Patch: St. Anthony’s Stat Man Shows Grit

November 20, 2010

St. Anthony's stat man Tom Langan.

St. Anthony's stat man Tom Langan.


Title: St. Anthony’s Stat Man Shows Grit; Friars football statistician Tom Langan roams the sideline despite losing leg to infection and diabetes.
Publication: www.Huntington.Patch.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: Nov. 20, 2010
Word Count: 960

You know Tom Langan. He’s the guy with an infectious smile, clip board in hand and numbers at his fingertips, navigating the pulsing sideline at St. Anthony’s football games as he keeps pace with what’s happening on the field.

He’s the team statistician, a volunteer job he’s done going back to two decades. And while Langan, 57, has missed games through the years, he has been as much a fixture in the Black and Gold as coach Rich Reichert himself. In fact, the two are cousins.

“I try to tell the kids, ‘You have so many dedicated people here you don’t really realize they are doing things for you behind the scenes,’” Reichert said. “This is really important to him. And he does a really good job for us.”

St. Anthony’s (10-0) plays Iona Prep (8-2) in the CHSFL Class AAA championship game Saturday at 4 p.m. at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale. It’s no surprise Langan will be there doing his duties for the Friars.

The remarkable part is that Langan is here at all.

The same day St. Anthony’s beat Iona Prep on Oct. 9, 2009, Langan’s left leg was amputated above the knee. It was the result of a freak infection gone wrong and a previously undiagnosed condition.

Reichert gave his cousin the game ball in the hospital. He stopped in every night after practice. And he’s been there for Langan ever since, through a long and evolving rehabilitation process.

His big step forward came during the home opener in September against Holy Cross. Langan made his return to the St. Anthony’s sideline, albeit with his clip board balanced on a walker.

“Tom was there all the time. And we counted on him all the time,” St. Anthony’s athletic director Don Buckley said. “So when he was out last season, it was obvious. Everyone was saying, ‘Where’s Tom?’”

Langan, who is still adjusting to using his titanium prosthesis, recently transferred from a rehab facility in Long Beach to an assisted living home in Medford. Each day is another closer to normalcy.

“I can get around,” said Langan, who is on disability after a career spent in retail. “I use the walker and I’m training with the cane right now. My goal is to walk without anything. It may take two years, but I’m going to do it.”

Today Langan’s life is packed away, boxed up in Reichert’s garage. He was an only child and never married. The football program is his family. Langan finds deeper meaning in everything now, especially on the sideline of a football game. It’s one small but significant step in the rehabilitation process.

“People say, ‘It’s a shame what happened to you,” Langan said. “I say, ‘It happened.’ You have to do your best to adjust. You do the best you can to get your life back.”

It’s not the first time. When Langan’s father died in 1964 – when Langan was all of 10 – Reichert’s dad took on the role of surrogate father figure. So the cousins spent a lot of time together and grew as close as brothers.

This is Reichert’s 24th season at the helm of the St. Anthony’s football program. Langan joined him on the sideline starting in 1991.

“Richie asked me,” Langan said. “He said, ‘Can you help me out? You’re good with numbers.’”

The closest he had been to a sports venue was as a vendor at Yankee Stadium growing up in the Bronx. But Langan took instantly to his statistician duties.

There were unexpected benefits. The winning was addictive. Being close to his cousin was great. He forged lasting relationships with the coaching staff. And the positive energy flowing from the teenaged players energized him.

“It keeps me young being around the teenagers,” Langan said. “The coaches treat me great. It’s like I’m part of the staff. I feel like I’m part of the St. Anthony’s family.”

That family has seen him though an ordeal.

When Langan discovered a pebble embedded in his left foot, he removed it with tweezers. It drew a little blood. He bandaged it up and didn’t think twice about it. That was August 2009.

But the wound became infected. Langan ignored it, expecting it would get better. Then the infection spread to the bone. Next thing Langan knew he was unable to get out of bed. He called his cousin.

“As soon as I saw his leg I knew he was in trouble,” said Reichert, a former Nassau County Police officer. “He almost died that night. It was really bad. Gangrene.”

Reichert rushed his cousin to St. Catherine of Siena Medical Center in Smithtown. Langan was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, which only exacerbated the injury. And his leg would have to go. Surgery was scheduled just 24 hours later.

