Long Island Fall Sports Wrap

November 30, 2009

Memorable plays and magical playmakers marked this high school sport season on Long Island. The fall saw many dynasties continue – from South Side girls soccer to Ward Melville girls swimming – and new faces reach the pinnacle – welcome to the show Half Hollow Hills West football. 

It also saw several great athletes finish high school careers in style from Holy Trinity running back Anthony Brunetti, a four-year starter, rushing for 2,000 yards to South Side girls soccer star Crystal Dunn fulfilling her promise with a state crown.

Long Island Pulse magazine followed it all with giddy excitement. Here are our highlights:

Best Finish: When Freeport lost quarterback Paul Ketchens to injury in the Nassau Conference I quarterfinals, it turned to running back Kevin Allen to show senior leadership and direct the offense. All Allen did was power his Red Devils to the Long Island Class I football championship. Freeport’s 38-14 win over Floyd ended five years of Suffolk dominance over Long Island’s largest classification. In fact, it was the first Nassau victory since a powerhouse Freeport squad blew out Floyd in 2003. Allen rushed for 1,095 yards and 17 touchdowns in four playoff games and finished the season with a Nassau-record 35 touchdowns. Amazing!

Best Career: Rockville Centre is Soccer Town, USA. And after churning out one great team after another, the South Side girls soccer program produced a player who will go down as one of the best in Long Island history, and certainly the area’s best since Team USA forward Christie Welsh starred at Massapequa in 1997-98. Who? Crystal Dunn.  The four-year player wrapped up her senior season by winning her third state title. She blasted four goals as South Side routed Section V champ Greece Arcadia, 6-0, in the state Class A championship game. Dunn, who signed with the University of North Carolina, tallied nine goals and six assists in the playoffs. Not coincidentally, South Side failed to win a state title in 2008 when Dunn missed all but three games playing for the U.S. under-17 national team. That’s a strong finish to a great career.   

Best Repeat: After dropping a 2-1 decision to Newfield and tying with Ward Melville to open the season, the Comsewogue boys soccer team set aside the shaky start and reeled off 20 straight wins. The culmination came in Oneonta on Nov. 23 with a 2-0 win over Section III New Hartford to claim the state Class A championship. Keith Vigorito, a prolific scorer the last two seasons, put a goal in the title game to help the Warriors win back-to-back championships. Only two other boys programs have repeated as state Class A champ since the tournament began in 1978. Sachem claimed consecutive crowns in 1997-98. Section II champ Shenendehowa won or shared the state Class A title four straight seasons, from 1990-93. So give the Warriors their due.

Best Defense: Great defense defines championship football teams on the high school level. But few defenses in recent memory have done more than the unheralded group at Garden City. The Trojans’ immovable D allowed four touchdowns—and 28 points – all season to finish 12-0. That includes nine shutouts. The highlight came in the Long Island Class II title game when Garden City shut down previously unbeaten North Babylon to win 9-6. A fumble recovery on special teams set up the winning 38-yard field goal by Ryan Norton. Now that’s clutch.

Best Marketing Mogul: Nobody jumped onto the national stage quite like Half Hollow Hills West basketball standout Tobias Harris. He was considered a top 100 recruit heading into the summer. But through relentless travel with his AAU team and workmanlike effort at countless skills camps, the 6-8 Harris became one of the most talked-about talents Long Island has ever seen. Adding to his national profile: Harris Twittered his every move and became every basketball fan’s friend on Facebook. After several high-profile visits this fall to hoops hotbeds, from Syracuse to Kentucky, Harris waited until the day after the early signing period ended in mid-November to announce – on ESPNU and in Times Square, no less – that he was attending the University of Tennessee. P.T. Barnum’s got nothing on this kid.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Long Island Football Championships Preview

November 23, 2009

State champions in field hockey, soccer and cross country were crowned over the weekend, played out with all of New York hanging on the outcome. Yet the blissful isolation of Long Island high school football – which long ago opted out of the state tournament – creates buzz and a level excitement not seen in any other sport or venue. 

Four Long Island championship football games take place at Hofstra and Stony Brook, each with its own history and legacy. Many of the schools are title-game regulars, from Amityville to Garden City. Thanksgiving week is all about these monumental games. So enjoy the show. Here is the rundown on each contest:

 Class I

Who: Floyd vs. Freeport

When: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 4:30 p.m.

