Ethan Ortiz (Sr.); RB/LB – Cardinal Spellman Pilots
When it comes to the 6’0, 177-pound, ironman out of Mount Vernon, the Pilots’ coaching staff must wish that every game could be a playoff contest, because that is when #7 in Scarlet & White truly is at his best.
A Player of the Week selection for the second straight year following a semifinal victory (40 yards + 1 TD rushing; 20 tackles + a safety in a 23-0 win over St. Dominick’s in 2018), Ortiz also earned Defensive Most Valuable Player honors in last season’s Single-A title contest (18 stops in a 19-12 win over Kennedy Catholic).
This past Saturday, in Spellman’s hard fought 22-20 win over Nazareth Regional, he authored yet another chapter in his chronicles of postseason excellence, rushing for 152 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries, while also tallying five total tackles (3 solo, 2 helpers) and a sack in punching the Bronx-based school’s ticket to the “A” finals for the fifth year in a row.
The catalyst in the Pilots three-game sweep of the Kingsmen in 2019, Ortiz exceeded the century mark on the ground in each and every contest, running for 143 yards and one touchdown on September 21st and then adding an additional 137 yards and another touchdown during week #7 (October 12th)…Defensively, he averaged 8.3 tackles, had the previously referenced sack, and forced multiple fumbles this year against Nazareth.
Enjoying the rare privilege of experiencing nothing but trips to championship weekend during his four-year varsity career, Ortiz will be a man on a mission as he looks to close out his tenure as a Pilot this Sunday by delivering a third straight crown in a rematch of the 2018 finals…In the two meetings during the regular season versus the top-seeded Gaels, Ortiz accumulated 194 yards and scored three touchdowns on 27 carries (7.2/run), including personal-bests of 161 yards and two scores on October 4th…He also registered 14 and 11 tackles respectively on “D”..
In what was an absolutely insane weekend in the Double-A classification, of the four quarterfinal playoff games, the lower seed prevailed in all of them, including the sixth-seeded Titans going on the road to emerge with a 21-7 victory over #3 Xaverian in AA-2…The victory, which avenged a previous 42-23 loss on September 21st, was highlighted by the breakout performance of the 5’9, 150-pound junior [Sinclair].
An individual who has really peaked at the ideal time of the 2019 season, in each of his past two appearances on the gridiron, the Westbury resident has set and then re-set his personal best for rushing production…Two weeks ago [October 20th], the Titan student-athlete would gain 95 yards on four carries in a win over Kennedy Catholic in his school’s final game of the regular season…This past Saturday, he kicked his effort into an even higher gear, establishing new career-highs across the board by accumulating 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns on just seven attempts (19.9/carry) to propel the Green & White to their third semifinal berth in the past four years.
Breaking the ice in a scoreless game in the first quarter, Sinclair recorded the first of his aforementioned two touchdowns when on 2nd & 10, he took the hand-off and found a hole, cruising eight yards to give HT the 7-0 lead.
Now tied at 7 apiece in the 3rd quarter, Sinclair exploded for what would be the game-winning touchdown when he transformed a jet sweep into an 87-yard sprint to glory to put Holy Trinity back in front, 14-7…Teammate, Kameron Robbins (19 carries for 70 yards), who scored twice during the first meeting between the two programs in week #3, tacked on some insurance when he scored on a 14-yard run late in the 3rd for the final TD of the evening.
On the field for every second of the 48-minute affair, Sinclair and his defensive peers in the HT secondary were outstanding, forcing Xaverian QB, James Resker, into a 6-for-18 passing night (after previously going 8-for-13 during the regular season showdown)…#8 was credited with four tackles and successfully broke up two passes.
Looking to return to championship weekend for the first time since being the AA runners-up in 2016, Holy Trinity will take the bus trip to Staten Island this Friday to square off with #2 St. Joseph’s by the Sea…When the two teams met in the fourth week of the season (October 28th), Sinclair accounted for 70 yards of total offense, running for 51 on three carries and catching one pass for 19 yards in the 40-20 loss.
Henry Belin (So.); QB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
To quote Cardinals’ long-time Head Coach, CJ O’Neil, “The number one question regarding the Cardinal Hayes Football team entering this season was, how were they going to handle the quarterback position? The answer is Henry Belin.”
Demonstrating a poise and skill set that is well beyond his youthfulness, the 6’3, 200-pound sophomore has flourished in his first season running the show in the Bronx…No longer is he a “game manager”; he has ascended to full-fledged “gun slinger and field general” status per the praising words of the Hayes’ staff.
Throwing at least one touchdown pass in eight of his nine starts this season, the 10th grade sensation has the Cardinal & Gold in familiar territory, as they advanced to the triple-A semifinals for a fifth consecutive year behind a statement-making 61-14 triumph over the St. Anthony’s on Saturday November 2nd.
Asserting himself as a “Friar slayer” in 2019, of the 17 total touchdowns that Belin has posted in his rookie campaign on varsity, five (nearly 30%) have come in just two outings versus their rivals from South Huntington…When the two storied programs banged heads on September 21st, the CH signal caller completed 8 of 12 aerial attempts for 82 yards and two touchdowns…The extent to which he has grown/developed in the six weeks since were evident last Saturday, as he maintained his immense accuracy (connected on 8-of-13), but increased his yardage to 155, hurled two more TD passes, and even displayed a dual-threat component by rushing for a touchdown for the second straight week.
Getting Hayes off to a fast start, Belin would set the tone for the kind of afternoon it was destined to be for the hosts, when on their opening drive of the contest, he preserved a drive by throwing a 30-yard strike on 3rd & long to Damon Barnes, and then put the finishing touches on the successful series by hitting his favorite target, Kuno Mendez (5 catches for 92 yards) from six yards away for the first of their two TD hook-ups of the day to give the 2018 AAA runners-up the immediate 7-0 advantage.
Their edge having grown to 13-0 (Tafari Blackstock TD run in the 2nd quarter), Belin sent the Cardinals into the intermission with a commanding 21-0 when he notched his second touchdown of the half on a 7-yard QB keeper…This TD run was the second of six ground scores for the #4 seed, as they amassed 258 yards on 41 carries, including 28 on six from #3 [Belin].
The “w” far removed from any doubt (40-14 in the 3rd quarter), Belin’s second touchdown hurl of the game (15th of the season) occurred in a most dazzling of manners, when in the last 3:00 of the third quarter, he scrambled out of the pocket, evaded a defender and while on the run, launched a 20-yard missile into the hands of a leaping Mendez who landed across the pylon for what was described as a “SportsCenter top-10 worthy play”.
Next up for the gentlemen from Hayes is a semifinal date with the undefeated top seed from New Rochelle, Iona Prep, on November 9th…Finding himself on the wrong end of a 58-41 contest when the Cardinals and Gaels faced off on October 28th, aside from the obvious disappointment of the “L”, not much more could have been asked of Belin, who posted a 71% completion rate (22-of-31), surpassed the 300-yard mark (335), and accounted for three scores (2 in the air, 1 on the ground).
“A” Semifinals: #2 Cardinal Spellman vs. #3 Nazareth Regional (Nov. 2nd, 2:30 @ Spellman)—A tale of two games during the regular season, despite the victor [Spellman] being the same, nothing could have been more day and night in terms of the level competitiveness…In the first meeting on September 21st, the two-time defending champion Pilots would run (literally) wild, accumulating a season-best 253 yards and scoring four touchdowns on the ground en route to a comfortable 38-12 victory. Leading the way in this land attack was Ethan Ortiz (143 yards + 1 TD on eight carries), Dylan Williams-Molitor (56 yards on five hand-offs), and Aidan Hanley-Piri (17 yards and two touchdowns on three keepers). Hanley-Piri, the team’s signal caller, also was potent in the air, completing 8 of 13 passes for 127 yards and one TD. Anthony Bell (14 tackles), Ortiz (12 stops), and Anthony Badagliacca (3 tackles, 1 sack) anchored a defensive unit that limited the Kingsmen to their second lowest point output of the season…In the rematch (26-20 final on October 12th), Naz really demonstrated immense improvement on both sides of the ball, as Jalen White (13 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 caused fumble) was spectacular on defense, and the running back tandem of Matthew Moore (55 yards, 1 TD on 8 carries) andJustin McDuffie (52 yards on six attempts) did a solid job matching down the field. Quarterback, Nicholas White, who got intercepted twice in September, played a much cleaner contest, connecting on 3 of 4 passes for 54 yards and one touchdown (to J. White). In fact, if not for two drives being derailed by poor snaps (resulting in safeties), it is very possible that the Kingsmen could have pulled out the “w”…Both programs enter the postseason with a reason for significant optimism as Spellman closed out the regular season by knocking off double-A opponent, Mount St. Michael, 11-8, while Nazareth made top-seeded Kennedy Catholic sweat before falling by a score of 33-22. In the loss to the Gaels, McDuffie had a career day, racking up 200 yards on the ground.
“AA-1” Quarterfinals: #3 Xavier vs. #6 St. Peter’s (Nov. 2nd, 3:30 @ Aviator Sports Complex)—A rematch of a match-up we saw just a week ago in the regular season finale, the returning AA runners-up, Xavier, would spot the Eagles a 13-0 lead in the first quarter before storming back to score 36 unanswered points over the course of the last 36 minutes…Utilizing their bread-and-butter ground game, the Knights averaged 7.5 yards per carry (43 for 323) and recorded five rushing touchdowns in the comeback victory…Week #8 POTW selection, Andrew Scariano, and Matthew Geruso, each shined in the backfield, with the former setting a new career-high of 176 yards (2 TDs) on 21 chances, while the latter gained 58 yards and scored three times on his 14 attempts. Anthony Bruno did not find end zone, but still had an outstanding showing, exploding for 75 yards on just four carries (18.8 per)…The Eagles got their points via a pair of touchdown passes from junior field general, Vincent Mazzone, to seniors, Vincenzo Quinzi and Michael Politi.
“AA-1” Quarterfinals: #4 St. Francis Prep vs. #5 Fordham Prep (Nov. 3rd, 1pm @ Martin Van Buren HS)–A showdown where the seeds contradict what happened on the field, when these two schools squared off in week #7 (Oct. 20th), it was the Rams playing their best game of the year in a 41-16 victory on the road (same field as this Sunday)…Posting a breakout performance in the FP triumph was junior tailback/defensive back, Matthew McKillop, who ran for 163 yards and three touchdowns on one end and recorded seven stops and was credited with a sack on the other…For the Terriers, Joseph Pasqua, was a bright spot on an otherwise cloudy day. The senior RB ran for a team-high 71 yards on nine carries, caught two passes for 29 yards + 1 TD, and averaged 24.3 yards as a kick returner…Both schools tasted defeat in the final week of the regular season, but had moments of brilliance off of which they could build when the “money games” commence this weekend…In FP’s 42-23 loss to AA-1 top seed, Chaminade, McKillop scored two more touchdowns and had a sack that laid the tracks for an eventual safety. Jack Annicelli also had a touchdown pass to Jayden Wiggins per the twitter updates courtesy of respected HS journalist, Greg Thompson…In St. Francis Prep’s 35-7 loss to AAA opponent, St. Anthony’s, sophomore quarterback, Matthew Gonzalez, was astonishing, even if this the scoreboard bares no evidence…Re-writing his personal record book for pass attempts (37), completions (23), and yards tossed (245), the Bushwick resident spread the ball out to seven unique targets, including Nick Destefano (6 catches for 75 yards), Omarion Jones (6 grabs for 43 yards), Robert Padavona (5 snatches for 73 yards)…Pasqua, who himself had a pair of catches for 29 yards, scored the only TD of the afternoon for SFP on a medium-distance run.
“AA-2” Quarterfinals: #3 Xaverian vs. #6 Holy Trinity (Nov. 2nd, 7pm @ Aviator Sports Complex)—When these two programs played during week #3, it was a pure display of offensive firepower as they combined to score 65 points (Xaverian-42; HT-23)…Both finding immense success offensively on the ground, the Clippers posted season-highs for rushing yardage (245) and TD runs (5), while the Titans were not too shabby themselves, accumulating 194 yards and scoring three touchdowns…Coming up big for Xaverian was senior, Shane Greene, who gained 130 yards and scored once on 14 carries, while also converting on two 2pters to account for 10 points single-handedly. Complementing Greene was Jalen Sanchez (10 carries for 44 yards), James Resker (6 keepers for 30 yards), Jordan Murrell (two hand-offs for 22 yards), and Thomas Resker, who all also ran for one touchdown apiece. J. Resker, the team’s field general, was quite effective in the air too, completing 8 of 13, for 150 yards and one TD. Of these eight connections, five went to Justin Wolf (60 yards receiving); Tom Leahy was on the back end of a 55-yard TD pass for his lonegrab…On the opposite sideline, it was the duo of QB Emilio Ramirez, and super sophomore RB, Kameron Robbins, doing a load of damage, as the former rushed for 119 yards and scored one touchdown on 13 carries, and the former tallied 75 yards and a pair of TDs on his 14 handles…Both schools had byes in week #8, so they should step onto the gridiron healthy, well-rested, and properly prepared for what hopefully will be another electrifying clash.
“AA-2” Quarterfinals: #4 Holy Cross vs. #5 St. John the Baptist (Nov. 3rd, 1pm @ Jamaica HS)—Unlike the aforementioned AA-2 quarterfinal contest cited above, when the Knights and Cougars banged heads on October 13th, the name of the game was “defense”….Putting up a combined 24 points (16-6 Holy Cross), nothing came easy for either side when they had possession…Should the rematch play out in similar fashion, we would consider that an advantage for the HC, which boasted the top-ranked defense in AA-2 heading into the last week of the regular season…The young gentlemen from Flushing were outstanding in all areas of protecting their goal, containing the SJB backfield by committee to just 87 yards on 31 carries (2.8). The “no fly zone” was just as potent, holding the Cougars to 10 for 22 (157 yards) and intercepting four passes…Because Holy Cross chose not to publish their box score, we are not certain who were the difference-makers…For St. John the Baptist, Jayden Louis (5 catches for 52 yards) and Christian Maisel (2 grabs for 54 yards, 1 TD reception) had flashes of excellence as targets. If the Cougars gain improve their completion percentage slightly and avoid the INTs, that might be sufficient in their bid for revenge.
“AAA” Quarterfinals: #3 Christ the King vs. #6 Monsignor Farrell (Nov. 2nd, 7pm @ Coffey Field; Fordham University)—A genuine barn-burner at the break (6-3 CTK), the Royals utilized a pair of 4th quarter touchdowns to create separation in the September 20th affair…After getting off to a modest start to the evening, Christ the King QB, Noah Bodden (who enters leading New York State in yards thrown this season), really settled into a groove by night’s end, connecting on 23 of his 35 pass attempts for 359 yards and three TD strikes…On the back end of these touchdown hurls were a pair of senior wide-outs (Tahliq Battle and Jahrell Billups) who each posted 100+ yard receiving games. Battle caught six balls for 110 yards and two TDs; Billups had game-highs with seven grabs for 124 yards and one touchdown…Purdue bound tailback, Tirek Murphy, provided a second wave of attack, accounting for 108 of the team’s 166 yards rushing…The King “D” which held the Lions to 237 yards of total offense (82.4 below their average) was spearheaded by the likes of Mike Palmaccio (14 solo tackles, 2 assisted), Bak Harris (9 solo, 1 helper), Zephron Lester (9 solo tackles, 1 sack), Chris King (7 solo tackles, 2 assists, 1 sack), Narain Yearwood (8 stops), Elijah Muhammad (5 solo, 2 assists, 1 sack), and Christopher Eaton Jr. (5 solo, 2 TFL, 1 sack)…As it pertains to the Lions, prior to be knocked out of the game with an injury, quarterback, Michael Marten, looked very good, completing 4 of his 5 attempts for 48 yards… Chris Anarumo, who garnered POTW honors once this season, did an acceptable job when called upon in relief, going 10-for-21 and tossing for 65 yards. Both signal callers should see action on Saturday…Returning All-State performer, Christian Tait, topped all Farrell receivers with five catches for 28 yards; Matt Wessels (2 grabs for 48 yards) and Stephen Booras (4 catches for 25) added to the depth at WR…Aaron Espinet (39) and Ethan Yak (38) combined to gain 77 yards on 11 carries as the primary ball-carriers… Chris Ortalano (6 solo, 7 assisted), Justin Denmark (7 solo, 5 helpers, 2 TFL), Booras (9 tackles, 1 INT), and Anthony Travers (4 total stops, 2 pass break-ups) all turned in impressive defensive efforts for the Staten Island based program…Many of the names above enter the postseason with some momentum, as Bodden earned his second POTW distinction in 2019 with a 440-yard, 5TD effort in a 67-34 victory over Kellenberg, and Anarumo hooked up with Booras in a 34-17 loss to Stepinac.
“AAA” Quarterfinals: #4 Cardinal Hayes vs. #5 St. Anthony’s (Nov. 2nd, 4pm @ Macombs Park Rooftop)—A postseason rivalry that in most years occurs no earlier than the semifinal round, the Cardinals have been responsible for eliminating the Friars from the playoffs in three of the past four years, including 2018 when as the #4 seed, they went on the road to knock out the top seeds from South Huntington…When these two storied programs met during week #3 (September 21st), it was Hayes delivering a punishing 46-17 defeat to STA…On a day where everything just seemed to click for the Maroon & Gold, Jalen Smith (whose status for this weekend remains unknown) had a banner showing, rushing for 266 yards and three touchdowns on 12 chances (22.2/per); sophomore, Zachary Mitchell, posted a personal-best of 57 yards on six carries as a complementary piece in the backfield…Quarterback, Henry Belin, who did not play the full 48 minutes, demonstrated superior polish for his young age, connecting on 8 of 12 passes for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns…Yahya Krone (5 catches for 83 yards), Jerald Munoz (1 grab for 18), Tafari Blackstock (1 snatch for 48), and Dominic Morton (1 catch for 9 yards) all had touchdown receptions. Kuno Mendez was kept out of the end zone, but still had a quality day, hauling in four passes for 37 yards…Nicholas Burgess (5 solo, 3 assists, 2 TFL), Elijah Fuentes (4 solo, 3 helpers, 1 sack, 3 tackles for a loss), Damon Barnes (4 solo, 2 assists, 3 TFL), Sidiki Kone (4 stops, 1 INT) were playmakers on defense…The Friar coaching staff did not submit their box score, but based on the last two weeks (both wins), we have really liked what we have witnessed out of quarterback, Connor McCreery. The third St. Anthony’s student-athlete to line up behind center this season, the junior is riding a two-game stretch where he has thrown for 200+ yards and multiple touchdowns…Mario Escobar has manifested as a major all-purpose threat during the two-game winning streak, accumulating 145 yards (90 as a receiver) of total offense and two touchdowns versus Farrell and then following it up last weekend with a 12-carry, 96-yard, 2-TD performance against St. Francis Prep…Aidan Danenza has posted back-to-back appearances with a touchdown reception…Brennan O’Neill and Grant Gifford have elevated the intensity level of the front-7, while Nick Alvarado, has patrolled the secondary with flair (had a 2 INT, pick-6 game in week #7 against Farrell).
