Cardinal Hayes defeated Stepinac 38-20 to capture the JVA AAA league Championship. Xavier went on the road to defeat top seeded Moore Catholic 22-18 to claim the AA title.
The wait is over!!! After playing the role of bridesmaids in each of the past two seasons, the Pilots of Cardinal Spellman finally find themselves atop the NYCHSFL world, following a 20-18 victory over top-seeded Xaverian, in the “A” Division final….The victory avenged a pair of losses (14-13 on September 30th; 20-6 on November 3rd) during the regular season.
Surviving a serious scare in the semifinals that witnessed them have to climb out of a 14-0 4th quarter hole to Kennedy Catholic by scoring 16 unanswered points in the final 12 minutes of play, the Pilots were forced to sweat it out yet again in the title contest when a Xaverian 94-yard touchdown pass from James Resker to Timothy McCabe with 2:55 remaining put the Clippers up 18-14.
However, like a team that refused to lose on this day, the William Cawley led cohort would find an answer on their final drive of the game, when reigning Offensive Lineman of the Year, Michael Booth, channeled William “Refrigerator” Perry by pounding in the winning score from the 1-yard line with 25 ticks remaining in the game to earn his school the right to hoist the hardware for the first time since 2008…The winning score was set up by a clutch QB keeper by senior quarterback, Isaac Yearbook, who on 4th-and-5th, dove at the goal line and got just enough to earn the 1st down and keep hope alive….Earlier in the drive, it was a 29-yard completion from Yearwood to Junior WR, Lance Powell, on 3rd and three that served as the biggest gainer of the series, putting the ball on the Xaverian 27.
A contest of conflicting halves, everything would go right for the Pilots during the opening 24 minutes, as they built a 14-0 advantage by scoring on their first and last drives of the opening half….
Yearwood, who was named the Most Outstanding Offensive Player of the “A” finals gave the Pilots the initial 6-0 lead with 7:10 remaining in the 1st quarter when he threw a beautiful ball to Powell for a 20-yard TD reception…A pattern all day, it was a 13-yard scramble by the signal caller on 3-and-10 that preserved this successful drive as well.
The score remained unchanged until the very last moments of the half, when after missing a 29-yard field goal, Spellman would step up in a massive way on defense, forcing a three-and-out and then blocking the ensuing punt attempt to take possession of the pigskin on the Clipper 5-yard line with approximately 40 seconds left on the clock….On the first offensive play following the special teams’ block, Noah Stewart would dart up the middle for the TD. A Yearwood 2pt conversion run accounted for the aforementioned margin at the midway point.
Entering title weekend with a perfect record in league play, Mike Jioia’s Clippers had no intention of going down quietly, as they came out of the locker room on fire, cutting the deficit to 14-6 on their first drive of the second half when 11th grade, stud running back, Roberto Auguste, finished off the nearly eight minute drive by bursting through for a 3-yard TD run…Prior to the Auguste TD trek, it was Emmanuelle Olagunju’s 23-yard rush that advanced to the ball to the opposing 6-yard line.
Xaverian, who was seeking their second crown in the past three years (defeated Spellman in the 2015 final), would further climb back into the contest when after standing strong on defense, they made it 2-for-2 in productive 2nd half drives, when Thomas Resker capped off their second possession with a 4-yard rush with 10:06 to play in the game…They would attempt to tie the game with a 2pt pass attempt, but the throw would never make it out of the hands of the quarterback….
Taking their first and only lead of the afternoon on that previously cited 94-yard bomb in the final 3:00 of regulation, the epic comeback story seemed to be ready to write itself…After all, as the owners of the #1 overall defense in all of Catholic football, most times when the game is put in the hands of the Clipper “D”, that game goes into the books as a “w”….But alas, as made famous by the movie, “Little Giants”, one-time is all you need, and today was that one-time for the Pilots…The afternoon belongs to them!!
By Matt Diano:
When: Saturday November 18th, 2017
Where: Mitchel Athletic Complex
Time: 11 am
History of the Season Series:
-Xaverian swept the regular season series, winning 14-13 on September 30th before expanding the margin of victory to 20-6 on November 3rd.
-In both of the Clippers victories, junior standout running back, Roberto Auguste, had breakout performances, running for a combined total of 380 yards (205 in game #1) and scoring two touchdowns apiece in each of the head-to-heads.
