Friars Football: Friars Atone With Title No. 7

November 18, 2007

Friars Football championship 2007

Title: Lucky 7: Friars Atone With Title No. 7 In Thriller Over Mount
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 11-18-07
Word Count: 563

Just as he had done so many times this season, senior quarterback James Brady held onto the ball until he could no longer. Then he sprung the trap — at the expense of his own body.

With Mount St. Michael Academy defenders closing in Sunday night, Brady waited until the last possible second and then pitched the ball to his left and into the hands of junior running back Nicholas Mercurio. Brady paid a price, taking a physical wallop. But so did Mount St. Michael.

The aggressive Mountaineers defense suddenly found itself outflanked. Mercurio blew through a seam untouched and didn’t stop until he reached the end zone 39 yards later.

His breakaway touchdown with 4:37 left in the CHSFL Class AAA championship game set off an eruption of euphoria on the St. Anthony’s sideline. And the ensuing two-point run by Atiq Lucas put the final touches on a rousing 26-20 come-from-behind victory. No. 7 Mount St. Michael made one last drive inside the Friars’ 20 in the final minute, but quarterback Jayson Holt was stopped 1-yard shy of a first down at the 16 with 46 seconds left, allowing the St. Anthony’s faithful to exhale.

Mission accomplished. Top-seeded St. Anthony’s (10-1) stunned the Mountaineers (5-6) in the title game for the second straight season to capture the program’s seventh straight CHSFL crown and 10th overall.

And to think, many naysayers piled on when the Mountaineers handed St. Anthony’s a 22-12 loss in the Bronx Week 3. The defeat snapped the Friars’ 64-game league winning streak. But these Friars shook off the setback and kept the dynasty alive and thriving as they celebrated on the turf at Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium.

While Brady was masterful orchestrating the offense, it was emerging junior Atiq Lucas who delivered once again. He rushed for 42 yards on nine carries, added three catches for 53 yards, scored on a lightning 25-yard end around and added a two-point conversion.

Another gifted back, senior William Ruggiero, pieced together a workmanlike effort. He managed 39 yards on seven carries and scored on runs of 2 and 9 yards. Mercurio finished with 61 yards on five attempts. That diversity and depth, along with a hard-nosed offensive line, paved the way to success.

The defense surrendered 194 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries to the elusive Holt, but St. Anthony’s did just enough to negate his stirring effort. The D came up with two fourth-quarter fumbles and stopped the Mountaineers twice inside the red zone in the final minutes.

With the teams deadlocked at 12, Mount senior running back Isiah Moody took the opening kickoff of the second half 97 yards up the right sideline. Holt hit Thomas Cardona on a pass into the end zone for the two-point conversion and a 20-12 Mountaineers lead.

A big return on the ensuing kickoff by J.B. Andreassi set up the Friars at their own 48. Brady marched St. Anthony’s the rest of the way, capped by Lucas’ mad dash for a 25-yard score to close the gap to 20-18. Brady’s two-point pass was broken up, and so the Friars still trailed into the fourth quarter.

But the defense, led by Scott Vallone, turned up the heat. Vallone recovered a Holt fumble at the Mount 39 with 4:50 left. Mercurio took the next play to the house. And the St. Anthony’s legacy of gridiron greatness continues.


With Rutgers coach Greg Schiano looking on from the St. Anthony’s sideline, his prized recruit put together a memorable performance in his final game in a Friars uniform. Defensive tackle Scott Vallone corralled Mount St. Michael quarterback Jayson Holt on fourth-and-9 from the St. Anthony’s 22-yard line. It took two St. Anthony’s teammates to finish off Holt, but the Mount quarterback eventually went down 3 yards shy of the first down. Credit Vallone, who also recovered a critical fourth-quarter fumble, recorded two sacks and finished with nine tackles. That’s championship football. Schaino must have been proud.


The St. Anthony’s defense turned away Mount St. Michael in the red zone twice in the final 10 minutes. With The Friars trailing 20-18 with 9:16 left, junior defensive end Rafiq Wallace crashed through the line and slammed into Mount St. Michael quarterback Jayson Holt, knocking the ball free. Junior linebacker Paul Alessandri recovered the fumble at the Friars’ 13. Not only did it keep the Mountaineers off the scoreboard, it gave the Friars momentum going into the final minutes.


TEAM………………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
Mount St. Michael…….6…..6…..8…..0 — 20
St. Anthony’s…………….6…..6…..6…..8 — 26
SA — Ruggiero 2 run (kick failed)
MSM — Holt 4 run (run failed)
MSM — Holt 15 run (run failed)
SA — Ruggiero 9 run (run failed)
MSM — Moody 97 kickoff (Cardona from Holt)
SA — Lucas 25 run (pass failed)
SA — Mercurio 39 run (Lucas run)

Friars Football: Friars Pull Away From Xaverian

November 3, 2007

Friars Football Quarterfinals 2007

Title: Second Effort: Friars Pull Away From Xaverian With Strong second Half
Publication: Frairs
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 11-3-07
Word Count: 232

It took every bit of 34 minutes, but top-seeded St. Anthony’s finally found the end zone Saturday night against No. 8 Brooklyn-Xaverian. The Clippers stopped St. Anthony’s at the goal line just before halftime, but the Friars erupted for three touchdowns on consecutive drives in the second half to pull away, 24-0, in a CHSFL Class AAA quarterfinal.

Atiq Lucas helped get the offense rolling in the third, converting a third-down pass for 16 yards and breaking a 12-yard run on the next play. He set up the first touchdown with an 11-yard counter to the Xaverian 1-yard line. William Ruggiero scored the first of three touchdowns on the next play to put the Friars up 10-0 with 2 minutes left in the third.

St. Anthony’s (8-1) amassed 348 yards of total offense, highlighted by 252 yards on the ground. Lucas accounted for 135 yards (87 rushing) while Ruggiero finished with 47 yards on 13 carries. Quarterback James Brady completed 7 of 16 passes for 85 yards and rushed for 55 yards on nine carries.

The game marked the fourth shutout of the year for the defense, which has not given up a point in 12 straight quarters. St. Anthony’s will host No. 5 Iona Prep in a semifinal on Friday. Iona Prep advanced with a resounding 38-8 road win over Staten Island power and No. 4 seeded Farrell. Xaverian finishes 0-9.


The maturation of Atiq Lucas took a quantum leap forward against Xaverian. Coach Rich Reichert promised to use the fleet junior back more come playoff time and 5-11, 175-pound Lucas responded with a stirring performance. He fumbled away his first carry and dropped a sure touchdown pass in a first half that mirrored the Friars’ sluggish offense. But Lucas proved to be a game-breaker in the second half. He finished with 135 yards of offense, including 87 rushing yards on five carries and three catches for 48 more.


James Brady was sandwiched by Xaverian’s Davon Robinson and Oday Aboushi for a 4-yard sack, setting up third-and-10 from the St. Anthony’s 27-yard line early in the third quarter. The senior quarterback responded on the next play, firing a dart to Atiq Lucas for a 16-yard gain to keep the drive alive. The Friars drove 73 yards on 11 plays, scoring on a 1-yard burst by William Ruggiero with 2 minutes left in the quarter. Nicholas Ferrara’s point after kick put St. Anthony’s up 10-0.


TEAM………………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
Xaverian…………………..0…..0…..0…..0 — 0
St. Anthony’s…………….3…..0…..7…14 — 24
SA — FG 33 Grennen
SA — Ruggiero 1 run (Ferrara kick)
SA — Ruggiero 19 run (Grennen kick)
SA — Ruggiero 1 run (Ferrara kick)

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)