Nicholas DeStefano (Jr.); RB – St. Francis Prep Terriers
Having rushed for 109 yards through the first five weeks of the season, it is doubtful that those in attendance this past Saturday were expecting the 5’8, 161-pound, 11th grader [DeStefano] to have the kind of breakout performance that he did in the Terriers’ 35-14 road victory over St. Peter’s…
Treating the SFP faithful to a demonstration of offensive explosion, the Middle Village resident was the first student-athlete this season for Head Coach, Rich Carroll, to surpass the 100+ milestone, gaining 155 and scoring three touchdowns on 10 carries to single-handedly account for more than half of the school’s point total.
The aforementioned three scores, all of which occurred during the second half, were highlighted by a remarkable 43-yard dart to the house. In crossing the goal line on three separate occasions, DeStefano is believed to be the first St. Francis player to record three rushing TDs in a single-game since Jeffrey Aime achieving the feat during the 2005 AA Championship game win over this same Eagles’ program…Since MaxPreps started keeping track of statistical data, the five accumulated touchdowns on the ground (Elohking Beasley and Joseph Pasqua scored one each) tied a school-high set back in 2015 versus Kennedy Catholic.
The quantity (155) is the most posted by a SFP ball-carrier in nearly eight years, as John Mendez ran for 270 on October 21st of the 2011 season versus Christ the King….Complemented by Beasley (73 on 10 carries) and Pasqua (81 on nine attempts), DeStefano helped St. Francis Prep rush for 365 yards, which is the third highest amount amassed by the school during the MaxPreps era.
Having already outdone their 2018 season (1-7) by picking up their second win of the year in week #6, the Terriers will look to string together a winning streak down the stretch when they host Fordham Prep this Sunday….The Rams have allowed opponents to gain an average of 233.3 yards running in their four losses in 2019. On the flip side, they surrendered just 48 on the ground in a week #6 triumph over Xaverian…Hence, if DeStefano is able to get into a groove early, it should translate into success for the squad as a whole.
Anthony Perlongo (Sr.); WR/SS – Moore Catholic Mavericks
A season ago, the 6’2, 190-pounder was known mostly for his defensive prowess in the secondary…But today, he finds himself sitting in the company of the top two-way players in the Empire State… From one year to the next, he has emerged as the utmost “complete” player in terms of his value to a Mavericks team that is seriously in the hunt for their first team title since winning the “A” crown in 2016.
Enjoying the very definition of a “career-day” in the Mavs’ 50-30 triumph over Holy Trinity on October 12th, Perlongo established new personal bests on both sides of the ball en route to raising the Staten Island school’s record to 4-0 in AA-2 and 5-1 overall.
Undeniably unstoppable as the main target in the MC passing game, the 12th grader was on the back end of six of the team’s nine completions, including three catches (from distances of 43, 40, and 20) that resulted in touchdowns. His afternoon concluded with 202 yards receiving, making him the only student-athlete since the varsity program was reinstated in 2016 to notch a 200-yard game with his hands…For the season, he has caught 17 balls for 525 yards and six touchdowns. These numbers place him near the top of the NYCHSFL leaderboard in all categories, as he presently ranks 4th in AA in catches and 2nd in the entire Catholic league in both yardage (9th in NYS) and TD receptions (15th in NYS).
Defensively, the multiple-sport standout (is a sprinter and javelin thrower for the Track & Field team) registered the first double-digit tackle game of his scholastic career, making two solo stops and assisting on nine others to end with 11…He added his second full sack of the year (3.5 of his three-year varsity tenure).
In extraordinary fashion, Perlongo even managed to make a significant impact on special teams, adding a fourth overall touchdown when he returned a “squib kick” 59-yards to the promised land for the final six points of a remarkable 24-point afternoon…He even tacked on a 36-yard punt to round out his collection of bullet points.
At stake in week #7 will be the top spot in the AA-2 standings as Moore Catholic will welcome in St. Joe’s by the Sea (6-0)…The visiting Vikings are putting up over 38 points per game and giving up a mere 14.7…Therefore, Perlongo and his peers should come ready for a fight, since nothing will be gifted on the sabbath.
Justin Alexander (Jr.); WR – St. Joe’s by the Sea Vikings
Speaking of the Vikings, the Mike Corona guided program had a superstar of their own occupying the WR position during the sixth week of the regular season in their 56-0 victory against Mount St. Michael Academy.
Named as one of SILive’s top-10 performers of the week yesterday, the admiration and recognition continues to roll in for the 6’0, 175-pound junior receiver with his first-career selection to the NYCHSFL POTW list.
Tying his personal-best of four catches (also set in the team’s opening weekend victory over Xaverian), Alexander would establish new highs in yardage (100) and touchdown receptions (3)…Coincidentally, this stellar showing came approximately one year removed from the last SJS receiver to post a multi-TD catch game [Ryan Simermeyer; 2 TD grabs on October 12th, 2018 versus St. John the Baptist).
Having now caught at least one touchdown pass in three of his last four appearances, Alexander has surged into a three-way tie for 3rd place among all Catholic targets with five TD receptions in 2019…He sits 2nd on the Vikings in total grabs (13) and receiving yardage (236) behind only Vincent Vazquez (21 for 278) in both categories.
6-0 for the first time since the 2009 season, as noted above, if Joe’s by the Sea hopes to reach unchartered territory, they will need to contend with a mighty tough Moore Catholic cohort in a clash for Staten Island glory.
Avery Turton (Sr.); WR – Iona Prep Gaels
And then there was ONE!!! Following a loss by Christ the King to Stepinac, the Gaels are officially the only immaculate team remaining in the AAA division (6-0 and a big reason for their unblemished status has been the development and exceptional performance from their senior wide-out, Turton.
The second Iona Prep receiver to earn POTW accolades in 2019 [Alex Williams in Week #2], the 5’11, 185-pounder from White Plains has cemented himself as one of the most improved and priceless assets in the entire Metropolitan Catholic League…Catching just two passes for a modest 28 yards as a junior last year, the IP Honors Program (91 GPA, 1250 SATs) student-athlete has taken his game to the next level in his final season in Maroon & Gold…After six weeks, he currently ranks 1st among all NYCHSFL targets with 28 grabs and his yardage total of 451 places him 3rd regardless of division.
Last Sunday, in Iona Prep’s 21-0 win against St. Anthony’s, Turton put forth his finest statistical effort, leading the Gaels in every major receiving category on the day with nine grabs for 149 yards and one of the school’s two TD receptions [the other by Jarel Washington)…The catch count broke his previous career-best of six (set twice in weeks 2 and 3 against Chaminade and Stepinac) the 149 made it two weeks in a row and the third time this season that Turton contributed over 100 yards as a weapon in the aerial attack.
IP leading 7-0 at the time [Washington 1yrd run in the 2nd quarter), Turton created a cushion for the New Rochelle based program when in the last 2:00 of the third quarter, he snatched back-to-back pass attempts for a combined 81 yards, including a 37-yarder for the second TD grab of the season/his career.
Head Coach, Joe Spagnolo and company will look to secure the top seed in the triple-A playoffs when they square off on the road against Christ the King…The usually very solid Royals’ secondary has surrendered 606 yards and five touchdowns in the air the past two weeks. So, it will be quite the intriguing match-up when they face the most potent receiver in the league on October 20th.
Michael Tartaglia (Sr.); Two-Way Lineman – Archbishop Stepinac Crusaders
A consummate winner on the field and in the classroom, the two-year starter who boasts a grade point average of 95 and scored 1300+ on the scholastic aptitude test, truly earned high marks across the board this past Sunday in captaining the Crusaders to a statement-making 45-7 victory against previously unbeaten Christ the King. The win, which improved Stepinac to 5-1 in 2019, likely puts the White Plains located school in the driver’s seat to earn the #2 seed in AAA for the postseason.
Standing 6’2 and tipping the scales at 275, #68 in Red, White, and Blue has a presence on the offensive line that exceeds his physical stature…No matter the assignment, Tartaglia routinely wins his battle in the trenches. Never was this more evident than week #4 when his universal blocking skillset enabled the two-time defending league and state titlists to rack up 449 yards (236 passing, 213 rushing) and score six touchdowns (four via the air, two on the ground)…In both cases, their output represented an increase from their averages (211/206 split) heading into the contest.
Defensively, Tartaglia was a member of an ensemble cast that did a marvelous job containing a King offense comprised of major NCAA DI prospects…Allowing just 195 yards of total offense to an opponent that came in putting up 455.4, the AS defensive line pressured CTK signal caller, Noah Bodden, into a sub-.500 completion percentage (14-for-29), limiting him to 169 yards tossing and inducing two interceptions…The run defense was even better, holding King (155/game thru week #5) to just 26 yards…The Mohegan Lake resident [Tartaglia] registered a pair of assisted stops as a part of this collective beatdown.
There will be no resting on laurels for Mike O’Donnell’s crew, as next up for Stepinac will be a rematch of the 2018 title game versus Cardinal Hayes…Up to this point, Hayes has been scoring 36.3 points per game and accumulating 483.5 yards of production. Thus, AS will need to remain stout up front as they look to win their fourth straight game in this rivalry.
Daniel Settino (Sr.); QB – Kellenberg Memorial Firebirds
Any rumors of Firebird domination at the signal caller position being over (following the graduation of 2x All-State selection, Matt Sluka) have been greatly exaggerated; and this past weekend, the 5’10, 178-pound senior [Settino] more than proved it in leading KMHS to their 24th straight win over a double-A opponent, 30-7, against Xavier.
Displaying sharpshooter-like precision all afternoon, Settino successfully connected on 19 of his 24 attempts (79%) for 290 yards and three touchdowns in the air…In addition to being personal-bests, his completion and yardage totals also happened to be the finest posted by a Kellenberg quarterback since Joe Grimm tossed for 449 yards in week 3 of the 2016 season and then hit on 21 of 33 two weeks later…The three TD hurls matched Sluka’s performance in last year’s AA title game against this same Knight foe.
Adding 35 yards and one additional score on the ground, the Bethpage resident was the igniting force behind a run of 30 unanswered points.
The two-time defending champion Blue & Gold juggernaut trailing 7-0 at the time, Settino broke the ice for Kellenberg when he hit junior, Maximus Mongelli (6 catches for 66 yards), in perfect stride for a 43-yard touchdown to even the contest of 7-7 at the end of the 1st quarter.
In what was the eventual game-winning score in the second quarter, Settino faked a hand-off and plunged the ball into the end zone from two yards out to give the Marianist school a 13-7 edge at the break.
Remaining en fuego in the 3rd, #11 and his teammates pulled away when Settino found two different targets—Jordan Delucia (4 grabs for 112 yards) and Joseph Foley (4 snatches for 82 yards) on a pair of 70+ yard TD hook-ups to increase the lead to 27-7…Delucia’s touchdown was a short-distance screen pass that the returning All-Stater turned up field and took the rest of the way for the 74-yarder…A wide-open Foley caught the pigskin in front of his sideline at midfield, cut back to evade a defender, and then cruised the last 40 yards untouched for the 72-yrd strike.
Having bested their 2018 finals’ opponent in week #4, Kellenberg will look to do the same against the school they defeated in 2017 as they go on the road to face Fordham Prep…
Justin Lacks (Sr.); RB – Moore Catholic Mavericks
When you are already a three-time All-Catholic selection, multiple-time All-State recognized player (5th team as a freshman, 3rd team as a junior), and two-time U.S. Army All-American Combine invited student-athlete, there reaches a point when you simply exhaust every possible honor and/or label that can be bestowed upon you…For the 6’1, 215-pound Adonis, this past Saturday enabled him to cross off another title, as he was the “hero” in the Mavericks’ 28-22 overtime victory against Holy Cross.
Carrying the ball 28 times during week #4, Lacks just barely missed tying his career-high for yardage, falling one yard short of the 235 yards he accumulated in a 2018 victory over Mount St. Michael Academy…However, aside from this one minor factoid, the rest of the day would go smashingly well for the Staten Island resident, as he single-handedly was responsible for 20 of the school’s previously cited 28-point outing.
Scoring the second (had a 3-yarder earlier in the game) of his three rushing TDs when he put the finishing touches on a 96-yard, 8:00+ series in the third quarter by exploding into the end zone from the HC 33, everything looked to be in total control for Lacks and his Moore Catholic teammates as they held a commanding 22-6 edge.
But alas, a late rally from the boys from Flushing (blocked punt set up the equalizer in the 4th quarter) resulted in the contest extending into extra time…And, with the “w” hanging in the balance, Coach Giannatasio, knew exactly whom to lean on, putting the fate of his program on the proverbial shoulders of Lacks. This trust was rewarded when #6 emerged with a seven-yard game-winning touchdown to improve the Mavericks to 3-1 in 2019.
Currently being pursued by the likes of Long Island University (C.W. Post) and Wager College, Lacks will be determined to make it three straight weeks with 200 or more yards running when MC battles host Xaverian in a potential AA-2 semifinal or finals preview…Interestingly, in a decorated career that has seen him surpass 100-yards on 22 separate occasions and record two or more rushing touchdowns 18 times, in two previous meetings (both in 2016), the Clippers have limited him to an average of 64.5 and have allowed him to reach pay dirt just once. Hence, expect him to bring some added motivation on October 4th.
Christopher Annitto (Jr.); CB – St. John the Baptist Cougars
Double digit tackles? CHECK; Multiple sacks? CHECK; Pick-6? CHECK…This past Saturday, in the visiting Cougars’ 35-0 victory over defending “A” champs, Cardinal Spellman, there wasn’t much that the 5’10, 180-pounder did not contribute on defense in helping his school to raise their 2019 record to .500 (2-2).
The very definition of “stopper” during week #4, Annitto was so active that if you did not know better, you would have sworn that Coach Alba cloned him and lined him up at all 11 positions on the field.
Equally polished at smothering the run game, as well as creating a no-fly zone from the secondary, the Amityville resident was the catalyst in SJB’s first shutout since the fourth week of the 2014 season.
Credited with 13 tackles, including three that yielded negative yardage, the dual-sport student-athlete (scored 32 goals and assisted on 14 others as a sophomore attackman on the lacrosse team) would solidify his player of the week status by adding a pair of sacks.
Annitto would also be front and center in regards to dominating the turnover aspect of the contest, recovering one fumble and transforming defense into offense by returning an interception 18-yards for a touchdown for Baptist’s final score of the afternoon.
In week #5. SJB will attempt to snap a two-game losing streak to Xavier when they host this coming Saturday…During these past two meetings, the Knights have averaged 248 yards and four touchdowns on the ground…For this reason, it goes without saying that Annitto will need to be at the top of his game and continue his ransacking tendencies.
Jarel Washington (Jr.); RB – Iona Prep Gaels
Nominated for the second time this season (previously recommended, but not chosen in week #1) and earning the first POTW bid of his scholastic career, the 5’11, 185-pound 11th grader continued his brief, but immensely impressive track record of making HUGE, “get the audience out of their seats” caliber plays in the Gaels’ dramatic 36-35 triumph over two-time defending league and state champs, Stepinac, last Saturday.
The prototypical “Swiss army knife” weapon that Iona Prep seems to have year-in and year-out on offense, no single weekend has gone by in 2019 without the White Plains resident demonstrating the full array of his universal/all-purpose skill set…Ranking 1st on the team with 238 receiving yards and 2nd with 204 on the ground, Washington is averaging a mind-blowing 16.4 yards per touch between his 16 carries and 11 receptions.
Remarkably, given the already out-of-this-world stat line with which he entered, Washington found a way to dazzle to an even higher degree in the week #4 win over the host Crusaders, accumulating 182 yards of total offense on just six chances (30.3/play)…Establishing new highs across the board with 74 rushing yards (4 carries) and 108 receiving yards (2 grabs), it wasn’t just the sheer production that distinguished the dynamic junior from his peers; it was also the impeccable timing of his breakthroughs that cemented his inclusion on this list.
With Iona Prep on the wrong side of a 14-7 game with a little under 5:20 remaining in the opening half, Washington took a hand-off on 2nd-and-13 and motored 68 yards down his own sideline to the house to pull the New Rochelle based program even…A 22-yard connection between Darius Wilson (18-for-32, 238 yards, 2 TD passes) and Justin Jolly (6 catches for 61 yards) in the last three minutes of the 2nd quarter sent the Gaels into the locker room with the 21-14 advantage.
Now down 35-28 (three third quarter TDs by Stepinac, followed by an IP score with 7:35 remaining in the 4th) in the final 3:20 of regulation, Washington saved the Gaels’ perfect season when he pulled off what has to be an early favorite for play of the year honors…Plagued by a 3rd and 27 on their own 14, IP hit the jackpot when Avery Turton (6 receptions for 58 yards) made a catch and then shoveled it to Washington on the old hook and lateral for a 68-yard gain to put Head Coach, Joe Spagnolo’s squad inside the red zone (Stepinac 18)…Five snaps later, Wilson teamed up with Alex Williams on a nine-yard TD connection to make the score 35-34….Opting to gamble and chase the win by going for two, a QB draw by Wilson was initially ruled down at the 1. But, upon review, the call was changed to say that the ball was fumbled and thus live, making Williams’s recovery in the end zone the difference maker.
In week #5, Iona Prep will attempt to start the year 5-0 for a second consecutive season when they welcome in Monsignor Farrell…The last time that the Lions squared off with a fellow AAA foe, they allowed 359 yards and three touchdowns in the air to Christ the King on September 20th…Between 2017 and 2018, IP has averaged 238 yards throwing and 222 yards rushing in three games versus MF…Therefore, the well-roundedness of Washington will certainly present a challenge to the visitors from SI.
Chris Anarumo (Jr.); QB – Monsignor Farrell Lions
Exalted to the heavens by the Lions coaching staff as a true leader who “does all the right things on and off the field”, the junior signal caller absolutely lived up to that reputation last Sunday in Farrell’s 42-6 win over St. Francis Prep.
Ascending to QB1 status and making his first career varsity start under center following an injury to Michael Marten, the 5’9, 170-pounder was a maestro that effortlessly orchestrated the offense to the tune of the school’s third-highest point total in the past five seasons (scored 48 in week 5 of the 2016 season against Kellenberg; scored 48 in week #7 last year versus Fordham Prep).
Playing pitch-and-catch with fellow 11th grader, Matt Wessels on a pair of TD tosses and then tacking on a third touchdown hurl to returning All-Stater, Christian Tait, if Anarumo can perform this well in his debut, just imagine what the future holds once he logs more reps and gains more confidence in the coming weeks…While we will resist the urge to make a Lou Gehrig-Wally Pipp comparison, the validity of the situation is that after losing the preseason battle to be the starter, his achievements on September 29th makes quite the compelling argument.
The learning curve will become much steeper in week #5 as Anarumo and the Lions will journey to New Rochelle to battle undefeated Iona Prep.
Last season, it was Gaels’ senior tailback, Myles Proctor, taking the “A” Division by storm, rushing for 978 yards and nine touchdowns en route to being named the league Offensive Player of the Year….This past Saturday, it became quite apparent in Kennedy Catholic’s 24-6 victory over Cardinal Spellman, that younger brother, Clayton, has every intention of making it two years in a row that a Proctor sibling is honored at the Communion Awards Breakfast.
