Friars Football: Friars Rebound, Blow Out Farrell

September 28, 2007

Friars Football Week 4 2007

Title: Train Wreck: Friars Rebound, Blow Out Farrell
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 9-28-07
Word Count: 1140

There were signs of progress everywhere you looked Friday night, from the newly finished parking lot at St. Anthony’s that extended toward the stadium to the return of Chris Carberry. One had a fresh coat of asphalt; the other a heavily taped right hand and wrist.

Plenty of doubt still hung in the air. Especially after the Friars turned in a dismal performance six days earlier in a 22-12 road loss to Mount St. Michael Academy. It was the team’s first loss after 64 wins in a row against CHSFL foes. When you look at it compared to the larger body of work that is Friars football, the game hardly registers a beat.

But in the vacuum of one week in the current season, falling in the mud and rain to the Mountaineers touched off several rocky aftershocks. That national ranking courtesy of USA Today? Gone. The top spot in the NYSSWA Class AA rankings? St. Anthony’s tumbled to No. 11, behind local powers Floyd (2), East Islip (7) and Farmingdale (9). For the first time since its inception, the Friars failed to crack the MSG Tri-State Top 10.

Longtime coach Rich Reichert called it window dressing. Yet one bad day stripped the Friars bare. The rankings are trappings of success, but none mean as much as a CHSFL championship. Six-time defending champ St. Anthony’s is still very much in the hunt for title No. 7.

“The pressure is off us,” Reichert told his players before facing off against Staten Island-rival Farrell. “The only thing that matters is the present.”


St. Anthony’s thrived in the moment Friday against Farrell. The defense buckled down and the offense aired it out. The overheated scoreboard left at the end of a long night at Cy Donnelly Field in South Huntington would have misled anyone who did not actually watch the first three quarters of action.

The Friars led 28-6 and 42-14 before walking away with a 42-30 win. Farrell scored a pair of fourth quarter touchdowns and tacked on two-point conversions as quarterback Michael Gentile picked apart the Friars’ second-team defense.

The decision to keep the first unit offense in the game irked Reichert enough that he sent his starting offense out for the final drive of the game. St. Anthony’s moved 39 yards on two plays before letting the clock run out at the Farrell 14-yard line. Point made, even if it didn’t show up on the scoreboard.

It was a remarkable showing considering how inept the offense looked in the Bronx. Senior quarterback James Brady, apparently much better after injuring his left foot two weeks earlier, dazzled.

He already has offers on the table from Army and Division I-AA Georgetown. But offensive coaches from Missouri stopped in to see Brady on Wednesday. And his performance against Farrell will only help raise his profile as a legit Division I recruit.

The 6-1, 215-pound Brady completed 10 of 12 passes for 192 yards and three touchdowns. Brady hit four different targets and sprayed the field. He found the open man in the flat, over the middle and on streaks behind the secondary. It’s a highlight reel that would impress even “Ole Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier.


Brady also ran nine times for 27 yards. But the opening drive of the game stalled at the Farrell 36 when Brady was stuffed for a 2-yard loss on fourth-and-1. It was an ominous start for the less-than-capacity crowd of 1,500 on hand.

The defense answered. Rutgers-bound defensive tackle Scott Vallone smashed through the line and dropped Tom Cauto for no gain on third down, forcing the Farrell offense off the field after just four plays.

It took the Friars just 1:52 to march 69 yards, capped by a last-second pitch by Brady to Nicholas Mercurio. He took the ball and raced down the right sideline as if fired out of a cannon — untouched — for a 40-yard touchdown run. Rich Grennen’s point after attempt gave St. Anthony’s a morale boost and 7-0 lead.

The Lions (2-2 overall, 1-2 CHSFL), fresh off a 26-21 upset of fellow Staten Island power St. Joseph by the Sea, responded on the ensuing drive. The 6-3 Gentile found sure-handed wideout Anthony Evangelista for a 18-yard fade in the end zone. The duo would combine for eight catches, 122 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion.

But Farrell missed the extra point, so the Friars still led 7-6. Mercurio extended the lead to 14-6 only 1:31 later when Brady hit the running back on a crossing pattern. Mercurio did the rest, turning up the open right side for a 39-yard touchdown.

The Friars took a 21-6 edge into halftime after senior linebacker Kevin Waite intercepted Gentile at the goal line on the last play of the second quarter. If there were questions or lingering doubt, the Friars answered them in one impressive half.


If Mount St. Michael exposed one glaring hole in the Friars’ quest for another championship, it was the lack of a breakaway threat. Blazing speed will trump even the best game plan.

Offensive coordinator Fred Gallagher may have found it in junior running back Atiq Lucas. One play after Carberry went down with a right knee injury, the shifty Lucas proved he could get tough yardage by plunging into the end zone on third-and-goal from the 1.