-Xaverian QB, James Resker, had struggled with turnovers, tossing three between the two games. However, when he does avoid INTs, he is proving to be quite capable in the air, competing 57 percent (16 of 28) of his throw attempts. His role grew considerably in the rematch in November, as his pass attempts doubled from nine to 18 and his yardage tossed increased from 88 to 170.
-After being limited to just eight yards on two grabs in the first game, Senior, Timmy McCabe, was stellar in November, making four snatches for a team-high 75 yards.
-Two-way athletic freak, Isaiah Amazon, proved his ability to impact a game on either side of the ball, catching a 50-yard pass in the first meeting and following it out with an amazing defensive showing that saw him notch a sack, cause two fumbles, and make five stops, in the rematch.
-Philip Iacono has led the Xaverian defense in tackles per game in the series, averaging 8.5 stops per….He also logged an interception in the second game….Sophomore Derin Hansen is not far behind, as he has consistently recorded eight tackles in each contest.
-After surrendering 120 yards on the ground in the first game, the #1 ranked Clipper defense held Spellman to just 57 yards rushing in the November rematch….
-For the Pilots, the senior duo of Noah Stewart and Steven Manfredi, wreaked havoc in their team’s two losses…Combing to record 18 TFL in the two games, Stewart (23 stops; nine for a loss) and Manfredi (22 tackles, nine for a loss) have been bright spots despite the overall outcome.
-In the November defeat, Justin Medina, was spectacular in the defensive backfield, picking off a pair of passes for Spellman…In the initial meeting, he had a pick-6…Between his INT return for a TD in game #1 and his TD rush in the second game, he is personally responsible for 12 of the 20 points that Spellman has scored in the two contests.
Two teams who have had made a history of getting to the title, the last time that at least one of these schools was not participating in the “A” finals was 2012….Since that point, the Xaverian has reached championship weekend in four of the past five years, finishing as runners-up in 2013 and 2014 before winning it all (against Spellman) in 2015….Spellman is making their third straight trip to the title game, having lost 31-12 in the aforementioned 2015 finals to Xaverian, and then following it up with a 32-22 defeat in last season’s championship to Moore Catholic….The Pilots are looking to win their first “A” crown since having a run of two in three years in 2006 and 2008.
On paper, it is no secret who is heavily favored in this game….In addition to entering the weekend undefeated in league games this season, Xaverian boasts both the top-rated offense (27.9 points per game) and the best defense (10.6 points allowed) this season. These numbers are even slightly misleading when you consider that their lone loss was in a non-conference game in the first week of the season where 20 of the 95 total points they gave up were put on the board.
The Clippers will be expected to stay with what has worked so well for them in the past; AKA, heavy doses of handing the pigskin off to their junior stud RB, Auguste….A leading candidate to be the recipient of the Offensive Player of the Year in the “A” Division, Auguste tops the field in just about every rushing category possible. His 144 carries are almost 50 more than the next guy on the list, his 1,126 yards are more than double the next man, he is the only person to average over 100+ per game (125.1), and not shockingly, his 13 TD runs lands him the #1 spot.
While they have not had to utilize the pass game very much (approx. 12 attempts per game) in 2017, when the ball is in the air, signal caller, James Resker, has delivered, as he too stands alone on the leaderboard with 845 passing yards, a 56.2 percent completion percentage, and seven TD hurls….It is quite a major advantage when option B is just as lethal as your primary weapon….Assisting Resker in compiling his impressive numbers just happen to the #1 and #2 ranked receivers, McCabe (17 catches for 295 yards and four scores) and Jason Perlstein (15 grabs, 239 yards, and two touchdown receptions). Amazon has also been a great weapon out wide, racking just under 27 yards per catch to total 269 on only 10 grabs. His three TD snatches are second only to McCabe.
Lacking some of the star power that is present on the opposing sideline, for Spellman, the name of the game on Saturday has to be “total team effort”….They do not possess a break away, take over the game offensive player the way that Xaverian can ride Auguste….What they do have though is a number of steady and consistent student-athletes that if they work together, can make special things happen for the Pilots….We have already talked about Medina’s exploits as a defensive back; however, he also happens to be their #1 option out of the offensive backfield as well, running for 467 yards and four touchdowns this season. Complementing him will two additional 12th graders, Darrell Okpo and Michael Booth…Okpo, who scored a 25-yard TD in last year’s title game, leads the squad with five rushing TDs and is second in yardage with 260…Booth, who as one of the best linemen in the division (reigning Player of the Year at his position), is more accustomed to opening the holes than running through them, has been spotlighted a bit as a back, compiling 214 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just 31 carries…Finally, even though he has not been used much in this capacity, you cannot sleep on the possibility than an individual like [Noah] Stewart might be asked to make a contribution on the ground. Carrying the ball just 14 times for 57 yards, Stewart may not seem like a weapon, but his 47 yards in the 2016 title game solidify him as a very genuine factor.