Stepping under center for the first time in his scholastic career, the 5’10, 170-pounder from Yorktown Heights was nothing short of spectacular in every possible way in enacting some revenge for last season’s title game loss…Accounting for 158 total yards between his legs and his arm, as well as having a hand in two of the school’s touchdowns, time and time again, the three-sport (basketball and baseball being the others) standout came up clutch in preserving possession. As his head coach, Dom Tassone, so perfectly phrased it, “He saved his best for the big moments.”
A season removed from only carrying the ball just once (for negative yardage), Proctor would be a thoroughbred of a different caliber during the opening weekend of the Catholic football season, gaining 128 yards on 10 keepers, including one TD run.
Aerially, he connected on six of his 15 attempts for a total of 58 yards…Two of these completions would be particularly beneficial, as Proctor would hit sophomore, James Brown, for a 3rd down conversation and then return to his emerging favorite target later in the series for a touchdown hurl.
Proctor will be looking to remain a nighmare for opposing defenses when he and the Gaels face off with double-A league member, Mount St. Michael Academy, on Friday the 13th.
Photo Courtesy of Geoffrey Walter
Mario Fischetti Jr. (Jr.); RB – Chaminade Flyers
The most valuable player on last year’s junior varsity, the 11th grader from Glen Head wasted no time in confirming that he will be the star of the Flyer backfield for the next two seasons in Mineola.
Carrying the pigskin 10 times this past Saturday, the 5’7, 165-pounder would rack up 121 yards and single-handedly score four of Chaminade’s five touchdowns in their 37-0 triumph over 2018 PSAL runners-up, South Shore.
Breaking for TD runs of 33, 31, and 14 yards respectively in the first half, Fischetti would send the visitors from Long Island into the intermission with a comfortable 28-0 advantage…For good measure, he then tacked on one additional “6” in the third quarter when he took the ball to the house from 12 yards away.
Next up for the talented junior will be his varsity home debut against two-time defending state champions, Archbishop Stepinac.
Omarion Jones (Sr.); QB/WR/DB – St. Francis Prep Terriers
When making an appointment of captain, one of the first qualities that a coach seeks is the willingness of the individual to put the betterment of the team ahead of his own personal accolades; to be a captain, you have to be willing to do anything and everything in the name of your school…This is why the 5’10, 170-pounder from Jamaica [Omarion Jones] is the perfect person to hold the title for the Terriers.
A two-year starter at quarterback entering his senior season, when told that he would be moved to wide-out, he embraced the change, knowing that it would strengthen the team and enable them to maximize their season…It is stories of unselfishness like this one that make it all the more rewarding when see that sacrifice be rewarded like it was this past Sunday in St. Francis’s 7-6 comeback win over Holy Cross.
Trailing 6-0 in the 4th quarter, Head Coach, Rich Carroll, would make the decision to put the ball back in the hands of his seasoned vet; and his trust would pay off as Jones completed two of his three passing attempts and laid the foundation for a winning drive that culminated with a TD run by 11th grader, Justice Allah.
While his performance down the stretch will likely be what gets remembered, it need be pointed out that all in all, Jones had an incredibly well-rounded display, contributing in a multitude of ways on the offensive end…As a runner, he gained 15 yards on four carries; as a receiver, he posted a team-high three receptions for 25 yards.
In true jack-of-all-trades fashion, Jones would also get into the act on “D”, making two stops from the secondary.
By virtue of the win, he now improves his career record to 3-0 against the HC Knights…In week #2, he will no doubt continue to be a versatile menace on both sides of the ball as he leads the Blue & Red army into battle against the two-time defending double-A kings, Kellenberg Memorial.
Christian Maisel (Jr.); WR/SS – St. John the Baptist Cougars
Speaking of checking off a plethora of boxes, of all our student-athletes honored this week, there was no one that genuinely fit that “Renaissance Man” label more so than the 6’2, 195-pound two-way standout from Amityville, Maisel…Making significant contributions in all three facets (offense, defense, and special teams) of the game, the Cougar 11th grader proved to be the determining factor in why SJB was able to go on the road and emerge with an important 22-7 win over 2018 Double-A semifinalists, Holy Trinity.
A year after rushing for 38 yards and catching six passes (including two touchdowns) all season, Maisel’s opening weekend effort left little doubt that he is well on his way to shattering all of his previous offensive milestones…Whether it be as a runner (80 yards on five carries), or receiver (5 receptions for 83 yards, two touchdowns), every possession for John the Baptist seemed to be just another opportunity for Maisel to shine.
Responsible for bookend scores, Maisel’s 10-yard TD catch in the first quarter from senior Nicholas Mazziotti, would give SJB the early 6-0 edge…In the 4th, with SJB now up 14-7, Maisel would inflict the proverbial “death blow” to the Titans, when he found himself on the back end of a 41-yard touchdown strike from sophomore, Kyle Chase, to account for the final tally.
When he wasn’t busy putting 12 points of his own on the scoreboard, the three-year varsity member would be instrumental in keeping them off on defense…Recording five tackles (1 TFL), causing one fumble, and alertly recovering three loose balls, Maisel and his D-unit colleagues were smothering, holding HT scoreless during the entire second half.
The Cougars will remain on the road for a second week in a row, traveling to Brooklyn on Friday night to square off against Xaverian.
Jesse Addesso (Sr.); DB – St. Joe’s by the Sea Vikings
Contrary to many of the gentlemen who join him in this week’s selections, the senior defensive back from Staten Island is proof that you don’t always need to compile gaudy statistics in order to be recognized for your value…As he affirmed last Friday in the Vikings’ 26-20 win against Xaverian, sometimes one big play at the perfect time can be just as cherished.
With his team clinging to the six-point lead (following a 10-yard TD run by Kyle Gaor) in the closing seconds of the 4th quarter, it would be Addesso that emerged as the saving grace when he intercepted a pass attempt on the goal line in the final five seconds to thwart the Clippers’ bid to steal the “w”.
In addition to the game-saving pick, much of what made Addesso so special in week #1 were the intangibles that often get overlooked in the box score…For instance, with the contest being such a back-and-forth affair all night, the fact that he recovered an onside kick attempt meant that his school was afforded another possession…
Furthermore, while the stat sheet may only read one tackle on “D”, it neglects to mention that the 6’0, 175-pounder was so dominant on the corner that he completely erased (1 catch for 8 yards) Xavier’s perceived top target.
Addesso and the Vikings will now look to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2013 when they return home to host Nazareth this coming Saturday in an A/AA crossover.
Noah Bodden (Jr.); QB – Christ The King Royals
If week #1 was any indication of the junior campaign that the 6’4, 225-pound field general has in store for the NYCHSFL faithful, then it is no wonder he is currently regarded as the #3 overall 2021 recruiting prospect in the entire Empire State!!!
Commencing his third season as the starting quarterback for the Middle Village based program, Bodden would easily put forth the finest effort of his scholastic career in CTK’s 40-0 win over St. Peter’s…
Rewriting his personal record book last Saturday, the returning All-Catholic selection from a year ago, would establish new single-game bests in completions (19), passing yardage (264), accumulative offensive production (303 yards) and total touchdowns (3) in helping the Royals get off to their first 1-0 start since the 2016 season.
Having previously never thrown for more than 227 yards (last year’s AAA quarterfinal loss to Stepinac) in an outing, Bodden would tear apart the Eagle secondary, hitting five different receivers as part of a 19 for 34, 264-yard, two-TD passing afternoon…The two touchdown strikes (15yrds to Tirek Murphy; 14-yarder to Stanley Oxford) tied the personal best he set against St. Anthony’s as a freshman and then matched last season versus Stepinac.
Not content to just show off his proficiency as a gun-slinger, the so-called “pocket-passer” would give recruiting experts a reason to relabel him as a “dual-threat” weapon when he scrambled 39 yards on his only carry for the first rushing touchdown of his career.
Bodden and the Royals will journey to the Keystone State this week to go toe-to-toe with 2018 PIAA State quarterfinalists, Pottsgrove, under the Friday night lights.
Jalen Smith (Sr.); RB – Cardinal Hayes Cardinals
An example of how sometimes even those with the most hype surrounding them can still find a way to completely blow your mind, you need look no further than the performance put forth this past Saturday by Cardinals’ senior running back, Jalen Smith, in Hayes’ 54-26 victory over Kellenberg Memorial.
Pegged in our 2019 AAA preview as a potential preseason favorite to win the Offensive Player of the Year award, Smith would leave even us speechless following a 16-carry, 330-yard, four touchdown afternoon that propelled the Bronx based school to week #1 glory in a clash of 2018 league finalists (Hayes—AAA runners-up; KMHS-2x defending AA champs).
With the Cardinals trailing 6-0 in the opening quarter, #23 would tie the score with the first of his aforementioned four treks to the end zone when he sprung up the middle and went 84 yards untouched…He then added a second 1st quarter TD when he cruised 70 yards on his school’s next possession to give Hayes a 12-6 edge at the end of 12 minutes.
Picking up where he left off, the senior speedster issued a fierce response to a KMHS 2nd quarter touchdown (to again knot the game at 12 apiece), darting 61-yards for his third straight touchdown of the half to put Hayes back in front 18-12…This TD sparked a streak of 18 unanswered points that made the score 30-12 at the break.
It would be déjà vu at the onset of the 3rd quarter, as Smith prevented the host Firebirds from ever truly getting back into the game when he again had a rebuttal for a Kellenberg score, finding pay dirt one final time from 27 yards away to provide additional (36-20) padding to the lead.
Including the 2018 postseason (116 in the semis versus St. Anthony’s; 105 against Stepinac in the finals), Smith has now surpassed the century mark in three straight appearances. Should he succeed in making it four consecutive contests with 100 or more yards, he will exceed last year’s total of 394 yards on the ground. Doing so though will present a challenge as the Cardinals will be pitted against defending New Jersey State titlists, St. Joseph’s Regional (Montvale).
Michael O’Donnell (32nd Year as HC; 40th at the School)
Record: 8-4 Defeated Cardinal Hayes, 29-18 in NYCHSFL “AAA” Finals
Top Returning Players:
*Joey Carino (Sr; QB): Completed 59.3% of pass attempts for 2,351 yards and 26 TDs; also gained 340 yards and scored five times on the ground.
*Kevin McKenna (Sr; RB/LB): Returning All-Catholic selection/4th team All-State on Defense; Averaged 8.5 yards per carry (136 yards and two touchdowns on 16 attempts) and made three grabs for 25 yards; Recorded 117 tackles (5 TFL), 10 sacks, 1 INT).
*Mekhi Green (Sr; RB/SS): Rushed for 379 yards and 3 TDs on 54 carries; Made 5 catches for 44 yards; Credited with 61 stops and 7 successful PDs from the defensive backfield.
*Ajani Cornelius (Sr; OT): Holdover from one of the best starting OLs in NYS last season; was responsible for helping the Crusaders explode for 5,417 yards of total offense and 49 touchdowns.
*Mike Tartaglia (Sr; OT): Another very experienced offensive lineman, the 260-pound senior would already be a star he had played at any other school in the state…Could be utilized as a two-way force on both lines; Recorded 34 tackles and 2 sacks as a junior on “D”.
*Matt Halas (Sr; WR): Like Tartaglia, the only thing last season that prevented him being a star was opportunity; now that he is penciled in as a starting receiver, look for Halas to breakout in his senior year.
*Zach Barnes (Sr; OLB): Recorded 56 tackles, 1 sack, and broke up 4 passes last season as a junior.
*Jamel Fleming (Sr; FS): Made 34 stops and posted a 10 PDs from the secondary in 2018.
* Corey Richards (Sr; CB): An absolute shutdown type player; accumulated 34 tackles and finished 2nd on the team with 12 pass break-ups.
*Matt Dilullo (Jr.)—Will step in and serve as the starting pivot for the Crusaders
*Jordan Alvarez (Jr.)—Expected to win the starting DT spot
*Enda Kirby (Jr.)—Very reliable place-kicker
*Rafael Fasolino (Jr.)—Transfer from Hendrick Hudson; Will be a day #1 starter at CB.
*Will Spector (Jr)—Transfer from Dalton; is an all-purpose OLB who thrives equally in pass and run coverage…Credited with 15 tackles and 2 interceptions last season.
Probably the only team in New York that could endure the loss of seven All-State student-athletes from a season ago, if there is one common theme for the two-time defending league and Catholic State champs out of White Plains, it is the faith they have in the “next man up” philosophy…The absolute epitome of “reload, not rebuild”, Stepinac will be looking to make it six straight years (4 titles from 2014-2018) that they secured a berth in the triple-A title contest.
Offensively, the program will need to overcome the graduation of one of the purest playmakers [Shawn Harris Jr] I have ever seen in my 20+ year years as a fan and writer for the NYCHSFL, as well as replace their top-2 running backs, Malik Grant and CJ Wise [combined 2,019 yards + 12 touchdowns), and four members of the starting offensive line…But alas, as proclaimed above, Stepinac is not some ordinary program and because of their track record for turning role player into diamonds, we remain firmly in their corner…One undeniable reason for our endless optimism is the presence of returning field general, Joey Carino. Originally committed to Syracuse as a lacrosse standout, the 6’2, 200-pounder played so well (2nd in AAA/9th in NYS with 2,351 yards throwing) that he attracted and accepted an offer to play college football at the University of Albany…Joining the future Great Dane in making the machine operate smoothly will be a running back committee consisting, but not limited to Mekhi Green, Kevin McKenna, Kyle Benjamin, and Jayden Jenkins…Due to the depth last season in the backfield for the Crusaders, Green did not get the quantity of touches he deserved, but did display game-changing talent when those chances were afforded him. Looking no further than a 200-yard game early in the 2018 season against Iona Prep, it is not difficult to see why many in Westchester consider Green to be one of the most lethal RBs in the area…Ditto for McKenna who after carrying the pigskin just 12 times prior, really made a statement for rushing for 56 yards in the State title victory over St. Francis (Buffalo)…Despite being a sophomore on a loaded team, Jenkins earned some playing time and performed well, gaining 69 yards on 16 carries…The graduation of their top-4 receivers from 2018 will mean that the wide-out corps will have a new look to it. However, despite what might be perceived as inexperience, Coach O’Donnell really liked what he witnessed from this group during camp… Senior, Quentin Mccauley, gave Crusader enthusiasts a preview of what to expect this season when he posted a three-catch, two TD game in the state finals…Fellow 12th graders, Matt Halas and Myles Walker were among the players that the staff regarded as most improved, and Corey Richards, who will focus mainly on defense, is yet another dynamic athlete that can step in and make things happen at the WR position…Junior, Michael Ruales, and senior, Justin Hotetz will both see action at TE…Anchored by captains, Ajani Cornelius (OT; committed to Howard) and Michael Tartaglia (OG), there will be plenty of beef and grit up front for Stepinac. Averaging 275 pounds per individual, Amari Broady (275) will be the other starting tackle, while Chris Peller (265) will spend the season inside at guard…After being on the Junior varsity last season, Matt Dilullo (265), will enter the starting line-up as the center.
On “D” several of the names/faces introduced above will be embracing the magic of “ironman football…At the head of the snake will be the returning All-Stater (4th team), McKenna. A freak athlete whose talent is limitless, the 5’11, 190-pounder is so gifted that should he chose, he will have the option of playing two sports at the collegiate level (has been offered by Utah to play both football and lax). Ranked 2nd in tackles (117) and 3rd in sacks (10) among all AAA competitors in 2018, McKenna can do a little of everything to shut down opposing arsenals…Serving as McKenna’s partners in pain this season at LB will be Da’vaine Cushnie (Sr; 26 tackles, 2 forced fumbles) and Jaylin Montgomery (Sr; 5 stops in 2018) on the inside, and Zach Barnes (56 tackles, 1 sack, 4 PDs), Jenkins (25 tackles), Malyke Davis, and transfer Will Spector (15 tackles, 2 picks as a sophomore) at OLB….12th graders, Darius Underwood (6 tackles, 1 rumble recovery) and Nick Tulipano (4 stops) will break into the starting-11 as the defensive ends…Sophomore sensation, Jordan Alvarez, will bring the heat up the middle…Jamal Fleming (34 tackles, 10 pass defenses), Richards (36 stops, 12 break-ups), and Green (61 tackles, 7 PDs) will bring senior leadership to the secondary, while Rafael Fasolino (transfer from Hendrick Hudson) will be determined to carve out a new legacy at his new school.
Filling the cleats of graduated 4th team All-State kicker, Nate Henderson, will be Enda Kirby, who caught the eye and made a very strong impression on the AS staff during early-season workouts.
Joe Spagnolo (4th Season as HC)
Record: 7-2; Lost 37-26 in the “AAA” Semifinals to Stepinac
Top Returning Players:
*Kevin Rohde (Jr; OT): 6’4, 255-pound road-grader that was a part of a line that laid the tracks for the Gaels to accumulate 4,000+ of total offense and score 40 touchdowns.
*Dionis Polanco (Sr; OG): Another returning player who brings experience to the OL
*Frankie McFadden (Jr; RB): 2018 All-Catholic Selection; Entering his third year on the varsity; rushed for a team-leading 887 yards and 10 touchdowns on 150 carries as a sophomore; caught five passes for 31 yards and one additional score.
*Alex Williams (Jr; WR): Overshadowed as a sophomore by three receivers who garnered All-State recognition, now that he is “the man”, Williams should have a career-year in New Rochelle; Caught 7 passes for 64 yards and one TD in 2018.
*Keshawn McDowdell (Sr; OLB): The heartbeat of the linebacking corps, McDowdell enters his third season on the Gael varsity and will be flying all over the field making plays; Recorded 51 stops and added four sacks to his resume last year.
*Jordan Dunbar (Sr; CB): One of the top defensive backs in NYS, this 247 Sports 3-star prospect has already committed to play collegiately at Rice; Has the potential to completely erase the #1 WR option on any opponent IP faces this season.
*Luke Barranger (Jr; ILB): What McDowdell brings to the outside, Barranger does for the Mike position; another very experienced key to the Gael defense.
*Nick Gadson (Sr; DE): Fierce pass-rusher who will bring non-stop pressure from the edge; Was the 2019 NYC Hype Series Camp Most Valuable Player; Made 36 tackles and earned 5 sacks as a junior.
*Will D’Ambrosio (Sr; DE): The other star Defensive End for Iona Prep, It will be a contest between him and Gadson to see who can cause more chaos for 2019 foes.
*Darius Wilson (Jr.)—The next in the line of the Iona Prep QB dynasty; Has all the intangibles and may bring more of a dual-threat aspect to the position; Possesses the mental toughness to handle the stress of being the successor to the 2018 AAA Co-Offensive Player of the Year [Derek Robertson].
*Jarel Washington (Jr.)—A versatile offensive weapon that should excel in the Gael scheme; can be used as a #2 option to McFadden out of the backfield, or be lined up at WR and torment rival secondaries.
*Joe Ciafone (Jr.)—Will move right into the starting line-up as a first-year varsity player at the center position.
*Marshall Futrell (Jr.)—Mountain of a young man who at 6’5, 310 pounds is impossible to overlook; another individual making his varsity debut in 2019 that will be an immediate contributor along the OL.
*Khordae Sydnor (Jr.)—A very capable talent at DE, despite being behind two seniors on the depth chart, he should more than see his fair share of snaps as an 11th grader; further adds to the firepower of an extremely deep defensive squad.