While Carberry, who may have suffered ligament damage, was on the bench with his leg immobilized, Lucas got the call again. J.B. Andreassi halted Farrell with an interception. Lucas took the ball and showcased his cutback ability and breakaway speed to score on a 34-yard run with 7:01 left to make it 42-14.

Gallagher greeted Lucas on the Friars sideline with a bear hug.

The news wasn’t all good. Carberry, who missed the Mount St. Michael game with an injured wrist, may be done for the season. That will be a blow considering the gifted junior ran for 85 yards on 14 carries against Farrell.


Reichert couldn’t help but put an arm around Carberry after the game ended, telling the world: “If you didn’t have bad luck, you’d have no luck at all.”

St. Anthony’s must move forward without one offensive weapon. But after lighting up Farrell for 42 points, there’s newfound confidence and Lucas might get more opportunities to outrun defenders.

The gloom that permeated the evening gave way to a harvest moon and the cool night air. The Friars (3-1, 2-1) appear to be back on track. Another road test, this time to Brooklyn to face Xaverian next Saturday at 7 p.m., awaits. Xaverian is coming off a 31-21 loss to Iona Prep and is off to an 0-4 start.

For one night at least, the Friars could walk off the field with the same swagger of old. How long will it last?


Senior quarterback James Brady was on target the entire night, completing 10 of 12 passes for 192 yards and touchdown strikes of 39, 24 and 23 yards. Brady also ran nine times for 27 yards. He put St. Anthony’s ahead 28-6 on the first drive of the second half, hitting Jack Kensil in stride for a 23-yard score.


Coach Rich Reichert’s pregame speech. The team made the long march from Cy Donnelly Field to the school 20 minutes before kickoff. Once the players settled down, massing on one knee in the middle of the cramped locker room, only then did Reichert speak: “This is going to be a train wreck,” he shouted. “I want people on the ground all night long.” He was wired for sound by MSG, so look for the clip sometime in the near future.


TEAM……………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
Farrell……………………0…..6…..8….16 — 30
St. Anthony’s………….7…..14…7….14 — 42
SA — Mercurio 40 run (Grennen kick)
F — Evangelista 18 pass from Gentile (kick failed)
SA — Mercurio 39 pass from Brady (Ferrara kick)
SA — Capozzi 24 pass from Brady (Grennen kick)
SA — Kensil 23 pass from Brady (Ferrara kick)
F — Evangelista 20 pass from Gentile (Caputo run)
SA — Lucas 1 run (Grennen kick)
SA — Lucas 34 run (Ferrara kick)
F — Boshnack 5 run (Boshnack run)
F — Mormando 11 pass from Gentile (Evangelista from Gentile)

Friars Football: Week 4 Preview

September 24, 2007

Friars Football Features 2007

Title: Monday Morning Quarterback / Week 4 Preview
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 9-24-07
Word Count: 501

There are lots of questions in the wake of Saturday’s dreary 22-12 loss to Mount St. Michael. You want to point fingers? The officials? The clock operator? The equipment guy in charge of the cleats? Who is that, anyway?

Yes, plenty of questions. None of them are valid. Big plays doomed St. Anthony’s. Not bad officiating (could they at least place the ball on the right yard line once?). Not that obscenely-fast scoreboard clock (time was kept on the field). Not shoes with better traction in the muck (Mount had no problem in the rain).

Two things became clear as the game wore on. One: Mount had athletes that were simply faster than the Friars’ fastest player. Two: The play-calling didn’t help. How different would the endgame had been had St. Anthony’s kicked extra points after each touchdown instead of going for two and failing?

The score would have been 22-14, and the Friars would have been down a single score. Leave the two-point play for the end, if you need to use it at all. Instead, St. Anthony’s trailed by two scores and that fact alone made any comeback attempt all the more daunting.

Mount St. Michael made the plays and deserved to win. But St. Anthony’s is the better squad. Remember that if these teams meet again. A lot went wrong for the Friars on Saturday. After 64 straight league wins, a slip-up seems like disaster. It’s not. Just learn from it and move on.