“When you wake up you see what’s not there any more,” Langan said, “it’s a shock.”

All that seems like a lifetime ago. Langan has been to five games this season. He was on the sideline when Reichert won his 200th game last week. The title game will make six. He has a job to do.

“This gives me an incentive to do something,” Langan said. “It gets me outdoors. I’m seeing people again. I’m more determined. You have to push yourself to do it.”

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the courage of the everyday.

“He’s a true inspiration,” Buckley said. “He’s done so well with his rehab, most of the kids don’t even realize there’s anything wrong. He doesn’t draw attention to himself. He’s a guy behind the scenes.”

On the same turf where athletes push themselves to the limit for the glory of sport, so is the humble stat guy. He’s simply learning to stand tall and walk once more.

Patch: 2010 CHSFL Preview

September 3, 2010

Patch: 2010 CHSFL Preview

Patch: 2010 CHSFL Preview

Title: Long Island Football: 2010 CHSFL Preview; St. Anthony’s still the CHSFL team to beat
Publication: www.Huntington.Patch.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: Sept. 3, 2010
Word Count: 1,009

There’s little doubt that the Catholic football league is the toughest and most talent-rich in New York state. There’s also no contesting that one school sits atop the heap.

St. Anthony’s High School in South Huntington is a Long Island football dynasty with all the trappings of royalty. Coach Rich Reichert has one of the biggest and most experienced staffs you’ll find on a high school field. The 80-man roster is as deep as any college program’s. And the Friars play on a lighted, turf field before packed crowds approaching 2,500, and with TV and radio crews regularly stalking the sidelines.

Little wonder the Friars, despite graduating several key players from last season’s 10-1 CHSFL Class AAA championship, are the top seed and favorites once again. Success breeds success.

Behind the play of QB Tom Schreiber, the Friars won eight games in a row to end the 2009 season. He engineered a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown drives to lift St. Anthony’s past previously unbeaten Holy Trinity, 28-21, in the title game. It marked the eighth league championship in the last nine seasons.

How will the 2010 CHSFL season play out? Holy Trinity, Chaminade and Holy Cross will vie for the title while the Friars break in a new QB. Regardless, the path to the championship still runs through South Huntington and St. Anthony’s. That because Reichert doesn’t rebuild, he reloads. Here’s a look at the CHSFL:

2010 Seeds

1. St. Anthony’s
2. Holy Trinity
3. Chaminade
4. Holy Cross
5. Iona Prep
6. Xaverian
7. St. Joseph Sea
8. Farrell
9. Mount St. Michael
10. Fordham Prep
11. Kellenberg
12. St. Francis Prep
13. Stepinac
14. Cardinal Hayes
15. Xavier
16. St. John the Baptist
17. St. Peter’s
18. Spellman
19. Bishop Ford
20. Christ the King

Team Watch

St. Anthony’s: The Friars will look to reach the CHSFL Class AAA title game for the 12th straight season with a new QB but the same unbeatable attitude. The difference maker for the Friars is up front, where their defensive and offensive linemen play on one side of the ball and have the heft to dominate.

Holy Trinity: Can the Titans fill the void left by the graduation of all-everything RB / LB Anthony Brunetti? The four-year star served as the sparkplug for Holy Trinity’s run to the CHSFL Class AAA title game a year ago. If Holy Trinity lets QB Chris Laviano air it out, then look out.

Chaminade: The 2009 season ended with Holy Trinity returning a blocked field goal for a touchdown with 18 seconds left in a 28-24 playoff loss. You can bet second-year coach Stephen Boyd, a former Pro Bowl linebacker, will have the Flyers playing inspired defense. Chaminade will be in every game.

Holy Cross: A semifinalist a year ago, Knights have top wideout Devon Cajuste (921 yards, 7 TDs) back. Holy Cross gave St. Anthony’s a scare in the regular season but bowed out with an injury-riddled lineup in a 28-7 playoff loss to the Friars. This cast will be motivated for more.

Mount St. Michael: Thanks to a No. 9 seed and easy schedule, look for the Mountaineers to play their way into the Top 8 and a spot in the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs. Veteran coach Mario Valentini gets his team to play and Mount finished strong in 2009 with a AA title. Multitalented QB Jaylen Amaker leads the offense. Think sleeper.