If the old adage that defense wins championships is accurate, then Coach Spagnolo will expect nothing less from his troops come Mid-November…A program that returns EIGHT starters off of a “D-unit” that reached the triple-A semifinals and split with eventual league/state champ Stepinac in 2018, the Gaels will be hunting for goose-eggs every time they step foot on the gridiron…Blessed with a Lohud Super-11 finalist at each level, there is no weak link in this chain of pain…Headlining the DL will be Nick Gadson (36 tackles, 5 sacks), who was so committed to closing out his scholastic career on a high-note that he packed on nearly 30 pounds of muscle as a means of transforming himself into one of the most respected and feared DEs in the entire Empire State…Shining at linebacker yet again this season will be Keshawn McDowdell (51 stops, 4 sacks)…The head of the air traffic control squad will be future Rice Owl, Jordan Dunbar. Rated by national recruiting experts as a 3-star prospect, 247 Sports listed the 6’1, 180-pound defensive back as the #17 overall in-state prospect in the class of 2020…Reinforcing the stout and potentially impenetrable wall of power up front will be senior, Will D’Ambrosio, at DE and 10th grader, Chris Foster, at DT (made varsity as a freshman in 2018). Rookie, Khordae Sydnor, adds depth…Luke Barranger and AJ Zaccagnino will occupy the ILB position, while 11th grader, Zachary Perlett, will be the second half [along with McDowdell] of the Outside linebacker combo…Referencing it as the area where he has witnessed the most growth, Spagnolo had nothing but glaring remarks about Louis Ethan Robinson, Marquis Dukes (3 interceptions in 2018), and Jaear Michael, who unite with Dunbar to complete the defensive backfield for Iona Prep.
With the graduations of All-State signal caller, Derek Robertson, AAA Lineman of the Year, Anthony Bonavita, and the top-4 receiving targets (Matt Panker, Sean Fleming, Camari Glascow, and Jayden Lambert), much of the starting-11 on offense will feature fresh, but nonetheless mighty capable faces…Following in the tradition of eventual state-honored field generals will be 6’3, 190-pounder junior, Darius Wilson. Perhaps the most physically gifted young man to take the snaps during this streak of quarterback domination, in the highlights we have seen, Wilson appears every bit as lethal with his legs as he is with his arm…When the ball goes go aerial, anticipate either Alex Williams or Avery Turton to be on the back end of the connection. Leading all returning Gaels in receptions with 7 grabs for 64 yards and one touchdown, as noted above, the 6’3, 195-pound WR [Williams] is a heck of a lot better than his numbers might suggest. And now that he has ascended to WR1 status, there is no telling just how high his stock will rise…Turton (2 catches for 28 yards in 2018), despite seeing limited field time last year, has emerged as something of a sensation. Glancing at his recruiting profile, the likes of Alabama, Arizona State, Cal, Iowa, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, etc. Have all yet to offer, but did think enough of him to display interest…Justin Joly, a rate varsity call-up as a freshman, will be at Tight End…Averaging 273 pounds per man, the Gaels OL may be introducing three new starters, but on size alone, you need to take this herd very seriously… Incumbent, Kevin Rohde, will join massive newbie, Marshall Futrell at the two tackle positions…280-pound sophomore, Scott Becker, and senior, Dionis Polanco, will be the guards; impact rookie, Joe Ciafone, will be in the pivot…One position where the Gaels will be plenty experienced will be at tailback, where 2018 All-Catholic honoree, Frankie McFadden, returns for a third season carrying the rock. A year removed from gaining nearly six yards every time he took a hand-off (887 yards, 10 touchdowns on 150 carries), the Super-11 finalist surpassed 100-yards on four separate occasions in 2018 and be counted on to be even more remarkable now as an upperclassman.
Anthony Garofalo (5th Season at the Helm)
Record: 5-4; Lost 33-9 in the “AAA” Quarterfinals to Cardinal Hayes
Top Returning Players:
*Christian Tait (Sr; WR): 2018 All-League Selection/2nd Team All-State; Led the Lions in all major receiving categories as a junior with 57 grabs for 774 yards and 4 TDs
*Jaleel Rhett (Sr; OG/NG): 2018 5th Team All-State at OL; Dominant two-way lineman who at 6’3 and 280-pounds is going to manhandle a lot of opponents this season; the backbone of an offensive line that allowed MF to accumulate 3,202 yards of total production and score 24 touchdowns; as a DL, he recorded 14 tackles as an 11th grader.
*Stephen Stella (Sr; OT/DL): Another returning starter off of the OL, if you thought Rhett was large, you have not seen anything yet; Standing 6’5 and tipping the scales at 325 pounds, Stella is easily one of the most physically imposing student-athletes in the entire Catholic League; Not listed as an expected starter on “D”, he definitely has the capability to contribute in this area, making 22 stops in 2018.
*Vincent Renna (Sr; TE/DE): Establishing himself more on the defensive side of the ball last season, Renna will be a prominent figure on both sides of the ball, as he will start at both tight end and defensive; Caught 1 pass for a 5yd touchdown in 2018; logged 20 sacks and added one sack and one PD on “D”.
*Robert Serra (Sr; WR): A head-turner that really made a very strong impression during camp, the senior wide-out should have a breakout season after making one grab for 20 yards as a junior.
*Anthony Pollio (Sr; RB/OLB): The favorite to be the successor to 1st team All-Stater, Vin Wagner, at tailback, Pollio averaged 9.2 yards per touch (157 in total) and scored one touchdown on 17 carries last season; Was an absolute hammer on defense, finishing 2nd in tackles with 46, and posting a program-best 5 sacks as a junior; Also had one INT in 2018.
*Chris Ortalano (Sr; ILB): The top-tackler on the Lions as a junior, he was credited with 48 stops, while also adding 3 QB hurries, 1 interception, and two fumble recoveries (one of which he returned to the house).
*Dominick Battaglia (Sr; ILB): Adding senior experience to the LB corps, Battaglia recorded 22 stops, earned 1 sack, and had a fumble recovery in 2018.
*Justin Denmark (Sr; OLB): The fourth returning starter at linebacker for the Lions, Denmark was credited with 18 tackles and a forced fumble as an 11th grader.
*Chip Travers (Sr; DB): Utilized primarily as a kick/punt returner in 2018, the senior will step into the starting line-up by manning one of the corners.
*Dylan Hach (Jr; PK): Honorable Mention All-State recognized as a sophomore; Connected on 6 of 10 field goal attempts (long of 42), while also converting on 12 of his 16 PAT tries.
*Matthew Wessels (Jr.)—Will be an immediate play-maker as a starting wide receiver.
*Chris Field (Jr.)–Stellar athlete who should start this season in “centerfield/FS” for the Lion secondary; At 6’3, his height is an undeniable asset and as such, he should see plenty of time on offense at WR.
*Matt Casey (Jr.)—Day #1 starter at Center.
*Michael Marten (So.)/Chris Anarumo (Jr.)—Two young pups who remain locked in a battle to be the QB1 in their respective first seasons on varsity.
Featuring three state recognized players from a season ago, the Lions will be a program that has immense balance of youth and experience on both sides of the line of scrimmage…And while they have the daunting task of replacing one of the school’s greatest players of all-time [1st Team RB, Vin Wagner; 1,128 yards rushing in 2018], Coach Garofalo and company are very much set up to challenge this season.
Blessed to be bringing back almost the entire front-7 on defense, if all goes accordingly, opposing points should be at a premium this year on Amboy Road…At the heart of this ‘86 Bears phenomenon will be the four-man wrecking crew at linebacker—Chris Ortalano (team-leading 48 tackles, 3 QB hurries, 1 INT) Dominick Battaglia (22 stops, 1 sack), Anthony Pollio (46 tackles, team-high 5 sacks, 1 INT) and Justin Denmark (18 stops)…four fellow 12th graders—Jaleel Rhett (14 stops), Vincent Renna (20 tackles, 1 sack, 2 forced fumbles), Yianni Chrysostomou, and Anthony Desantis (2 tackles) will look to control the action in the trenches…The last line of defense will consist of four new starters; but despite the inexperience among this group, the coaching staff feels very strongly about the effort they will receive from the foursome…Seniors, Chip Travers and Joseph Smerina, will man the corners, while 11th graders, Vin Macaluso and top rookie, Chris Field, occupy the two safety spots.
As noted above, the graduations of Wagner, as well as starting signal caller, Mike Regan, and All-League OLs Nicholas Lubrano and Carmine Comitini, means that there will be plenty of new personnel who will be getting their opportunity to carve out legacies of their own when the Lions are on offense…One individual who already has a mighty fine curricula vitae and will serve as the stabilizer on “O” will be 2018 2nd team All-State selection, Christian Tait. Someone who in most years might have won the Catholic football triple-crown in all major receiving categories, the 6’3, 180-pounder ranked in the top-10 (7th) in New York state in catches (57) and the top-25 (21st) in yardage (774). However, the insane depth enjoyed by the NYCHSFL last season at WR resulted in him finishing 3rd in both among AAA participants…While Tait is the known commodity, the wide-out cohort is expected to get a giant boost from the likes of Robert Serra (1 catch for 20 yards in 2018), and star newcomers, Matt Wessels and Field…Renna, who caught a TD pass last season, should be more involved on offense as he returns as the starting TE…Pollio (157 yards and one TD on 17 carries) is the favorite to be te successor to Wagner in the backfield…280-pound Rhett (5th team All-State last season) and 325-pound Stephen Stella (OT) will be the co-foremen on an offensive line that should also include first-year varsity member, Matt Casey, in the pivot, and Bobby Capolongo, Anthony Esposito, Chris Long all seeing plenty of time at either OG or tackle…At the time of publication, there was an ongoing battle for QB1 status between sophomore Michael Marten, and 11th grader Chris Anarumo. No matter who prevails, Garofalo expressed utter confidence in the young gentleman who will be taking the snaps in 2019.
Speaking of reasons to be confident, the coaching staff will have the luxury of knowing that in a down to the wire contest, Honorable Mention All-State kicker, Dylan Hach, is Mr. Reliable…As a sophomore, Hach went 12-for-16 on PATs and was successful on six of his 10 field goal tries, highlighted by a 42-yarder.
Joe Minucci (1st Season As HC)
Record: 7-2; Lost 26-25 in the “AAA” Semifinals to Cardinal Hayes
Top Returning Players:
*Jaden Jernigan (Sr; WR/TE): At 6’2 and 200-pounds, the Harvard Lacrosse commit (flipped from Navy earlier in the week) has both the stature and the skills to be one of the top targets In the NYCHSFL; Last season, he made 13 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns; If need be, could be spotlighted on defense (1 INT as a junior).
*Mario Escobar (Sr; RB)—An absolute lightning rod when he has the ball in his hands; gained 237 yards as a kick returner last year; now that he is the primary tailback, look for him to emerge as an showstopper in his senior year; Rushed for 115 yards on 24 carries last year; caught 2 passes for 16 yards.
*Greg Randall (Sr; WR): Had an outstanding junior season that witnessed him finish 3rd on the team in catches (32) and yards (487), and 4th in TD receptions (4)..Joins Jernigan as one of the best 1-2 receiving combos in New York State.
*Robert McGee (Sr; QB): A natural/born athlete; Excels at whatever he sets his mind to; committed to play lacrosse at Penn State; former NSCHSAA All-League wrestler; Takes over for 2018 1st Team All-State field general, Greg Campisi; Completed his only pass attempt last year for a 14-yard gain; is a dual-threat option, having gained 46 yards on 12 carries as a junior.
*Gavin Miller (Sr; OT): Regarded as one of the top OL prospects in NYS, the 6’5, 290-pound tackle was an essential piece to an offensive line that helped generate 3,662 total yards and 47 touchdowns.
*Christian Taylor (Sr; LB): Another multiple-sport athlete, Taylor has twice placed 5th at the CHSAA State Wrestling tournament; on the gridiron, he has a knack for getting into the opposing backfield, registering 12 tackles for a loss (72 total stops), 3 sacks, 3 fumble recoveries, and an interception last year.
*Nick Alvarado (Sr; CB): If not for the presence of 2018 Catholic Defensive Player of the Year/All-League Selection/3rd Team AS, Makhai Murphy, Alvarado may very well have earned the distinction of being the best defensive back on Long Island last season; Successfully breaking up 11 passes and recording 67 tackles, opposing quarterbacks threw for less than 100 yards when looking in his direction.
*Mike Talbert (Sr; LB): Gritty senior linebacker that will look to close out his scholastic career with a breakout season.
*Grant Gifford (Sr; DT): Gained considerable experience as a junior, using his acceleration to fly to the ball carrier; listed at 205, which makes him slightly undersized, but his performance is always larger than his frame; saw time in 2018 as a blocking fullback and could be used in that role again.
*Anthony Hudson (Sr; LB): Referenced on the roster as a running back, Hudson is another lacrosse standout who overall athleticism and agility make him valuable anywhere you put him on the field; At 6’0, 210 pounds, he has good measurables and will be a definite sleeper as a 12th grader.
*Dante Antoine (Jr)—Will play opposite Alvarado at the other starting CB position.
*Christian Doroski (Jr.)—Legitimate candid to make a big contribution this season as a WR.
*Giovanni Silva (Jr.)—Starter right out of the gate at defensive end.
*Matt Dahill (Jr.)—Versatile 11th grader who might be more involved on defense this season (DT), but does possess the experience on the OL to add depth.
A reminder that even the grandest traditions/dynasties cannot live on forever, when you peek over at the Friar sidelines this season, the absence of Rich Reichert is sure to hit you like a ton of bricks…After more than three decades of profound excellence that yielded 14 NYCHSFL team titles, the time came for the Black & Gold fraternity to pass the torch…And so, 2019 will commence the era of [Joe] Minucci…A 2004 graduate of St. Anthony’s, Minucci was a star protégé of Reichert, meaning that even if the name/face differs, the emphasis on fundamentals and adhering to a championship caliber standard remains in South Huntington.
Hit hard by graduation on both sides of the ball, among others, the three-time (2016-2018) regular season champs are going to have to adjust to life after 2018 Triple-A Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Greg Campisi (1st Team All-State; 2,109 yards throwing, 942 yards rushing; 37 total touchdowns), 2018 Defensive Player of the Year, Makhai Murphy, as well as respective 3rd and 4th team All-State picks, Kyle Angus (RB; 410 yards rushing, 507 yards receiving, 16 touchdowns) and Danny Parker (WR; 39 catches for 677 yards, and eight TDs)…So, on the surface, this season may have the appearance of a rebuilding year. But, Catholic football enthusiasts know better than to ever underestimate STA…As they have always done in the past, the Friars will again find a way to reload, as previous role players/reserves will develop into stars and gifted newcomers will make instant contributions to the cause.
After patiently waiting his turn, Robert McGee (1-for-1 for 14 yards passing; 46 yards rushing on 12 keepers) will finally get his chance to run the offense from under center. A young man who just seems to “have it” in anything he undertakes, McGee has already won state team titles in both wrestling and lacrosse, and now will be unwavering in his pursuit of gridiron glory as a senior…Facilitating what should be a breakout swan song for their new quarterback will be a pair of receivers that came, saw, and conquered in many ways as 11th graders in 2018. Named as Newsday “Players to Watch”, WR Greg Randall (32 grabs for 487 yards, 4 TD receptions) and tight end, Jaden Jernigan (13 snatches for 158 yards, with a pair of TD grabs) will be the alphas for a corps that should also get instant production out of junior, Christian Doroski….Another source of comfort for McGee should be the guaranteed protection he will appreciate thanks to 6’5, 290-pound standout OT, Gavin Miller. A monster who has attracted attention from schools like Boston College, Miller is without any debate among the cream of the crop when it comes to the pound-for-pound best linemen in the Empire State…Also in the “war zone” this season should be seniors, Jack Weidtman (OG) and Sean Boyle (Center), as well as junior, Luke Ciancuielli, and 10th grader, Mike Voltaggio…Mario Escobar, who demonstrated his explosiveness as a KO return specialist as a junior, will be just as electrifying as the #1 option out of the backfield; Using a small sample size, Escobar gained 115 yards on 24 hand-offs last year; he also made two catches for 16 yards.
Just like the offense has Jernigan and Randall to create that “buzz”, the defense will be propelled by the senior wisdom of Christian Taylor at LB and Nick Alvarado at CB…Both hyped as preseason All-Long Island selections, the former is coming off a junior campaign that witnessed him record 72 total tackles (12 for a loss), earn 3 sacks and recover three fumbles; the latter is the epitome of what we mean when label a player as “shutdown”. Surrendering just 93 yards last season and successfully breaking-up 11 pass attempts, Alvarado, could very well make it two consecutive years that a Friar DB was honored at the awards breakfast in November…Hailed as having worked their way from role-player to potential stardom were three other seniors—Grant Gifford (DT; 2 fumble recoveries), Mike Talbert (ILB) and Anthony Hudson (OLB)…Gio Silva (DE) and Matt Dahill (DT), and Dante Antoine (CB) represent the youth movement, as all three have already secured starting spots in their rookie seasons…12th graders, Nick Delva (DE), Chris Bardak (SS) and Jack Flanigan (FS) should not be overlooked and will be indispensable parts of the D-unit.
CJ O’Neil (Head Coach Since 2004)
Record: 5-5; Lost to Archbishop Stepinac, 29-18, in NYCHSFL “AAA” Finals
Top Returning Players:
*Jalen Smith (Sr; RB): 2018 3rd Team All -State selection; Perhaps the preseason favorite to win Offensive Player of the Year, Smith is lethal in every possible way on offense; As a junior, he led the Cardinals in every receiving major receiving category (51 grabs for 726 yards and nine TD catches); In addition, late in the season, he emerged as a serious threat as a ball-carrier, rushing for 100+ yards in both the AAA semifinal and title contests; he ended the year with 394 yards and two scores on 50 carries.
*Tafari Blackstock (Sr; RB/DB): 2018 Honorable Mention All-State performer on defense; Will be a key player on both sides of the ball in his swan song in 2019, as he will serve as a #2 option out of the backfield at RB; Made 44 tackles last season (4 for a loss) and led the Cardinals in interceptions with 5 picks.
*Jerald Munoz (Sr; WR/LB): After being used as a reserve as a junior, Munoz will see his role grow tremendously as a senior; will be a top target on offense (2 catches for 14 yards in 2018) at wide receiver; should start at LB (5 tackles, 2 TFL).
*Sidiki Kone (Sr; RB/DB): Already an established defender in the defensive backfield; will come a much larger presence in the offensive backfield this season; Finished 3rd on the team as a junior with 60 tackles (10 for a loss); added two sacks to his resume.
*Kazunari Mendez (Sr; OL): 5’10, 315-pound monster guard that will build tunnels for his tailbacks this season.
*Ernario Vushaj (Jr; OL): Another 300-pounder on the starting OL.
*Chris Bethea (Sr; OL): 260-pound tackle that you might as well call “IHOP” for the quantity of pancakes he will be asked to post as a 12th grader.
*Damon Barnes (Sr; FS/WR): 4th on the junior as a junior with 54 tackles; Has the God-given tools to be an asset on offense too at wide receiver.
*Michael Tetteh (Sr; DL): Recently committed to the University of Buffalo; is an elite DL who was rated as a 3-star prospect per 247sports; Credited with 37 stops last season (4 for a loss); also recorded one sack as a junior.
