Douglas(AAA), Vanterpool (AAI), & McMorrow (AAII) NYCHSFL Defensive Players of the Year


By Matt Diano

”Defense is about being relentless, from the first minute to the last.”—Rick Pitino (St. John’s Head Basketball Coach)

Whether we’re talking about the ‘76 Steelers, the ‘85 Bears, the ‘00 Ravens, or even the ‘23 Cowboys (pains to write that as a NY Giant fan), if there is one staple to seemingly every successful franchise, it is not the ability to score a plethora of points; but rather, a hunger to see “0s” on the scoreboard in the opposing column, and the aptness to make that goal into a perennial reality!!!

Our three prizemen all donning the badge of conviction, each stood out among an extraordinarily talented crowd, transforming themselves into superstars on defensive units that all ranked in the top-3 of their classifications/divisions…It gives us tremendous satisfaction to welcome DEONTE DOUGLAS (AAA), ISAIAH VANTERPOOL (AA-1), & THOMAS MCMORROW (AA-2) into the Vincent O’Connor Memorial trophy-winning fraternity!!!

Adding to a mantel that already includes All-Catholic and All-State (5th team in 2022) renown, the future University of New Hampshire Wildcat [Douglas] had already accomplished so much for the Stepinac Crusaders that he was running short of fresh bullet points to further adorn his scholastic resume…Hence, taking home the O’Connor was the perfect/ideal culmination of a three-year varsity career that witnessed him record 212 tackles (4 TFLs), intercept six balls, and break-up 18 pass attempts in his direction on behalf of the Red, White, and Blue powerhouse….The most prolific hitter in all of the NYCHSFL regardless of division, the 112 total stops he stockpiled in 2023 not only topped the Metro Catholic leaderboard, it also ranked him in the top-15 overall among all Empire State defensive personnel…A jack-of-all trades Defensive Back, the 6’0, 185-pound resident of New Rochelle was just as polished in pass coverage as he was at playing the run, as his hawking generated quantities of 3 interceptions and 8 PDs to rank him 1st and 3rd on the A.S. roster in those categories….Posting six or more double-digit tackle efforts this season (high of 21 vs. St. Anthony’s in week #8), Douglas’s name was called so often that the P.A. announcer will probably be saying it in his sleep for the next 4-5 years….The White Plains based program [Stepinac] relishing quite the O’Connor monopoly in the past decade+, Douglas is the SEVENTH selection from the school since 2011.  Preceding him in this honor were the following: Austin Tapps (2011), Gavin Heslop (2014), Dan Negron (2015), Gene Brown (2016), Atrilleon “Trill” Williams (2017), and Kevin McKenna (2019)!

Evoking the imagery of a volcano, the 6’2, 210-pound junior linebacker from Staten Island [Vanterpool] has never been dormant during his tenure as a Maverick (54 stops, 3 TFLs, 3 sacks as a sophomore in ‘22), but 2023 could most undeniably be lauded as an eruption for the “bell cow” anchor of the Mav LB corps, as he’d increase his production exponentially, raising his tackle sum to 90 (2nd on the team), while logging 8.5 sacks (1st among MC players) for the top-ranked defense in all of the NYCHSFL (allowed just 15ppg this season)….An “eraser” on “D” for the 2023 Double-A-1 runners-up, what put Vanterpool in a company all his own was enate prowess he displayed for seamless/effortlessly getting into the opposing backfield and halting snaps before they had a chance to develop…At the forefront of 20 tackles for loss this season (2nd most in the NYCHSFL), no one wreaked more havoc this fall than the #16 jersey clad in Red & Black!!…Unblockable at every stage, including championship weekend where he finished with  a team-high of 9 tackles (2 TFLs) and a sack in the loss, a scary notion is that he makes the same strides/growth between 2023 and 2024 as he did this past offseason, then we are looking at the birth of a future power-5 program at the next level (presently has offers on the table from Temple, Bowling Green, UMass, UNLV, Central Michigan; has been contacted by Maryland and Rutgers)!!!…2019 recipient, Artie Padilla, will need to move off to make room for Vanterpool who is officially the second Moore Catholic student-athlete chosen for his defensive merit!

Bringing eminence and laurels to the #41 jersey on the gridiron the way that Tom Seaver did the baseball diamond in New York, the 5’10, 180-pound senior MIKE LB from Queens [McMorrow] was the standard bearer for a Xaverian Clipper defensive brigade that surrendered a mere 14.7 points per game and pitched multiple shutouts (allowed 7 or less points in 5 of 11 appearances) on their way to returning to Championship weekend for the first time since 2017….A captain in designation and by example, McMorrow’s game film left us with visions of what the mash-up would resemble if a blood hound ever mated with a falcon!!!…Flowing North/South and/or East/West with the same intensity and fluidity, he played at a level that surpassed the 78 tackles (8 TFLs) cited on his senior highlight reel….He hit/plugged openings with reckless abandon and when he does make contact with ball-carriers, he wraps up and drives through with ferocity!…He thrived in pass coverage to boot, picking off a pair of passes…Like Sir Thomas Moore, he was a “Man for All Seasons” when it came to elevating everyone around him….McMorrow is just the second Clipper to lay claim to the O’Connor, as it was Julius Arcaro’s stellar season in 2016 that first delivered the repute to Shore Road in Brooklyn!