yards short (98) of the mark on his 22 carries.

The Cardinals defense, which has been a tad bit Jekyll & Hyde this season (allowing over 30 ppg) played quite well against Monsignor Farrell and will be counting on individuals such as Joel Atuahene (tied for the team-high with 38 tackles; team-best 2 sacks), Chyon Pearsall (38 stops), Micheal Tetteh (17 tackles, 1 sack), and Christian Zapata (12 stops, 1 sack) to hold firm upfront and keep Wagner under wraps…Atuahene and Pearsall combined for 14 tackles and six TFL against the Lions, while Tetteh and Zapata had four and three stops respectively…Junior ballhawk, Tafari Blackstock and his team-leading five interceptions in 2018, will try to put a lid on Tait from the defensive backfield.

Note: As described, because Cardinal statistics numbers are as of October 20th.

 

#1 St. Anthony’s – Quarterfinal Bye

 

Oct 302018
 

NYCHSFL Varsity Playoff Matchups Set.

All Quarter Final & Semi Final Matchups will be hosted by higher seed.

Best of luck to all teams in their quest for a championship!

 

AAA Quarterfinals

(1) St. Anthony’s – Bye

(2) Iona Prep vs (7) Chaminade – Sat 11/3 5:30 PM @Iona Prep H.S.

(3) Archbishop Stepinac vs (6) Christ the King – Sun 11/4 1:00 PM @Archbishop Stepinac H.S.

(4) Monsignor Farrell vs (5) Cardinal Hayes – Sat 11/3 5:00 PM @Monsignor Farrell H.S.


AA Quarterfinals

(1E) Kellenberg vs (4W) St. Peter’s – Sat 11/3 7:00 PM @Mitchel Ath. Complex

(2W) Fordham Prep v (3E) St. John the Baptist* – Sat 11/3 7:00 PM Flowers Park Fosina Field


(1W) Xaverian vs (4E) Xavier* – Sun 11/4 6:30 PM @Aviator Sports Complex

(2E) Holy Trinity vs (3E) Moore Catholic – Sun 11/4 1:30 PM @Holy Trinity


A Semi Finals (Nov 9th & 10th)

(1) Kennedy Catholic vs (4) Nazareth Fri 11/9 7:00 PM Kennedy Catholic H.S.

(2) Cardinal Spellman vs (3) St. Dominic’s

*Seeds were swapped to avoid matchup due to Annual Xavier – Fordham Prep Thanksgiving Day game.

 

Oct 302018
 

JV AAA & AA Playoff Matchups are set.  In both brackets with #1 and #2 seeds will receive a bye in the quarterfinals.  Higher seeds are home for all games. Sites and Times are still TBA.

AAA

(1) Iona Prep – BYE

(2) Chaminade – BYE

(3) Cardinal Hayes vs (6) St. Anthony’s

(4) Archbishop Stepinac vs (5) Monsignor Farrell

AA

(1) Kellenberg Memorial – BYE

(2) St. Francis Prep – BYE

(3) Holy Cross vs (6) St. Peter’s

(4) Fordham Prep vs (5) Xavier

 

Oct 252018
 

Due to the impending weather, ALL LEAGUE GAMES on SATURDAY have been CANCELLED OR POSTPONED.  Please check with each individual school for updates on whether games are being changed, rescheduled, postponed, or cancelled for this weekend.  Games scheduled for Friday night or Sunday will be played as scheduled.

Sep 262018
 

By Matt Diano:

Myles Proctor (Sr.); RB – Kennedy Catholic Gaels

Off to the program’s best start in quite some time, the current 3-0 Gaels have yet to be tested in 2018 and a big reason for that has been the electrifying performance of their senior dynamic duo in the backfield, Seth Surrett and Myles Proctor….We highlighted the former during the first week of the regular season and now it is the latter’s turn to bask in the spotlight.

An individual who was considered as a POTW candidate last weekend following a 13-carry, 112-yard, 1 TD performance in a 28-0 victory over Nazareth Regional, when we saw Proctor’s numbers from this past Saturday, we were glad we waited the extra week so as to capture his true breakthrough.

Playing only during the first half, the 6’2, 190-pounder out of Yorktown Heights not only logged his second straight 100+ yard showing, he went above and behind, exceeding the 200-yard mark for the first time in his scholastic career in the KC’s 35-0 blanking of St. Dominic’s….Carrying the ball a mere nine times on the afternoon, the 12th grader would rack up a career-high 215 yards (of the 267 earned collectively by the school), scoring three times on treks of 77, 55, and 11 yards…He would also find the energy to record five tackles from his linebacker position on defense to help the Gaels to a second straight goose-egging of the opposition.

Averaging an astounding 141 yards per contest through week #3, Proctor currently leads the “A’ division in all major ground categories with 423 yards on 35 carries (12.1/touch) and four touchdowns.

His 13 total stops also ranks him in the top-10 among Gaels in tackles this season.

Up next for the Gaels will be a week #4 clash against the defending “A” titlists, Cardinal Spellman.  With both teams still undefeated in league play, more than a few pundits are calling for this to be the first of two [also during the last week of the regular season] championship game previews…The host Pilots have yet to surrender a single point against “A” opponents this season.  On the contrary, KC is putting up an average of nearly 33 points per game and have not been held below 28 yet.

Matt Sluka (Sr.); QB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds

When you are the reigning Double-A Offensive Player of the Year and a returning 2nd Team All-State selection, one of the biggest challenges you face week after week is the pressure of trying to adhere to your own personal standard of excellence that at times borders on the realm of impossibility…When you are the red-headed assassin who dons the #10 jersey for the defending champion Firebirds, anytime you can succeed in raising the bar for yourself, it is a mighty big deal since that proverbial bar was already incredibly high to start.

This past Saturday night in a game that was being billed as a potential early preview of championship weekend, Sluka would emerge with statistically the best overall game of his two-year high school career in a 47-14 triumph on the road over Xavier.

Improving his record under center to a perfect 14-0, the 6’3, 205-pounder from Roslyn established new personal bests for total offense (362 yards) and passing yards (232), while also tying his previous record of five (set in last year’s AA title game) touchdowns.

Completing 9 of his 11 attempts in the air en route to the aforementioned new milestone, Sluka would post his first three-touchdown-passing effort as a member of the Blue & Gold…Connecting on all three TDs with fellow senior/Week #1 POTW honoree, Matthew Mongelli, Sluka’s first touchdown pass of the game would go for 60 yards and tie the game at six apiece in the first quarter…Leading 12-6, it would be his second dart of the half, a seven-yard strike that increased the lead to 19-6….Sluka’s final home-run hitter of the day would be his longest, as he displayed laser precision in lofting the ball over the outstretched arms of a defender to hit Mongelli along the sideline for an 85-yarder to make the score 40-14.

The state leader in yardage and rushing touchdowns by a quarterback last season in New York State, after being held to just 21 yards in the team’s season-opening victory over Holy Trinity on September 8th, Sluka has regained his top form during weeks 2 and 3, running for 117 and 130 yards respectively and combining to score five touchdowns with his legs…In the “w” over the host Knights, Sluka had one TD run in each half, including a 62-yard pilgrimage in the 3rd quarter in response to Xavier’s touchdown on their first possession of the final 24 minutes.

Sluka also converted on four of six PAT tries to play a role in 34 of the 47 total points accumulated by Kellenberg.

Well on his way to another All-State distinction, what has stood out most about Sluka has been the balance he has demonstrated in his attacks.  A year removed from scoring 70+ percent of his touchdowns on the ground, through three weeks of the season, he is putting up nearly a 1:1 ratio (6:5 to be exact) where his passing talents are slightly outweighing his contributions as a scrambler…Thus far, his stat line reads as follows: 30-for-43 (69.8%) for 513 yards and six TDs in the sky; 268 yards and an additional five scores on 30 carries (8.9 average) via the ground.

This is Sluka’s third career POTW distinction.  As a junior, he had the rare honor of being named twice in a span of three weeks (3 and 5).

 

Bobby Spano (Sr.); RB – St. John the Baptist Cougars

In his bestselling novel, The Five People You Meet In Heaven, author/sports writer, Mitch Albom addressed the subject of selflessness by penning this: “Sometimes when sacrifice something precious, you’re not really losing it.  You are just passing it on to someone else.”

In the case of the 5’7, 165-pound, senior tailback [Spano], much of scholastic career in general and his senior season in particular has been about doing all of the behind the scenes work so that it could be his teammates that were afforded the privilege of being the headliners…A dedicated lead blocker who despite never being the biggest guy on the field seems among the first to throw himself into harm’s way in order to create a hole for one of his peers, the influence that the Bay Shore resident has on the success of the running game far exceeds what you will in a weekend box score.

With these sentiments in mind, there is nothing more special or fitting then when the facilitator finally gets his moment to be the star.  And that occasion came to pass in the Cougar’s 51-6 win on September 22nd over Nazareth Regional.

Entering the week #3 contest having gained just 90 yards on 21 hand-offs (4.3/carry) this season, Spano would transform himself into an undeniable force, requiring only six touches to amass 200 yards (33.3 average).  Included in his career-day would be a 30yrd run in the second quarter that gave SJB a 21-0 lead.   He would also have a 93-yard blast to set up an additional score.

Not one to allow personal achievements to cloud the strong sense of “team” instilled in him by Coach Carusillo, Spano would continue to add to his reputation as a fierce “chaperone” for his fellow ball carriers.  With him serving as a human battering ram, Jayden Louis (60 yards on five carries) and Christian “Marvelous Mister” Maisel (38 yards on three hand-offs) each scored a pair of touchdowns…All in all, the West Islip based program accumulated 325 yards on the ground to improve to 2-1 this season.

The epitome of a “no job too small” philosophy, Spano rounded out his impressive day by doing solid work in all facets of special teams.

 

Joseph Costanzo (Sr.); LB – St. Anthony’s Friars

Our lone defensive player of the week recipient, the Friar senior checked off so many different boxes in the school’s 28-7 victory over Christ the King, last Saturday, that he made it impossible to ignore him.

Facing one of the most naturally gifted offenses anywhere in NYS that featured a running back holding a scholarship offer to the University of Michigan, a quarterback being actively watched by the likes of Penn State and Ohio, and several additional future college players at the other skill positions, the St. Anthony’s “D” would limit the Royals to no more than a  2nd quarter touchdown.

Showing himself to be a complete linebacker who is equally effective in both run and pass coverage, there wasn’t much more that the 5’11, 205-pounder could have done during week #3 to add to his statement-making afternoon.

Credited with 14 total tackles, Costanzo was a big reason why CTK’s highly routed tailback [Tirek Murphy], was kept to only 15 yards (on 8 carries) and the Middle Village school as a whole mustered only 78 yards gained on 27 attempts (2.7 average).