Farrell at St. Anthony’s

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Cy Donnelly Field, South Huntington
RECORDS: Farrell (2-1); St. Anthony’s (2-1)
THE SCOOP: St. Anthony’s is coming off its first regular season CHSFL loss since 1998 and its first to a CHSFL foe since falling to Farrell, 24-23, in the 2000 title game. That’s a dynastic run. But this isn’t the time for reflection or the Friars could be in danger of losing two in a row for the first time since 1997. Farrell is driven to do more after a disasterous 1-9 season a year ago. The Lions are 2-1 and feature senior quarterback Michael Gentile, who stands 6-3 and is an effective passer from the shotgun. He has a sure target in Anthony Evangelista and solid running back in Marco Boshnack. After losing a 32-28 shootout with Mount St. Michael, Farrell rebounded with a win over a very good St. Joseph by the Sea, 26-21. The good news is St. Anthony’s has shown flashes of brilliance in the secondary. Farrell will have a tough time throwing the ball. And the Lions don’t appear to have a lock-down defense, either. Farrell has given up 67 points in three games. Those matchups make a St. Anthony’s rebound more likely.


St. Anthony’s and Farrell have met 36 times since 1979. The Friars own a 22-12-2 series edge. Here’s the last five meetings:
•2004: St. Anthony’s 21-7

•2004 CHSFL final: St. Anthony’s 17-14 2OT

•2005: St. Anthony’s 47-0

•2006: St. Anthony’s 32-16

•2006 CHSFL quarters: St. Anthony’s 39-22

Frairs Football: Mount St. Michael Stuns The Friars

September 22, 2007

Friars Football Week 3 2007
Title: Stopped Cold: Mount St. Michael Stuns The Friars
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 9-22-07
Word Count: 1237

As Mount St. Michael senior quarterback Jayson Holt took a knee for the final time and the game clock drained to zero Saturday afternoon, the cow bells rang ear-splittingly loud and the Mountaineers bench spilled onto the field.

Yes, it’s only Week 3 of the high school football season. But Mount St. Michael Academy had just accomplished what CHSFL mates had attempted 64 times before without success: beat St. Anthony’s.

The Friars entered the day with the weight of some astonishing winning streaks and a No. 22 national ranking on their collective shoulders. The burden to continue what previous teams had accomplished ultimately proved too much. St. Anthony’s reached a tipping point in the rain and the mud in the Bronx.

Mount St. Michael took advantage of big plays to score three first quarter touchdowns and cruise to a 22-12 victory over the Friars in a rematch of last season’s CHSFL Class AAA title game.

James Brady and his talented teammates engineered plenty of magical escapes en route to an 11-0 season a year ago. No one could attest to that more than Mount and Holt. It was Holt who saw a potential game-tying extra point blocked in the final minutes to let St. Anthony’s walk away with a 21-20 win in the title game last November.

No such luck for the Friars on Saturday at McGovern Field. The Friars (2-1 overall, 1-1 CHSFL) were held to 38 yards offense in the opening half and turned the ball over twice. Hardly the output you’d expect from a nationally-ranked team.


Friars coach Rich Reichert warned his players all week. He saw a perfect storm of events brewing that made Mount St. Michael a dangerous team on the schedule. If his message seemed prescient, another decision didn’t turn out so well. That’s hindsight.

While Reichert issued an “I told you so” following the post-game prayer, he admitted to reporters moments later that he probably shouldn’t have started James Brady. The All-Long Island quarterback didn’t practice all week after injuring his left foot in the first half of last Friday’s win over Iona Prep.

The 6-1, 215-pound senior could barely walk a week earlier. He looked just fine warming up in the rain in the Bronx. The only tell-tale sign of something amiss was his heavily taped ankle — until game time.

Brady’s mobility was clearly limited. The muddy field didn’t help. And the Mount defense decided matters by owning the point of attack. No sequence illustrated the point more than the opening play of a St. Anthony’s possession with 5:29 left in the first quarter.

The Friars already trailed 15-0 on a pair of lightning strikes by the Mountaineers on offense. Now the defense made its presence felt. Brady pulled back from center and stepped left. Just as quickly he stumbled and lost the ball. In rushed Mount junior linebacker Thomas Cardona, who picked up the ball and raced 41 yards to the end zone with a fumble recovery for a touchdown.


It was a stunning situation that no Friars team had seen in recent memory. Mount St. Michael (2-1 overall, 2-0 CHSFL) led 22-0 barely seven minutes into the game. Forget the 64-game league winning streak. Throw out the 23-game winning streak, tied for the second longest in Suffolk football history. And that USA Today ranking? Gone.

What St. Anthony’s needed was simply to respond. The Friars picked themselves off the mat and Brady directed a promising response on the ensuing drive. J.B. Andreassi’s kickoff return set up the offense. Then Brady moved the Friars 45 yards on nine plays.

Missing in the backfield was junior running back Chris Carberry. He was initially diagnosed with a broken right wrist and bones in his hand last week. But an X-Ray came up negative and he was cleared to play on Friday. Even still, coaches opted not to play Carberry against Mount.