Because we perceive Xaverian to have more of a quick strike offense, our feeling is that similar to game #1, if Spellman can make the game into a defensive war, they could very well steal it….On the contrary, if Xaverian/Auguste is allowed to dictate terms and put up 20+, they likely will be heading home with the trophy for the second time in the past three seasons.
Varsity at Mitchel Athletic Complex, Uniondale
Saturday, November 18, 2017
A Championship – Thomas Murray Trophy (11:00 am)
#2 Cardinal Spellman v. #1 Xaverian
AA Championship – Joe Lamas Memorial Trophy (2:30 pm)
#2 Fordham Prep v. #1 Kellenberg
AAA League Championship – Michael Cunnion Memorial Trophy (6:00 pm)
#3 Archbishop Stepinac v. #1 St. Anthony’s
Tickets $7 in advance, $10 at the gate.
Tickets go on sale Tuesday at participating schools
Junior Varsity at Higher Seed
AAA Championship – John Marchassalla Memorial Award
#2 Archbishop Stepinac v #1 Cardinal Hayes @ Rooftop (Saturday, November 18 – 2:30 pm)
#2 Xavier @ #1 Moore Catholic (Saturday, November 18 – 10:00 am)
(5) St. Anthony’s v. (1) Cardinal Hayes (TBA)
(3) Iona Prep @ (2) Archbishop Stepinac (Sat., 11/11 – 10:00 am)
(3) Kellenberg v. (2) Xavier @ Aviator (Sat., 11/11- 4:30 pm)
(5) Holy Cross @ (1) Moore Catholic (Sat., 11/11 – 10:00 am)
(5) Iona Prep @ (1) St. Anthony’s (Fri., 11/10 – 7:00 pm)
(3) Archbishop Stepinac v (2) Cardinal Hayes @ Rooftop (Sat., 11/11 – 3:00 pm)
(6) Xavier v. (1) Kellenberg @ Mitchel (Sat., 11/11- 7:00 pm)
(5) St. Francis Prep v. (2) Fordham Prep @ Coffey, Fordham University (Sat., 11/11 – 7:00 pm)
(4) St. Dominic v. (1) Xaverian @ Aviator (Fri., 11/10 – 7:00 pm)
(3) Kennedy Catholic @ (2) Cardinal Spellman (Sat., 11/11 – 1:00 pm)
(1) Cardinal Hayes BYE
(2) Archbishop Stepinac BYE
(6) Christ the King @ (3) Iona Prep (11/4 – 10:00 am)
(5) St. Anthony’s @ (4) Chaminade (11/4 – 10:00 am)
(1) Moore Catholic BYE
(2) Xavier BYE
(6) St. Francis Prep @ (3) Kellenberg (11/4 – 11:30 am)
(5) Holy Cross @ (4) Fordham Prep (11/5 @ Murphy Field – 12:00 pm)
(8) St. Joseph by the Sea v. (1) Kellenberg (Sat. 11/4 @ Mitchel Athletic Complex – 7:00 pm)
(7) St. John the Baptist v. (2) Fordham Prep (Sat. 11/4 @ Coffey Field*, Fordham Uni. – 7:30 pm)
(6) Xavier v. (3) Holy Cross (Sat 11/4 @ Bayside Athletic Fields – 3:30 PM)
(5) St. Francis Prep @ (4) Mount. Saint Michael (11/5 – 1:00 pm)
(8) Christ the King @ (1) St. Anthony’s (11/3 – 7:00 pm)
(7) St. Peter’s v. (2) Cardinal Hayes (11/4 @ Mott Haven – 4:00 pm)
(6) Chaminade @ (3) Archbishop Stepinac (11/5 – 1:00 pm)
(5) Iona Prep @ (4) Monsignor Farrell (11/4 – 7:00 pm)