2023 NYCHSFL AAA GOTW #2 Preview

Holy Trinity vs. Immaculata

When: Saturday September 16, 2023 @2pm

Where: Holy Trinity HS (98 Cherry Ln, Hicksville, NY 11801)

Watch: Youtube/HTHS Page (Click to View)


Players to Watch (Holy Trinity)

*Rocco Rainone (Sr; QB)—-In his third year running the show for the explosive Titan offensive attack, the 5’9, 170-pound senior is a dual-threat standout who can/will beat you with equal efficiency with either of his limbs!!….Totaling 20 touchdowns last fall, he’d connect on 71-of-130 pass attempts for 1,224 yards (16 TDs), while also running for four additional scores…He has struggled a bit with accuracy thus far in 2023 (8-of-27, 164 yards, 2 TD hurls), but if he finds his groove during week #2, he is a game-changer! 

*Jameer Reeder (Sr.; RB/LB)—The 2021 NYCHSFL AA-2 Defensive Player of the Year recipient, there is nothing that the 5’10, 190-pound gentleman cannot achieve if he sets his mind to it…A mainstay on the honor role (4.0 GPA), as well as a two-time All-Catholic Selection/2x 3rd Team All-Stater, Reeder has been used conservatively at the onset of his swan song to keep him fresh.  Still, he has managed to produce, as he has a stat line the reads as follows: 102 yards and 2TDs on 27 carries on offense; 10 stops on “D”….Reeder accumulated 772 yards and scored 11 touchdowns on the ground (122 hand-offs) as a junior; so you know that when the moment calls for it; he will be ready to roll!

*Jayden Simpson (Jr; WR/KR/LB)—Fresh off of earning Metro Catholic Player of the Week honors, Simpson has been asked to step up and assume the role of primary WR target due to the transfer of blue chip recruit, Josiah Brown (returned to his home district), and the graduation of Dre Kirton….Simpson has embraced larger responsibility and is off to a promising start to his junior year, as he already has hauled in 6 catches for 131 yards and a TD snatch to put him on pace to shatter the 16-reception/160-yard/5TD display with which he was credited in 2022…As he showed in week #1 when he returned a kickoff 88 yards to paydirt, the 5’11, 175-pounder is deadly in open spaces, which makes him a prodigy as a special teamer!….Doing his best to never come off the field, Simpson will also be utilized as a DB/Rover LB!  MaxPreps credited him with 10 tackles/1 INT as a sophomore starter on defense!

*Chase Cruz (Jr.; WR)—The #4 receiver on HT last season, he has moved up the totem pole and is every bit as dangerous as Simpson given his 4.6 speed he possesses…Considerably better than his stats may suggest because he has been overshadowed by more high-touted/elder teammates at the wide-out position, Cruz demonstrated his ability to stretch the field when he was on the back-end of a 54-yard TD reception in a week #0 victory over LaSalle (RI)…

*Justin Costa (Sr.; Two-Way Lineman)—Following in the Holy Trinity tradition of dominant and award-winning two-way lineman (Elijah Tobin & Irv Briggs being the ‘19 & 21 LOY recipients), the 280-pound senior is expected to throw around his proverbial weight and dominate the middle of the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball….Moving one spot over from the pivot to the OG, Costa will also see increased reps on defense as a DT in 2023…In the week #1 triumph over Xavier, he had a “Michael Ohler” highlight, where he drove his nemesis 20 yards back and could have “taken him to the bus” if he so chose!

*Trevor Benjamin (So.; Two-Way Lineman)—So gifted that he earned a starting job on the OL as a freshman in ‘22, by the time the sophomore superstar grows into his body (only around 270 at the moment), he is going to be among the biggest, nastiest, and most gifted OLs in all of NYS.  He lined up at guard as a frosh, but transitioned to OT this fall….Like Cota, Benjamin too will put his bulk to good use, as he will perform double-duty as a DL!   

*Hopeton James (Sr.; DE/LB)—The Defensive Outstanding Player of the 2022 AA-1 title game last November, James has a God-given skill set that allows him to take over games single-handedly when need be (such as his 3 sack, 2 TFL effort that earned the Titans their second straight championship)….So far in his two outings as a senior, he has collected 8 stops (1 TFL) and two fumble recoveries as an illustration that wherever he roams, good things transpire for the Green & White!

*Ranall White (Sr.; DB)—He wears #0 and that must be because that is the standard he holds himself to when engaging with the top WR on the opposing team….As a starter in the secondary last fall, he accrued 10 stops!…White has already registered 6 tackles and an interception in 2023!

*Kareem Grey (Jr.; DB)—After seeing some action as a sophomore, Grey’s role has expanded exponentially in 2023 and the increased opportunities he is receiving is paying major dividends as after two weeks, he tops all Titans with 14 tackles (2 TFL) and pounced on a loose ball for a fumble recovery!  Like Simpson, It is difficult to define or label Grey on “D” because his elite athleticism enables him to be so versatile and wreak havoc in a number of different ways!!  He can play lockdown pass coverage; or he can come off the edge and fly into the backfield!  