Player Watch

Devon Cajuste, Holy Cross, WR: The 6-4, 211-pound senior was unstoppable a year ago as an NYSSWA first-team All-State pick. He led the CHSFL in receiving with 921 yards and 7 TDs on 40 catches, good for 23 yards a reception. Committed to Stanford.

Isaiah Kearney, Xaverian, RB: After a standout freshman year in which he averaged 8.2 yards per carry and rushed for 774 yards and 6 TDs, all of Brooklyn is buzzing over Kearney. The sophomore back is sprinter fast and a true game breaker.

Chris Laviano, Holy Trinity, QB: MaxPreps calls him a Top 100 recruit. This 6-1, 180-pound sophomore will be the focal point now that 2,000-yard rusher Anthony Brunetti is gone. He threw for 1,122 yards and 8 TDs in 2009. He’s got a big arm and a heady sense of the game. Poised for a breakout year.

Tyler McLees, St. Anthony’s, LB: The 6-0, 210-pound senior led the league with 121 tackles a year ago and added 4 sacks. The son of former Carey coach Matt McLees (himself a linebacker at Southern Connecticut), he’ll be a leader on defense.

Charlie Raffa, St. Anthony’s, QB: An Under Amour All-American in lacrosse, the 5-10, 185-pound Raffa has great instincts. And like his predecessors, he can beat you with his arm or legs. Committed to Maryland for lacrosse.

Game Watch

Farrell at Kellenberg, Sept. 18: This is as important a game as Kellenberg will play all season. If the No. 11 Firebirds hope to qualify for the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs, then a win against No. 8 Farrell is a good place to start.

Holy Cross at Holy Trinity, Oct. 16: Holy smokes! A pair of CHSFL Class AAA semifinalists from a year ago collide. Buckle up. This one should be fun to watch.

Chaminade at Holy Trinity, Oct. 9: These Nassau rivals have met in the playoffs two of the last three seasons. It’s always close and heated. The winner of this game could be in the driver’s seat for a home playoff game.

St. Anthony’s at Chaminade, Oct. 16: This rivalry defines the two schools. While Chaminade hasn’t been a factor of late, there’s no one the Friars would rather beat. But it’s the middle of a tough stretch in the schedule for St. Anthony’s. Expect a physical and emotional game.

St. Anthony’s at Holy Trinity, Oct. 23: A rematch of the 2009 CHSFL Class AAA title game. St. Anthony’s has ripped the Titans in recent seasons (outscoring them 201-62 since 2005), bringing Holy Trinity back to Earth after sky-high expectations. This one will be for playoff seeding.

2009 Standings

CHSFL Class AAA-AA

TEAM W L PF PA
Holy Trinity 10 1 339 149
St. Anthony’s 10 1 398 165
St. Joseph Sea 7 2 357 240
Holy Cross 7 3 299 201
Fordham Prep 4 7 203 299
Iona Prep 4 6 248 293
Chaminade 4 6 174 198
Xaverian 4 6 173 238
Mount St. Michael 5 5 195 273
Farrell 4 6 139 184
Kellenberg 2 8 141 278
St. Francis Prep 2 8 192 276

 

2009 Playoff Results

CHSFL Class AAA

Quarterfinals
St. Anthony’s 49, Xaverian 7
Holy Trinity 28, Chaminade 24
Holy Cross 32, Fordham Prep 14
Iona Prep 40, St. Joseph Sea 29

 

Semifinals
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Cross 7
Holy Trinity 27, Iona Prep 18

 

Championship
St. Anthony’s 28, Holy Trinity 21
CHSFL Class AA-A

 

TEAMS W L PF PA
Stepinac 8 3 287 144
Cardinal Hayes 8 2 299 216
Xavier 7 4 265 155
St. John the Baptist 4 6 173 223
St. Peter’s 5 4 199 149
Bishop Ford 3 7 154 240
Spellman 1 7 80 291
Christ the King 1 8 147 292

 

2009 Playoff Results

CHSFL Class AA

Quarterfinals
Mount St. Michael 21, Xavier 14
Cardinal Hayes 26, Kellenberg 24
St. Francis Prep 35, Stepinac 21
Farrell 41, St. John the Baptist 6

 

Semifinals
Mount St. Michael 28, St. Francis Prep 21
Cardinal Hayes 33, Farrell 7

 

Championship
Mount St. Michael 28, Cardinal Hayes 22
CHSFL Class A

Semifinals
St. Peter’s 27, Christ the King 20
Bishop Ford 38, Spellman 0
Championship
St. Peter’s 41, Bishop Ford 0

 

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.