Where: LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook University

On Floyd (10-1): The Colonials won their fourth Suffolk Division I crown in five seasons by knocking off previously unbeaten Sachem North, 27-6, on Sunday. Coach Paul Longo turned loose a young prospect to win as sophomore Stacey Bedell ran for 170 yards and two touchdowns.

On Freeport (9-2): Kevin Allen, who moved to quarterback the last two playoff games, rushed for 244 yards and three touchdowns to help the Red Devils get past rival Farmingdale, 34-20, in the Nassau Conference I title game. Allen raised his season TD total to 31, passing former NFL star Amos Zereoue for the most in Nassau history.

The Skinny: Freeport, which won its sixth county title, has played five games decided by a touchdown or less this season. Floyd has also had its share of close calls, but relied on stingy defense to deliver when it matters. These two programs have big-game coaches in Longo and Freeport’s Russ Cellan. But it will be the playmakers – Bedell and Allen — who decide this one. 


Class II

Who:  North Babylon vs. Garden City

When: Friday, Nov. 27 at 4:30 p.m.

Where: Shuart Stadium, Hofstra University

On North Babylon (11-0): The Bulldogs earned their ninth trip to the LIC since 1992 with a 17-10 win over East Islip. Preshod McCoy ran for 134 yards and a touchdown in the Suffolk Division II final. Coach Terry Manning has a history of riding great backs to championships. McCoy, who amassed 1,416 yards on 226 carries and 22 touchdowns, is the latest.  

On Garden City (11-0): Brian Fischer has emerged as the top producer in a crowded backfield. Coach Tom Flatley owns the highest winning percentage of any high school football coach (100 wins minimum) in Long Island history. And this season was all about great coaching translating to the field. The defense recorded its ninth shutout in a 14-0 win over Wantagh in the Nassau Conference II title game. It marked the 17th county title (Flatley’s 14th) for the Trojans.

The Skinny: North Babylon has done enough to win, but hasn’t rolled through foes like the Bulldogs of years’ past. It’s been a group effort for Garden City. These two teams have used sheer force of will at times. Expect this one to be a physical, low-scoring affair where one play may decide it.


Class III

Who:  Half Hollow Hills West vs. Lawrence

When: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 12 p.m.

Where: LaValle Stadium, Stony Brook University

On Hills West (11-0): Stony Brook recruit JeVahn Cruz rushed for 303 yards and three touchdowns as the Colts shut out Hauppauge, 29-0, for the Suffolk Division III title. The electric quarterback has run for 21 touchdowns and helped Hills West average 37 points a game. 

On Lawrence (9-2): Kenny Barnett ran for 162 yards and four touchdowns to roll past No. 1 Lynbrook, 41-7. Syracuse-bound quarterback John Kinder is an exceptional athlete, the school’s best since C.W. Post QB Rob Blount.

The Skinny: Lawrence avenged two regular-season losses in impressive fashion, downing Plainedge, 56-28, in the semis and then routing Lynbrook in the Nassau Conference III championship. The Golden Tornado is on a tear. Each team can score in a hurry and relies on multi-dimensional quarterbacks. The defense that can do the best job at containing the quarterback wins. 


Class IV

Who:  Amityville vs. Seaford

When: Friday, Nov. 27 at 12 p.m.

Where: Shuart Stadium, Hofstra University

On Amityville (9-2): Amityville trailed Glenn, 11-2, with 4:01 left before exploding for two scores to rally for a 17-11 win in the Suffolk Division IV championship game. Sophomore wideout Willie White caught 39- and 60-yard touchdowns in the final minutes. The Warriors will need that type of explosiveness to upend Seaford.  

On Seaford (11-0):  The Vikings shut out Locust Valley, 33-0, to capture the program’s third straight Nassau Conference IV title and fifth since 2002. Coach Rob Perpall has put together some great defensive units during the run. This team, with five shutouts, is no different.

The Skinny:  The Rob Anderson to Mike Gallo connection has come up big for Seaford all year. And running back Justin Buckley has a knack for finding the end zone. Mark Jerrick, Da’rell Hatcher and Gavin Kretz have all gotten the ball for Amityville and have each scored important touchdowns. Who will step up with all of Long Island watching?