Senior William Ruggiero carried the load instead. The 6-foot, 195-pound bull of a back got St. Anthony’s on the board with 18 seconds left in the first quarter. He ran three straight times from the Mount 10-yard line, capping off a third-and-goal from the 1 with a driving run. Ruggiero, who finished with 40 yards on 13 carries, hit a wall at the goal line, but spun right and landed in the end zone.

But Reichert, aware of the need to keep the game to a three-score affair, opted to go for two. Brady was swarmed and stopped short. The Friars would chase those points the rest of the day.


Brady accounted for negative 22 yards on six carries. But he found his groove through the air in the second half. He completed 10 of 19 passes for 147 yards with one touchdown and one interception on the day. Two drives showed his grit and determination.

Brady moved the Friars 52 yards to close the third quarter. He hit Danny Avila for 17 yards and then found Nicholas Mercurio open in the right flat two plays later. Mercurio took the short pass and broke several tackles en route to a 24-yard touchdown.

Again, Reichert went for two. Atiq Lucas was dumped for a loss. So the score remained 22-12. With two sure kickers on the roster in Rich Grennen and Nicholas Ferrara, the missed conversions seemed that much more agonizing and dictated a desperate finish. Instead of trailing by eight points, St. Anthony’s needed two scores to tie or win.

When St. Anthony’s got the ball back with 2:18 left in the game, a sense of urgency turned to hope when Brady connected with Jack Kensil for a 37-yard pass down to the Mount 33. The drive stalled at the 26 and Reichert, rather than go for it on fourth-and-3, sent Ferrara out to attempt a 43-yard field goal.

The reasoning was simple. Get the sure points and then attempt an onside kick and get the ball back. If the Friars went for it on fourth down and failed, the game was over. A Ferrara field goal would keep the comeback alive.

The rain had subsided by the third quarter. But the field was muddy after a steady two-hour downpour. Naysayers could have predicted what happened next. Ferrara slipped as he kicked the ball, pushing the attempt wide right and short.


The Friars defense ended the game the way it began, standing on the field, watching Mount celebrate. The hero was Holt. The stealthy quarterback burned St. Anthony’s on the game’s opening drive, converting on third-and-12 with a 29-yard pass. Isiah Moody scored two plays later on an 11-yard run. Holt’s kick made it 7-0 just 2:24 into the game.

Holt struck again with dagger-like precision on the next possession. He took a keeper 54 yards for the score, outrunning the entire Friars defense with 5:52 left. Then he made a fateful play that made all the difference.

Holt took a bad snap on the point after attempt and rolled right, buying time until Chris Merengueli found open space in the corner of the end zone. Holt zipped in a pass to complete the unconventional two-point play and put the Mountaineers ahead 15-0.

Fast-forward to the end.

“I know this sounds crazy,” Reichert told his players after the post-game prayer. “This is the best thing that could have happened. It’s only a regular-season football game. Now we’ll see what kind of character you are made of.”

There’s no let up in the schedule. Rival Staten Island-Farrell is up next at 7 p.m. Friday in South Huntington. That’s six days to get the season back on track.


With James Brady limited and fellow running back Chris Carberry out, senior running back William Ruggiero plowed through Mount St. Michael for tough yardage in the mud and rain. Ruggiero rushed for 40 yards on 13 carries and scored on a 1-yard run. He added 29 yards on two receptions.


Mount St. Michael quarterback Jayson Holt showed real patience in letting a hole materialize before taking off on a keeper with 5:52 left in the first quarter. He broke free down the right sideline and then cut back to the middle of the field, winding his way through the entire St. Anthony’s defense en route to a 54-yard touchdown run. The master of improv struck again on the point after attempt. Holt, also the kicker, picked up the bad snap and threw the ball for a two-point conversion and 15-0 lead.


TEAM……………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
St. Anthony’s…………..6…..0…..6…..0 — 12
Mount St. Michael…22…..0…..0…..0 — 22
MSM — Moody 11 run (Holt kick)
MSM — Holt 54 run (Merengueli pass from Holt)
MSM — Cardona 41 fumble recovery (Holt kick)
SA — Ruggiero 1 run (run failed)
SA — Mercurio 24 pass from Brady (run failed)

Newsday: Center Moriches Football

September 16, 2007

Newsday logo
Title: INSIDE HIGH SCHOOLS / Finally, Moriches football
Publication: Newsday – Long Island, N.Y.
Date: Sep 16, 2007
Start Page: B.26
Section: SPORTS
Text Word Count: 709

The players took a knee and huddled in the East end zone yesterday, intently listening to what coach Steve Failla had to say. It caught the attention of everyone within earshot because Failla put the day into unique perspective.

Failla called the undersized and thoroughly humbled group before him immortal. That’s right, immortal, because championship teams and inaugural seasons are always remembered.