MVP

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.

KEY PLAY

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.

SCORING

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.

THE SERIES

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.

MVP

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.

KEY PLAY

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.

SCORING

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: 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 Football.com
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.

MVP

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.

KEY PLAY

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.

SCORING

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: 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.

Friars Football: Defense Wraps Up Rival Chaminade

October 26, 2007

Friars Football Week 8 2007

Title: Sack Attack: Friars Defense Wraps Up Rival Chaminade
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 10-26-07
Word Count: 87

On a rainy and windy night in South Huntington, St. Anthony’s wrapped up its regular season with a gritty 17-0 win over rival Chaminade. The defense registered eight sacks and held the Flyers to 79 rushing yards on 33 carries. James Brady ran for a 19-yard touchdown and junior Atiq Lucas led the way with 54 yards on eight carries and two catches for 33 yards. The top-seeded Friars (7-1) will host No. 8 Xaverian (0-7) in a CHSFL Class AAA quarterfinal next Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

MVP

Defensive tackle Scott Vallone fought through double teams to wreck Chaminade drives. The 6-3, 265-pound senior put together his most complete performance this season, getting in on four sacks. He led a defense that brought down Flyers quarterback Doug Vella eight times and limited the Chaminade rushing attack to 79 yards.

KEY PLAY

One play after James Brady threw into the end zone and was nearly intercepted by Chaminade’s Michael Riley, the Friars converted on third-and-7 from the Chaminade 15. Brady waited until the last second — drawing in Chaminade defenders — to pitch to Nicholas Mercurio. The fast back raced free down the right sideline for 13 yards. First down. William Ruggiero scored on a 2-yard bull run on the next play to put St. Anthony’s in front 9-0 with 1:49 left in the second quarter.

SCORING

TEAM………………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
Chaminade………………..0…..0…..0…..0 — 0
St. Anthony’s…………….0…..9…..0…..8 — 17
SA — Safety (ball kicked through end zone)
SA — Ruggiero 2 run (Grennen kick)
SA — Brady 19 run (Lucas run)

Friars Football: Team Effort Stops St. Joe Sea

October 20, 2007

Friars Football Week 7 2007

Title: Relentless: Total Team Effort Helps Stop St. Joe Sea
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 10-20-07
Word Count: 1054

As if the anticipation couldn’t get any more intense. Homecoming. A battle for first place. An offense that’s nearly impossible to wrap your brain around. That’s just some of what St. Anthony’s football players were wrestling with in the days leading up to the biggest game of the season.

The Friars remember Staten Island upstart St. Joseph by the Sea very well. They needed a late comeback to edge the Vikings 36-35 a year ago. Their double wing running game resembles a Russian nesting doll, one layer revealing another until the back with the ball pops free.

But with severe weather expected to move across Long Island Friday evening, the principals of both schools decided to postpone the CHSFL showdown for 24 hours.

It was a prudent move, either way. St. Joe Sea had just four days to prepare after pulling off a comeback win over Iona Prep on Sunday. The last thing the Friars wanted was to try and stop the Vikings’ shifty attack in a downpour. And then there was homecoming to think about.

The decision proved right for another reason. Lightning struck in the South Huntington neighborhood Friday night, knocking out power to the surrounding area, according to athletic director Don Buckley.

In the end, Saturday night offered up the perfect atmosphere. From the early-arriving Staten Island fans tailgating in the parking lot to the capacity crowd of 2,500 on hand to cheer the homecoming court as it lapped Cy Donnelly Field in balloon-festooned golf carts.

High school events don’t get much better. Especially if you are a Friars fan. St. Anthony’s delivered on the football field too. The Friars put together their finest defensive effort and senior quarterback James Brady put points on the board. The result was a decisive 17-0 Friars win.