*Na’sir Douglas (Sr; CB): Brings added maturity to the secondary following a 2018 season where he made 25 tackles.
*Nicholas Burgess (Sr; ILB): Recorded 5 tackles as an 11th grader, but is said to be ready to turn in a break-out season as the Cardinals’ starting MIKE LB.
*Deorion Moore (Sr; DB): Senior defensive back who will step into the line-up as a senior and is more than capable of shutting down top-level receivers.
*Henry Belin (So.)—Despite being an underclassman, he already possesses ideal size for the QB position (6’3, ,208)…Will have the pressure of being the successor to 2x All-State signal caller, Sofian Massoud, who transferred to Texas for his senior season.
*Kuno Mendez (Jr.)–Has electric speed and should be a real dynamic contributor this season as a pass catcher.
Christ the King
Record: 1-7; Lost in the “AAA” Quarterfinals to Stepinac, 51-13
Top Returning Players:
*Tirek Murphy (Sr; RB): 2018 All-Catholic selection; Regarded as the #1 overall 2020 recruiting prospect in NYS per 247sports; committed to play his college football in the Big-10 at Purdue; rushed for 627 yards and 7 touchdowns on 118 carries; also a threat as a receiver out of the backfield (13 catches for 131 yards, an two additional TDs).
*Noah Bodden (Jr; QB): All-League signal caller as a sophomore; Ranked as a 3-star prospect/#3 overall in-state prospect for the class of 2021 by 247sports; holding scholarship offers from the likes of Tennessee, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Rutgers, Purdue, Oregon, Kentucky, Baylor, etc….Completed 44.9% of his pass attempts as a junior (92-for-205) for 1,281 yards and eight touchdowns)
*Tahliq Battle (Sr; WR): Clear-cut #1 target in the passing game; finished 3rd on the team in total receptions (15) and 2nd in yardage (328) while catching one TD; Can also be used as a ball-carrier, as evident by the 63 yards he gained on just 16 chances.
*Jahrell Billips (Sr; WR): Tied for the team-lead last season with 19 grabs for 186 yards; is small in stature (5’5, 135) but shows up in a BIG way on the field.
*Dante Goodwyn (Sr; RB/WR): Yet another Royal senior who will exhilarate you with his versatility as both a potential runner and a proven pass catcher…As a junior in 2018, he tied Billups with 19 catches (2 TDs) and was the overall leader in receiving yards with 330; gained 22 yards on six carries, but should see his workload in this department increase whenever they look to give Murphy a short rest.
*Stanley Oxford (Jr; WR): At 6’2, he gives CTK some height at the wide-out position; contributed in a reserve role as a sophomore last year, snatching 7 balls for 86 yards.
*Zephron Lester (Sr; DL): The third returning All-Catholic pick from the 2018 season; Considered the #15 overall 2020 recruiting prospect (3-star) in the Empire State; currently holding offers from West Point, UMass, Temple, Rice, etc; Recorded 26 tackles and 2 sacks as an 11th grader.
*Christopher Eaton Jr. (Sr; DE/OLB): Made 20 stops and tacked on a sack last season.
*Elijah Muhammad (Jr; DE/LB): Gave the Royal faithful a preview of the future in 2018, making 19 tackles, earning a sack, and intercepting one pass as a 10th grader; Ranked 5th among 2021 recruiting prospects in NYS (3-star evaluation); has been offered by Boston College, Central Michigan, and Temple among his interested suitors.
*Chris King (Jr; DE): Led CTK in sacks as a sophomore with four; finished his 2018 season with 18 total stops; #4 2021 recruit in New York State (3-star), he has already received offers from Boston College, Kentucky, Temple, and Baylor.
*Ajay Morrison (Sr; CB): A senior leader in the “no fly zone”, he notched 19 tackles in his junior season for the Royals.
*Narain Yearwood (Sr; DB): 17 tackles as a junior DB last season; complements Morrison in forming a potentially lockdown secondary in Middle Village.
*Broadus Brown (Jr; DT): A real terror in the middle of the DL, the 285-pound 11th grader recorded 14 tackles and one sack a year ago.
*Bak Harris (Jr; LB): An individual who we see playing a much larger role now that he is an upperclassman; recorded 7 tackles as a sophmore in 2018.
* Mike Palmaccio (Sr)—After starting his career in Brooklyn at Poly Prep, he will conclude in Queens at CTK; Has the potential to be the quarterback of a stacked defense from the ILB position.
*Samarki Williams (So.)—Future #1 back who will fight for snaps this season as a sophomore; is said to have “take it to pay dirt” potential any time the pigskin is in his hands.
*Justin Smith (Fr.)—Not built like your typical high school freshman; at 250 pounds, he should instantly see time on the DL.
*Jani Strong (Fr.)—Another frosh standout that is budding star in the backfield; may be overshadowed this season by his older teammates, but will make an impression when afforded the opportunity.
*Tayvon Nelson (Fr.)—Freshman defensive back who at 6’2, 175 pounds will not be intimidated when he is on the field.
Record: 2-7; Lost 42-21 in NYCHSFL “AAA” Quarterfinals
Top Returning Players:
*Liam Brown (Sr; Center): 225-pound, senior pivot that will try to open up the middle of the field for his tailbacks.
*Antonio Gerbino (Sr; OT): A little smaller than the typical offensive tackle, but accounts for it with toughness and determination.
*Donovan Wood (Sr; WR): Leads all returning Flyers with 14 coaches for 103 yards in 2018.
*Mario Fischetti (Jr; RB): The MVP of the Junior Varsity squad last year, the 5’7, 145-pound running back will be asked to assume RB1 duties from the opening snap of the 2019 season.
*Ryan Walsh (Sr; QB): The 3rd-string signal caller a season ago, despite only attempting five pass attempts, Walsh gained a comfort level running the offense. That will experience will be very beneficial as he takes the reins in his final season wearing the Crimson & Gold.
*Robert Booth (Sr; DE): The captain of the “D” unit; logged 52 tackles, 1 sack, 3 QB hurries, and 3 PDs as a junior.
*Brandan Coward (Sr; ILB): Tops all returning Chaminade players with 54 tackles).
*Dylan Lomelo (Sr; FS): The leader of the defensive backfield; made 43 stops and defended 3 passes as an 11th grader.
*Brendan McCabe (Sr; DE): Committed to the University of Michigan for lacrosse, McCabe is a thoroughbred athlete who will make plays on God-given abilities alone.
*Conner Garzone (Sr; LB): Another multi-sport student-athlete, as the goalie for a nationally ranked lacrosse team, Garzone is no stranger to keeping foes off the board.
*Liam McCormick (Jr): Another blue-chip lax player; will bring speed and aggression to the DE
*Aidan Lang (Jr): Will bolster the DL by being a stopper in the middle.
*Blaise Takvor (Jr): Should see considerable action on the OL as a tackle.
*Parker Warantz (Jr): Fills a significant need for a team that lost their top-3 receivers to graduation
*Vincent Fowler (Jr): The fourth sibling (all linebackers) to play for the Flyers, Fowler was a varsity call-up as a sophomore for the lacrosse team; he is as tough as they come and will find a way to lay a hat on people every chance he gets.
*Robert Dimilia (Jr): Offers the Flyers some insurance at the quarterback position.
A program that won just one league game a season ago, that victory came against of all opponents, the eventual league and state titlists from Stepinac…On paper, when you look at the total breadth of athletic ability (as demonstrated through their multiple-sport accolades), this is a team that should contend simply on physical gifts…In addition, after being a perennial AAA league member, the Flyers made the decision this past off-season to drop down to AA, which could/should be to their advantage. The last time that Chaminade competed in Double-A, it was the 2014 postseason and the Mineola based school won the crown!
Always regarded as a program that tends to lean heavily on its senior class, 2019 be one of the most balanced rosters the school has had it quite some time. The Flyers will enjoy the luxury of welcoming an amazing rising junior class that ended 2018 as the Junior Varsity AAA runners-up…For this reason, a multitude of 11th graders on both sides of the ball will get their #s called early and often…With these sentiments in mind, it will not be long before the likes of Mario Fischetti (RB), Parker Warantz (WR) and Blaise Takvor (OT) will be proven commodities on offense, and Liam McCormick (DE), Aidan Lang (DT), and Vin Fowler (LB) will be household names for the defense.
While the aforementioned class of 2021 make this hopefully seamless transition to the more intense level of competition, Coach Dolan has expressed a deep confidence in a core group of seniors that enter this year under the radar, but have put in the blood, sweat, and tears and are fully equipped to deliver when stakes are their highest…On offense, Ryan Walsh will get the first crack at taking the snaps. A modest 1-for-5 passing last season as a junior, with additional reps should come a much more potent performance out of the 6’1, 180-pounder. The prototypical dual-threat QB that has been a trademark of the Chaminade offense, Walsh did shine on a few occasions as a ball-carrier, gaining 45 yards and scoring a touchdown on six keeps… Tailbacks, Jagger Kuhner (1 carry for 8 yards) and Anthony Senft (2 hand-offs for 2 yards) were pinpointed as belonging in the category of “ready to break out”…Complementing their fellow 12th grader, Donovan Wood (14 grabs for 103 yards), Paolo Maggio and Thomas Petrucci “will be contributing greatly at WR” per Dolan…Steered by Liam Brown and Antonio Gerbino, and fortified by 285-pound returning guard, Michael Mooney, don’t be surprised if the offensive line turns out to be a major strength this year.
Labeled, “a faster defensive unit in 2019” by their head coach, DE Robert Booth (52 tackles, 1 sack, 5 hurries) and ILB Brandon Coward (54 stops) will be the backbone of the front-7, while Dylan Lomelo (43 tackles, 3 pass break-ups) will be the straw that stirs the last line of defense…Brendan McCabe (DE) and Conner Garzone (LB), who at the moment are more famous for their lacrosse accomplishments, represented well in camp and are now regarded as potential hidden gems on the gridiron…Aidan Cappellino (LB) and Kevin Cudahy (DB) round out the collection of upperclassmen that were singled out as essential personnel on “D”.
Kevin Hanifan (24 Years as the HC)
Record: 12-0; Claimed the AA” title behind a 41-6 victory over Xavier
Top Returning Players:
*Jordan DeLucia (Sr; RB/S): 4th Team All-State/All-Catholic selection in 2018; A definitive game-changer; ran for a AA leading total of 1,380 yards (10th overall in NYS) and scored 18 touchdowns (3rd most in Double-A) as a junior; Also caught 15 passes for an additional 271 yards and scored once; Will be asked to assume a larger role on defense this year from the LB position.
*Dan Settino (Sr; QB): After backing up 1st-Team All-State/NYCHSFL AA Offensive Player of the Year, Matt Sluka, last season, Settino will finally get the opportunity to show just how solid a performer he can be; Completed both of his pass attempts in 2018 for 9 yards; Gained 67 yards on 15 carries.
*Sean Foley (Sr; Center): The lone holdover from an OL that enabled the Firebirds to rack up 4,409 yards and score 62 TDs between the rushing and passing games.
*Kyle Sharkey (Sr; WR): Very capable play-maker who if necessary, could have stepped in at any time and been a contributor; will break out in 2019 now that he is being given the opportunity.
*Bo Jules (Sr; RB/LB): An excellent #2 option out of the backfield, Jules averaged 6.3 yards per carry as a junior (208 yards on 33 touches) and found the end zone on two occasions; Making 20 tackles last season, his speed at LB will be a major factor.
*Anthony Bradshaw (Sr; LB): Registered 18 stops as an 11th grader; further bolsters what should be a very impressive corps of linebackers.
*Julian Hosty (Sr; LB): Behemoth of a young man, standing 6’6 and weighing over 300 bills; Is the lone starter on a defensive line that allowed KMHS to surrender only 12 points per contest; Was credited with making 12 tackles
*Elijah Jean (Sr; DB): Gained valuable experience in the secondary as a junior; will move into the starting line-up in 2019; recorded 4 stops in 2018.
*Will Ligarzewski (Jr.)—Two-way lineman that will move into the starting line-up on both sides of the ball at OG and DE.
*Griffin Chernoff (Jr.)—The 2018 Junior Varsity Most Valuable Player recipient, Chernoff averaged over 200 yards rushing last year in leading the Firebirds to the AA finals; Possesses great versatility and could be incorporated into the offense as either another RB option or out-wide; Expected to big minutes on defense at LB.
*Maximus Mongelli (Jr.)—The fourth and final member of this famed sibling dynasty; if you know Kellenberg football, you are already keenly aware of the impact that the Mongellis have had as receivers…Last season, brother, Matthew, led the Blue & Gold in every WR category in being named Honorable Mention All-State. There will be no thinning of the blood with Maximus.
A program that enters the 2019 season riding an unprecedented 22-game winning streak (2nd longest active streak in New York State), the two-time defending Double-A Champions out of Uniondale have not just turned victory into a weekly occurrence, they have also mastered the art of domination. During this immaculate string of victories, only twice has the margin of triumph been 10 points or less…Simply put, the magnificent class of 2019 (headlined by 2x Offensive Player of the Year, Matt Sluka; 2017 Defensive Player of the Year, Danny Wilson; All-State OL, Thomas Cipolla; All-League LB, Jake Deakin; AS HM WR Matt Mongelli, All-Catholic DL, Thomas Brzezinski etc…) have made it look TOO EASY the past two seasons.
Now, with all of the aforementioned having moved onward and upward to the collegiate ranks, it will be a new group of Firebirds that are tasked with the unenviable mission of delivering a three-peat to the Marianist faithful!!!
Fortunately for Coach Kevin Hanifan, now in his 24th season, Kellenberg will feature about as good a foundational piece as you can find in the person of senior tailback/linebacker, Jordan DeLucia. If you asked all of the staffs in the NYCHSFL if there was one player that they would want to build around, our guess is that the 2018 4th Team All-State RB would be at or near the top of the list…A young gentleman who “has it all”, the Ivy League has been hot on his trails and with good reason. A three-year varsity starter, the 6’0, 208-pounder accumulated 1,998 yards and took the pigskin to pay dirt 23 times between his sophomore and junior campaigns. And, as crazy as it is to predict, we fully are anticipating him blowing his previous career-highs out of the water in his final year on Glenn Curtiss Blvd.
Assisting the phenom [DeLucia] on the offensive side of the ball at the skill positions and hopefully carving out their own legacies will be the likes of QB Danny Settino (2-for-2 passing, 9 yards), RB Bo Jules (208 yards rushing, 2 touchdowns on 33 carries), and a receiving contingent consisting of seniors of Joe Foley, Eamon Flynn (amazing acceleration; 33 yards on 4 carries in 2018), Kyle Sharkey (used primarily as a place-kicker as a junior), as well as top rising juniors from last season’s Junior Varsity AA runners-up, Griffin Chernoff (2018 JV MVP) and Maximus Mongelli…Senior center, Sean Foley, will set the tone for an offensive line that will have four new starters…Junior, Will Ligarzewski, is being hailed as an animal in the weight room and has the confidence of all parties when it comes to his ability to quickly develop as an elite lineman in his first season on varsity…
Defensively, what “the Berg” may lack in quality/quantity reps and stat lines, they will make up for with supreme speed, agility, and ferocity…Jules (20 tackles), Chernoff, and Anthony Bradshaw (18 stops as a junior) project as one heck of a threesome at the linebacker positions…As a Senior incumbent, Julian Hosty (12 tackles, 1 TFL) will provide direction and leadership to a defensive line that hinges upon the off-season progression made by fellow 12th grader, Shane Cameron (7 tackles), and the immediate emergence of Ligarzewski, among others…The senior trio of DeLucia’s (2 tackles), Elijah Jean (4 stops), and Keith Curran (returns after not playing in 2018) assume the role of the ball hawks for KMHS.
St. Francis Prep
Rich Carroll (5th Season at HC)
Record: 1-7; Did not Advance to the AA playoffs
Top Returning Players:
*Omarian Jones (Sr; WR/CB): 2018 All-Catholic selection at QB; threw for 293 yards and two TDs; rushed for 311 yards and three scores on 56 carries (5.6 average); Will transition to WR as a senior; Recorded 14 tackles on “D”.
*Juan Burnet Merlin (Sr; OT): 6’0, 252-pound Offensive tackle that will bring veteran leadership to the OL.
*Eric Terrano (Sr; OL): 6’0, 260-pound pivot that will look to blow opposing DTs off the board on every snap.
*Christian Gooding (Sr; OL/DL): 6’0, 278-pounder, who will be invaluable to running game as a pulling guard; not listed as a starter on defense, he should add depth to the DL; made 13 stops as an 11th grader.
*Robert Padavona (Sr; WR/DB): Last season, in a run-heavy scheme, he mustered two catches for 36 yards and recorded one of the two TD receptions posted by the school; also utilized as defense, registering 18 stops.
*Daniel Chung (Jr; ILB): Led all Terrier student-athletes in tackles last season 50; also tacked on 1 sack, and two forced fumbles.
*Flauderson Fergilus (Sr; DT): Made 16 total stops, including four that yielded minus yardage.
*Dean Bair (Sr; DT): Stout 269-pound senior defensive tackle that adds to muscle to the DL.
*Joseph Pasqua (Sr; RB/LB): Rushed for 25 yards on eight hand-offs as a junior; caught two passes for 10 yards; posted defensive totals of 17 stops, 4 TFLs, and 1 sack; Will start at OLB, and could see action as part of the running back ensemble.
*Kaleb Artis (So.)—One of the stars off of a 2018 Junior Varsity that won the AA crown; will move immediately into the starting-11 at defensive end.
*Elohking Beasley (So.)—Begins his varsity career as the top-man on the depth chart at tailback.
*Jacob Marmott (So.)—Will partner with Chung as a starting inside linebacker.
*Justice Allah-Byrd (Jr.)—Expected to crack the starting-11 on day #1 as the outside linebacker; also can make his presence known as a tailback on “O”.
*Nicholas Destefano (Jr.)—Adds depth to the running back committee.
*Matthew Gonzalez (Jr.)—So talented a quarterback prospect that his arrival on the varsity prompted the move of Jones (after two years as the starter) to WR.
A program that is definitely due to have a redemption year following a slightly disappointing 1-7 tally in 2018, Carroll’s Terriers represent the ideal combination of battle-tested veterans and swagger-walking, supremely confident fresh faces. Winners of the junior varsity double-A hardware last year, the influx of rising sophomore and junior studs is sure to make a noticeable difference in Fresh Meadows.
Right off the bat offensively, you recognize quite the shake-up at the quarterback position as junior/first-year varsity team member, Matthew Gonzalez, has been handed the controls of the machine, displacing two-year starter, Omarion Jones (21-for-53, 293 yards throwing, 2 TDs; 311 yards on the ground, 3 more touchdowns), who will transition to wide-receiver in his senior year…Joining Jones at WR will be fellow 12th grader, Robert Padavona, who is the leader among returning personnel in all receiving categories (2 catches for 36 yards; caught one of the team’s two TDs in 2018)…201-pound 11th grader, Stephen Bracco, has both the strength and the hands to be a full-service tight end…The running back position will be the greatest pronouncement of the youth movement, as 10th grader, Elohking Beasley, and juniors, Justice Allah-Byrd and Nick DeStefano, are projected to take the bulk of hand-offs in 2019…Senior, Joseph Pasqua (28 yards on 8 carries; 2 grabs for 10 yards) could also enter the mix in the backfield…Constituting what at first glance looks to be the most massive offensive line on the Catholic map this season will be the senior quartet of Juan Burnet- Merlin (252 pounds) and Justin Jean-Francois (335) at the tackles, Christian Gooding (278) at guard, and Eric Terrano (260) manning the middle…By no means a lightweight himself, 11th grader, Patrick Russo (249), rounds out the OL.