*Adrian Ayala (Jr.; LB)—Yet another emerging gem on the Titan “D”, in three games, the 5’10, 160-pound 11th grader has already posted three tackles for negative yardage (team-best), while ranking 2nd on the squad with 11 total stops!

*Neremiah Hicks (Jr.; DL)—Putting the “Hicks’ in Hicksville and the “Hits” in “Hitsville”, the 6’1, 245-pound 11th grader is fresh off of a strong week #1 performance, where he racked up 4 stops and jarred loose a fumble in the win over Xavier…All signs point at him having a very productive season as a starting DE!


Players to Watch (Immaculata)

*Mason Geis (So.; QB)–A fab freshman a season ago who threw for 1,133 yards and 13 touchdowns on 61-for-149 passing, Geis has been a lot more accurate to begin his sophomore campaign (12-for-20, 247 yards, 5 TDs); and that is a scary thought for opposing defensive backfields…

*Joe Fleming (Sr.; RB/LB)—The Spartans’ answer to Reeder, Fleming may not possess the bullet points, but that is only because he has not been afforded the same level of opportunity…A steady contributor on both sides of the ball as a junior last fall (165 yards/2TDs on 31 carries…27 stops/2 TFLs/1 INT/1 pass break-up), his production has exploded as a full-time leading man in both capacities, as he enters this weekend as the program-leader in all three major rushing categories, gaining 288 yards and scoring 3 TD on 27 hand-offs, while ranking 3rd on the team in total tackles (10)!  He also has logged an INT already this fall!

*Cole Hayden (Jr.; WR/DB)—Something of that Swiss Army Knife type player on offense who will be used creativity in order to maximize his contribution, Hayden is currently leading all receiving categories with 5 grabs for 116 yards and 3 touchdowns; but has also been dangerous as a runner, adding on an additional 196 yards and three more scores on just 18 tries….Now a universal weapon on both sides of the ball, he made a name for himself as a sophomore in 2022 by tying for the school-high with 9 successful pass defenses, not to mention finishing 4th in total stops (46)…He already has an INT in 2023 to show that his ball-hawking ways are fierce!

*Nick Stokes (So,; RB/LB)—The youngster among a three-headed trident that the Spartans have been using out of the backfield, Stokes has shown more than a few glimpses of brilliance through his first three games of varsity action…Carrying the pigskin 11 times, he has chewed up 148 yards (13.5/per) and scored a touchdown….The 5’9, 160-pound 10th grader is finding a niche on defense to boot, as he has 5 solo tackles thus far this season!

*Anthony Brown (Sr.; WR/DB)—A bona fide freak athlete that in addition to his gridiron accolades also happens to own the school Long Jump record, Brown is on pace to obliterate his receiving stats from a year ago (8 catches for 191 yards, 1 touchdown) as he already has notched 5 for 79 with 1 TD and still has the majority of his swan song remaining ahead of him…Having landed multiple NCAA scholarship offers (Temple, Kent State, etc.), Brown is also asserting himself on “D”, as he has registered two INTs in three appearances to complement his 7 total stops!!!

*Ollie Collier (Sr.; OL)—An absolutely punishing presence on the offensive line from the guard position, the kid is an absolute bulldozer and is a big reason why the Spartans have looked unstoppable at times on offense…Showing no mercy in routinely manhandling his opposition, one look at the 6’4, 275-pounder and he see why he is a nightmare waiting to come true for opposing DLs….Has been extended offers from the likes of LIU, St. Francis University, Pace, Saint Anselm, and so forth)!

*Aaron Melick (Jr.; Two-Way Lineman)—-Receiving a scholarship offer to Bucknell in July, we’re not sure which side of the line the 6’5, 270-pounder is better suited for; because from watching the game tape, he looked pretty darn imposing no matter if he was the hunted (blocking) or the hunter (pursuit)….Starting on the ends in each case (LT/DE), Melick’s especially taken his impact on defense to the next level, as he went from making 1 stop as a sophomore to already being credited with 6 tackles, a sack, and a punt block as an upperclassman!!!

*Adam Bowles (Sr.; MLB)—In his first season with Immaculata (transfer from South Plainsfield), the ferocious MIKE linebacker was unofficially credited with 129 stops, 7.5 TFLs, 1 sack, and 3 INTs as a junior; but we have reason to believe that those quantities may have been closer to 150 tackles (34 TFL) and 8 QB bags….After missing the first three games of his senior year with an injury, Bowles confirmed on social media that he like a caged animal ready to eat this weekend!….

*Luke Laub (Jr.; LB)—Using expressions such as “Never miss an opportunity to make a play” and/or “When Opportunity Strikes, Take it.” as themes to the way he plays the game, as a sophomore starter among the LB corps, Laub finished 3rd on the team with 53 stops, while adding 1 QB sack, 1 pick, and a pair of pass break-ups….He has not slowed down as an 11th grader, as he presently sits atop the leaderboard with 20 tackles in three games this fall!  