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Catholic Football Grudge Match

November 16, 2009

Rivals Holy Trinity and St. Anthony’s face off in the CHSFL title game

For years this high school rivalry was all yap and no bite. Holy Trinity talked a good game. But when it actually came time to face St. Anthony’s on the football field, the Titans couldn’t deliver.

Just take the last time these teams met. Holy Trinity blustered. And then the Friars busted the Titans in the chops. St. Anthony’s rolled to a 62-13 win. That was Week 3 of the 2008 season. St. Anthony’s leads the all-time series with the Titans 25-8 dating to 1974 and has won the last 15 meetings. Holy Trinity last beat the Friars, 28-13, in 1992.

That’s a lifetime – literally — for these players.

The rivalry picks up again at 7 p.m. Saturday at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Hempstead. It’s the most important game these teams have ever played. That’s because Holy Trinity and St. Anthony’s meet for the first time with the CHSFL Class AAA championship on the line.

For Holy Trinity, it’s the culmination of a dream season. The Titans are 10-0 and led by Anthony Brunetti. The senior running back / linebacker has one game remaining in his remarkable high school career. Brunetti has 2,254 yards — the sixth-highest total in Long Island history — on 291 carries and 26 touchdowns this season.

All Brunetti did was carry the ball 44 times for 232 yards and three touchdowns to power the Titans past defending champ Iona Prep, 27-18, in the semifinals. He’s motivated after an injury-plagued 2008.

So is his chief competitor for the Friars. St. Anthony’s senior quarterback Tom Schreiber went down in the quarterfinals of the playoffs a year ago as the Friars failed to win the league title for the first time in eight seasons.

Schreiber is back in a big way for the 9-1 Friars. He helped St. Anthony’s run past Holy Cross, 28-7, in the semis, breaking touchdown runs of 57 and 44 yards.

The stage is set for an epic grudge match. No more talking. Victory here brings more than bragging rights. It delivers a championship.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

Football Takes Root in Center Moriches and Eastport

November 2, 2009

Two communities known for soccer can bask in the glow of the high school football playoffs—for one week at least. Center Moriches and Eastport-South Manor each qualified for the postseason, a first.

It’s a most remarkable feat for Center Moriches, which played its first varsity season in 2007 and went 5-3 this fall to earn the sixth seed in the Division IV playoffs. The Red Devils draw No. 3 Amityville in a quarterfinal game.

Eastport-South Manor was born in the last decade when two small school districts merged. A beautiful new high school was built. Now it can start stockpiling the tradition. Its 5-3 record and eighth seed in ultra-competitive Division III mark the next step for this growing community. ESM will face top seed Half Hollow Hills West in a quarterfinal.

For every teen who turned in his shoulder pads this week and kissed his battle-scarred helmet goodbye, there are plenty more still playing. The high school football playoff brackets are set in Nassau and Suffolk, and an unprecedented 32 schools in each county qualified. While Nassau has allowed eight teams in each conference to reach the postseason for a while now, this will mark Suffolk’s first expanded playoff.

There are no bigger beneficiaries than Center Moriches and Eastport-South Manor. Center Moriches has a long and proud sports history. But it’s mostly connected to soccer. People actually fought to keep football out of the school for fear it would take away from the town’s flagship sport.

Soccer will always be an important part of the Red Devils’ tradition. Indeed, the Center Moriches boys soccer team is the top seed in the Suffolk Class B playoffs, which begin on Wednesday. The girls will also play a semifinal game on Wednesday.

But November is all about playoff football. Center Moriches and Eastport-South Manor finally get to experience what all the excitement is about. Welcome to the show, boys and girls.

Blog originally posted at LI Pulse.com

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 Football.com
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: Championship Preview

November 12, 2007

Friars Football Features 2007

Title: Monday Morning Quarterback / Championship Preview
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 11-12-07
Word Count: 519

Rematches don’t get much more exciting. Throw out the records in this one. They certainly didn’t matter the last time St. Anthony’s and Mount St. Michael Academy football teams faced off Week 3.

Remember? The Friars took a national ranking and a 64-game CHSFL winning streak dating to 1998 into the Bronx. And Mount struck for three first-quarter touchdowns en route to a 22-12 win in the rain and mud.

