Friars Football: Friars Run Past St. Joseph’s

September 8, 2007 by  

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


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