“I grew up in this community and I went to Mercy High School like a lot of people who wanted to play football,” Failla said. “I believe the playing field is an extension of the classroom. I’m for opportunities for all kids.”

Consider the playing field leveled. They played a football game at Center Moriches. Finally.

Two centuries have come and gone without football in this South Shore enclave bordering the Hamptons. Just five miles to the West, Floyd has grown into a gridiron power. Down the road a little further lies Bellport, a school synonymous with great football.

Center Moriches shied away from America’s fall pastime, glad to be known for superb soccer. No more.

They played football in Center Moriches. Say it a few more times and the concept might finally sink in. It would have been easy to miss.

A soccer match unfolded along an adjacent field. The crowd on hand to witness the first varsity football game wasn’t much bigger than the group watching soccer. And the outcome wasn’t anything to fire up the student body: Mercy 30, Center Moriches 0. But hard knocks are the norm for any budding program, especially so in the ultimate team sport.

“This is still a soccer school,” junior quarterback Joe Ratti said. “But we’re going to make it a football school.”

The Red Devils will be hard-pressed to win a game. They are the last seed of 14 teams in Suffolk Division IV. Mercy, who is No.13, showed just how wide the gap is – for now. Mercy and first-year coach Joe Read ran and passed at will. Center Moriches was held to 79 yards of total offense.

“We weren’t going to be their first victory,” Read said.

There will be more growing pains to be sure, yet there was nothing painful about the thumping. For several parents, boosters, players, administrators and coaches, the game marked the start of something special.

“I think you’ll see the next five or six years a strong football program here,” new Center Moriches athletic director Nick DeCillis said. “I think it’s very feasible.”

Generations of soccer players have cultivated Center Moriches’ reputation as a soccer school. The signs in front of the school attest to the boys and girls programs’ success in bold letters. In a district that appreciates history – the school was founded in 1813 – its soccer legacy is embraced.

Some of those soccer backers have made clear their opposition to football. But administrators ultimately embraced the sport as a way of reaching out to neighboring East Moriches, whose teenagers currently have the choice to attend either Westhampton, Eastport-South Manor or Center Moriches. Adding more options, such as football, makes Center Moriches more attractive and lures more local and state funds.

“Before we moved out here we checked out the school and looked at the community,” said Steve Ratti, whose son is the quarterback. “Then we asked about football. There was nothing.”

Ratti said he and a group of concerned parents made it a topic of every school board meeting until a junior high program was finally formed in 2005. The junior varsity debuted last fall. And despite objections from some that Center Moriches wasn’t ready, a varsity program is finally a reality.

“I challenge anyone to look into the eyes of the 90 kids in the football program and tell them they shouldn’t have the right to play football,” Failla said.

They finally played a football game at Center Moriches. The concept doesn’t sound as odd as it did a few minutes ago. Just give it time. It will grow on you, too.

This is Jason Molinet’s final column. He’s leaving Newsday after 11 years of covering high schools.

Friars Football: Friars Pull Away From Iona Prep

September 14, 2007

Friars Football Week 2 2007

Title: Costly Win: Friars Pull Away from Iona Prep But Injuries Mount
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 9-14-07
Word Count: 1129

Three hours before kickoff and the entire St. Anthony’s defense sat in the back of the school auditorium as coordinator George McLaren went over schemes. Senior tackle Scott Vallone intently listened in from the front row, leaning on the railing as if straining to capture every syllable.

“It’s about how you line up,” McLaren said. “If you line up right, then you’ll do very well.

“They’re gonna come up with something we haven’t seen. A couple of years ago, it was a double pass. Expect the unexpected.”

What really troubled McLaren and the entire St. Anthony’s staff was the fact that they had just three days of practice to prepare for CHSFL rival New Rochelle-Iona Prep. When the teams met a year ago, the result was a closer-than-expected 20-14 win that wasn’t decided until the final moments.

Shutting down Iona Prep’s dynamic offense was the singular concern in the hours before kickoff. As McLaren pointed out, they were about to line up against a unit that might show as many as 13 different formations.

“There’s a lot of questions,” McLaren said. “If you are thinking about it too much, then you won’t be playing fast. You can’t play fast if you don’t line up right.”

By the end of the rain-soaked Friday night at Cy Donnelly Field in South Huntington, McLaren could breathe easy. The defense acquitted itself just fine. The Friars intercepted three passes, including one for a score, to help St. Anthony’s pull away from Iona Prep, 31-21.


No, there was no let-down from the Friars defense. But that didn’t mean the night was a complete success. To the contrary, the league opener proved costly.

There was no worse sight than junior running back Chris Carberry standing stone-faced on the sideline in the fourth quarter, his right forearm immobilized with a splint and ace bandage. The initial diagnosis: broken right hand.