The STA 12th grader also shined in passing down situations, as he earned a quarterback sack and had one of two interceptions [Nick Espada accounting for the other pick] on the day for the boys from South Huntington.

Speaking of creating turnovers, the INT was one of just three change of possessions that Costanzo had a direct hand in bringing to fruition.  His truck-like hits to ball carriers also resulted in a pair of forced fumbles.

Now, as the Reichert-guided Friars inch closer to a week #4 rematch of last year’s triple-A title contest against a very diverse and athletic Stepinac offense (averaging 438.6 yards of total production), the D-unit will be counting on Costanzo to remain locked in…Should the front seven be successful in matching their intensity from last week, the Friars have every reason to feel confident about their prospects of improving to 4-0 in 2018.

 

CJ Riccobono (Jr.); RB/LB – Holy Trinity Titans

Back-to-back weeks that a Titan is being recognized, last time it was the muscle [John Stroughn] catching our eye, whereas today, we are pleased to acknowledge the finesse/skill [Riccobono] of the operation.

Turning the clock back to 2016, when Holy Trinity averaged over 37 points per game behind All-State tailback, Umari Taylor, the Tony Mascia-mentored cohort threw “half a hundred” on the scoreboard for the first time in two years this past Saturday in their 50-20 victory over St. Joseph’s by the Sea.

Providing the spark and further asserting himself as someone who is destined for present and future greatness was the junior tailback out of New Hyde Park, who maintained his workhorse status for a third straight weekend…Setting new career benchmarks for total carries (27) and yards gained [146] in the team’s second win of the season, Riccobono’s pair of touchdowns on the ground were two of the five in all that the Hicksville based school plunged into the end zone on September 22nd….He has now scored at least once in every appearance in 2018 and will head into the fourth week of the regular season riding a two-game two-touchdown streak…His 146-yard showing, which came as a follow-up to the 123-yard show he put on during week #2, made it consecutive 100+ games for the 5’9, 185-pounder.  To accomplish this twice in a matter of attempts, is a sign of a potentially revolutionary player.

Scoring both of his touchdowns in the 2nd quarter, Riccobono would turn a narrow 15-8 edge into a comfortable 29-8 half time advantage when he broke free on runs of 4 and 9 yards respectively to conclude the first 24 minutes of competition.

After three games, Riccobono’s [115.3/contest) 346 yards and five touchdowns both rank within the top-3 in the Double-A division.

Punching the clock on the defensive side of the ball to boot, Riccobono finished the game tied for 3rd on the team with five stops and earned his first sack of the season.   Playing their best game of the season, the front seven held the foes from Staten Island to a modest 2.2 yard/carry average (35 yards on 16 hand-offs).

Photo from SI Live

Michael Regan (Sr.); QB – Monsignor Farrell Lions

For those who do not put much stock in the saying, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish”, consider for a moment the day that the 6’5, 190-pound Lions signal caller [Regan] had this past Saturday in leading the Maroon & Gold to a 34-20 conquest on the road over Chaminade….Commencing the game by missing on his first three passing attempts, if you were to rush to judgement, you’d say that week #3 was not going to be a banner one for the Staten Island resident…YOU’D BE WRONG!!!

Calling it “The most efficient and complete performance” of Regan’s two-year varsity career, Head Coach, Anthony Garofalo, had nothing but praise for his field general, as he witnessed his team start the season 3-0 for a third year in a row.

Battling back from his initial struggles, Regan transformed himself from mortal to Marvel Comics character, as he was about as close to “Bullseye” as you could be for the remaining 3.5 quarters…Connecting on 13 of his final 14 attempts, the Lion co-captain hurled for 187 yards (3rd highest single-game total) and tied his personal best of three touchdown tosses in earning the first Player of the Week designation.

In synch with junior wide-out, Christian Tait (caught 10 of the 13 completions) all afternoon, Regan would double his team’s 7-0 lead in the second quarter when he found his teammate over the middle on a 16-yard strike for the first of their three hook-ups to make the score 13-0…Later in the quarter, it would a perfectly executed over-the-shoulder throw from approximately the same distance to make the score 20-0….The #10 to #13 TD trifecta would be capped off at the onset of the 3rd quarter and would be in response to the host Flyers’ touchdown on their first possession of the 2nd half, keeping the contest a three-score affair, 27-7.

Quite adept with his legs too, Regan was the furthest thing from one-dimensional last Saturday, as he tied his personal-best of nine carries and fell just short of a career-high in yardage (87 last season) with 80.

After completing 51.6 percent (79-for-153) of his passes for 892 yards and nine touchdowns as a junior, the “skyscraper in the pocket” is on track to obliterate his 2017 stat line, as he is currently sporting a 68.1 completion percentage (32-of-47), has already rocketed his way to 390 yards, and is just four TDs short of reaching double digits…His 156 yards on the ground puts him more than half way to the 310 he gained as an 11th grader.

Farrell will face their biggest test of the season thus far in week #4 when they go toe-to-toe with Cardinal Hayes…In their 51-48 loss to Iona Prep, the Cardinals secondary, which consists of several new faces, allowed 324 yards and four touchdowns.  Thus, unless they gelled in a hurry there could be openings to exploit for Regan and the MF receiving corps.

Sep 132018
 

This season the AA division features a new format since it has grown to 12 teams.  There will be 2 regional divisions, East & West consisting of 6 teams each.  Teams will play all of the teams in their respective region and then cross-over for 2 more AA Regular Season Games.  The top 4 from each region will then qualify for the AA Playoffs where the teams will be bracketed and cross over for playoff matchups (ie. 1 East v 4 West, 2 West v 3 East & 1 West v 4 East, 2 East v 3 West).

By Matt Diano:

Holy Cross

Head Coach

Tim Smith (4th Season As Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-4/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 26-22, to Xavier

2018 Overview

Now entering their second season as a “AA” program, the Green & Gold army would have a very strong regular season in 2017, earning the #3 seed for the postseason but ultimately getting bounced prematurely by a fired-up Xavier squad.

Gone in 2018 are many of the student-athletes who were paramount to the successes the Knights enjoyed last season.  Included in the lot of graduated seniors were a trio of state recognized warriors—Justin Felder (3rd Team RB), Mike Taylor (3rd Team DL), and Corey Allen (Honorable Mention Defensive Back)…Further subtractions from the roster were the likes of Tyler Hallerdin (second on the team with 129 rushing yards; contributed 27 tackles on defense), Brandon Orgill (tied for the team-lead with 16 receptions), Myles Taitt-Cooper (40 tackles; team-high 8 pass defenses), Thomas Tuohy (33 tackles, 4 PDs), and Russell Riescher (37 tackles, 2 QB bags).

What this means for Coach Tim Smith and his Knights is that it is more important than ever that those individuals who served in reserve roles a season, come into the new year fully prepared to battle.

In the midst of major roster turnover, if there is one position where the Knights do not have to fret, it will be under center where they will return their starter from 2017, senior, Michael Henglein.  As an 11th grader, the resident of Broad Channel, would have a productive campaign, completing 58-of-121 attempts (47.9%) for 932 yards and four touchdowns.   In fact, the only critique you could make of the 5’10, 181-pound field general is that he would like to limit turnovers (six INTs)…Without the safety net of a game-changing RB like Felder, it will force Henglein to take his game to the next level and serve as the poised composure that his band needs him to be in 2018.

Holy Cross 2017 College Commits

Losing the 1,600 yards (10th in NYS) and 21 TDs (9th) posted by Felder a season ago, Holy Cross will have to hope that senior, Chance Ward, can dig deep and find another level as he takes over as the most experienced tailback on the roster….As a junior, Ward, who at 5’10 and 195-pounds has the size and strength to barrel over defenders, would rush for 62 yards and be the only non-senior to score a TD on his 14 attempts.

Seth Orengo, who it should be noted, has been used in the past as a running option (7 carries for 41 yards) is the leader among returning players in receptions with 3 for 35 yards.  With the top-5 targets from last season now on to bigger and better, his numbers are sure to go up…Senior TE, Tyriek Dodd, only made one catch last season, but it went for 65 yards, so you know he has stretch the field potential.  At 6’5, 210, he should be able to establish position anytime he wants against smaller LBs and DBs.

With the majority of last year’s starting defense also consisting of seniors, there will not be much of an advantage to being on “D” as opposed to having possession.  In each case, Smith will be putting his faith in the hands of young men who will need to play with a chip on their shoulders to make up for what they lack in actual proven track record.

Perhaps the one trait that distinguishes the defense from the offense is that the former has a known foundation in the persons of linebackers extraordinaire, Donte Kenney and Joshua Rivera….Ranked 1st and 3rd on the team in total tackles last season with 81 and 49 respectively, the 12th grade duo also combined for four sacks (3 by Kenney)…As the expression says, as they go, so too will the remaining nine.

Floral Park resident, John Zarnowski (9 tackles, 1 interception), is the only other player who appeared to receive noticeable field time last season.  As such, he becomes the default commander of the back line.

Holy Trinity

Head Coach

Tony Mascia (28th Season at the School)

Last Season

Record: 1-7/Did not Qualify for the “AA” Playoffs

2018 Overview

A year removed from a disappointing 1-7 season, anyone who knows anything about Titan football is already keenly aware of the fact that last season was without question paradoxical….Under the leadership of Tony Mascia, who is approaching his third decade in Hicksville, Holy Trinity is not a program that is down often; and when they are down, it usually does not last particularly long….With these sentiments in mind, we would be incredibly surprised if we did not see a major bounce back from the Green & White army in 2018.

QB Ryan Razzano will lead the Titan offense

As the saying goes, “One’s team loss is another’s gain” and in the case of Holy Trinity, that gain will come in the person of senior quarterback, Ryan Razzano.  A two-year starter under center for McGann-Mercy before the school shut its doors this past June, while the circumstances surrounding his arrival are painful to any person who truly appreciates the value of a catholic education and wishes to see it survive, you likely won’t hear the Titans crying over it.  In fact, if anything, they will probably thank the Heavenly father for the sacrifice that has delivered them this dynamic dual-threat field general…Equally blessed in all of his appendages, the 5’10, 180-pounder from Manorville may only have this season to make his mark in the NYCHSFL, but from all the things we have heard, we feel confident he will succeed in becoming a household name.

In addition to the firepower that Razzano will bring to HT in all facets, the Titans will also welcome back their leading rusher from a season ago, senior Jalen Rivers.  As the program’s primary option in the ground game in 2017, the Westbury native would accumulate 247 yards on the ground and find the end zone on three occasions on 58 touches from scrimmage….Fellow seniors–Chris Porcaro, Jason Brown, Spencer Nixon—as well as emerging junior, CJ Riccobono, will all be called upon to provide that second wave of speed/power from the offensive backfield….Aside from Rivers, it is Riccobono, despite his young age, who possesses the most experience, carrying the ball 21 times for 48 yards as a sophomore in 2017…Porcaro and Brown combined for seven carries in their respective junior years; expect WAY MORE production from them in their final appearances as Titans.