*Jahmier Black (Fr.; LB)—A diaper dandy that we just could not leave out of the conversation, just three games into his freshman year and Black has already established himself a dynamic playmaker on defense….Trailing only Laub in terms of total stops, the freshman phenom has racked up 18 tackles and 1 sack as a means of conveying that the future and the present are synonymous when it comes to him! 

*Rosco Davis (Sr.; DL)—Impossible to ignore, the senior defensive lineman showed great side-to-side movement in the few highlights we were able to view….In addition, he seems quite adept at going North to South, as 3 of his 7 tackles this season has resulted in negative yardage.  These 3 TFLs currently rank 1st among Immaculata personnel!


An instant classic when these two programs went head-to-head in 2022 as part of the Battle 4 For the Bridge, it took an extra frame before the Titans could emerge as 45-42 victors!!!

If the rematch this weekend is even half as electrifying and action-packed, then those in attendance on Cherry Lane are in for the ultimate treat!!

A combined 5-0 (3-0 Immaculata; 2-0 Holy Trinity) between themselves this fall, neither school is lacking for firepower anywhere you look on the field!!  

Both starting quarterbacks from last season’s melee returning to resume the rivalry, it was the Titans’ Rocco Rainone, being the one to strike for the game-winner in overtime, as he punched it in from 2-yards out to cap off a three-touchdown performance (1 throwing, 2 rushing).  Amassing 324 yards of total offense, Rainone would connect on 18 of 29 attempts for 306 yards, while running for an additional 18 on 9 keepers….

On the other sideline, in one of his first varsity starts, it was then freshman, Mason Geis, slinging his way to a personal-best of 358 yards in the air, as he hit on 12-of-24 chucks, including a pair of hook-ups that resulted in touchdowns!!!

Each school will also be blessed to bring back the top rushing options from the 2022 showdown, as Jameer Reeder will do his best to equal the mind-blowing 216 yards and 3 touchdowns he generated on 22 carries (all three TD runs being for 22 or more yards), while Joe Fleming, who enters on a tear, set a season-high of 63 yards/1 TD on his 15 hand-offs last September…..Depth at the RB position will likely favor the visiting Spartans, as Cole Hayden & Nick Strokes have each shined  as supplementary pieces to the ground attack!!

Speed, Speed, and more speed is the theme of the respective WRs corps, as the transfer of Penn State bound, Josiah Brown (4 grabs for 122 yards for HT in the game last season), back to his local public school district means that neither team has that one established commodity; but what they do have Is multiple high-ceiling contributors that have risen to the occasion early in 2023 and are on the verge of stardom….Jayden Simpson, who hauled in 3 receptions for 9 yards in game #1, is sure to be the top target, with fellow incumbent starter, Chase Cruz,  biding his time before he burns the last line of defense….Hayden (1 snatch for 13), who we described above as a Swiss Army knife might be the most dangerous receiver for Immaculata, but it was actually teammate, Anthony Brown, making the strongest impression in 2022, as he went for 83 yards via 3 catches!!! 

The wars in the trenches may take on legendary status as each team boasts a pair of monstrous linemen that are as tough and talented as they come….Justin Costa (OG) and Trevor Benjamin stabilize a Trinity OL that did graduate three starters off of the 2022 AA-1 title-winning roster….Ollie Collier and Aaron Melick may be lining up at OG and OT, but both have been “centerpieces” towards the Spartans ability to chew up close to 800 yards on the ground already this fall.  Both have scholarship offers on the table and they play with bad intentions on every snap!!!

While a déjà vu shootout where last possession determines the victor could certainly materialize (Immaculata is averaging over 42 points/per; while HT comes in putting 25.5 on the board), our gut is that stout defensive units in each jersey will yield a more contained and/or low-scoring sequel… 

In addition to Reeder (8 stops, 3 TFLs last year), Simpson (2 tackles), and the two previously recognized beasts on the DL (Costa and Benjamin), look for clutch afternoon efforts to come from Hopeton James and Neremiah Hicks on the defensive line; while Ranall White (3 stops in 2022), Kareem Grey, & Adrian Ayala, all function as DB/hybrid LBs that accelerate into the opposing backfield for TFLs with the same enthusiasm as they exert when dropping back into pass coverage to put a blanket on the opposing aerial attack!

For Immaculata, we’ve already introduced you to the likes of Fleming (2 stops, 1 forced fumble), Hayden (8 tackles, 1 forced fumble, 1 fumble recovery, 1 PD), Stokes, Brown (1 tackle, 1 pass break-up), and Melick; but the truth of the matter is that Head Coach, Michael Columbo, has so many capable charges in his defensive company that even if all of the names above have off days, he’d be able to weather the storm thanks to the presence of a domineering LB group spearheaded by the human hit machines—Adam Bowles, Luke Laub, and rookie extraordinaire, Jahmier Black….Don’t sleep on defensive lineman, Rosco Davis, either;  with 3 TFLs in three games in 2023, we may just start referring to him as the “realtor” because he controls so much property in opposing backfields!