Their respective seasons diverged from there. St. Anthony’s (9-1) rebounded while the Mountaineers (5-5) struggled. And yet, fittingly, here they are in the CHSFL Class AAA title game.

The playoff history between St. Anthony’s and Mount St. Michael runs deep. But you have to dig deep to find it.

Yes, the programs faced off in the title game a year ago, a 21-20 thriller won by the Friars. That marked the first playoff meeting between the rivals in seven seasons.

But these teams have a past. This will be the 10th playoff showdown between the programs — all since 1987. St. Anthony’s leads the series 6-3, with four of those games each decided by a single point.

The only history that matters to the kids on the field are the last two years. Just take the signal callers. The Friars rallied behind James Brady (check out the feature on Brady here) to win the title last November. Jayson Holt, the Mountaineers’ quarterback and kicker, had an extra point blocked in the waning moments of that game.

Don’t think it wasn’t on his mind when the teams met earlier this season. Holt did as much as anyone to sink the Friars that day.

Meanwhile, Brady saw his fumble scooped up and returned for the decisive touchdown in his only loss as a starter. Don’t think that won’t be on his mind Sunday at Hofstra.

Who will write the next chapter in this intense rivalry?

Mount St. Michael vs. St. Anthony’s

WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Hofstra’s Shuart Stadium
RECORDS: Mount St. Michael (5-5); St. Anthony’s (9-1)
THE SCOOP: Top-seeded St. Anthony’s held off No. 5 Iona Prep, 23-20, while No. 7 Mount St. Michael upset No. 6 Chaminade, 16-8, in CHSFL Class AAA semifinal action. It sets up a rematch of last season’s title game won by St. Anthony’s. It also pairs the Friars with the lone league mate to have beaten them over the span of 64 games. Mount St, Michael handed St. Anthony’s a 22-12 loss in Week 3. Stopping Mount senior quarterback Jayson Holt, an elusive runner, is the key for the Friars.


This marks the 10th playoff showdown between St. Anthony’s and Mount St. Michael Academy &mdash all since 1987. St. Anthony’s is 20-5 all-time against the Mountaineers. The Friars also hold a respectable 6-3 edge in the playoffs, with four of those games each decided by a single point. A look back:

•1987 quarterfinal: St. Anthony’s, 43-20

•1990 quarterfinal: St. Anthony’s, 21-20

•1992 quarterfinal: Mount St. Michael, 28-12

•1993 semifinal: St. Anthony’s, 21-20

•1995 semifinal: St. Anthony’s, 42-41

•1996 final: Mount St. Michael, 21-7

•1997 final: Mount St. Michael, 40-14

•1999 quarterfinal: St. Anthony’s, 28-11

•2006 final: St. Anthony’s, 21-20

Friars Football: Friars Hold Off Iona Prep Attack

November 9, 2007

Friars Football semifinal 2007 

Title: Gaels Force: Friars Hold Off Iona Prep Attack, Earn Title Shot
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 11-9-07
Word Count: 250

Iona Prep senior quarterback Ryan O’Neil and his reputation as the most prolific passer in the CHSFL didn’t mean much to a St. Anthony’s defense that manhandled him Week 2 and had rarely been beaten deep this season.

Once again, the 6-2, 170-pound O’Neil took a beating each time he dropped back to pass Friday night against the Friars. But he also beat them deep and nearly ended the Friars’ seven-year run on top. O’Neil completed 24 of 39 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns — all to speedy junior wideout Chris Alfano.

The defense did just enough to stymie No. 5 Iona Prep, turning away the Gaels at the goal line in the second quarter and sacking O’Neil on fourth down with 58 seconds left as top-seeded St. Anthony’s pulled out a 23-20 win in a CHSFL Class AAA semifinal before a rain-soaked crowd of 800 at Cy Donnelly Field in South Huntington.

St. Anthony’s (9-1) will face the Chaminade-Mount St. Michael winner for the title next weekend at a date, site and time to be announced on Monday. The Friars are the six-time defending champions.

Credit St. Anthony’s senior quarterback James Brady for carrying the offense. The team piled up 243 yards on the ground, led by Brady. He ran for 111 yards on 19 carries and scored what proved to be the game-winner, a 25-yard burst with 11:50 left. Nicholas Ferrara’s point after attempt made it 23-14.