True to the tradition, HT will again be incredibly stout on both the offensive and defensive lines…..Led by a trio of two-way seniors—-John Stroughn, MiAndre Hughes, and James Russo, Mascia and his staff are counting on an ability to own the trenches this season as a means of reversing their misfortune from last year…Now a year more mature and hopefully more brutal in their dominance, this threesome will unite with the likes of sophomores, Jonathan Morales and Elijah Tobin in spearheading an attack that will be hungry to improve upon the approximately 150 yards of total offense it averaged last season.

As noted above, a program that prides itself on developing their student-athletes into COMPLETE players, many of these same names above will be standouts on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Stroughn led all Titans in tackles last season with 63 (an average of 7.9/game) and added sack and four quarterback hurries to his resume….Rivers finished 2017 with 28 stops, two sacks, and four QB hurries of his own….Nixon was a known commodity from his LB position, making 27 tackles as a junior….Brown (21 tackles, 1 INT) and Porcaro (16 tackles) will join Rivers in solidifying the secondary.

Sophomore WR/CB Jaden Sinclair, and Junior TE/LB Brian Holder, were identified by Mascia as fresh faces on the varsity this season that could be quick to become playmakers.

Senior PK, Tim Kiggins (6-for-9 on PATs; 2-for-2 on FGs) will again be a trusted asset in putting points on the board for HT.

Kellenberg Memorial 

Head Coach

Kevin Hanifan (23rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 11-0/2017 NYCHSFL “AA” League Champions, defeating Fordham Prep, 54-19, in the title game

2018 Overview

Living proof that a championship season is never any further than a year away at any given time, the 2017 Firebirds went from winning one game in 2016 to being at the top of the AA mountain following a remarkable undefeated season (11-0). They were so dominant that they boasted both the top offensive and defensive units in the league….Out-scoring their foes by an astounding ratio of 425 to 150, the Hanifan mentored Marianists won every game by 10 or more points and really poured it on during championship weekend, defeating an incredibly talented Fordham Prep squad (featuring four All-State players, including the NYCHSFL’s career leader in passing yards and TD throws) by a lopsided score of 54-19.

While no coach ever wants to burden their team with the pressures of a repeat bid, the truth is that this KMHS squad possesses such a uniquely special group of returnees (have won titles in each of the past two years—JV in 2016; Varsity in 2017) that even if a single word was not uttered, the expectation is obvious that it cannot be ignored.

The owners of a mind-blowing running attack that accounted for 3,446 yards and 49 touchdowns a season ago, the Blue & Gold machine brings back their top-4 rushing options, including the “Red Headed Assassin”, Matt Sluka….One of the profiled student-athletes in last year’s preview, even with all of the flattery we gave him in the lead-up to his junior season, the Roslyn resident still managed to exceed even our grandest visions…A 2nd team All-State honoree in his first season as the Kellenberg starting signal caller, Sluka would lead all Empire State quarterbacks in rushing yards (1,619) and touchdown dashes (24).  In fact, his yardage total ranked him 7th overall regardless of position…And as if he was not already borderline invincible with his legs, let it be noted that he is pretty darn proficient with his arm as well.  Last season, he completed 61.3% of his pass attempts (57-for-93) and tossed an additional 10 TDs to have a hand in 34 of the team’s 61 total touchdowns….As icing on the cake, he successfully converted 32 of his 40 PAT tries to further add to his mind-blowing point total…With all of this in mind, it came as no surprise when he was named the 2017 AA Offensive Player of the Year.

Kellenberg returns both the AA Offensive & Defensive Players of the year in Dan Wilson & Matt Sluka

It is not out of the realm of possibility to think that Sluka could potentially win every game single-handedly, but thanks to the best “supporting cast’ in all of New York State, he is not going to have to even try…Instead, like a murder’s row, one-by-one, the likes of Frankie Roder, Jordan DeLucia, and Jake Deakin, will all take turns chewing up major yardage and finding the house time and time again….If not for playing on the same team and having to share carries any one of these three talented backs could have easily been an All-State candidate himself under different conditions…Roder was 2nd to Sluka in all major rushing categories for the Firebirds, concluding his junior year with 809 yards and 15 touchdowns on 120 carries….DeLucia, who missed four games during the season due to injury, was second on the team with an average carry of 11.2, accumulating 618 yards and scoring five times on his 55 handoffs….Deakin, who may only get spot touches this season as he takes on a greater responsibility as a starting linebacker, will no doubt be effective if/when his number does get called.  Carrying the ball 33 times in 2017, he gained 152 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns.

When Sluka does decide to let the pigskin fly, he will do so knowing that three of the team’s top-4 receivers from last season will again be on the back end of the pitch and catch….Matthew Mongelli was #1 in all receiving categories as a junior in 2017, catching 17 balls for 426 yards and four touchdowns….Fellow rising senior, Sean Boll, would be second on the list, making nine grabs for 92 yards and one TD…DeLucia, who is a full-service RB, finished 4th on the team in catches with seven, but was so electrifying with the ball in his hands that three of those seven resulted in touchdowns.  He wrapped up 2017 with 203 receiving yards to give him over 800 yards of total contribution.

Anchoring the offensive line will be returning starter, Thomas Cipolla….Samir Umar, who saw time in a reserve role last season will be asked to step up and help Cipolla open up holes for the who’s who of KMHS running options referenced above.

Refusing to state a weakness, but saying that there is opportunity available for guys to emerge, the KMHS coaching staff will be faced with the task of replacing invaluable linemen in the persons of Center Pat Harinski (2017 All League), LT Brendan Higgins, OL/DL Brendan Whitehead (45 tackles/4 sacks; now playing collegiately at Sacred Heart) and DT Elijah Eddy (28 stops/1 sacks; currently playing for Pace), and you might as well throw LB Shawn Hughes (2017 AA Championship game Defensive MVP; 2nd on the team with 56 tackles in his senior year now playing at Western New England) into that mix as well….Seniors–Matt Olsen (22 tackles, 5 sacks) and Thomas Brzezinski (13 stops)—gained experience last season and should be counted on to do even more on the lines in their final season in Uniondale.

The graduation of defensive back extraordinaire, Aidan Fitzgerald (top-5 in NYS with six interceptions) is also a bit of a blow to the Kellenberg defense, but one that the coaching staff believes it can fill with the coming of age of their rising juniors and returning seniors…One name that is already circulating as the program’s next ball hawk is senior Alain Telfort.  As a junior, he recorded 14 tackles and an interception….Peter Taliercio (17 tackles, 1 sack, 3 pass defenses) is another name that opposing quarterbacks better best be aware of in the KMHS secondary.

The great news if you are a member of the Firebird faithful, is that while the new faces are learning to gell and/or grow into their increased roles, Kellenberg will be blessed with a consummate prime time performer in the person of reining AA Defensive Player of the Year, Danny WIlson…..The co-#1 overall student-athlete in the Kellenberg class of 2019, Wilson is exceptional in all endeavors.  A three-sport star who will play lacrosse at the United State Naval Academy, there is nothing on an athletic field/court that the Levittown native cannot and will do in order to ensure victory…..The team leader in both tackles (71) and sacks (9), what sets the future Midshipman apart from many of his peers is that his freak athleticism affords him the versatility to pretty much play any position on the field.   He is an unblockable pass rusher, a proficient run stopper, and if needed, is quick enough to drop back and become an extension of the secondary (had 3 pass break-ups in 2017)….Simply put, he Is to the defense, what Sluka is to the offense; a warrior that can take over the game whenever the occasion requires it.

St. Francis Prep 

Head Coach

Rich Carroll (3rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-5/Lost in the “AA” Semifinals, 41-14, to Fordham Prep

2018 Overview

Fresh off of their first winning season since 2013, when we proclaimed in last year’s preview that it was going to be a year of redemption for the Terriers, we were not kidding…Going from winless in Coach Rich Carroll’s first season at the helm to .500 in a year’s time, there is a momentum disseminating all throughout Fresh Meadows and we see every reason to think that 2018 is going to be next the next chapter in the climb back to the glory days of Carroll’s mentor, the legend, Vincent O’Connor.

A program that averaged nearly 186 yards per game and scored 18 touchdowns on the ground last season, there will be no slowing SFP down this year either, as the school returns two of their top-3 runners, have a senior who is one of their most improved players from one year to the next, and will welcome a potential impact sophomore who will turn some heads in his varsity debut.

Providing the 1-2 punch in the backfield for the Terriers will be junior quarterback, Omarion Jones, and senior tailback, Nazareth McFarlan….A human highlight film from under center, 5’9, 152-pound resident of Jamaica, Queens [Jones] led all St. Francis players in rushing yards last season, averaging 7.4 yard per carry to conclude the year with 580 yards and three touchdowns….A devil of a passer, in reference to the 666 yards he threw for as a 10th grader, Jones added seven more touchdowns to his total on 46-for-95.  Should he raise his completion percentage by 5-7 points, he will go from freak athlete playing QB to genuine all-purpose field general.

Coach Rich Carroll enters his 3rd year as Terriers Head Coach

McFarlan, who is a bona fide triple-threat as a runner, receiver, and kick returner, will be all kinds of dangerous in his final season wearing the Red & Blue jersey….Third on the team in 2017 with 401 rushing yards (5.6 average on 72 carries) and second with four TDs on the ground, the Queens Village product also enters the new season as the team leader in receptions from a year ago with 13 catches for 119 yards and 1 TD.   If you are not already sufficiently impressed, let it be known that he also averaged double digits as both a kick-off and punt returns.  The icing on the cake is that he plays on the other side of the ball too, and tied for the school lead with three interceptions as a junior.

Adding to the running options this season will be senior, Luca Capo, and 10th grader, Aubrey Mitchell….Getting spot carries last season, Capo totaled 60 yards and scored one touchdown on 16 rushing attempts.  With the likes of Chris Auricchio (423 yards, 7 TDs) and Marc Anthony Dalce (222 yards) having graduated, Capo’s work load will increase drastically.

In staying with what we suggested regarding Jones incorporating more of a balanced approach in his arsenal, McFarlan will be complemented by fellow seniors, William Manderson (WR) and Christopher Hine (TE).

At the time of publication, the final details on offensive line personnel were still being ironed out, but we are sure that whomever gets the call to block for the talented assortment of gentlemen above will do a fine job opening the holes and providing a clean pocket.