BRADY SHINES

After the defense forced St. Joe Sea (5-2 overall, 4-2 CHSFL) into a three-and-out on the game’s opening possession, the Friars took over at midfield. Brady completed two passes for 17 yards on the drive. But the Friars stalled at the Vikings’ 18-yard line when junior Nicholas Mercurio was dumped for a 1-yard loss on third down.

In trotted senior kicker Rich Grennen. Just minutes after presenting his mom with a bouquet — all seniors got a chance to greet their parents on the field before the game — Grennen booted a 35-yard field goal. St. Anthony’s led 3-0 with 4:44 left in the opening quarter.

The Friars moved the ball again two possessions later. This one was all Brady. He marched the offense 62 yards — much further if you count a pair of holding penalties — capped by a William Ruggiero 5-yard scoring run off the right side. Nicholas Ferrara added the point after to make it 10-0 with 7:30 left in the half.

Brady completed two passes for 65 yards on the drive, the latter a 33-yard strike to senior wideout Jack Kensil down to the Vikings’ 7. Brady also had a 25-yard scramble wiped out by penalty.

Brady finished the night completing 7 of 12 passes for 131 yards and rushing for 44 more on 12 attempts. He put the game away with 1:53 left in the third, plowing into the end zone on a 1-yard keeper for the final margin.

DEFENSE DELIVERS

So much time, energy and anxiety went into planning to stop the St. Joe by the Sea offense. The concept is amazingly simple. Aside from the occasional deep pass meant to catch defenders off guard, the Vikings run the ball through a wedge up the middle.

Understanding how to halt the opposition is one thing. Actually stopping the Vikings’ double wing is another matter. The Vikings entered the showdown as the highest scoring team in the CHSFL AAA division, averaging 34.5 points a game.

The Friars’ beefy defensive front and active linebackers and safeties were seemingly tailor-made to stuff the run. St. Anthony’s (6-1, 5-1) flexed its collective muscle early, stopping hard-running Vikings senior Patrick Brennan for no gain on third-and-2 on the opening drive of the game.

One week after holding Holy Trinity’s Anthony Brunetti to under 100 yards for the first time, St. Anthony’s limited Brennan — the league’s second-leading rusher — to 94 yards on 23 carries.

St. Joseph by the Sea managed to rush for 199 yards, but couldn’t crack the end zone. Senior safety J.B. Andreassi recovered a fumble inside the Friars’ 10-yard line and the defense stopped another potential scoring threat on downs.

The Vikings fought another foe: The clock. Its run-based offense drained the clock. That’s just fine when you are nursing a lead. But not when you trail by multiple scores. St. Joe’s was able to score the final 20 points to beat Iona Prep in OT just six days earlier. But there was no rallying against the Friars.

CLICKING

It was a signature victory. And the players celebrated accordingly, drawing the ire of St. Anthony’s coach Rich Reichert after the postgame handshake. The Friars might have locked up the top seed in the CHSFL Class AAA playoffs with one week remaining in the regular season, but there is still too much football left to savor any sense of accomplishment.

But the Friars are clearly building toward another championship run. The offense has gotten more diverse by the week. Ruggiero (69 yards on 14 carries) has emerged as the main back. Yet the Friars don’t need to depend on him or Brady for big gainers. Mercurio and junior Atiq Lucas are home run threats running or catching the ball.

And the kicking game has been a real strength. Reichert can send out either Grennen or Ferrara to hit a field goals from virtually anywhere. Add to that Ferrara’s dual threat kicking off and at punter. He usually pins the opposition deep. There’s no doubt St. Anthony’s has consistently won the field position game this season.

Aside from a first quarter meltdown against Mount St. Michael, the defense has played superbly.

With one contest remaining until the playoffs, the Friars are playing their best football. Therein lies the danger. Rival Chaminade is next. The inconsistent Flyers have close wins over Holy Trinity and Mount St. Michael and blowout losses to St. Joe Sea and Farrell.

What Chaminade team shows up Friday at 7 p.m. in South Huntington is irrelevant. How St. Anthony’s responds is all that matters.