Brady also completed 5 of 13 passes for 112 yards.


The offensive line did its job, as usual. But what really made all the difference for the Friars was the relentless fashion in which James Brady, William Ruggiero and Atiq Lucas carried the ball. Each churned out second-effort carries that had to be deflating to the Iona Prep defense. Brady finished with 111 yards on 19 carries and a 25-yard touchdown run. Ruggiero plowed ahead for 94 yards on 11 carries and a 2-yard score. Lucas added 71 yards total offense, including 35 yards on three carries. He turned a counter into a twisting 23-yard touchdown, shaking off a myriad of defenders.


The Friars’ second-quarter goal-line stand probably saved the season. Iona Prep drove 63 yards — highlighted by a 28-yard strike from Ryan O’Neil to Tim Murray — to the St. Anthony’s 5-yard line. Jeffrey Mack carried the ball 4 more yards, setting up second-and-goal from the 1. Iona Prep tried to shove the ball down the throat of the Friars’ defense on each of the next three plays. The last, a blast off right tackle by Darlos James with 6:40 left, was stuffed by a wall of back and gold. Not only did James get stopped short, he was hurt on the play.


TEAM………………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
Iona Prep………………….0…..7…..7…..6 — 20
St. Anthony’s…………….7…..3…..6…..7 — 23
SA — Lucas 23 run (Grennen kick)
IP — Alfano 10 pass from O’Neil (Beckett kick)
SA — FG 29 Ferrara
IP — Alfano 35 pass from O’Neil (Beckett kick)
SA — Ruggiero 2 run (kick failed)
SA — Brady 25 run (Ferrara kick)
IP — Alfano 62 pass from O’Neil (kick failed)

Friars Football: Semifinial Preview

November 5, 2007

Friars Football Features 2007

Title: Semifinial Preview
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 11-5-07
Word Count: 120

Iona Prep vs. St. Anthony’s

WHEN: Friday, 7 p.m.
WHERE: South Huntington
RECORDS: Iona Prep (5-4); St. Anthony’s (8-1)
THE SCOOP: St. Anthony’s shut out Xaverian 24-0 while Iona Prep downed Staten Island power Farrell, 38-8, to move on. These teams meet Week 2 with St. Anthony’s pulling away 31-21. Ryan O’Neil will attempt to air it out against a stingy Friars defense. St. Anthony’s has two great safeties and a string of three straight shutouts.

Mount St. Michael vs. Chaminade

WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Mineola
RECORDS: Mount St. Michael (4-5); Chaminade (5-4)
THE SCOOP: Chaminade advanced with a thrilling 19-14 win over Holy Trinity while Mount St. Michael upset Staten Island upstart St. Joseph by the Sea, 22-14. Chaminade pulled the upset of Week 7 with a last-second 15-14

Friars Football: Monday Morning Quarterback

October 29, 2007

Friars Football Features 2007

Title: Monday Morning Quarterback
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 10-29-07
Word Count: 217

To say football is a physical game is to state the obvious. Injuries are part of the sport. And those injuries have cost St. Anthony’s some exceptional athletes this season. The latest is no exception. The Friars will have to make due — possibly for the remainder of the season — without one of the leaders on defense.

Senior safety Dan Basil injured his neck in the first quarter of the regular season finale against Chaminade. If you were there, you watched helplessly as Basil lay face down on the turf until an ambulance arrived. It took a half hour in a steady downpour before the senior could be immobilized and carried off the field on a stretcher.

The good news is that Basil is OK. There will be no lasting effects from his injury.

But he won’t be allowed to suit up again this fall. Maybe that’s for the best. Basil suffered a possible concussion against Holy Trinity two weeks earlier. That’s enough trauma for one season.

That just means teammate J.B. Andreassi must pick up the slack. Together they formed possibly the best safety tandem on Long Island. The 5-11, 186-pound Basil recorded 32 tackles, a pair of interceptions and a defensive score.

The Friars won’t be able to replace him. But it’s everyone’s job to try.

Friars Football: CHSFL AAA Playoff Preview

October 29, 2007

Friars Football Playoff Preview 2007

Title: CHSFL AAA Playoff Preview
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 10-29-07
Word Count: 745

The end of another regular season gives us pause and brings two undeniable facts into focus. The first: parity has washed over the CHSFL Class AAA division. When 3-5 Mount St. Michael can count a win against 7-1 St. Anthony’s as part of its resume and No. 6 Chaminade can break out game film of its 7-6 win over No. 3 Holy Trinity, then the rule of the day says anything is possible.