There will be a certain degree of crossover between the two sides of the ball as guys like McFarlan, Jones (18 tackles, 3 INTs), and Manderson (15 tackles) will again be a part of the defensive backfield rotation…Senior CB, Jaylen Velez (47 tackles, 1 sack) and Junior center fielder/FS, Robert Padavona will be another name to focus on in the secondary.

The linebacking corps will be faced with replacing several graduated seniors who were the lifeblood for the defense last season—3rd Team All-State selection, Shawn Bendeck (8th in NYS with 121 tackles), Dalce (67 stops), and Auricchio (31 tackles, team leading 3 sacks)…While It was expected to be a battle until the opening whistle to determine who would step in to fill this voids, one name that was mentioned with a lot of weight behind it was that of sophomore newcomer, Daniel Chung…..Seniors, Matthew Galante (6 tackles) and Christian Bahr-Lopez (10 stops) are a little undersized, but are listed on the roster as LBs and do have 2017 game experience in which to fall back on.

Max Cassamajor and Xavier Castro, who recorded 22 and 13 tackles respectively and combined for two sacks, will be the anchors of the defensive line…Flauderson Fergilus (10 tackles as a sophomore) could/should see additional reps as an 11th grader.

St. John the Baptist  

Head Coach

Ralph Carusillo (5th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 3-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 35-6, to Fordham Prep

2018 Overview

Much like Holy Trinity, the Cougars of St. John the Baptist are a program that is not accustomed to a losing a season….Runners-up in 2014 and semifinalists in 2015 and 2016, in his time at the helm of the West Islip located program, Head Coach Ralph Carusillo has cultivated a culture of winning, hard-nose football.  It is an attitude that permeates through the souls of every student-athlete he coaches and because of it, even when the chips seemed to be down, SJB has always found a way to make something happen….Winners of three of their last four regular season games in 2017, as small a feat as this may appear, the fact that momentum was able to be established could prove to be a great omen for the Cougars as they head into the 2018 season.

Gone to graduation might be the team’s #1 (Daniel Parker; 762 yards/6 touchdowns) and #3 leading rushers (Michael Palermo II; 457 yards/2 TDs), but thanks to the coming of age/development of some of their role players from a year ago, coupled with a major position change or two, the St. John the Baptist staff expressed nothing but confidence as they attempt to bounce back from last year’s 3-6 tally.

A school that is famous for its ground attack, the Cougars will turn to Jayden Louis, Bobby Spano, and David Amelemah to keep the tradition of rushing excellence alive for another season…Among this group, Spano possesses the most experience, running for just under four yards per carry (67 yards) on 17 hand-offs last season….Amelemah gained 33 yards on 13 rushing attempts, and Louis, who was only a frosh last season, appeared to be the most naturally explosive, finishing the season with 22 yards on his 5 rushing attempts….Another name that you cannot sleep on given his imme

nse ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands is senior, Nick Delcore…SJB’s starting QB during his junior campaign, Delcore will make the transition over to wide receiver in 2018, but it would not shock us to see the occasional reverse being run given his effectiveness with his legs.   Delcore finished last season second on the team in rushing yards with 491 and scored four touchdowns.  Hence, it is hard to imagine him not being used in some capacity as a running option during the course of the season….Larrry Conde, who was referenced as being in the DL rotation on the other side of the ball could be an insurance policy should any of the names above falter or get injured.  Aside from Delcore, Conde is the only player on the Cougar roster to reach 100 yards on the ground in 2017, concluding the year with 121 on 28 carries.

While we are still expecting a heavy dose of running, the addition of Nicholas Mazziotti as the new field general could certainly open up the passing game a bit more…Carusillo has certainly made more than a fair effort to surround his first-year varsity QB with an assortment of capable targets….The group will feature the previously mentioned Delcore, but Christian Maisel (1 catch for six yards as a freshman) is an individual who the coaches feel is ready to take on more responsibility from the tight end position.  Look for him to definitely become more visible within the offense in his sophomore season.

Coach Carusillo enters his 5th Season as Head Coach

Calling strength (so prevalent that Carusillo mentioned it twice) one of the characteristics of this year’s group, anyone who has followed SJB football over the year’s knows that it does not get much stronger than the average Cougar lineman….Listing three two-way linemen among his key players, the onus will fall on Jack Standwill, Matthew Stroble, and Jacob Carman to be human road graters….Mark Pillitteri, Alan Rodriguez, Thomas Jaycox, and Nicholas Rohrs will all provide depth and additional manpower to the O-line.

Defensively, Tim Gasparik (MLB) and Anthony Ermelino (OLB), as well as Jeremy DeJesus (OLB), DE Anthony Bossone, DT Nickolas Licata, and the tandem of Sebastian Lebron/Jacob Melendez will be among the prominent performers you are just learning about…Gasparik finished 2nd on the team last season with 77 total tackles (9.6/game); Ermelino notched 39 stops and added .5 sack; Licata made 33 tackles and had an interception.

Rounding out the remainder of the impact players on “D” will be some individuals already mentioned—-Conde (DE; 32 tackles/1.5 sacks), Amelemah (CB; 50 tackles/2 INTs), Maisel (4 tackles as a reserve strong safety), and Delcore (FS; credited with 1 tackle last year)

 

Xavier 

Head Coach

Chris Stevens (17th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 5-7/Lost in the “AAA” Semifinals, 28-7, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

Perennial semifinalists who won it all in 2015, it takes a special kind of player to suit up for Coach Chris Stevens.  An unapologetic throwback to the golden age of the sport, when Stevens is your coach, you are going to learn how to embrace the grind and what the definition of toughness truly is.

Underdogs the past two years, no matter what their record might be heading into the postseason, the Knights are usually the last team you ever want to see in a quarterfinal game.   In a day and age that has seen the game become overly reliant on big yardage plays, what we like about Xavier is that they have proven that you do not need freak athletes in order to enjoy a winning tradition.  On the contrary, as we learned from the story of the “Tortoise and the Hare,” slow and steady when executed diligently can also be a victorious formula.   In other words, why break for a 70-yard run and constantly makE your defense work overtime, when you have the option of pounding out 15 to 20 play drives that eat up clock and dissect the will of the opposition.

All of the above having been stated, there are no turtles on this year‘s roster and the Knights sure as heck will not be underdogs in 2018…After two years of sub-500 seasons, this season will be one where the boys of West 16th Street reaffirm themselves as an upper-echelon school with visions of Gatorade baths and trophy ceremonies.

An offense that rarely throws the ball, on the few occasions that is becomes necessary to air it out, senior, Evan Murphy, is the likely choice to be the person who undertakes this responsibility.  Having never attempted a varsity pass prior to last week, the 6’2, 185-pounder from the Big Apple went a perfect 3-for-3 for 66 yards in the 2018 opener.

Stepping in for last season’s workhorse, Jonathon Geruso (16th in the NYS with 1,640 yards; 14 touchdowns) will be an ensemble of adept rushers who together could/should surpass last year’s ground production of 2,342 yards and 20 touchdowns…At the top of this wealthy list of potential backs will be the team’s #2 rusher from a season ago, Demetrios Demetriades (team-best 6.2 yards per carry on his 67 handles to finish his junior year with 422 yards and two TDs)…Fellow senior, Daniel Vittiburga, will also enter the new year with some valuable game experience, as he carried the pigskin 28 times for 78 yards and took it to the promised land on two occasions as an 11th grader…Furthermore, the graduation of one Geruso just means there will be more opportunity for another, as now it will be junior, Matt [Geruso] who will be featured in the backfield…Murphy too (25 yards on 8 carries) is no stranger when it comes to looking for a hole to exploit.

The Knights feel they have what it takes to get in Championship form like they did in 2015

Once again, because air strikes are not prevalent within the scheme they incorporate, there is no designated go to target for the Knights.  In many cases, the same personnel you see running the ball will also showcase their versatility by acting as pass catchers…The perfect examples of this from last week were senior, Kevin Connolly, and junior, Frank Bernie…Connolly would run the ball once (for a gain of 34 yards) but proved to be most valuable as a receiver, as he was on the back end of 2/3 of Murphy’s completions to end week #1 with 66 yards courtesy of his hands…Bernie had a 12-yard run complemented by a 5-yard catch.

If ball-control and time of possession are characteristics of the offense, then the staple of the “D” is an unrelenting desire to take the field every weekend with a mission of allowing negative yards of total offense…During the championship season of 2015, a weekly theme on the players of the week piece was a Knight defensive player who racked up double digit tackles and had a hand in pitching a shutout…And, having already earned one goose-egg in the first weekend of the season, we truly are of the opinion that the 2018 Xavier defense is going to live up to the standard of excellent that Stevens has instilled.

Filled with returning talent anywhere you look, of the top-11 tacklers in 2017, eight are back to go it again this season.

The Grand Marshall of the hit parade for a second consecutive season will be last year’s leader in stops, Valery Gwardyak, who made 79 tackles as a junior…The Staten Island boy, in association with Mitchell Robinson (29 tackles, 1 sacks, 2 PDs) will set the tone for the LBs…Junior, James Donaldson, is a newcomer who should compete immediately for playing time.

John Walsh (54 tackles, 1 sack), Milton Guzman (39 tackles; co-team-high 3 sacks), and Jordan Sosa (38 tackles; also had 3 sacks), all had monster junior seasons along the DL…Giovanni Bernie (13 tackles), also entering his last season as a Knight, will see his role increase in 2018.

Connolly (3rd on the team with 65 tackles), and his senior classmates, Langston Williams (44 tackles, 2 sacks, team-best 2 INTs), Murphy (8 tackles, 1 pass break-up, and Demetriades (29 stops, 2 PDs), will unite with talented junior Christopher Mafuffi in locking down the secondary.

The 2017 Xavier junior varsity were the 2017 league champions.  So, while some members of the youth movement were noted, let it known that we are without hesitation stating that a multitude of other rookies will become household names by the time we flip to November on the calendar.   

Sep 132018
 

This season the AA division features a new format since it has grown to 12 teams.  There will be 2 regional divisions, East & West consisting of 6 teams each.  Teams will play all of the teams in their respective region and then cross-over for 2 more AA Regular Season Games.  The top 4 from each region will then qualify for the AA Playoffs where the teams will be bracketed and cross over for playoff matchups (ie. 1 East v 4 West, 2 West v 3 East & 1 West v 4 East, 2 East v 3 West).

By Matt Diano:

Fordham Prep

Head Coach

Pat Deane (1st Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 10-2/Lost in the “AA” Championship Game, 54-19, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

Not the official the slogan they will use this season, but when looking for a theme for this year’s Ram squad, the David Bowie song, “Changes” immediately came to our mind.  As the lyric goes, “Ch-ch-changes, turn and face the strange.”  And for Fordham Prep fans, it does not need to be said that when they look over at the sideline this season, it will be mighty peculiar to no longer see the likes of Matt Valecce (four-year starting QB/3x All-State selection), Will Loffredo (2x All-State WR), Liam McHale (5th Team All-State WR), Joseph Petti (2017 “AA” Lineman of the Year; 1st team All-State), or Head Coach, Pete Gorynski.