Backfield mate James Brady also suffered a painful injury late in the first half. The All-Long Island senior quarterback sat out the final 2:53 getting treatment for a sprained left ankle. His loss was felt almost immediately.

Backup Richard Cocchi drove St. Anthony’s to the Iona Prep 4-yard line before fumbling away the snap with 43 seconds left and the Friars leading 14-7. That missed opportunity would haunt the Friars until late in the game.

Brady returned for the third quarter, but he was reduced to gimpy signal caller in rainy conditions. He could hardly plant to throw and lost elusiveness running the ball. Suddenly, the St. Anthony’s offense that piled up 39 points and 420 yards in a rout of St. Joe’s just one week earlier slowed to a sputter.

FAST STARTThe game began in much the same way last week’s ended — with St. Anthony’s firing on all cylinders.

Brady drove the Friars 56 yards on seven plays to open the game, capped by an 8-yard scoring strike to Jack Kensil in the right corner of the end zone. Rich Grennen’s point after kick made it 7-0.

Then came the first of two interceptions by senior safety Dan Basil. He stopped one Iona Prep drive at the goal line with 5:34 left in the first quarter, picking off Ryan O’Neil and returning it the length of the field for a touchdown.

Wait. A block-in-the-back penalty wiped out the return — and the score.

The ball-hawking Basil got another chance two series later. This time Basil took O’Neil’s errant pass and galloped 25 yards for the score. Nicholas Ferrara’s kick extended the St. Anthony’s lead to 14-0 with 11:51 left in the half.


That’s when things began to unwind for St. Anthony’s. Brady’s pitch to no one with 7:12 left was scooped up by Iona Prep linebacker Morris Hilton, who raced 42 yards with the fumble and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone.

The play was one of three first-half fumbles for the Friars.

And when Iona Prep took the opening kickoff of the second half and then drove 80 yards — highlighted by a 26-yard pass by O’Neil on third-and-10 from midfield — the Gaels sent chill through the stadium. O’Neil’s 5-yard touchdown pass to wideout Tim Murray two plays later tied the teams at 14.

St. Anthony’s has won six straight CHSFL titles and 66 consecutive league games. The Friars took a 23-game winning streak and No. 22 national ranking into the game. You don’t build that kind of resume without learning to overcome.


Gimpy or not, Brady returned to the rain-slick field. All the while, concerned voices from the sideline yelled at Brady to walk rather than run between plays. His ankle didn’t need any more trauma.

Brady ignored the advice. The Friars responded to Iona Prep’s first offensive score with a 65-yard march, mostly thanks to the hard-running Carberry. Senior William Ruggiero broke a 35-yard run to the Iona 29 and Carberry did the rest, carrying four straight times for 17 yards.

On third and 2, junior Atiq Lucas took an end around 10 yards to the Iona 2. Carberry plowed into the end zone on the next play, a 2-yard burst up the middle with 6:48 left in the third. Grennen’s kick made it 21-14.

Another Friars drive stalled at the Iona Prep 29 late in the third when Carberry was stuffed for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-1. Was this when the gifted young back was lost — possibly until the playoffs?

The St. Anthony’s defense came to the rescue. Senior linebacker Kevin Waite jumped in front of a receiver in the flat along the Iona Prep sideline and picked off O’Neil with 9:50 left in the game. He returned the interception 59 yards to the Gaels’ 11, stealing away momentum.

Junior Nicholas Mercurio put the game away on the next play, jetting through the open right side for an 11-yard touchdown run and 28-14 edge.

Brady powered the Friars’ last scoring drive. He made several gritty runs into the heart of the defense, setting up a 27-yard field goal by Grennen with 4:41 left to extend the lead to 31-14.

Brady finished the night 8 of 13 for 95 yards and a score while running for 52 tough yards on nine carries. Carberry had 63 yards on 16 carries. Who knows if either will be on the field when St. Anthony’s hits the road for its next contest in the Bronx on Saturday against CHSFL power Mount St. Michael.

The game is a rematch of last season’s Class AAA title game, a 21-20 thriller won by the Friars. No doubt Brady will do everything possible to be in uniform. Carberry’s injury, however, is much more limiting.

It should serve notice to an entire program. Winning a seventh straight CHSFL title will be anything but easy.


Senior safety Dan Basil recorded a pair of first-half interceptions against Iona Prep. The first pick — at the goal line — stopped one promising Iona Prep drive. The second was returned 25 yards for a touchdown to push the Friars’ lead to 14-0 just 9 seconds into the second quarter.


Senior linebacker Kevin Waite took the air out of Iona Prep by returning an interception 59 yards to the Gaels’ 11-yard line with 9:50 left and St. Anthony’s clinging to a 21-14 edge. Junior running back Nicholas Mercurio scored on the next play. Game over.