The second observation is this: a hiccup against the Mountaineers aside, St. Anthony’s is still the top seed and favorite to win the program’s seventh straight league championship. The Friars are 79-6 since the start of the 2000 season and Mount is one of two CHSFL teams to beat them over that span. (Farrell edged St. Anthony’s in the 2000 title game.)

What does it all mean? Get ready for a bumpy ride because in the November cold, anything is possible. The playoffs begin now. Here’s a breakdown of each CHSFL Class AAA quarterfinal:

Xaverian vs. St. Anthony’s

WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m.
WHERE: South Huntington
RECORDS: Xaverian (0-8); St. Anthony’s (7-1)
THE SCOOP: St. Anthony’s beat Brooklyn-Xaverian, 27-6, on the road Week 5. The Friars had their way with Xaverian, especially James Brady. The quarterback had running lanes open up again and again and used them to lethal effect. The score did not reflect just how dominating St. Anthony’s played. The Friars have only gotten better in the month since. Take the defense. Ever since giving up 30 points in a 42-30 win over Farrell, the defense surrendered a combined 20 points over the next four games. Now the defense must prepare for two quarterbacks with much different styles. Xaverian will likely play both strong-armed Najee Tyler and run-oriented Ethan Ostermayer. It just might be enough to cause confusion. But will it be enough to keep the teams close on the scoreboard?

Iona Prep vs. Farrell

WHEN: Saturday, 6 p.m.
WHERE: Staten Island
RECORDS: Iona Prep (4-4); Farrell (5-3)
THE SCOOP: This is a rematch from Saturday, a 30-28 Staten Island-Farrell win. Farrell rallied for 14 fourth quarter points and then won it in overtime. The New Rochelle-Iona Prep defense has given up 92 points over the last three weeks and is winless over that span. That’s a tall order for the league’s top passer, Ryan O’Neil (1,732 yards, 17 TDs). If the Gaels win, it will be on his arm and with the help of some big plays on defense. Recent history is on their side. Iona Prep is playoff tough. It played for the title in 2005 and fell to St. Anthony’s in the semis a year ago. Farrell has won three in a row, and also boasts a dynamic quarterback in Michael Gentile. His top target is sure-handed receiver Anthony Evanelista. Farrell has reached the title game five times since 1998, but not since 2004. Anything is possible in this one.

Chaminade vs. Holy Trinity

WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Hicksville
RECORDS: Chaminade (4-4); Holy Trinity (4-4)
THE SCOOP: Chaminade held off Holy Trinity, 7-6, in Week 4 action. But Holy Trinity rebounded to win three of its last four games. Sophomore Anthony Brunetti has been the workhorse, although it was another back, Aaron McRea that carried the offense in the regular season finale, a 22-16 road win over Mount St. Michael. Quarterback Michael Lagalante (9 TD passes) has been a playmaker. Chaminade is coming off a gritty 17-0 loss to St. Anthony’s, the culmination of an up and down season. The Flyers have the tools on offense: quarterback Doug Vella, tight end Luke Nawrocki, versatile back Alexander Fox and kicker Gerald Levano. Chaminade has been victimized at times on defense, so that may hold the key.

Mount St. Michael vs. St. Joseph by the Sea

WHEN: Sunday, 1 p.m.
WHERE: Staten Island
RECORDS: Mount St. Michael (3-5); St. Joseph by the Sea (6-2)
THE SCOOP: Staten Island-St. Joseph by the Sea beat Bronx-Mount St. Michael, 15-12, in Week 4. More importantly for the Vikings, they were able to put behind a humbling Week 7 loss to St. Anthony’s and rebound with a 28-7 win over Xaverian to close out the regular season. Sea’s double-wing offense is tough to stop. It takes a disciplined, physical defense to slow bruising back Patrick Brennan. Mount St. Michael quarterback Jayson Holt is at the heart of what Mount does. He’s lightning fast and can throw the bomb too. Mount played in the title game a year ago. Despite an inconsistent season, overall team speed and playoff experience give the Mountaineers a slight edge.