A team that featured many two and/or three-year starters on both sides of the ball, the validity of the situation is that Fordham Prep is a program that was built to go all the way last season.  And by coming short of that goal in 2017, they now must endure a transitional period as they fall from hunted to hunter status.

The Rams look to replace record breaking QB Matt Valecce

Entering unchartered waters as they attempt to replace one of the statistically greatest high school football players the Empire State has ever seen, it is unreasonable and unfair to ask or expect that the successor at QB to sling the ball the way the current Boston College freshman [Valecce] did during his four years under center.   2nd All-time in career passing yards (10,027) and 3rd in touchdowns thrown (112), the living legend has left the stadium…Supplanting the departed icon will be the man who served as his back-up last season, Derek Bufano.  Used sparingly during his junior season, when the 6’0, 165-pounder did get the opportunity to throw, he showcased accuracy…Possessing a shorter, more nimble body type, the Cortland Manor resident may bring a different component to the quarterback position this season as he should present more of a challenge to opposing defenses as a scrambling, dual-threat operator.

While Bufano is getting his proverbial feet wet and establishing a rapport with his wide outs, do not be surprised if early in the season, you see the offense concentrated on more of a ground attack.  Not that there are many benefits to losing a player the caliber of Valecce, but one is that now there is likely more of a freedom to utilize a balanced game plan on offense…If/when this shift in philosophy does occur, a name that has emerged as a possibility to be the lead tailback is junior, Zach Wallace.  Known last season for his work on the other side of the ball as a starting member of the secondary, Wallace is such a natural athlete that there is a confidence that if you get the ball into his hands, he will be able to make things happen.  In his only carry as a sophomore, he would suffer a three-yard loss.  But, despite humble beginnings, we truly foresee him developing into a major asset as a ball carrier….Another 11th grader, Michael Adair, is said to have made a positive impression on the new coaching staff and will also find himself in the mix for carries…Sophomore, Matthew McKillop, is a budding star, who may not get the bulk of touches this season, but will strive to make the most of every chance he gets.

Undeniably the most lethal pass catching trio in the state last year (and for my money, of all-time), the graduations of McHale (2nd in NYS with 73 receptions; 5th in receiving yards with 1,014), Loffredo (3rd in NYS with 69 catches; 8th with 944 receiving yards; 3rd with 14 TD grabs), and Thomas Walsh (20th with 43 catches; 9th in receiving yards with 914; 6th in TD snatches with 13) means that of the 226 completions, 3,333 yards, and 41 TDs generated by the Ram aerial fireworks, 185 completions, 2872 Yards, and 36 TD’s disappear…Thankfully for Coach Deane, wide receiver on East Fordham Road is like cornerback at Florida State in that the cupboard never runs empty…After waiting his turn to be “the man” out wide, senior, Jack Goodkin, will finally be afforded the chance to shine.  Making 21 catches for 259 yards and three scores as a junior, the 5’11, 200-pounder is a lock to increase those number exponentially this season…Complementing Goodkin will be another appealing and proven target, fellow 12th grader, Devin Pettus (TE).  In his junior season, the 6’4, 190-pounder caught 10 balls for 114 yards and two touchdowns…Keeping with the pattern of seniors who will light up the stat sheet this season, do not sleep on a guy like Matthew McCarthy.  Despite only making one grab as an 11th grader, the coaching staff is high on him and are anticipating a very productive season…Junior, Owen Loffredo, will take the first steps in carving out a legacy of his own, as he enters 2018 equipped to add to the family name.

This year’s offensive line may not have a brutalizer like Petti (currently playing at the U.S. Naval Academy), but they do have senior leadership, as Andre Villarba (5’8, 230) and Brendan Kennedy (6’2, 230) return as starters off of a unit that did the dirty work and laid the tracks for 4,409 yards of total offense and 51 touchdowns.

Shifting gears to the defensive side of the field, the Fordham Prep is blessed to be returning a wealth of student-athletes who either started or at the very least, logged considerable turf time in 2017.

Directing the “D” will be two of the team’s leading tacklers from a season ago, George Gaspar, and Goodkin….Both dominant front seven players, Gaspar was the overall top stopper as a junior, making 80 tackles to go along with 1 sack…Goodkin, who was a thorn in the side of opposing quarterbacks, led the Rams in QB bags last season with four.  The two-way stud also contributed 53 tackles in total…Junior, Liam O’Shea (20 stops), and seniors, William Woods (19 tackles) bring additional toughness and know-how to the DL/LB…Sophomore, Mike Rice, and seniors, Merrick Staff and Arthur Long, could materialize as the unsung heroes of the Frpnt 7.

The last line of defense will be patrolled by incumbent senior starters, James McGaughan (51 tackles; tied for a team-high 2 INTs) and Wallace (21 stops)…Two more 12th graders, Quinn English (13 tackles), Jack Andreana, will also be called upon to be ball hawks in the defensive backfield.

 

Moore Catholic

Head Coach

Nick Giannatasio (Beginning his 3rd as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 2-7/Did not Qualify for the AA playoffs last season

2018 Overview

A program that was forced to pay their dues a bit last season in their introduction to the Double-A scene, no matter their win/loss record from a year ago, we find it impossible to forget about the shear athleticism and talent that we saw out of a group of freshmen and sophomores two years ago when they cruised to the “A” Division crown….Now that these same studs are upperclassmen and have had a full year to make the necessary transition to the higher level of competition, we see no reason why 2018 cannot be a statement year for the Mavericks and their third-year Head Coach, Nick Giannatasio.

Returning beaucoup talent on both sides of the ball for a team that with the exception of one or two games was in every contest they played in 2017, there is absolutely justification in our claims that last year’s 2-7 can easily be transformed into 10-2 if things breaks the right way for MC.

Justin Lacks was ‘A’ Championship Game MVP in 2016, he looks to get the Mavericks back to Championship Weekend this year

Starting with “Mr. Reliable”, the consummate “never take a weekend off”, “watch what I do next” playmaker, junior Justin Lacks, you know that Moore Catholic is going to have one of the most potent ground attacks in the NYCHSFL this season….Invited to participate in the Army All-American Combine, which is an honor bestowed on the top-600 underclassmen in the country, the 6’0, 215-pound Adonis already has two 1,000+ yard seasons on his resume.  A fab frosh when the team claimed their aforementioned “A” crown, Lacks would run for 1,058 yards and score 14 touchdowns in 2016.  Last year, as a follow-up act, he embraced the role of work horse, taking 243 of the team’s 279 handoffs and gaining 1,251 yards, and adding 11 more TDs….A former 5th team All-State selection, Lacks has the undeniable ability to take over the game by himself….On the rare occasion that Lacks may need a breather, senior, Mausari Miller is more than capable of complementing the running game…Known more for his stellar play at LB, two years ago, Miller rushed for 347 yards and four touchdowns on just 66 carries (5.3 average).  In 2017, his offensive numbers would decrease because of a lack of opportunity.   However, he still averaged over three yards per carry when presented with the chance to take a handoff.

Aiding the MC ground attack will be an offensive line consisting of four MASSive returning starters.  We chose to emphasis the “mass” because on size alone, opposing defenses may want to go to church and pray that this group does not surpass IHOP as the leading producers of pancakes in New York State….Commencing with three-year starting LT, Ted Kushi (6’6, 330 pounds), the OL also features Deonte Jackson (6’7, 340), Craig Sorrenti (5’11, 255), and center AJ Curran (260)…It is most certainly a means of intimidation when you consider that sophomore, Matt Heinemann, who was an outstanding two-way lineman on the Junior Varsity level last season, is the runt of the litter at “only” 250 pounds.

Providing further ammunition to what is clearly shaping up to an explosive offense will be another three-year starter, QB Vincenzo Scarola….A proficient pocket passer, in his first two seasons running the show for the Mavericks, the 6’1, 180-pounder has thrown for an average of 811.5 yards/year and has totaled 14 (7 in each season) TD hurls.

Scarola will enter his senior year without his favorite target, as the team’s leader in all receiving categories in 2016 and 2017, Zach Hampton, graduated last June….However, in addressing the WR position, Giannatasio appeared quite comfortable with the depth he had out wide….Senior, Nicholas Melo (5 grabs for 57 yards and 1 TD) is the most established of the unit, but you can expect to see significant production from junior, Cameron Holmes, who saw time last season on defense at LB, but will focus more on the offensive end as an 11th grader…..Anthony Perlongo had a solid sophomore year on the JV and looks ready to contribute from the opening whistle on varsity…..Freshman, Deshawn Lawton, has wasted little time in securing the favor of his head coach.  The 5’8, 155-pound 9th grader has big things awaiting him in the future.  The only question is whether the future is really the present.

The defense, led by the previously recognized All-League LB, [Masauri] Miller (team-leading 71 tackles; 2.5 sacks), will not be hurting for experienced, steady playmakers…..Other names that will remain on your tongues all season will be Artie Padilla (LB), Jafar Sannie (CB), and Nashaun Defy (DE)….Padilla (64 tackles, 2 sacks) finished 2nd to Miller in total stops made last year; Sannie, who enters his third season starting in the defensive backfield, was third on the team with 39 tackles….Defy (14 stops last season) will be the leader of the down linemen this season.

The remainder of this slightly undersized, but speedy “D” will be comprised of a few two-way players—Melo (Safety; 16 tackles in 2017) and Holmes (16 tackles, 1 sack, 1 fumble caused)–but for the most part will rely on young men looking to carve out a name for themselves….Sixx Johnson, who played most of last season on JV, but did earn a promotion at the end of the year, had five tackles in his short time on the varsity.  He will be a cherished partner to Padilla at ILB….Kris Bryant (4 tackles a season ago), tips the scales at 270 pounds and will counted on to be a space-eater in the middle of the DL….Freshmen twins, Mustafa and Mozion Khayyam, will be afforded the privilege of starting right out of the gate at DE and safety….Junior, Stephen Gerwer, rounds out the secondary.

 

Mount St. Michael Academy

Head Coach

Mario Valentini (Beginning his 35th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 4-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals to St. Francis Prep, 32-14

2018 Overview

A top-4 team during the regular season in 2017, when the Mountaineers step onto the field every weekend, the one thing you always know, is that you are about to be hit with some of the most explosive athleticism of anyone in NYS.

A program that averaged close to 300 (294.2) yards per game on the ground last season, if you are counting on them slowing down even an iota in 2018, THINK AGAIN!