Defensively, the Terriers will take their cues from seniors, Flauderson Fergilus and Dean Bair, up front, Daniel Chung and Pasqua at the second level, and Jones in the defensive backfield…As a junior DT in 2018, Fergilus made 16 stops (4 for a loss)..Bair, at 269 pounds does a fantastic job of plugging gaps …Chung is probably the most well-known entity on this D-unit after leading the team in tackles as a sophomore with 50 (added 1 sack, and causing two turnovers…As a junior, Pasqua recorded 17 stops, tied for 3rd on the team with four TFLs, and posted one sack…Occupying the corner as an 11th grader, Jones was credited with 14 tackles last season…Christian Costello (DE), Kaleb Artis (DE), Jacob Marmott (ILB), the aforementioned Allah-Byrd (OLB), and defensive backs, Kyle Hoahing and Aidan Griffin are just a sampling of the rookies expected to quickly become household names in the coming weeks…Not identified as starters, Gooding (13 tackles, 1 fumble recovery) and Padavona (18 stops) are solid reserve options on the DL and secondary respectively.
George Mahoney (2nd Year As Head Coach)
Record: 4-5; Lost 48-14 in the “AA” Quarterfinals to Kellenberg Memorial
Top Returning Players:
*Anthony Casillo (Sr; OG): Helped Eagles run for 2,361 yards last season.
*Erik Eppinger (Sr; OT): Returning starter along the OL; Protection allowed STP to throw for 533 yards last season.
*Sal Daleo (Sr; FB/OG): Versatile player who could add depth to OL or be called on as a blocker out of the backfield.
*Kaiwan Taylor (Jr; RB): Team’s leading rusher last season (738 yards on 134 carries).
*Michael Datello (Jr; RB): Rushed for 440 yards on 51 carries as a sophomore.
*John Martello (Sr; FS): Returning starter in the defensive backfield.
*Derek Rosenow (Jr; DE/DT): One of the anchors of the DL; can be utilized at either End or tackle.
*Sean Badon (Sr; NG): Returning starting at Defensive Tackle.
*Matt Aprile (Sr; OLB): Returning starting Outside Linebacker
*Chris Prince (So)—Penciled in as a starter in the defensive backfield; could also add to the depth in the offensive backfield.
*Vincent Mazzone (Jr)–Will be one of two primary TEs used this season.
*George Anastasiadis (Jr)—Will battle Mazzone for time at Tight End.
*Nick Chiaia (Jr.)—Could emerge as the starting QB in his first season on varsity
*Brendan McKeon (Jr.)—Slotted to join Prince as the other starting cornerback
*Robert Deverson (Jr.)—Standing 6’4 and tipping the scales at 230+, he will see quality time along the offensive line at the tackle position
*Chris Stumpf (Jr)—Solid two-way player who could start on “D” as a strong safety; is able to a capable pass-catcher who could contribute as either a WR or TE.
A program that was a lot better than the 4-5 record they sported in 2018, when we saw the match-ups for last year’s double-A quarterfinals, our initial thought was that this could be a very scary opponent for the defending champion, Kellenberg Firebirds…Afterall, during the regular season, St. Peter’s came within 60 seconds of handing KMHS their lone loss…And while the postseason meeting may not have been dramatic, just the mere fact that on their best day, they showed that they could play with anybody is reason to enough to be optimistic heading into the 2019 year.
Gone may be the team’s five 2018 All-Catholic selections—Sonny Badyna (QB; 533 yards passing, 358 yards rushing), Peter Sluder (5th Team All-State OL), Mike Hoffler (DL), Eric Torres (DB), and Tom Bossert (LB), as well as Special Teamer extraordinaire, Nick Guglielmo (PK)—but one look at the 2019 Eagles’ roster more than shows that this is not a cohort that is short on talent or potential.
On the offensive side of the ball, St. Peter’s brings back their #1 and #3 ranked rushers from a season ago, Kaiwan Taylor and Michael Datello….Combining to run for close to 1,200 yards last season, this tandem will provide one of the top 1-2 punches in the AA division in 2019…Helping them in their quest to chew up major yardage will be an OL that features returning starters at the guard (Anthony Casillo) and tackle (Erik Eppinger) positions. Averaging over 260 pounds between themselves, this duo of road graders will open more than a few holes…Senior, Lear Walker (250-pound OT) and newcomer, Robert Deverson, will both bolster an already strong line…….Juniors, Nick Chiala and Chris Kelly, will be in contention to take over signal caller duties. In limited action as a sophomore, Kelly showed some natural athleticism, running for an average of 4 yards per carry on his six touches…The senior duo of Michael Politi and Liam Grapes will handle wide-out responsibilities in their swan song campaigns…George Anastasiadis and Vincent Mazzone, both 11th graders, will complement the full game-plan as reliable blockers/receivers from the TE position.
On the defense, the Eagles will be a little inexperienced in the secondary (senior FS, John Martello, being the only listed returner), but will be immensely experienced and talented among the front-7…Back for another year of starting service will be both DEs, James Clark and Derek Rosenow, as well as DT Sean Badon…3/4 of the linebacking corps also come back, as Patrick Hayes and Joseph Montalvo will be the Mikes, while Matt Aprile patrols the outside… Luke Jakubauskas, who was identified as one of the breakout stars in camp, will see his role increase tremendously this season, as he will be the other OLB….Chris Prince, Brendan McKeon, and Chris Stumpf, will all be making their varsity debuts this year, but possess the skillset to be immediate play-makers along the last line.
Chris Stevens (18th Season Leading the Charge)
Record: 7-5; Lost “AA” finals to Kellenberg Memorial, 41-6
Top Returning Players:
*Dylan McLaren (Sr; OG): Lone returning starter off of an OL that made it possible for the Knights to pound their way to 2,905 yards and 34 touchdowns on the ground.
*Frank Bernie (Sr; PB): Extremely well-rounded back whose role in the offense will grow substantially; As a junior, he gained 22 yards on four carries; was 2nd on the team with 7 receptions for 56 yards + 1TD.
*Matthew Geruso (Sr; FB): Posted a banner junior year in 2018 where he finished 2nd on the team in all major rushing categories (127 carries for 806 yards, and 7 scores).
*Gregory Steffens (Sr; RS): Recorded 36 tackles (5.5 TFL), 1 sack, and 1 PD as an 11th grader.
*James Donaldson (Sr; LB): Leads all returning defensive players with 71 (4 TFL) stops in 2018; Added 1 sack and 1 successful PD to his resume.
*Anthony Bruno (Sr; 2B/CB): A threat on both sides of the ball, Bruno rushed for 241 yards and 3 touchdowns on 45 carries as a junior; Gained valuable experience at cornerback, making 8 tackles and picking off one pass; Accumulated 112 yards as a kickoff returner.
*Andrew Scariano (Jr)—Another “big back”, at 5’11 and 190 pounds, he is expected to earn his share of carries this season and will be a perfect complement piece.
*Robert Betsais (Jr)—Wasted no time in cracking the starting line-up at OT in his first season on varsity.
*Jude Griffith (Jr.)—Will need to make a quick transition to a higher level of play following heavy graduation hits on defense; has been announced as a day #1 starter at linebacker.
*Damian Huggins (Jr)–Another immediate first-year contributor, the 230-pound 11th grader will start at defensive tackle
A program that you just cannot help but embrace because of their unrelenting commitment to the fundamentals on both sides of the ball, no matter the names/faces of their personnel, the Knights just seem to always be “that team” that no one wants to play early in the postseason…Molded in the old school brand of football by living legend, Chris Stevens, it is because of the school’s track record of continually being in a state or reload that we remain as high as ever in gauging their stock in 2019…Returning just six of 22 starters (three on each side of the line), last year’s AA runners-up do not resemble title contenders on paper, but yet, in practicality, you just accept the fact that they were, are, and always will be dangerous. When it comes to Xavier football, the “Collective” blows the sum of the parts out of the water!
Never short on hard-nosed talent in the backfield, the Knights will again incorporate a “back by committee” philosophy as part of their Wing-T offensive scheme…Figuring prominent into the rotation will be the likes of Matthew Geruso, Anthony Bruno, Frank Bernie, Timothy Hollywood, and Andrew Scariano…Geruso, fresh off of a junior campaign where he gained 806 yards and scored 7 TDs on 127 carries (6.3 average), should witness his numbers go through the roof this year, now that he has assumed top carrier responsibilities following the graduation of Dan Vittiburga (All-Catholic; 2nd in AA with 1,257 yards; 2nd in TDs with 19)…Bruno (241 yards on 45 carries) came on strong at the end of 2018, scoring two of his three overall TDs in the postseason, including Xavier’s only touchdown in the finals’ loss to Kellenberg…Bernie, who is a definitive all-purpose contributor, ran for 22 yards on four carries, while also finishing 2nd on the team with seven catches (56 yards, 1 TD)…Hollywood was recognized as one of the most improved players on the roster, and Scariano was referenced as one of the newcomers the staff was most excited to see compete… Guard, Dylan McLaren (5’11, 200), the lone incumbent on the OL, and OT, Brian Boyle (6’1, 195 pounds), will be the senior catalysts for a group that will also be composed of juniors—Thomas Allison (Center; 5’10, 180), Robert Betsais (OT; 6’2, 210), and Michael Frizalone (OG; 5’8, 200)…Patrick Clark and Daniel Chapman, both of whom have come into their own since the end of 2018, will form an all-senior TE corps.
Renowned for shutdown defense on West 16th Street, a lot of proverbial weight will be on the shoulders of returning starters James Donaldson, Greg Steffens, and the aforementioned Bruno…The next in the long line of mind-blowing linebackers to play at Xavier, Donaldson (71 tackles, 4 TFL, 1 sack) will have the added pressure of following in the footsteps of 2018 AA Defensive Player of the Year recipient, Valery Gwardyak…Impact rookie, Jude Griffith, commences his varsity career as a day #1 starter at the other LB…Steffens (36 tackles, 5.5 TFL, 1 sack, 2 PDs) and Bruno (8 stops, 1 interception) head up a secondary that should get significant efforts out of fellow 12th graders, Sean Hennessy (1 tackle in 2018), Jack Collins, and Robert Donaldson (5 stops as an 11th grader)…Graduating the entire outfit, the DL will now turn to Christian Valentino (7 stops), Brandon Cohen (4 tackles), Clark, and budding first-year varsity player, Damian Huggins, to hold down the fort up front.
Patrick Deane (2nd Season As HC)
Record: 7-4; Lost to Kellenberg Memorial, 47-20, in NYCHSFL “AA” Semifinals
Top Returning Players:
*Zach Wallace (Sr; RB/DB): 2018 All-League honoree; Led the Rams in all rushing categories last season (778 yards and 6 TDs on 92 carries); also caught 8 passes for 181 yards and three more scores; Is a complete two-way player who will star in the defensive backfield as well this season; Made 9 tackles, earned one sack, and had an interception as a junior.
*Owen Loffredo (Sr; WR): Definitive top-receiving target this season; finished 3rd on the team in receptions (24), yardage (305), and TD catches (3) as an 11th grader.
*Michael Adair (Sr; RB): Solid #2 option out of the backfield; rushed for 63 yards on 21 carries last season; Had a 35-yard grab for his lone reception as a junior.
*Jayden Wiggins (Jr; WR): Bolsters an always pass-friendly offense by providing a reliable secondary target; as a sophomore, caught 9 passes for 124 yards, with one touchdown.
*Mike Rice (Jr; LB): Fresh off a spectacular sophomore season that saw him finish 2nd on the team with 70 tackles.
*Sean Halbert (Sr; SS/OLB): An all-purpose defender that is equally adept at stuffing the run as he is in pass coverage; as an 11th grader, he recorded 53 tackles and intercepted one pass.
*Jaysen Sanz (Sr; CB/LB): Registered 52 stops and forced one fumble as an 11th grader last year.
*Jake Torres (Sr; SS/OLB): Recorded 14 tackles, logged one sack, and recovered two fumbles in 2018.
*Ladon Hicks (Sr; WR/SS): The most dangerous and versatile weapon the Knights have on offense; among returning players he led all rushing and receiving categories (11 carries for 38 yards on the ground; 10 catches for 151 yards and 2 TDs); Is also one of the top defenders for HC, making 54 tackles, earning 1 sack, intercepting one pass, and recovering a pair of fumbles as a junior).
*Kyante Watkins (Sr; OL/DL): Returning starting OG for a line that helped Holy Cross accumulate 2,225 yards and 24 touchdowns (15 on the ground) in 2018; Not listed as a starter on defensive, but will add depth, following a junior year where he recorded 10 tackles and was credited with one QB hurry.
*Jay Brown (Sr. OL): Will start at center for Holy Cross this season; Could see his role on defense increase after making two stops a season ago.
*Chase Duncan (Sr; DT): Incumbent starter in the middle of the defensive line; As a junior, he finished 3rd on the team in total tackles with 44 (3 TFL) and recovered one fumble.
*Octavious Bailey (Sr; DB): One of two potential shutdown corners for HC; Collected 34 tackles as an 11th grader and led all Knights with five successful pass break-ups.
*Jaeden Smith (Sr; DB): The other lockdown defensive back on Holy Cross; Smith made 25 tackles in 2018 and knocked away four passes in his direction.
*Isaia Villiata-Ortiz (Sr; DE): Returning starter at DE; Recorded 11 tackles as a junior.
*Jakari Knolle (Sr; DE): Adds additional senior presence to the defensive end position; logged 9 stops last year.
*Christopher McElhinney (Sr; OLB): Rounds off the list of experienced players on the defensive side of the ball; as a junior, he was credited with 10 tackles (2 for a loss) and one quarterback hurry.
*Kemari Ward (Jr.)—At 5’11, 212-pound, he has good size and excellent speed; should be one of the top new faces on the defense at linebacker.
*Jaedan Alexander (Jr.)—Another very solid linebacking prospect; will make a name for himself in 2019.
*Jaden Bagwell (Jr)—The Springfield Gardens resident will provide the Knights with another trusted WR.
*Xavier Chapman (Jr.)—A young gun that despite the DL being senior-laden, is too talented to keep off the field and will see significant action in his rookie year on varsity.
*Thomas Graham (Jr.)—At 6’1, 260 pounds, the Flushing resident should break into the starting-11 this season along the OL.
*Troy Powell (Jr.)—Like Chapman, Powell is a future difference-maker on the DL; will fight for snaps as a defensive end.
A program that is overjoyed at the embarrassment of riches they will have on defense, the Knights will bring back SIX starters on this side of the line, and are blessed to have several newbies who will be hot on their heels looking for playing time…Back for their senior campaigns will be the young studs who finished 2nd (Ladon Hicks), 3rd (Chase Duncan), and 5th (Octavious Bailey) last season in total tackles with 54, 44, and 34 tackles respectively…With Hicks (who added a sack and 2 fumbles recoveries) at strong safety, Bailey (team-leading 5 PDs as a junior) at one corner, and fellow seasoned vet, Jaeden Smith (25 tackles, 4 pass defenses) at the other CB spot, Holy Cross might have the best secondary in the AA division this season…Duncan (44 tackles, 3 TFL, 1 fumble recovery) will team up with Jakari Knoelle (9 tackles) and Isaia Villiata-Ortiz (11 stops) to present a “steel curtain” on a senior-guided defensive line…Newcomers, Xavier Chapman and Troy Powell, will also make quick contributions on the DL….Christopher McElhinney (10 tackles, 2 TFL) will shepherd a linebacking corps that is excited about the additions of juniors, Kemari Ward and Jaedan Alexander.
Offensively, Holy Cross will be introducing a lot of new personnel…However, if history has taught us anything, it is that when attempting to rebuild a unit on the scholastic level, the best place to have stability is the offensive line; and Coach Smith absolutely has that in the persons of seniors, Kyante Watkins (OG) and Jay Brown. At 247 and 233 pounds apiece, the 12th grade tandem may not blow you away with their measurements, but they are quite adept at blowing you off the ball…260-pound junior, Thomas Graham, will infuse that mass into the OL…Whether it be in the backfield or out wide, in terms of the skill positions, the previously referenced Hicks will be the person that Coach Smith and company will be turning to for explosion…Dealt a crucial blow when All-Catholic recipient, John Beaubrun (334 yards rushing/3 TDs; team-leading 25 catches for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns) decided to transfer prior to his senior year, the onus of being the primary playmaker was inherited by the 5’10, 170-pounder from Williamsburg [Hicks]…As a junior, Hicks rushed for 38 yards and 11 carries, while also making 10 grabs for 151 yards and a pair of scores. No matter where they line him up in 2019, Hicks will make noise…Junior WR, Jaden Bagwell, received (no pun intended) the praises of the HC coaching staff and should also be regarded as an essential spoke in the wheel.
Kahmal Roy (1st Season As HC)
Record: 8-2; Lost in the AA semifinals, 7-0, to Xavier
Top Returning Players:
*Emilio Ramirez (Jr; QB/CB): Replaces All-Catholic signal caller, Ryan Razanno; moves under center after being used in a limited role as a receiver last year (1 catch for 13 yards); His importance on defense also increases as he is penciled in to be one of the starting cornerbacks; made 7 tackles and notched one pass break-up in 2018.
*Elijah Tobin (Jr; OG/DT): Consummate two-way player; Returning starter on the OL that helped the Titans put up 2,814 yards and 38 touchdowns; 9 of his 19 tackles on defense resulted in a loss of yardage; his 4 sacks a sophomore ranked 2nd on the team.
*Jonathan Morales (Jr; C/DL): Resumes his role as the starting center; not identified as an expected starter on defense, but should see some action as a reserve; Made 7 stops and logged one successful pass break-up as a 10th grader.
*Jaden Sinclair (Jr; WR/DB): Speedster that will both eat up opposing defensive backs and then transform into an elite D-Back; ended his sophomore season ranked 2nd in both catches (8) and receiving yards (95) on the HT stat sheet; As a defender, he recorded 33 tackles and 4 PDs; One of the top KO/PR specialists, racking up 303 yards in this capacity.
*Stephen Collica (Sr; TE/OLB): After spending his junior season focused on “D”, he will embrace a dual role this season, starting at tight end and outside linebacker; As an 11th grader, he registered 23 tackles (2 TFL) and caused one fumble.
*Brian Holder (Sr; ILB): Probably the best overall returning player on defense; finished his junior year ranked 2nd in tackles (67), tied for 2nd in TFL (9), and 3rd in sacks (3rd); also logged one PD and one fumble recovery.
*Dylan Lewis (Jr; RB/SS): Immense improved player who is expected to start on both sides; as a reserve tailback last year, he displayed solid skill, rushing for 70 yards and 1 TD on 4 carries; from the secondary, he made 19 tackles (3 TFL) and earned one sack as a 10th grader.