MVP

Give defensive coordinator George McLaren credit. The double wing offense St. Joesph by the Sea runs has given foes fits. The Friars have surrendered a combined 77 points in the last two showdowns with the Vikings. This one seemed destined to go to the team that scored last. But the Friars defense put together arguably its finest performance of the year. Yes, St. Joe’s did pile up 199 rushing yards. But the Vikings registered zero passing yards as the Friars recovered a fumble inside the 10-yard line and stopped another drive on downs.

KEY PLAY

James Brady shook off a holding penalty that pushed St. Anthony’s back to the St. Joe’s 40 and two plays later hit Jack Kensil between two defenders. The ball lodged in the wideout’s facemask until he tucked it away for a 33-yard gain down to the 7. William Ruggiero scored on a 5-yard run two plays later for a 10-0 lead with 7:30 left in the first half.

SCORING

TEAM………………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
St. Joseph by the Sea…0…..0…..0…..0 — 0
St. Anthony’s…………….3…..7…..7…..0 — 17
SA — FG 35 Grennen
SA — Ruggiero 5 run (Ferrara kick)
SA — Brady 1 run (Grennen kick)

Friars Football: Friars Shut Down Brunetti

October 13, 2007

Friars Football Week 6 2007

Title: Run Stoppers: Friars Shut Down Brunetti, Run Away From Holy Trinity
Publication: Frairs Football.com
Author: Jason Molinet
Date: 10-13-07
Word Count: 1063

It was a designed draw, just as most of his runs begin. St. Anthony’s senior quarterback James Brady dropped back, bobbed on the balls of his feet as if setting up to throw and then tucked the ball under his left arm and shot up the middle through a crease.

Brady was past the line in a blink, stepped through a hand tackle and headed toward the end zone just 13 yards away. As he approached the goal line, Brady grabbed the football with his right hand and thrust it into the air.

That was the defining image of a day ruled by Brady runs and a stubborn St. Anthony’s defense. Brady scored three times to power the Friars past rival Holy Trinity, 34-14, in a key CHSFL clash Saturday afternoon before a crowd of 800 in Hicksville.

Brady’s 13-yard scoring run came with 56 seconds left. It capped another gritty performance by the hobbled senior. Brady injured his left foot against Iona Prep and hasn’t been healthy in the four weeks since.

Still, Brady was the one MSG cameras trained on and reporters quoted in the post-game confusion. The 6-1, 215-pound Brady shook off a poor passing day to rush for a season-high 114 yards on 11 carries and touchdown runs of 1, 1 and 13 yards. He also completed 5 of 12 passes for 63 yards and an interception.

FAST START

It’s always important to set the tone early — especially on the road. Like the rest of the league, Holy Trinity hadn’t beaten the Friars in recent memory. The streak was 13 in a row, dating to 1993. The Titans were hungry to stop the streak.

Then came the opening kickoff. St. Anthony’s senior return man J.B. Andreassi took the ball at the 15 and jetted up the middle, though a gap in the wedge and into open field. No one caught Andreassi. He pulled up 85 yards later and the Friars led just 12 seconds into the game. Rich Grennen’s point after attempt put St. Anthony’s in front 7-0.

The defense — along with a questionable call by Titans coach Tony Mascia — gave Brady and Co. the ball at midfield with 5:53 left in the first quarter. That’s when senior linebacker Craig Staub dropped Holy Trinity quarterback Michael Lagalante for a 10-yard loss on fourth down.

Brady extended the lead to 14-0 nine plays later with a 1-yard keeper. Another long march late in the second quarter — 73 yards on 12 plays — sent the Friars into halftime ahead 21-7.

STALLED

There will be those who claim the contest was much closer than the score indicates. But pull back the curtain and there’s an even harsher reality behind the perception.

The bottom line: Holy Trinity (2-4 overall, 2-3 CHSFL) struggled to move the ball. Sophomore sensation Anthony Brunetti entered the day with 728 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns to power the Titans. He owned five 100-yard games.

That streak was stopped by the Friars (5-1, 4-1). Holy Trinity managed 89 yards on 34 carries — good for 2.6 yards per carry — and Brunetti (67 yards on 16 attempts) was held out of the end zone.