Coach Valentini is one of the longest tenured and most successful coaches in the league

Headlining the offense for yet another year will be the program’s star tailback, senior, Conrad Perry.  As an 11th grader, Perry was one of the most potent backs in the league, regardless of division, averaging 118.8 yards per game (1,188 total) and scoring touchdowns….Of the 10 games played by MSM a season ago, Perry would exceed 100 yards in half of them, including a mind-blowing 253-yard effort during a regular season triumph over St. Francis Prep in October….While the passing game is not necessarily their forte, let it be gone that Perry’s three catches from a season ago, also makes him the team’s returning leader in the category.  Hence, he certainly has the capacity to be utilized as a full-service back should the moment call for it….Tyrek Ogilvie, who has put up some mighty fast times as a sprinter on the Track & Field squad, could emerge as another speedy threat out of the backfield.

Complementing the star tailback will be a first-year starting QB in the person of Ason Rutledge.  An individual who did not get the opportunity to play much under center while sitting behind Marquise Jimenez (707 rushing yards, 11 TDs).  When identifying his team’s strengths, Coach Valentini expressed the utmost confidence in Rutledge.  This leads us to believe that he sees those special qualities in him that he saw in his predecessor….Seeing action predominantly as a defensive back last season, if there was one area where we received a glimpse of what Rutledge is able to do when the ball is in his hands, it was a kick returner where he routinely posted 20+ yard efforts.

In addition to the two primary skill positions, the 35th year Head Coach [Valentini] also praised/spoke extremely well of the young men he is counting on to control both lines of scrimmage….Anchored by a senior foursome consisting of Antonio Corrado (OT) Anthony Sotomayo (OT), Tariq Azwin (OG), and Kerwin Gonzalez in the middle, what the unit lacks in size, they make up for with toughness and fight….240-pound Sophomore, Theo Fraser, could be used to provide a little bulk to the OL, but will mostly star on the other side of the ball as a DT.

Corrado (the leader among returning players with 51 tackles) will join fellow 12th grader, Dominick Morety (22 tackles, 2 sacks) at DE, while Fraser will clog the hole alongside Delano Muir, who recorded 15 tackles last season as a sophomore.

Senior, Corinthian Black, will embrace greater responsibility as he will provide the foundation of the linebacking corps for the Mountaineers. Rutledge (FS; 25 tackles in 2017) will team up with cornerback, Justin Manzanet (who will also see time as a WR on offense), and strong safety, Jamar Simmons (11 tackles in his junior season) in making life difficult on opposing quarterbacks.

St. Joseph’s By the Sea 

Head Coach

Mike Corona (4th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 3-6/Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals, 27-6, to Kellenberg Memorial

2018 Overview

A program that has hovered around the .500 mark during Corona’s tenure, when talking about this year’s squad, the emphasis on the word “leadership” is one that caught our eye and made us believe that a breakthrough could be instore for the Vikings in 2018.

While the Staten Island based school did suffer some losses at the skill positions (their starting quarterback, their top-2 running backs; top-3 receiving options, and several key players on defense), there is an optimism on Hylan Blvd because of hard work and cross training in other sports (ex-wrestling) that the returning student-athletes committed to in the hopes of breaking through and putting the rest of the “AA” on notice….This is a team that if you rely on last year’s stat line may not blow you away on paper, but because of their coach’s confidence and their ability to get better as the year goes, you cannot help but feel encouraged by.

Citing the vast experience of the offensive line as a catalyst for success this season, the Vikings bring back All-League OT, Danny Doyle, who at 6’4, 265-pounds is going to present a challenge to any D-lineman that dare try to get the better of him…..James Colesanti  and Peter Sitaras who will star at guard and center respectively this year were also among the standout players that Corona made a point of mentioning when identifying the players who he foresees having huge seniors….Dylan Bille and Anthony Cretella are among the role players from last year who are primed to become key components this season; and Paul Quick is expected to be the top newcomer and an immediate contributor at OG.

SJS calls Viking Park home

Following a year where he was utilized as a Tight End, Francesco Arlia, will be called upon in his senior season to take over the primary running duties… As a TE in 2017, he showcased some very nice hands, making 10 grabs for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  Therefore, it should come as no surprise if SJS decides to use him in a dual capacity….He would also get the occasional opportunity to demonstrate his prowess as a  ball carrier, as he averaged 5.1 yards on his 10 rushing attempts…Senior, Patrick Perry, whose main responsibility this season will be to set the example in the defensive backfield, could spotlight a bit on offense as well.  After all, next to Arlia, it is the 5’10, 165-pounder that possesses the most experience…..Rick Ferrigno Jr. who did not get a single handoff in 2017 is another name that Corona suggested could surface out of the backfield.

The battle for signal caller duties will be between a returning varsity back-up, David Maj, and one of fresh faces with the biggest upside, Jackson Tucker…Per an interview he conducted with SiLive.com, Corona expressed that whomever wins the job will be expected to display poise in his craft, “getting the ball to the right teammate at the proper moment.”

While the quarterback situation is getting worked out prior to the start of the season, one tidbit that has already been clearly ironed out is that the person who wins the QB1 job is going to have no shortage of talented and hungry receivers to feed….Junior TE, Nick Ruvolo, is SJS’s returning leader in balls caught last season, making 20 grabs for 292 yards and one touchdown….Ryan Simermeyer, who shares a last name with the team’s top receiver from a season ago [Chris; currently playing at Pace], will be in position where there is a lot of pressure to live up to the reputation of his family.  In 2017, the younger Simermeyer caught three passes for 23 total yards. At 6-foot-4, “Sim” is going to be an ideal target in the red zone on jump balls….Also making three grabs last season was Ryan Nicholaou, who ended 2017 with 19 yards as a receiver…..Senior, Joe Gallo (2 catches for 13 yards) is the only other player on the current roster with a varsity catch credited last year…..Adding further depth to the receiving corps will be Aiden Ryan, impact newcomers, Vincent Vazquez, TE Kyle Gaor, and Greg Ciauri.

Turning our attention to defense, Corona called this year’s DL one of the strongest he has ever had since taking the wheel as skipper of the Vikings ship….300-pound DT, Mike Falco is the heart of the unit, complemented by Chris Matera and Michael Angelone…Rookie, Sean Ruane, had a good camp and will fight for reps from the get-go.

Sitting at the head of the table and setting the example for the linebackers will be the young men who rank 1st and 2nd on the team among returning players in tackles made a season ago….Both penciled in as Mike LBs, Frank Ambrosino (24 stops) and Mike Cottone (13 tackles, 1 sack) are guaranteed to far exceed last year’s level of production…..Look for Nick Gagliardi and Dom Buser to hold down the fort on the outside….Corey Tehe and Brett Sciascia add to the horsepower.

As noted above, Perry is the featured air traffic controller of the secondary, but will receive major support from Devin Barros, Giovanni Adekoya, Jesse Addesso, and Justin Alexander among others.

 

St. Peter’s

Head Coach

George Mahoney (1st Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 2-8/Lost in the “AAA” Quarterfinals, 50-14, to Cardinal Hayes

2018 Overview

2018 will witness the commencement of a new era in Eagles’ football as George Mahoney will transition from his role as the program’s Special Team’s Coordinator to that of Head Coach following the decision of Mark DeCristoforo to step down in January, citing a desire to have more family time.

The presence of a new sideline leader will be accompanied by a few additional changes as the Staten Island based unit will welcome a new offensive scheme, as well as attempt to make an immediate impact in their return to “AA” following several prosperous years (semifinalists in 2014 and 2015) as a triple-A school.

One individual who is expected to play a significant role in captaining STP’s title ambitions is senior quarterback, Sonny Badyna, who was one of the most prolific passers in the Empire State in 2017, throwing for 1,681 yards (19th best in NYS) on 115-for-202 (56.9&), including 13 touchdown throws….The 6’2, 180-pound resident of Brooklyn averaged over 210 yards passing per game last season, which ranked him in the top-15 among all New York State signal callers.

As talented as he is, there might be a bit of an adjustment period for Badyna under center as he will have to learn to establish a rapport with some new primary weapons following the departures of the team’s two leading receivers—-Chris Ledlum (40 catches, 684 yards, 6 touchdowns) and Frank DiMattina (30 balls caught, 478 yards, 4 scores)….Ledlum, who is as gifted on the hardwood as he is on the gridiron, elected to focus on his basketball career by transferring to Northfield Mount Hermon, while DiMattina graduated last year and is currently in his freshman season at Fairleigh Dickinson University.

QB Sonny Badyna

Gone from last year is also the team’s leading rusher, Andre Hines Jr.  Following a monster sophomore campaign that saw him rush for 561 yards and seven touchdowns on 114 carries (4.9 per carry average), Hines Jr. made the decision to transfer to perennial NYC powerhouse Erasmus Hall for his final two seasons of scholastic eligibility.

But, while it goes without saying that these are some serious absences, the good news is that Mahoney seems more than confident that he has found the student-athletes who are more than ready to step up and into those gigantic shoes….One such emerging stud is senior tailback, Justin Pisapia, who will not just be wearing #1 on his jersey, but who is also being counted on to be the number one option out of the backfield in the ground game….Getting just three carries during his junior year, Pisapia might be unproven, but that just means that it will be all the more thrilling when he enjoys a breakout swan song campaign….Fellow 12th grader, Scott Bruggeman, who was listed as a linebacker on last year’s roster and was not credited with a single touch on offense, could reap the benefits of a position change as he will make the conversion over to fullback.

Juniors—Vincenzo Quinzi, Liam Grapes, and Nick Della Pioli, will be among a handful of receivers who will look to be on the back end of Badyna’s potent hurls….Frank Cullen (12 catches for 134 yards) and Mike Hoffler (10 grabs, 121 yards, 1 TD) are expected to have their presence felt more on the defensive end (at OLB and DE respectively), but cannot be counted out on the offensive side of the ball after catching double digit passes last season….Sophomore TE, James Clark, was highlighted by his head coach as one of the young men promoted from last year’s junior varsity who could be contribute right away on offense.

Serving as an anchor to the team will be an offensive line that returns three starters—Pete Sluder, Anthony Casillo, and Anthony Gatti….Hailed as one of the strengths of the 2018 cohort, the Eagles averaged close to 320 yards of total offense behind these behemoths.  Averaging approximately 272 pounds among themselves, this trio could be a wrecking crew in the trenches this season.

In addition to the previously referenced Cullen and Hoffler (18 tackles, 2 sacks in 2017), the stars of the Eagles’ 3-4 defense will be Nick Slofkiss and Sean Badon along the D-line, complemented by linebackers Joe Montalvo, Tom Bossert, and Matt Aprile….Derek Rosenow (DE) and Luke Jakubauskas (OLB) join Aprile as youngsters with the chops to make their first varsity season a memorable one.