*Kameron Robbins (Sophomore)—Transfer from Baldwin HS; will split carries with Lewis at tailback; Anticipated starter at Outside linebacker.
*Otega Uwode (Sophomore)—Full-service lineman who will move immediately into the starting-11s at OT and DE.
*Andre Wilkes (Sophomore)—Will fight for playing time in the secondary; could ultimately emerge as a starter at strong safety,
After 28 years of glorious service by Tony Mascia, the Titans will begin to write a new chapter in their history this season and in our opinion, they could not have landed on a better individual. Tapping class of ‘97 alumnus turned NCAA All-American wide-out (on behalf of Hofstra University), Kahmal Roy, as their new maestro, the Hicksville-based school will be determined to build off of the momentum they created when they bounced back from a 1-7 year in 2017 to go 8-2 and advance to the double-A semis last season.
Taking a bit of a hit at the skill positions on offense due to commencement, HT will need to replace the 2,200+ yards of production delivered last season by All-Catholic QB, Ryan Razanno (599 yards in the air, 667 on the ground), and running backs, Spencer Nixon (583 yards) and Jalen Rivers (269), and Chris Porcaro (142)…Announcing themselves as the prime candidates to fill these holes will be junior field general, Emilio Ramirez, and a running back combo consisting of Dylan Lewis (Jr.) and Kameron Robbins (So.)…Seeing the grass on occasion at WR and defensive back last season, Ramirez’s overall athleticism should make him a natural when it comes to running a scheme that has always been predicated on dual-threat proficiencies…Lewis, only carried the ball four times as a sophomore, but displayed tremendous burst, averaging 17.5 yard per touch, including one TD dash…Robbins, a transfer from Baldwin High School, brings a little added size to the backfield, as his 6’0, 175-pound frame, coupled with quickness, makes him the perfect hybrid back…Juniors, Jaden Sinclair and Bryce Ettrick, as well as senior TE, Stephen Collica, will be the main targets in the passing game. Among this trio, only the Westbury resident [Sinclair] made a catch last season (8 for 95)…Acting as the bedrock for the offensive line will be returning starters, Elijah Tobin (6’1, 250) at guard, and Jon Morales (5’10, 235) in the middle…Otega Uwode (6’3, 206) and John Escobar (5’10, 210) will be at the tackle positions, with Anthony Green (5’11, 200) completing the OL at the remaining guard position. Not a single senior among this group (four juniors + the 10th grader, Uwode), as solid as the offensive line will be in 2019, just envision the agony they will inflict next season…
A case of déjà vu, the majority of the gentlemen profiled above also fit in prominently on the other side of the ball…Inserting 12th grade ILB, Brian Holder (3rd on the team in tackles with 55, 2nd with 9 TFL, 3rd with 3 sacks), LB should be an especially strong position, with Robbins and Collica (23 stops, 2 TFL) on the outside…Tobin (19 tackles, 9 TFL, 4 sacks) and Uwode are expected to be quite the duo at DT…The starters at defensive end remain to be determined, but after making 7 stops last year, it only makes sense that a player the caliber of Morales has to be part of the game plan…Cornerback, Sinclair (33 tackles, 4 pass break-ups), and strong-safety, Lewis, (19 stops, 3 TFL, 1 Sack) are the most refined members of the last line of defense, but the staff is said to be very impressed with Ramirez (7 tackles, 1 pick), Ettrick, and another high-ceiling prospect, Andre Wilkes.
Nick Giannatasio (4th Season as Head Coach)
Record: 6-3; Lost in the AA” quarterfinals to Holy Trinity, 27-26
Top Returning Players:
*Justin Lacks (Sr; RB): 2x All-State/3x All-Catholic Selection; Rushed for 1,161 yards and 19 touchdowns on 145 carries (8yrd/per)
*Cameron Holmes (Sr; WR/FS): Entering his third year as a starter for the Mavs; His speed will be a tremendous asset on both sides of the ball; Finished 2018 with 19 catches for 326 yards and a team-best seven TDs receiving; ran the ball 7 times for 83 yards; Defensively ended his junior campaign having made 48 tackles, earned 3 sacks, and picked off a pair of passes.
*Nick Heinemann (Sr; QB): After patiently waiting his turn, assumes starting QB duties in his swan song; Completed both of his pass attempts for 96 yards and one touchdown last season; Not listed as a defensive starter, but did contribute last year, making 27 tackles and being credited with 1 successful pass break-up.
*A.J. Curran (Sr; C/LB): One of three returning starting OLs who enabled MC to accumulate 3,139 yards of total production and record 41 touchdowns; Will be doing double duty this season, starting at LB on defense; Made 23 stops as a junior.
*Tashawn Stephens (Jr; OL/DL): Standing a monstrous 6’4 and weighing 265 pounds, the 11th grader is pegged to be the starting left tackle this season for the Mavs; Should the Mavs need him, he is plenty capable of being a dominant two-way lineman; last season he made four tackles and secured .5 sack.
*Anthony Perlongo (Sr; WR/S): Making a name for himself mostly on the defensive side of the ball as an 11th grader, Perlongo will be a major factor in all areas of the game in 2019; Made 3 catches for 54 yards + 1 TD last year; Credited with 46 stops, 1 sack, and 2 PDs as a junior.
*Artie Padilla (Sr; LB): Big-time hitter who led the Mavs with 6 tackles for a loss last season; finished 2nd on the team overall with 71 total stops; also had two fumble recoveries (1 for TD), one interception, and one pass defense.
*Sixx Johnson (Jr; LB): A year removed from a statement-making sophomore season that witnessed him make 68 tackles and break-up two pass attempts.
*Craig Sorrenti (Sr; OL/DL): Definitive two-way lineman who will play OG on offense and flip over to DE on “D”..An incumbent starter on the offensive line that piled up remarkable numbers (see above); Recorded 16 stops on defense as a junior.
*Matt Heinemann (Jr; OL/DL): The third returning starter on the offensive line for MC, his role on defense will increase in 2019 after registering 8 stops as a sophomore.
*Khalil Martinez (Fr.)—Despite only being a freshman, Martinez already possesses the size (6’3, 275) of an upperclassman; Is being penciled in as the day #1 starter at Defensive tackle.
*Ashton Padilla (So.)—Slides immediately into a starting position in the secondary as a varsity rookie.
*Justin Francis (So.)—Just weeks into his varsity career and is already the recipient of raving reviews; highlighted as an absolute difference maker in his starting role at defensive end.
“A” Division Champions in 2016, when you look at all of the speed and potential game-breaking ability that the Mavericks will have in 2019, you cannot help but feel as if a return to championship weekend may very well be in the cards in their third season competing in double-A.
Empowered on offense by a 6’1, 215-pound living legend in the person of Justin Lacks, Moore Catholic will be a threat to score on every possession…A combination of linebacker (strength) and cheetah (4.5 speed), the three-time All-League/two-time (5th Team in 2016; 3rd team in 2018) All-State performer has never had a season where he rushed for less than 1,000 yards or scored fewer than 11 touchdowns on the ground. As a junior, injury would put him on the shelf for multiple games, but yet he still managed to accumulate 1,161 yards (3rd in AA), while finding the promised land on 19 unique occasions (tied for 2nd in AA). All in all, Lacks will enter his senior season with three-year totals of 3,470 yards and 44 TDs…Junior, Michael Peraino, who averaged 11 yards per touch on three carries, will also see plenty of time in the backfield…A ground attack that is fear inducing under the most normal of circumstances, Lacks/Peraino becomes almost unstoppable when you consider that they will enjoy the benefit of doing their trekking behind a trio incumbent starters on the offensive line— Craig Sorrenti (LG; 235), A.J. Curran (C; 255) and Matt Heinemann (RG; 240)…255-pound sophomore, Kairon Grady (255), will team up with beastly 11th grader, Tashawn Stephens (260) to round out the 1200-pound OL…As a means of keeping defenses honest, the Mavs will look to another very experienced standout, three-year starter Cameron Holmes, to provide the spark for a wide-out corps that lost freshman All-League player, Dashawn Lawton (33 grabs for 692 yards, 6 TDs) to transfer (returned to his home state of NJ to play for West Side HS)…The team-leader in TD receptions last season with 7 (19 catches for 326 yards overall), the 6’2 185-pounder, Holmes, has both the measurables and the skills to emerge as the consummate go-to target in the aerial game…Anthony Perlongo (3 catches for 54 yards, 1 TD), who will take on added responsibility after primarily being utized on”D” in 2018, and one of the program’s most improved players this season, Justin Burriesci, will be the #2 and #3 options in the passing game…Nick Heinemann, who went 2-for-2 (96 yards, 1 TD) last season in limited work under center, takes the reins of the offense, as a senior signal caller…
Defensively, Coach Giannatasio is blessed to welcome back a plethora of experience, including the linebacking trident of Artie Padilla, Sixx Johnson, and Curran…Ranked 2nd and 3rd on the team last year with 71 and 68 stops respectively, Padilla and Johnson are easily two of the most renowned defensive players in the NYCHSFL regardless of division. Curran himself had a solid 2018, recording 23 tackles as an 11th grader…Perlongo (46 tackles, 1 sack, 2 PDs), Holmes (48 stops, 3 sacks, 2 INTs) and Stephen Gerwer (6 tackles, 1 pass break-up) bring senior maturity to a defensive backfield that will be enriched by the presence of rookie, Ashton Padilla, at one of the CB spots…Sorrenti (16 tackles) will be the foundation of a D-line that packs plenty of bulk, but is short in terms of varsity field time. Sophomore, Justin Francis, will join his aforementioned [Sorrenti] linemate, at DE, while Anthony Wilson (1 tackle as a sophomore in 2018) and 9th grader, Khalil Martinez (6’3, 275) will be the muscle in the middle.
Mount St. Michael Academy
Mario Valentini (36th Year as HC; 41st overall on the sidelines)
Record: 3-7; Did not Advance to the AA Playoffs
Top Returning Players:
*Tyrek Ogilvie (Sr; RB/CB): Finished 3rd on the team last year with 416 yards and two touchdowns on 76 carries; can be utilized as a receiver out of the backfield (3 grabs for 28 yards); will be a more active member of the secondary after making 7 tackles and intercepting one pass as a junior; Very dangerous weapon on special teams (averaged 19.9 yards as a KO specialist)
*Theodore Fraser (Jr; OL/DT): Two-way lineman that will start at either center or guard on offense and DT on “D”; helped the offence to rack up close to 3,000 yards and score 34 touchdowns in 2018;
*Delano Muir (Sr; OG/DT): Joins the two men cited above as the only other returning starter this season for the Mountaineers; Recorded 22 stops and half a sack while plugging the middle as an 11th grader.
*Kai Lewis (Sr; TE/DL): At 6’6 and 260 pounds, he possesses imposing size that he will use to beat down smaller foes; Made 16 tackles (1 TFL) in 2018.
*Matthew Marquez (Sr; RB/DB): Will provide a solid #2 option at tailback; will bring valuable experience to the secondary following a junior season where he made 12 tackles.
Described by their legendary coach [Mario Valentini] as a program that is very young and will rely heavily on underclassmen, the Mountaineers bring back just three starters. With these sentiments in mind, this is a team that you have to reserve judging for a few weeks until they have been afforded the opportunity of putting some notches on their belt…
Known over the year for their perennially strong ground game, if there is one spot on the field where the Mount enters 2019 with a high degree of confidence, it is tailback…While filling the cleats of departed All-Catholic selection/HM All-State, Conrad Perry (1,150 yards, 17 touchdowns in 2018) might be too much to request of any one player, the good news is that the boys from the Bronx will feature TWO very competent and potentially game-breaking backs in the persons of Tyrek Ogilvie and Matthew Marquez Jr...Both seniors this season, the former ranked third on the team last season with 416 yards gained (5.5/carry average) and scored a pair of touchdowns. The latter, whose main output was on the defensive side of the ball as a defensive back, has elite athleticism and should make a smooth transition to his new role as a key offensive weapon…
Turning our attention to the other side of the line of scrimmage, MSMA may not be relishing a wealth of returning starters, but on paper, they do seem to possess several qualified young men who benefited from field time in 2018 and will be prepared to elevate their respective performances this season…Theodore Fraser (40 tackles, 2 TFL, .5 sacks), Delano Muir (22 stops, .5 sacks), and Kai Lewis (16 tackles, 1 stop for a loss) will sit at the head of the table for what should be a formidable DL…Ogilvie (7 tackles, 1 interception) and Marquez Jr. (12 tackles) are the most polished of the defensive backs on the roster.
St. Joe’s by the Sea
Mike Corona (5th Season at the Helm)
Record: 1-7; Did Not Qualify for the AA Playoffs
Top Returning Players:
*Jackson Tucker (Jr; QB): 2018 All-Catholic selection; threw for 1,774 yards and 13 touchdowns as a sophomore; ran 430 yards and tacked on four TDs on the ground.
*Vincent Vazquez (Jr; WR): Leading receiver In 2018 w/45 catches for 501 yards and three TD grabs.
*Danny Doyle (Sr; OT): Starting OL for an offense that generated close to 3,000 yards of total production; Could also see time on the DL.
*Kyle Gaor (Sr; RB): Jack-of-all trades who will factor in prominently as a running back and place-kicker/punter; caught 10 passes last season for 127 yards and two touchdowns; connected on all six of his kick attempts (5-for-5 on PAT; 1-for-1 on FG); averaged 37 yards per punt while placing five within the 20-yard line.
*David Maj (Sr; TE): Was the back-up QB as a junior; will move to TE in 2019.
*Nick Ruvolo (Sr; LB): Primary assignment will be as the starting OLB, but did showcase talent on both sides of the ball as an 11th grader in 2018; recorded 16 tackles last year; made 13 pass catches for 166 yards.
*Jesse Addesso (Sr; FS): Returning starting defensive back; made 19 stops and was credited with two successful pass defenses in 2018.
*Nick Gagliardi (Sr; LB): Another returning starter on “D”…Logged 19 tackles and one INT last year.
*Aidan Ryan (Sr; FS): All-Catholic honoree in 2018; Led the team in both interceptions (2) and pass defenses (4), while making 22 stops…One of the purest athletes on the squad, he can also be utilized as a threat on offense (78 yards and two TDs rushing on just 15 carries; 94 yards on 5 catches) and special teams (averaged 25.1 yards per kick return).
*Chris Gulemmo (Sr; DL): Two-way lineman with the potential to dominate on both ends.
*James Speciale (Jr.)—Will see significant time as a wide-receiver.
*Adonis Trejo (Jr.)—Listed as an OL, he has the chops to make noise on both ends of the field.
*Jordan Savinon (So.)—Only a 10th grader, will be a future star on the defensive line.
*Christian Clavell (So.)—Will be a great complementary piece in the offensive backfield; could emerge as the #2 RB behind Gaor.
*Logan Auerbach (So.)—A polished receiving target, he can be lined up out of the backfield, out wide, or at TE. His versatility makes him a valuable asset.
One of the most experienced teams in the Double-A division this season, when you look at the roster, it seems as if there is a future or current star at just about every money position on the field…
Leading the offense will be returning All-league field general, Jackson Tucker. Fresh off of a remarkable sophomore campaign that saw him hurl for the second most yards in AA (1,774), while simultaneously running for the third most yardage among QBs (430), the 11th grader is without question one of the top overall weapons in all of the NYCHSFL, regardless of division….Senior, Kyle Gaor, who made his mark more as a receiver in 2018, will now be asked to step up and assume a major role as the top rushing option for the Vikings…Vincent Vazquez (45 grabs, 501 yards, 3 TDs), John Sciulla (6 catches for 49 yards), and Justin Alexander will compromise a very gifted receiver corps. Nick Ruvolo (13 catches for 166 yards) was not listed as a starting receiver, but his resume makes us confident that he will be a definitive option in key situations…David Maj will man the TE position….Senior tackle, Danny Doyle, will be the backbone of an offensive line that will also rely on the likes of 11th grader, Matt Cordero, to provide stability…. James Speciale (RB), Adonis Trejo (OL), Christian Clavell (RB), and Logan Auerbach (RB/WR/TE) are all first-year varsity players who came out of the gate strong and will be ones to watch, both in 2019 and beyond on “O”.
Defensively, you could blindly toss a dart at the depth chart and you would unquestionably land on a person who garnered significant playing time in 2018…With the exception of strong safety, where no individual was identified as the clear-cut day #1 starter, every other spot on “D” will be occupied by trusted senior personnel….Chris Gulemmo and James Colesanti will be at DE….Dylan Bille (one of the most improved on the roster) and Paul Quick (11 stops) will plug the middle…Ruvolo (16 tackles), Nick Gagliardi (19 stops, 1 INT), and Corey Tehe (31 tackles; most among returning student-athletes) headline the linebacker unit…Championing the defensive backs will All-Catholic selection, Aidan Ryan (22 stops, 2 interceptions, 4 pass break-ups). Jesse Addesso (19 tackles, 2 PDs) and Vin Grillo will both give consistent effort at the two cornerback spots…Jordan Savinon (DL) is another young gem whose performance will be so lights out that you forget that he is only a 10th grader.
St. John the Baptist
Philip Alba (1st Season at the helm)
Record: 3-6; Lost “AA” Quarterfinals to Fordham Prep, 39-12
Top Returning Players:
*Nicholas Mazziotti (Sr; QB): Back for his second season taking the snaps; the Shoreham resident completed 40% of his pass attempts (32-for-80), tossing for a total of 629 yards and four touchdowns; Carried the pigskin on 31 occasions for a net of 64 yards and two more scores.
*Christian Maisel (Jr; WR/FS): Guaranteed starter on both sides of the line, the 11th grader will see is numbers grow exponentially at WR, after making six catches for 149 yards and two TDs as a sophomore; also rushed 38 yards and scored twice on three carries; Defensively, he will remain a significant presence in the secondary; Last year he logged 31 tackles, 4 TFL, and tied for the team-lead with two interceptions.
*Jayden Louis (Jr; RB/CB): Had a tremendous season offensively as a sophomore, finishing the year ranked 2nd on the team in yards (426) and touchdowns (3); proved that he also a threat as a receiver, making 9 grabs for 105 yards and one additional TD; Credited with three tackles last season on “D”, his role in this area will increase quite a bit as he assumes a starting duties at cornerback; Has take it to the house potential as a kick/punt returner.
*Matthew Stroble (Sr; Center): Returning All-Catholic selection off of an OL that helped to generate approximately 2,500 yards and score 20 touchdowns; not listed as a DL starter, but if need be, could absolutely serve as an ironman.
*Thomas Jaycox (Sr; OT): By far the biggest player on the Cougars, at 6’4, 270, he knows how to push people around and will do an extraordinary job keeping the QB upright.
*Anthony Ermelino (Sr; OL/OLB): Another two-way superstar, on offense he will line-up at guard; on “D”, he is fresh off of a junior campaign that saw him record 52 tackles (11 for a loss) and force two fumbles.
*Jeremy DeJesus (Sr; ILB): The other returning standout LB for SJB, DeJesus notched 43 stops, including six for negative yards.
*Liam Clifford (Sr; DE): Sleeper who is under the radar but is expected to have a great senior year on the DL.