TEAM……………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
Iona Prep………………..0…..7…..7…..7 — 21
St. Anthony’s…………..7…..7…..7…10 — 31
SA — Kensil 8 pass from Brady (Grennen kick)
SA — Basil 25 interception return (Ferrara kick)
IP — Hilton 42 fumble recovery (Mottola kick)
IP — Murray 5 pass from O’Neil (Beckett kick)
SA — Carberry 2 run (Grennen kick)
SA — Mercurio 11 run (Ferrara kick)
SA — FG 27 Grennen
IP — Dunkley 94 kickoff return (Beckett kick)

Friars Football: Friars Run Past St. Joseph’s

September 8, 2007

Friars Football Week 1 2007
Title: Running Start: James Brady And Friars Run Past St. Joseph’s
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 9-8-07
Word Count: 1548

As James Brady warmed up on the field turf Saturday night, an hour before game time, he could feel the anxiety building. This was the first game of his senior year, the last good chance to make an impression.

What would the new year hold in store?

St. Anthony’s won its sixth CHSFL Class AAA football title in a row last November. Brady, as much as anybody, made it happen. He was already a Newsday All-Long Island quarterback.

But the start of the new season meant that he had to do it all over again, from the laser throws with beefy defensive tackles bearing down to the mad dashes for first downs. Add to the list the post-game ice packs along with trips to physical therapy in the days that followed. Anything to win.

Unlike last fall when Brady could scoot by with the mere fact that he was a junior, on this night he led the Friars — all 87 members of the varsity — out to the field as the unquestioned leader on offense and face of a program. All eyes were on him. The expectations of a dynasty rested on his decision-making ability.

That can be a lot for an 17-year-old to digest. The great thing about 17-year-olds is their remarkable ability to take on an awful lot without much introspection. They just do it.

If the 6-1, 215-pound Brady had any reservations about breaking in two new wide receivers or kick-starting a revamped running game, he kept it buried deep inside. Maybe they were the butterflies in his stomach. Maybe it was his pre-game meal.

All he showed the world — and as the stadium in South Huntington filled up it seemed his entire world was there – was a cocksure smile and the swagger of a confident leader.


It was finally time to show St. Joseph’s, the Buffalo Catholic league champion, something more. With the bright field lights training their focus on him, Brady led the offense out for the first series of the game: First-and-10 at the St. Anthony’s 30-yard line. Brady took the snap and raked the left side of his line before pitching to senior William Ruggiero, who promptly tore up-field for a quick 9 yards.

The next play saw Brady take a quick three-step drop and fire left to one of his untested receivers: 6-3, 185-pound senior Michael Capozzi. It was a quick strike. Capozzi did the rest, splitting two defenders and breaking away for a 56-yard gain before being tripped up at the St. Joe’s 5-yard line.

Brady’s butterflies were gone now, replaced by a rush of adrenaline. But that didn’t mean the offense had worked out the kinks. Not yet. After a 2-yard dive down to the St. Joe’s 3 by Nicholas Mercurio, back-to-back penalties stalled the Friars tantalizingly close to paydirt.

A false-start penalty was followed immediately with another 5-yard flag for breaking the huddle with too many players. You expected perfection on opening night? Obviously Friars longtime coach Rich Reichert didn’t. He rarely raised his voice on the sideline. Then again, that’s what his 10 other assistants were there to do.

To stand on the St. Anthony’s sideline is a unique experience. You’d hardly know this was a suburban New York high school. A college atmosphere permeates, from the sheer size of the squad to the preparation each unit gets from coaches as the game rolls on. There’s a bee-hive of activity and it all serves a purpose.

Maybe later in the game players and coaches focus on their own assignments, backs turned to the action on the field. But not during the opening drive of the game. All eyes were trained on the North end zone. And the entire sideline erupted, along with the 2,200 fans in the stands, once Mercurio took a pitch and raced down the left side for a 13-yard touchdown run.

All that remained was to kick the extra point. But the ball squirted through holder Dan Basil’s hands. He picked it up and tried to run. Too late. He was quickly taken down from behind. Even still, St. Anthony’s struck first for a 6-0 lead.


Brady may generate the buzz. He’s got Division I skills trapped in a I-AA body. But with TV cameras from MSG and News 12 circling the field and Newsday in attendance, the night’s true star quickly became evident.

Say hello to the defense.

When these teams met a year ago, the Friars needed some late-game fireworks to pull out a 49-29 road win. That St. Joe’s squad had a running back recruited by Buffalo and a quarterback that landed at William and Mary.