Strong safety, Joe Ramos (23 tackles, 1 pick), will enter his junior year as the linchpin of the defensive secondary.  Praised by Mahoney as “the enforcer” of the group, the 6’2, 180-pounder [Ramos] will team up with Anthony Moscatiello, James Langan, and John Martello in creating a no fly line….Senior, Eric Torres, will add depth to the defensive backfield.    

Senior placekicker, Nick Guglielmo, who went a perfect 18-for-18 on PAT attempts and connected on his lone field goal attempt in 2017, will be a very reliable force in the special team’s aspect of the game.

 

Xaverian

Head Coach

Michael Jioia (6th Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 8-3/Lost in the “A” Finals, 20-18, to Cardinal Spellman

2018 Overview

A mere 25 seconds away from hoisting the “A” hardware for the second time in the past three years, surely not a day has gone by where the Clipper student-athletes have not replayed in their heads the sequence of events that saw their rivals, Cardinal Spellman, emerge with a 20-18 victory on Mitchel Field last November.

Perennial “A” Division finalist who have reached the title game in four of the past five seasons (2016 being the exception), the boys from Brooklyn head into the 2018 season looking to embrace a new challenge, as they will make the jump up to AA this season.

Stacked with returning talent on both sides of the ball, the 2017 “A” regular season champions are not going to have to look far at all to find an individual capable of impacting the game at any and every moment.

At the forefront of their potential offensive juggernaut will be dynamic backfield duo of tailback, Roberto Auguste (2017 NYCHSFL “A” Offensive Player of the Year recipient), and signal caller, James Resker….In last year’s preview, we hailed Auguste as the “single biggest offensive weapon in the A Division” and he lived up to that praise, rushing for 1,196 yards and 14 touchdowns on just 161 carries (7.4/carry average).  On six separate occasions in 2017, Auguste equaled or surpassed the 100-yard marker in a game, highlighted by a 205-yard effort in a regular season victory over Spellman…Resker,  who logged his second highest passing total of the season in the title game with 161 yards on 7-for-14 attempts, concluded his sophomore campaign with a stat line that read as follows: 61-for-110 (55.5%) for 1,006 yards and seven touchdowns hurls….Add in Poly Prep transfer, Shane Greene, and all of a sudden, you might be looking at an unbridled ground monster that could run away from the rest of the field in 2018.

Xaverian is back in AA after a title and 3 Championship Weekend Appearances in A

Out wide, Jioia and company will have to overcome the absence of last year’s budding star, Isaah Amazon (11 catches for 284 yards, and three touchdowns) who hung up his cleats to focus instead on hoops, as well as the graduated Timothy McCabe, who topped all receiving categories a season ago with 22 grabs for 415 yards and five scores….However, despite these losses at WR, Xaverian still feels very optimistic about the potential of their passing game thanks in large part to the second half of the Resker twins, Thomas…Overshadowed last season by some of his older teammates, T. Resker would still have a very solid showing, as he was utilized effectively as both a runner (347 yards and 5 TDs on 44 carries) and a receiver (10 snatches for 90 yards, and one score)….Jason Perlstein, who was second to McCabe last year with 17 receptions (255 yards, 2 TDs) will join newcomer, Justin Wolfe, who brings his talents to the five boroughs who starting his career in the Garden State, in comprising one of the best 1-2 Tight End combos in all of the NYCHSFL.

Doing the grunt work will be several experienced two-way linemen who have already shown countless times throughout their careers a propensity for doing damage on both ends of the line of scrimmage….When their team has the ball, Joe Leone (OT), Derin Hansen (OT), Christian Appel (OG), Brandon Ramrattan (OG), and sophomore pivot, Francis Ezeagbr were members of a unit that enabled the Clippers to average over 177 yards per game and score 24 touchdowns on the ground…..

Believing in the old school Ironman philosophy, almost all of the names cited for their offensive prowess, also are going to likely be showstoppers on the defensive side of the ball as well….Mike linebacker, Ramrattan, would finish second in total tackles last season with 60, while Perlstein would be right on his heels, taking the bronze with 58 stops and a pair of interceptions while patrolling the defensive backfield….Auguste (who was a 4th Team All-State selection at DB) and his 54 tackles and two picks at safety also proved himself to be a jack-of-all trades….Hansen and Appel, who will serve as the starting DEs this season combined to record 99 (Hansen with 50) and three sacks (Appel with 2), while Leone, who will occupy the DT position, was credited with 29 stops and two forced fumbles as a junior last year.

One final name that Coach Jioia advised us to keep an eye on was Brian Langan….Seeing action last season mostly as a back-up QB, now that he has transitioned to the other side of the ball (as an outside linebacker), the Clipper coaching staff are predicting a breakout season.

Speaking of defensive intangibles, the Clippers are also honored and proud to welcome back coach Dan Leahy, who after two years at Wagner, has made his way back to Shore Road to serve as the Defensive Coordinator.

Sep 122018
 

By Matt Diano: 

Cardinal Spellman 

Head Coach

William Cawley

Last Season

Record: 7-5/Won the 2017 “A” Division Crown, 20-18, over Xaverian

2018 Overview

NYCHSFL titlists for the first since 2008 behind a dramatic 20-18 triumph over rival Xaverian last November.  If a repeat is in the cards for the Pilots, it will need to come on the backs of a new troop of student-athletes.

Hit as hard any team last season by graduation, Head Coach, William Cawley, and his staff will be without 17 key members (mostly at the skill positions on both sides of the ball) of a faction that advanced to championship weekend for three consecutive seasons (2015-2017)…Does this mean that 2018 will bear witness to a rebuild?  The truth is that we don’t think so…Like any great sports tradition, what has been created on the Bronx based campus is bigger than one, two, 10, or in this case, even nearly 20 individuals.   And while admittedly there will be adjustments to be made, there is absolutely no reason as to why the Pilots cannot be celebrating in November yet again.

Supplanting an entire senior backfield (Justin Medina, Darrell Okpo, Michael Booth, Noah Stewart, etc.) that accounted for 1,420 yards and 15 touchdowns on the ground and threw (Isaac Yearwood) for an additional 323 yards and seven more scores will not be an easy task.  Making the job even more difficult is the fact that when he was not channeling his inner-Billy Bob from “Varsity Blues”, Booth was also a premier OL who opened up many of the holes from which his teammates sprung free…..But, all of this having been acknowledged, there remains a faith in the high ceiling possessed by the new blood.

They say that competition is a good thing because it forces the best out of a player.  So, in some regard, perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that we have a bit of a QB battle brewing between junior, Dylan Williams-Molitor and frosh, Aidan Hanley-Piri.  Both taking their first career varsity snaps this season, it may take a few weeks for the eventual victor to get into a groove, but once that comfort zone has been established, look out.

In year’s past, there has always been a running back by committee philosophy at Spellman and that system need not be altered.  As Bon Jovi sang, “It’s all the same; only the names will change” and for the Pilots, one name that you best make yourself familiar with is that of senior, Kyle Maysonet…Standing 5’6 and weighing 170 pounds, the hometown [Bronx] kid did not get as many carries as we are sure he would have preferred, but when he did he held his own, gaining 78 yards on 31 chances….Meki Howell-Browne, also in his final season at Spellman, will be a featured part of the defensive backfield, but does bring with him tailback experience,  carrying the pigskin 12 times for 28 yards in 2017….Junior, Myles Bideau, has demanded that people pay attention to him during summer workouts and will certainly be getting a healthy dose of hand-offs during the next 10-12 weeks.

Cardinal Spellman Celebrates the A Championship in 2017

Lance Powell will be the commander of the WR corps in 2018 and should be considered a lock to completely blow the roof off of his production (credited with three grabs for 56 yards and a pair of TDs) from a season ago.  Like him, his associates this season are all 12th graders—-Joseph Baez (WR), Frank Mennona (TE), and Joseph Delgrosso (TE) who will be determined to make their last chapter a rejoicing one.

Seniors, Thomas Nguyen (in the pivot) and Zoilo Carmona (OG; 230) will be the foundation of an offensive line that will also lock to get pet bulldozing performances out of junior OTs, Anthony Badagliacca (6’1, 280) and Ethan Butler (5’10, 215), as well as senior OG, Denzell Howden (5’8, 230).

On the defensive side of the ball, despite losing five of the team’s top-6 tacklers, Spellman looks quite solid on paper….In fact, hailed as the strength of the team as a whole, many of the 11 faces you will see on “D” played significant roles last season….

Michael Zheng and Carmona, who posted 46 and 39 tackles respectively as juniors in 2017 will be the glue of the defensive line…. Joining them will be Mennona (at the other DE), as well as a trio of junior mammoths—Anthony Sanchez (6’1, 290), Carlos DeJeus (6’0, 290), and Anthony Badagliacca (6’1, 280)—all of whom will complement Carmona at DT.

Matthew Forti, the leader in tackles among returnees, will captain the linebackers.  As a junior, the Manhattan resident collected 62 stops and had an interception….Nathaniel Colon, who will set the same senior example for the OLBs that Forti will do for the Mikes, is another playmaker on the defense, making 23 tackles and blocking a punt a year ago….Juniors, Ethan Ortiz, Williams-Molitor, and Bideau enhance the LB position.

Powell will be asked to be the shutdown corner in the secondary following a junior campaign that saw him make 42 tackles, log an interception, and two successful pass break-ups….Nicholas Payne (8 tackles, 1 pass defense), Justin Veith and Salvatore Maida, all of whom were singled out for deserved recognition by Cawley, are said to have looked very formidable at CB during training camp….Howell-Browne (7 stops, 1 PD) and William Crean, will be the team’s starting safeties.

 

Kennedy Catholic

Head Coach

Dominick Tassone (3rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 4-6/Lost in the “A” Division Semifinals, 16-14, to Cardinal Spellman

2018 Overview

The season has barely started and yet it is already a special one for Coach Tassone.  Welcoming a child into his clan just days before the opening kick-off, no matter what happens from this point forward, 2018 will always hold a special place in the heart of the Gael Head Coach….That having been said, next to marrying the love of your life and having children, there is no greater joy in this world than winning a NYCHSFL crown; And for Kennedy Catholic, that is a VERY attainable objective this season.

A program that has had the misfortune of running into the eventual champions in the semifinals in each of Tassone’s seasons at the helm, our gut is screaming that this will finally be the year that the Somers, NY located school will earn the privilege of suiting up for Championship weekend!!!!  Heck, they almost accomplished the feat a season ago, as they led Spellman 14-0 in the 4th quarter before a late rally squashed their title hopes.