*Matthew DePaola (Jr.)—Will make for an excellent #2 option out of the backfield at RB.
*Darius Adbulhagg (Jr.)—Plugged in as the starting strong safety from the opening whistle.
*Kyle Chase (So.)—Expected to be a mainstay at cornerback every second of the next three years; per the coaching staff, he will also compete for snaps under center; Was a late-season call-up to the varsity and shined in his one appearance, connecting on 14 of 23 attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns…Was the #1 pitcher on the Cougar varsity last season as a freshman; hence, the moment will never overwhelm him.
A perennial postseason program that has won three or more games every year since 2006, despite facing the obstacles that accompany returning only five starters and breaking in a new head coach (Philip Alba), we see no reason why 2019 cannot still be a very successful season in West Islip…
Loaded with qualified, if not outstanding, student-athletes from top to bottom, even in areas where SJB may be replacing a graduated starter, there seems to be a “next man up” mentality that will inspire this band of 36 young gentlemen!
Finding themselves in quite the advantageous situation of being strong at the skill positions, St. John the Baptist will put their faith and trust in the likes of Nicholas Mazziotti, Jayden Louis, and Christian Maisel among others to provide the electricity and/or firepower when the pigskin in their possession…Mazziotti, now in his second year running the offense, threw for 629 yards and four touchdowns last season, and displayed glimpses of having dual-threat ability by scoring two additional TDs with his legs (ran for a total of 64 yards on 31 keepers)…Louis had a fantastic sophomore season in 2018, finishing 2nd on the team in every major rushing category (78 carries, 426 yards, 3 touchdowns). In addition, he ranked 2nd in total receptions, catching nine balls for 105 yards and one score. Hence, there is no telling how #21 in your program will torment you on a week-to-week basis…Like Louis, Maisel is also something of a jack-of-all-trades, when it comes to stretching an opposing defense; as a runner last year, he averaged 12.7 yards on limited touches (38 on 3 carries); with his hands, he was 3rd in catches (6) and 2nd in both receiving yards (149) and TD grabs (2)…Another upperclassman that you ought to keep an eye on is senior, Jeyse Osorto (2 yards on 3 carries); lost early in the 2018 season to a knee injury, the 170-pound resident of Wyandanch busted his butt rehabilitating and will be adamant in his desire to make up for the lost time…Junior, Matthew DePaola, is one of the top rookies on the roster and is certain to add further boost to the backfield…Captained by All-League center, Matthew Stroble (230 pounds), the offensive line will consist of fellow seniors, Thomas Jaycox (OT; 270) and Anthony Ermelino (OG; 210), junior, Andrew Unterschuetz (OT; 240), and sophomore, Spencer Shaughnessy (220)…One last individual that we want to put on the radar is sophomore, Kyle Chase. At the moment, he is #2 on the depth chart at QB, but we see him as a game-altering wildcard. A late call-up to varsity as a freshman, he completed 14 of 23 passes for 250 yards and two touchdowns in his only appearance. The Levittownian also happened to be the ace of the varsity pitching staff as a 9th grader, meaning that he seems to be at his best the higher the stakes.
Polished/battle-tested everywhere but the DL on defense, senior, Jeremy DeJesus (43 tackles, 6 TFL), and Ermelino (52 stops, 11 TFL, 2 forced fumbles) will be rock stars at LB, and FS, Maisel (31 tackles, 4 stops for a loss, team-high 2 interceptions), will combine with cornerback, Louis (3 tackles), to fortify the secondary…Senior, Liam Clifford (DE), will be the only senior on a DL constructed of 11th graders, Christopher Annitto (DE), Brian Moloney (DT), and Jayson Smalls (DT)…12th grader, Christian Sosa (9 tackles) could play his way into the line-up along the line…10th grader, Jason Campo, will be OLB…Chase (CB) and highly-touted junior strong safety, Darius Adbulhagg, are welcomed fresh faces in the defensive backfield.
Mike Jioia (7th Season at the Helm)
Record: 5-4; Lost in the “AA” Quarterfinals to Xavier, 27-0
Top Returning Players:
*Derin Hansen (Sr; OL/DL): Returning All-League performer; Two-way Lineman who on offense helped the team accumulate over 2,100 yards of total offense and score 17 touchdowns; defensively, registered 57 tackles, forced 3 fumbles, and had earned a sack.
*Shane Greene (Sr; RB/OLB): 2018 All-Catholic selection; Probably the team’s most important player, Greene will be the #1 option out of the backfield (323 yards and a team-best six rushing TDs as a junior; added 4 receptions for 59 yards and two scores), as well as a key component to the linebacking cohort (40 tackles, 1 sack).
*Tom Resker (Sr; WR/SS): Named to the 2018 All-Catholic Team on defense as a junior; will be a dynamic play-maker on both sides of the ball in his swan song; rushed for 177 yards and scored once on just 11 carries; caught 15 passes for 202 yards and 1 TD as a receiver; Recorded 33 tackles and notched 1 sack on “D”.
*Jordan Murrell (Sr; WR/CB): Ironman player who will utilize his speed and agility to make noise anywhere and everywhere; gained 117 yards on the ground on 17 carries; made 4 grabs for 75 yards and one touchdown as a receiver; logged 19 tackles and picked off one pass as a defensive back…Is also an explosive kick-returner (averaged nearly 40 yards per return).
*Joshua Rivera (Sr; OL/DL): Like Hansen, Rivera is not afraid to bang in the trenches and will make his presence felt as both a blocker on one end and an untamed pursuer on the other; Made 27 tackles, earned one sack, and had a fumble recovery a season ago.
*Francis Ezeagbor (Jr; OG/LB): Another Clipper doing double-duty in 2019; he will start at OG on offense and star at ILB on defense; Compiled 20 tackles and recovered a fumble as a 10th grader.
*Justin Wolf (Sr; TE): Finished 2nd on the team in 2018 with 21 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns; Standing 6’4 and weighing 215 pounds, his measurables will make him a match-up nightmare for most defenders.
*James Resker (Sr; QB): Took the majority of snaps under center last season for the Clippers; completed 56.7% of attempts (55-for-97) for 780 yards and six touchdowns.
*Tom Leahy (Jr.)—Expected to start this season at cornerback, while further bolstering the receiving corps.
*Anthony Rosati (Jr.)—Turned in a solid season last year on the junior varsity as a running back/defensive back…Adds depth to both positions in his first year on varsity.
*Ryan Kenny (Jr.)—Not a complete rookie, Kenny did make a late-season appearance on varsity at QB, completing 3-of-5 pass attempts for 31 yards. However, in his first full season with the big club, his main contribution will come as the starting free safety.
Exceeding all preseason expectations (aside from their own) after making the jump up to AA last year, Mike Jioia’s Clippers earned the top-seed in the Western Division last season and will be armed and/or well-positioned to build off of that momentum and make 2019 a year to remember in Brooklyn…
A brigade that Is loaded with talent at all of the glamour positions, if all goes according to plan, there is every reason to believe that Xaverian could make their fifth trip (Single-A runners-up in 2013, 2014, and 2017; “A” titlist in 2015) in the past six years to championship weekend…Spearheading this quest for hardware on offense will be the four-headed senior monster comprised of running back, Shane Greene (323 yards + 6 TDs rushing on 83 carries), Tight End, Justin Wolf (leads all returning players in every major receiving category—21 grabs for 217 yards and a pair of TDs), and the double dose of Resker, quarterback, James (780 yards and six touchdowns hurled in 2018), and wide-out Tom (15 snatches for 202 yards and 1 TD; also ran for 177 yards)..The well-roundedness of Jordan Murrell (75 yards receiving on four touches; 117 yards on the ground on 17 carries) should also be put to good use, as he is slotted to start at WR, but could be utilized in a number of different ways…Don’t sleep on newcomer, Anthony Rosati, either. Regarded as one of the top players from last year’s JV, the junior may not have a defined role yet, but ought to feel optimistic about where his talents will take him during the next two seasons…Seniors, Derin Hansen, Joshua Rivera, and L.J. McGurk, will combine with 11th graders, Kevin Moylan and Francis Ezeagbor, to form the offensive line.
Priding itself on toughness, Xaverian has always been huge advocates of the two-way system, which means that several of the names already cited will be busting their butts on defense too…Returning All-Catholic standouts, Hansen (DL; 57 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 sack) and [Tom] Resker (DB; 34 stops, 1 sack) will be the ones that set the example…Greene (OLB; 40 tackles, 1 sack), along with Rivera (DT; 27 stops, 1 sack), Ezeagbor (ILB; 20 tackles), Murrell (CB; 19 stops, 1 pick), and Jayden Victor (OLB; 16 tackles) all provide a second wave of experienced defensive personnel…Seniors, William Graham (4 tackles) and Jack Ward are eager to make the most of their expanded roles along the DL…Labeled as day #1 starters in the secondary were rookies, Tom Leahy and Ryan Kenny.
Record: 8-2; Lost to Cardinal Spellman, 19-12, in NYCHSFL “A” Finals
Top Returning Players:
*Clayton Proctor (Jr; QB/CB): A dynamic athlete that was utilized mostly on defense as a sophomore, he has the God-given talent to erase the learning curve and become an instant star as a “run first” signal caller; One of the top DBs in “A” last season, he compiled 41 tackles while leading the team with two interceptions; also had 3 successful PDs.
*Ayden Sanchez (Sr; TE/OLB): Highly-touted during each of the past three seasons, the 12th grader is another student-athlete who is expected to enjoy a plethora of playing time on both sides of the ball after focusing on “D” the previous season; Credited with 12 tackles, half a sack, and one pass break-up as a junior.
*Gary Kellogg (So; WR/OLB): Perhaps the most impressive freshman in the NYCHSFL last season, Kellogg wasted no time asserting himself as a star on the defensive side of the ball; Posted 76 stops (21 TFL), 6 sacks, 3 pass break-ups, and a pair of rumble recoveries; Will be assuming more of a role on offense in 2019.
*Bobby Piesco (So; RB/S): Another individual coming off of a mind-blowing season as a 9th grader, Piesco make 37 stops (6 TFL), earned one sack and interception apiece, and tacked on 3 PDs to round out his resume; The graduations of Myles Proctor and Seth Surrett (1,800 yards, 20 TDs rushing combined) means that he becomes “the man” in the backfield this season for the Gaels.
*Aidan Bernal (Sr; OL/DL): A definitive preseason contender for Lineman of the Year honors if he plays up to his potential, the two-way force is one of three returning starters on an OL that paved the way for a 2,694 yard, 26 TD season on “O”; there was no letdown on defense either, as he recorded 56 stops, including 20 for a loss of yardage, as well as bagged the opposing QB six times.
*Ikenna Ononaji (Jr; DE): Incumbent starter on the DL who had a solid sophomore season in 2018, making 29 stops (5 TFL) and posting one sack.
*Chris LoRusso (Sr; LB): The other half [along with Sanchez] of the OLB tandem, LoRusso has been an invaluable cog during KC’s NYC lacrosse dynasty; a born winner, he will hope to replicate his lax success on the gridiron.
*Nate Kraemer (So; OT/DL): Returning starter on the offensive line; may not start on “D”, but will increase the depth of the defensive line following a freshman season that saw him record 14 tackles.
*Thomas Nunziato (Jr; OT/DL): Identical to Kraemer, Nunziato brings universal toughness to two sides of the line of scrimmage; is slotted to start at the other OT position in 2019; another experienced student-athlete that enhances the depth of the DL; 6 of his 12 tackles as a sophomore resulted in a loss of yards for the foe.
*Nick Duryea (Fr)—Opening Day starter as a 9th grader at free safety
*Dan Duryea (Fr.)—One of two freshman who will start at ILB in 2019
*Will Brann (Fr.)—The other half of the fab frosh ILB partnership
*Anthony Castaldi (Fr.)—Not listed as a starter, but has the admiration of his coaches and fits in as a complementary weapon at either WR or LB, if not both.
*Malang Susso (Jr)—Transfer from John Jay/East Fishkill who sat out last season, but could emerge as a #2 option at tailback.
*Matthew Santos (Jr)—Transfer from Iona Prep who is under the radar (not identified as a starter), but factors into the equation as an adept wide-out.
A program that seems to always be moving forward under the direction of Coach Tassone, with the exception of a heartbreaking upset loss in the “A” finals to Cardinal Spellman (who they had defeated twice during prior), the 2018 season as a whole was magical. Posting an immaculate record in league-play where they defeated all opponents by at least two touchdowns, the Somers based squad emerged with what was by far the school’s finest showing since rejoining the NYCHSFL in 2013…However, because the season concluded in such shocking disappointment, it goes without saying that the KC staff and student-athlete will enter 2019 with a sense of unfinished business permeating throughout their bodies and souls.
Senior-laden at the offensive skill positions last year, the Gaels will have the unenviable burden of trying to replace the top-2 rushers in the league (4th Team All-State, Myles Proctor—978 yards/9 TDS, and Seth Surrett-822 yards/11 scores), as well as receiving triple-crown winner, Eric Volpi (18 catches for 351 yards, 3 TDs)….On the bright side, with three incumbents—Nate Kraemer (280 pounds), Thomas Duffy, and Aidan Bernal—all a year older and more ruthless in the trenches, there is every reason to believe that there will be holes aplenty for the entirely new starting backfield to exploit…Clayton Proctor, who saw action as a sophomore at WR (2 catches for 17 yards), was hand-picked to assume field general responsibilities and should prove himself to be a dynamic play-maker due to his supreme athleticism and natural instincts…Bobby Piesco, who took advantage of the few touches he got (26 yards on 3 carries) as a freshman in 2018, Is said to have taken his talents to the next level and will exceed all expectations as the primary RB…11th grader, James Brown, and senior, Scott Dalrymple turned in a great camp and will present excellent targets to Proctor should a need to go aerial arises. Sophomore, Gary Kellogg, who we will talk about in more detail below, should also be in the conversation at WR following a rookie platform that saw him tear it up on “D”…Like Kellogg, senior, Ayden Sanchez, has been asked to embrace an Ironman role, sliding in at TE…Transfers, Malang Susso (RB; John Jay-EF) and Matthew Santos (WR; Iona Prep) have already endeared themselves in their new home and could be invaluable pieces to a title-winning puzzle.
Remarkably, as glowing as the reviews have been on offense, what Is scary about a team like Kennedy Catholic is that many of the studs referenced above are actually more polished on the defensive side of the ball and will again threaten to post ‘goose-eggs’ every time they step foot on the field…Despite still being an underclassman, Kellogg (76 tackles, 11 TFL, 6 sacks, 3 PDs) will need to be that all-everything LB that the Gaels rallied around during the tenure of 2x Defensive Player of the Year, Cole Esposito (114 tackles, 49 TFL, 7 sacks, 2 pass break-ups as a senior in 2018)…Sanchez (12 tackles last year after making 30 as a sophomore) and fellow 12th grader, Chris LoRusso, are the veterans of the LBs and can be counted on to do an admirable job acting as mentors to Will Brann and Dan Duryea, who will start as freshmen at ILB…Bernal (56 stops, 20 TFL, 6 sacks) Ikenna Ononaji (29 tackles, 5 TFL, 1 sack), Kraemer (14 tackles), and Thomas Nunziato (12 stops, 1 sack) are all experienced DLs and should be the strength (literally and figuratively) of the defense…Proctor (41 tackles, team-best 2 INTs, 3 PDs) and Piesco (37 stops, 6 TFL, 1 interception, 3 pass break-ups) are established air traffic controllers, while Dalrymple and fab frosh, Nick Duryea, are hungry to make their mark in the secondary.
Record: 6-4; Defeated Kennedy Catholic, 19-12 in NYCHSFL “A” Finals
Top Returning Players:
*Aidan Hanley-Piri (So; QB): Started under center as a frosh; completed 36.2% of his passes (34-for-94) for 516 yards and four touchdowns; was also active with his legs, gaining 126 yards and tacking on two more TDs on 47 carries.
*Ethan Ortiz (Sr; FB/LB): The glue on both sides of the ball, Ortiz came on incredibly strong on offense in the 2018 postseason, racking up 95 of his 192 yards for the season in the semifinals and finals; Led all NYCHFL players (all three divisions) in tackles last season, collective 139 stops (4th most in NYS); added a sack and a forced fumble to his resume.
*Myles Bideau (Sr; RB/DE): Averaged 8.5 yards per carry on limited opportunities (153 yards on 18 carries); will see his workload increase on offense following the graduation of HM All-State RB, Matt Forti; Was stellar on defense as a junior; leading Spellman with four sacks and recording 53 total tackles; caused and recovered one fumble apiece last season.
*Dylan Williams-Molitor (Sr; RB/MLB): Another capable ball carrier, he gained 49 yards on seven hand-offs as a junior; like all of the men above him, as a senior, he could be asked to assume a larger role within the offense; is already a known commodity on “D”, making 56 tackles, earning 1 sack, and posting a team-best 3 interceptions a year ago.
*Anthony Badagliacca (Sr; OT/DL): 280+-pound two-way line-up that will win most match-ups based on pure size; started for an OL that enabled Spellman to accumulate 2,406 yards of total offense and score 16 touchdowns (12 on the ground); Should play a more substantial role as a DT this year after a junior year that witnessed him record six total stops.
*Ethan Butler (Sr; OL/DL): The other returning starter at OT; Like Badagliacca, Butler’s playing time on defense could increase in his swan song; recorded 2 tackles as a junior.
*Kevon Mullings (Sr; WR/CB): The only returning player on the Spellman roster with multiple catches in 2018 (4 grabs for 45 yards); also rushed for 32 yards on just five carries; served as a bit of a 2pt special, converting four of them as an 11th grader; Also saw action on defense, making 10 tackles last season.
Desmond DeFreitas (3rd Season Running the Show)
Record: 1-8; Lost in the “A” Semifinals to Kennedy Catholic, 21-12
Top Returning Players:
*Justin McDuffie (Sr; RB/FS): Led Nazareth in all major rushing categories as an 11th grader (256 yards and five touchdowns on 60 carries); also made two catches for 34 yards; True ironman who made his presence felt just as much on “D”; finished 3rd on the team in total stops (41), while adding 3 QB hurries, 2 pass break-ups, 1 interception, and two fumble recoveries.
*Matthew Moore (Sr; RB/LB): Was the program’s leading rusher as a sophomore in 2017 and just nearly as good a season ago, rushing for 105 yards (3rd on the team) on 32 hand-offs; Defensively, he was credited with six tackles and one interception.
*Jalen White (Sr; WR/DB): The definitive #1 target in the passing game, White finished 2nd in total receptions with 5 and led all Nazareth receivers with 107 yards; Like he did as a junior, he will be a mainstay on both sides of the ball, manning the corner on defense; Last season, he made 23 stops, earned a pair of sacks, had 2 QB hurries, and broke up 1 pass attempt in his direction.
*Sean Colclough, Jr (Jr; OL/DL): Named a captain as an 11th grader, the 5’10, 270-pounder will anchor both sides of the line of scrimmage…As a sophomore, he made 10 stops and recovered a fumble while occupying the defensive tackle position.
*Christian Mazier (Jr; DE/MLB): Not listed on the team’s Maxprep roster, the hope is that the omission was just an oversight; As a 10th grader, he recorded 23 tackles and finished third on the team with three sacks