The Marauders team that bussed 300-plus miles to Long Island one year later was vastly different. Aside from the fact that St. Joe’s had already played a game, a 12-0 loss to Buffalo-McKinley, it became immediately clear this group lacked punch. Converted wideout Philip Scaffidi started the game at quarterback.

The Friars defensive front, anchored by massive Rutgers-bound tackle Scott Vallone, set the tone immediately. Two runs for minus-5 yards set up third-and-15 at the Marauders’ 15. Then came another penalty flag, the third of nine on the night. Encroachment against St. Anthony’s gave Scaffidi breathing room at the 20-yard line.

Scaffidi was quickly left breathless when the shotgun snap sailed over his head. A mad dash for the ball, now sitting in the end zone, ensued. Scaffidi was knocked away from the ball’s path. A wall of black helmets converged. But St. Joe’s running back Joe Sass reached the ball first, falling on it like a good soldier.

Safety. The Friars led 8-0.

The defense rocked the house again one series later. After the Friars marched 53 yards on seven plays to push the lead to 15-0 on the first of three short Chris Carberry touchdown runs, St. Joe’s moved the ball downfield thanks to one big play.

A 60-yard pass and run from Scaffidi to Nicholas Torrence set up the Marauders at the Friars’ 20. Five straight runs moved the ball to the 2. Shifty back Ricky Pringle ran right into Vallone for no gain on second down and Scaffidi also hit a brick wall when he tried to scramble up the middle on third down.

Down 15-0, St. Joe’s had little choice but to go for it on fourth and goal. Yet after three runs for 2 yards, coach Bob O’Connor opted to throw. St. Anthony’s proved up to the challenge once again.

Senior linebacker Craig Staub blew through the left side of the line and took aim. He charged toward Scaffidi, flushing him out of the pocket. He rolled right, backpeddling frantically before finally letting loose a throw on the balls of his feet at the edge of the sideline.

Waiting at the goal line was defensive back Dan Basil. He intercepted the fourth-down attempt to put an exclamation point on a brilliant defensive stand.

The night would get worse before it got better for St. Joe’s. Its running game was held to 2 yards on 18 carries — good for 0.11 yards per carry — until the final drive of the game. The Friars’ second unit defense had already played a full quarter by then.

The reserves didn’t surrender the shutout. St. Joe’s drove 80 yards before time ran out at the Friars’ 15. The final tally? Four interceptions and a safety for a defense that was maligned at times in 2006. That’s quite an opening night statement.


While the St. Anthony’s defense refused to budge, Brady led touchdown drives on four of the team’s first five series. The teams went into half at 29-0 and the first string was pulled with 5:24 left in the third after senior Rich Grennen pounded a 37-yard field goal through the uprights for a 39-0 edge. Grennen was also 3-for-3 on extra points.

But the magic behind the offense was Brady. He completed 5 of 10 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown and ran for 71 more yards on four carries in barely three quarters of work. Reichert called the performance unbelievable.

There are kinks to work out. But the Friars did little more than pray as a team before making the long walk back to the post-game locker room. There’s nothing to dissect on this night. That will come later in the week as the Friars gear up for their next opponent, New Rochelle-Iona Prep, on Friday.

It’s tough to gauge a season based on one game. St. Anthony’s won four games by seven or fewer points a year ago, including a dramatic 21-20 victory over Bronx power Mount St. Michael for the league title. The Friars were tested again and again and answered each time.

St. Joe’s didn’t offer much of a measuring stick. For one night at least, this group picked up where the last left off. The Friars have now won 22 games in a row, dating back to September 2005. And the defense showed promise by recording their first shutout since demolishing Kellenberg 49-0 during the 2005 season, a span of 18 games.

If these Friars are in tune with their leader, then one thing is clear. The butterflies are history. It’s time to move on with the season. Iona Prep is next.


Senior quarterback James Brady completed 5 of 10 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 71 yards on four carries. Brady and most of the St. Anthony’s starters sat out the fourth quarter.


St. Joe’s threatened to score late in the first quarter, driving to the Friars’ 2-yard line. Trailing 15-0, St. Joe’s tried to get into the end zone on fourth-and-goal. But senior linebacker Craig Staub harassed quarterback Philip Scaffidi and senior safety Dan Basil intercepted the ball at the goal line.


TEAM……………….1….2….3…..4 — FINAL
St. Joseph’s………..0….0….0…..0 — 0
St. Anthony’s…….15..14..10…..0 — 39
SA — Mercurio 13 run (run failed)
SA — safety (bad snap recovered in end zone)
SA — Carberry 8 run (Grennen kick)
SA — Carberry 2 run (Ferrara kick)
SA — Kensil 12 pass from Brady (Grennen kick)
SA — Carberry 1 run (Grennen kick)
SA — FG 37 Grennen