Still unsure of who will emerge as the field general, at the onset of the season, the Gaels have said that they will implore a quarterback by committee system…Likely to be given the first crack at winning the spot will incumbent starter, Ryan Johnson…A young man who as a junior was thrown into the deep end, taking over for the 2016 “A” Offensive Player of the Year [David Keogh], at times the 6’1, 195-pound resident of Carmel endured some frustrating moments as he finished the year completing only 40.7% of his throws (33-for-81).  But alas, a new season welcomes a fresh slate and now that he has that always important year of experience under his belt, the hope is that increased confidence will yield a more accurate representation of his tools….Sophomore, Kieran Meyers, a transfer from Iona Prep, and senior, Zach Sellinger, will also vie for the honor of being QB1.

Adding further leadership to the backfield will be a trident of senior talent—Myles Proctor, Seth Surrett, and Brendan Gibson…As a junior, Proctor finished second on the team in all major rushing categories [behind Greg Brann), racking up 336 yards and scoring three times on 53 carries….Surrett, who is the most explosive of the trio, averaged 8.8 yards per touch last season, gaining 150 yards and finding the end zone once on his 17 attempts…Gibson would also surpass the 100-yard plateau, running for 117 yards + 1 TD on 37 hand-offs…With normal progression/development from one season to the next, each of these gentlemen are sure to increase their production….One additional name that has already starting to circulate as a future diamond for this Gael program is freshman Bobby Piesco.  While he may be asked to accept a secondary role behind his three elders this season, the Mohegan Lake resident has the goods and when he is unleashed, he will turn more than a few heads with his breakaway ability.

Expected to act as the primary target in the passing game will be senior TE, Eric Volpi…Standing 6’6 and weighing 240 pounds, Volpi is impossible to miss on the field.  As a junior, he caught seven passes for 85 yards.  His massive frame also enables him to be an effective blocking tight end, which in a run-heavy scheme, is a must-have…Should [Myles] Proctor display the durability and consistency to be an every down RB, there is a strong likelihood that Surrett and Gibson could make the conversion out wide to ensure that all possible play-makers are on the field at once…Sophomore, Clayton Proctor, will battle for snaps and could be a pleasant surprise in his first year on the KC varsity roster.

On the topic of opening holes and protecting the blind side, for the first time in quite a while, there will not be a member of the Longest family inflicting pain along the line of scrimmage.  Graduated and now playing collegiately at Ithaca, 2017 “A” Lineman of the Year, Ed Longest, is a hard man to replace.  Drawing the assignment of having to be the one to fill the void will be two-way lineman, Aidan Bernal, who will occupy the pivot in 2018… Freshman, Nate Kraemer, who is easily the biggest member of the team at 290 pounds, proved impossible to keep off the field and will join Wyatt Rumpf at the two OT spots…Stimulating the run game at OGs will be senior, Cole Esposito, and junior, Thomas Duffy.

Defensively, you cannot find a better base from which to build a starting 11 than the senior ILB tandem of Esposito and Rumpf….Esposito, the reigning “A” Defensive Player of the Year following a junior campaign that saw him finish second on the team [behind Longest’s 101] in both tackles (92) and sacks (3) was a finalist to the Lohud Super-11 team, officially distinguishing him as one of the best players in his Westchester/Yonkers/White Plains area…Rumpf, who was the sack king a season ago with four, ranked third on the team in total stops with 83 as an 11th grader.

Ayden Sanchez (LB), who the coaching staff predicted would have a solid sophomore season in the 2017 preview, did not fail to meet those expectations, he concluded last season with 28 tackles and 1 sack.

The Gael defense will also benefit immensely from a second wave of experienced personnel in the persons of outside linebacker [Myles] Proctor (20 tackles; 1 sack; 1 pass defense), DE Bernal (17 tackles, 1 forced fumble), and a defensive backfield consisting of Gibson (11 stops, 2 QB bags) and Surrett (7 tackles, 1 sack, and an INT)…Senior DT, Joseph Eckardt (7 stops), will be the final piece to the 3-4 package.

Gary Kellogg (OLB), along with his fellow rookies, Piesco (SS) and Kraemer (DT), will be contributors out of the gate and will only see their impact grow with each passing game they log.

Senior, Brendan Lebitsch, will handle kicking duties again the Gaels.  As a junior, he was an efficient point scorer, connecting on 14-of-17 PAT tries, and making 3-of-5 field goal attempts (long of 35 yards).

 

Nazareth Regional

Head Coach

Desmond DeFreitas (2nd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 1-6/Did not Qualify for the “A” Playoffs

2018 Overview

Picking up their first win in over three years last season, what a triumph and confidence booster it must have been for the Kingsmen, as they knocked off the eventual league champions from Spellman.

Referring to the 2017 season as a “building year” where many of his student-athletes were first-year players who were still mastering the basic fundamentals of the sport, Head Coach Desmond DeFreitas admittedly did not put too much stock into how the win/loss column read.

A throwback to an era (late 1980s-early 1990s) of prosperity, the 1991 Nazareth graduate/former star tailback [DeFreitas) is not rushing the process.  Instead, the goal remains to make progress with each passing weekend and as that occurs, you should expect to see one win become two, two become three, and so forth until the memories of yesterday turn into the realities of tomorrow.

As noted above, this is a team that was so young a year ago that when you look across the board from position to position, you find that in almost every case, there is a key returning starter on the brink of a breakout season.

Piloting the offense for a second consecutive season will be senior QB, Kenial Densiar…Finding himself the victim of the learning curve at times, the 6’0, 156-pounder who calls Brooklyn home put up modest numbers as an 11th grader, completing only 52 of his 186 (36.5%) throw attempts for 187 yards….Should be able to add a little polish to his technique and clean up some of the errors, it will go a long way towards establishing momentum in 2018.

Working in the favor of Nazareth is that while their signal caller is ironing out the wrinkles aerially, they will have the luxury of welcoming back their top-4 rushers from last season…Junior, Matthew Moore, would have a dynamite sophomore campaign in 2017, leading the team in yards accumulated with 166 on 44 carries…Justin McDuffie, who we highlighted in last year’s preview as someone who possesses lighting speed, led all Kingsmen in rushing touchdowns last season, scoring twice to go along with his 134 yards on 55 chances…Kevin Fleetwood, who was used in the FB/big back capacity in his junior year, scored the only other rushing TD of the season for NR, ending the season with 51 yards on 13 carries…Malcolm McNeil, who is listed on the roster as the back-up QB, should not be ignored as a potential option out of the backfield.  Using a small sample size of four carries, the 6’3, 170-pounder from Far Rockaway, averaged nine yards per touch to finish the year with 36 yards in total. 

Similar to Moore Catholic, because the quantity of passes from a season ago was not immense, it is difficult to properly diagnose the skill level of the wide receiver troop…Two individuals who do look the part of trusted pass catchers are senior, Teshawn Howard, and junior, Jalen White….Howard only made two grabs last season, but averaged 19 yards on those catches, making him a major threat to stretch the defense…White also made a pair of catches in 2017 that equaled seven yards…Fleetwood (3 catches for 26 yards) and McDuffie (2 grabs for 5 yards) are the only other remaining players from last season that were credited with multiple receptions.

Flipping the page to the other side of the ball, the Kingsmen return seven of their top-10 tacklers from last year.

DE/OLB Elijah Jordan, will be the pulse of the defense following a junior year where he compiled a team-best 31 tackles and was second among Naz players with three sacks…Just behind him on the stat sheet was fellow senior, Hordley Pusey, who tallied 29 stops and led the Kingsmen with five QB bags…Fleetwood (21 tackles, 2 sacks) and Brenton Winter (19 tackles, 3 QB hurries) adds more punch to the front seven at the linebacker position…Junior, Christian Mazier, is also hear his #21 jersey called a lot this season….9th grader, Khalil Abdurrahman, is regarded as a future standout on the DL.

Justin McDuffie and senior, Jamel Nicholson, will headline the last line of defense…As a 10th grader, McDuffie made 20 tackles, an interception and five successful pass break-ups…Nicholson, posted near-mirrored statistics, finishing with 17 tackles, 1 pick, and a team-high six PDs.

 

St. Dominic’s 

Head Coach

Robert Ploth (3rd Season as Head Coach)

Last Season

Record: 2-8/Lost in the “A” Semifinals to Xaverian, 29-14

2018 Overview

A very young squad that suffered some keys losses to graduation and/or transfer, where this group may fall short on in experience/reps, they will account for by leaning heavily on their core group of returning players who possess the natural ability to make magic happen.

Semifinalists in two of the past three seasons, if St. Dominic’s  is going to make that serious push towards a championship berth, they will need to get a Herculean season out of their star quarterback, Jack Rooney…..A dual-threat sensation during his junior campaign, the 5’11, 165-pounder would have a hand in producing 1,051 yards of total offense, as he tossed for 709 yards (50-for-90) and ran for an additional 342 yards (on 75 carries).   Of the team’s 11 touchdowns recorded last season, Rooney played a role in seven of them, throwing for four and taking the remaining three to the house with his legs…..With older brother, Thomas, who led the team in rushing yards a season ago, now off to play college lacrosse at Siena, the rumor out of Oyster Bay is that the offensive scheme may shift to a more “pass-friendly” system.

If the Bayhawks do choose to air the ball out more on offense, one person who you know will be having his number called a lot in 2018 will be junior, Will Ford…..The team-leader in receptions last season with 15 (for 165 yards and 2 TDs) as a 10th-grader, now that he has that extra year of varsity experience under his belt, there is telling just how much better Ford will be this season…Listed as a running back on the official roster, Ford likely figures prominently into the running game too, as he probably assumes the role left vacant by the elder Rooney….Sophomore, Dom Camera (1 catch for 8 yards a season ago), who drew the spotlight of his head coach, could emerge as a secondary target out of the TE position….Sophomores, Christian Gutierrez and Charlie Mediavilla, are both fresh faces within this offense and could make their presence known a lot sooner than later.      

In addition to QB and RB, another area where Coach Ploth is not going to lose any sleep over a lack of experience will be along his offensive line which brings back three starters, including a pair of monsters in the persons of Charles Blyman (6’4, 280) and Jack Doherty (6’1, 245).

Defensively, the Bayhawks will have the daunting task of trying to replace seven starters, including the team’s leading tackler from a year ago, Ahmir Lyles (90 tackles, 5.5 sacks), who opted to do his senior season at the Hill School in Pennsylvania.

Addressing this issue, Ploth spoke confidently about a couple of his student-athletes who had reserve roles in 2017, but were prepared to step up and fill the void….Timothy Riordan (MLB) made 18 tackles and had a sack as a junior; Dom Bova, who made 11 stops last year will be charged with the responsibility of plugging the middle of the DL….Mykael Morring should also be viewed as an essential cog along the defensive line…Blyman (15 tackles) and Camera (10 stops) add further stability.

Ford (21 tackles, 3 INTs), Rooney (16 tackles, 1 INT), and Alfonso Iacono (15 tackles) are all ball hawks that will roam the defensive secondary.