The return of Rutgers-bound defensive tackle Scott Vallone helped. Winless Xaverian rushed for 147 yards against the Friars. But that was with Vallone sidelined by a neck injury. His presence, along with the Friars’ swarming linebackers, did a solid job of bottling up the Titans.

Holy Trinity’s first score was aided by two 15-yard penalties. Both were questionable. The first was a facemask. The infraction was clear. But the player in question let go of the facemask almost immediately. The second was a late hit by Vallone. But if his hit was late, the flag was thrown even later by an uncertain official.

EXPLOITING WEAKNESS

Lagalante was the lone bright spot. One year after getting hurt in a loss to St. Anthony’s, Lagalante accounted for both Holy Trinity scores. But again, things weren’t as they seemed.

A roughing the kicker penalty kept the second Holy Trinity scoring drive alive. Then Lagalante hit consecutive 31-yard passes, the latter a strike to junior wideout Gregory Walsh in the back of the end zone to close the gap to 27-14 early in the fourth quarter.

The secondary has been a source of strength for the Friars. But the St. Anthony’s defense was missing three quarters of its secondary on Trinity’s scoring drive. Andreassi cramped up and left the field on the series. Lockdown cornerback Matthew Metalios, who made several big plays against Xaverian, was already on the bench getting treatment. And senior safety Dan Basil, a real playmaker, was knocked out of the game in the second quarter with a possible concussion.

With three of the Friars’ best players on the sideline, Lagalante suddenly found holes in the defense and exploited them. He couldn’t repeat that magic when the Titans got the ball back with 4:21 left. Lagalante drove the Titans to the St. Anthony’s 33 before senior linebacker Kevin Waite wrapped up a workmanlike performance with a 7-yard sack on fourth down.

No, this one wasn’t close.

END RESULT

Want to know how badly each team wanted this one? A scuffle broke out following a St. Anthony’s kickoff return midway through the fourth quarter. Andreassi got buried on the play and a scrum ensued.

By the time emotions finally cooled, both Holy Trinity and St. Anthony’s were assessed offsetting personal foul penalties and Holy Trinity senior Kenneth Murphy was ejected. No doubt adrenaline had turned to frustration for Holy Trinity as the Friars had the game in hand.

St. Anthony’s rushed for 253 yards and won the game at the point of the attack. Coach Rich Reichert called upon his players to show who was the more physical team. That point was made time and again. The line gave backs Nicholas Mercurio (64 yards on nine carries) and William Ruggiero (54 yards on 13 attempts) room to roam.

Even though the defense forced just one turnover (a Ryan Fumai interception), eight plays ended in losses.

The Friars will need another stellar effort against the dynamic ground attack of Staten Island upstart St. Joseph by the Sea. The Friars host Sea at 7 p.m. Friday.

The winner of that game could well earn the top seed in the Class AAA playoffs. Adjust your chin strap. The stretch run is finally here.

MVP

Senior quarterback James Brady, still bothered by a nagging foot injury, showed his leadership skills time and again against rival Holy Trinity. After the Titans cut the deficit to 14-7 midway through the second quarter, Brady led the Friars on a 12-play, 73-yard march. It culminated with a 1-yard push into the end zone on fourth down. It was one of three rushing touchdowns on the day for Brady, who scrambled for a season-high 114 yards on 11 carries. He also completed 5 of 12 passes for 63 yards and an interception.

KEY PLAY

Nothing sets the tone like running back the opening kickoff. That’s what super senior J.B. Andreassi did, taking the kickoff up the middle untouched for an 85-yard score and 7-0 St. Anthony’s lead just 12 seconds into the game. Andreassi, a safety, also scored on a 70-yard interception return last week against Xaverian.

SCORING

TEAM……………………1…..2…..3…..4 — FINAL
St. Anthony’s………..14…..7…..0….13 — 34
Holy Trinity……………0…..7…..0……7 — 14
SA — Andreassi 85 kickoff return (Grennen kick)
SA — Brady 1 run (Ferrara kick)
HT — Cureton 6 pass from Lagalante (Matias kick)
SA — Brady 1 run (Grennen kick)
SA — Ruggiero 3 run (run failed)
HT — Walsh 31 pass from Lagalante (Matias kick)
SA — Brady 13 run (Ferrara kick)

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