CHSFL Back in Full Swing

The 2021 Holy Cross H.S. varsity football team. (Photo: Courtesy Holy Cross H.S.)

The five diocesan Catholic high school football teams are off and running. Last year’s fall season was postponed until the spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following a seven-on-seven format for skills players last fall, the spring saw a shortened CHSFL schedule, complete with important safety protocols.

This year, though, our teams are fully back to a regular schedule.

Here’s a look at each team as they continue their seasons on the gridiron:

Building Off a Big Win

If the season ended today, the Holy Cross H.S., Flushing, varsity football team would consider it a success, simply based on the 30-15 victory the Knights earned over St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, in the “Battle of the Boulevard” game on Sept. 11.

The Knights are eager to return to the quality Holy Cross football that has become synonymous with the program for years. Head coach Tim Smith had the team heading in the right direction as the student-athletes built upon a solid foundation.

Senior Devin Grant serves as a jack of all trades. Normally a wide receiver and free safety, he’s been filling in at quarterback until an underclassman is ready to take over. Senior Anthony Marin anchors both the offensive and defensive lines.

Senior linebacker Destine McNeil is the team’s leader on defense, while senior and team captain Nicholas McAloney has been a contributor on offense as a fullback, defense as a linebacker, and special teams as the kicker and punter.

A few underclassmen have also pitched in. Sophomore linebacker/running back Nicolas Woods and sophomore wide receiver/cornerback Isaac Glaudin have used their speed on both sides of the ball.

“We have good overall team speed,” Smith said. “That will be our strength, especially on offense.”

A Royal Rebuilding

For Christ the King H.S., Middle Village, the varsity team is made up of mostly underclassmen, as this fall will serve as a building block year.

“We’re very young, and we’re a small team,” said Royals head coach Jay Brown. “Our defensive line is big and stout. That’s our strength right now.”

That big D-line is made up of junior defensive tackle Tyriq Blanding and freshmen defensive ends Tyler Davis and Tyler Partlow. They hope to lead the Royals’ attack up front, especially against their opponents’ running game.

On offense, Christ the King is expecting heavy contributions from freshman wide receiver Jourdin Houston. He’s gaining invaluable experience as a freshman that will only help him in the long run.

Strength in Numbers

The St. Francis Prep Terriers will rely on a mixture of depth and senior leadership this season, fielding a roster of close to 60 student-athletes.

“Our numbers are very strong,” said head coach Rich Carroll. “We’re coming off a crazy year from the spring, and we were taken aback by how well we did numbers-wise. The kids are all looking to get involved and work hard. We’re doing what St. Francis Prep does.”

The Terriers will rely on a strong defense in big games. Senior defensive end Kaleb Artis is a playmaker and leader, while senior linebackers Charles Gangi and Sebastian Villavicencio pack a mighty punch in the middle.

Senior Mike Solimando has been a contributor as a defensive back as well as a wide receiver. On the offensive line, senior Neil O’Donnell has been consistently opening holes for senior running backs Jaden St. Fort and Jaziyah Welch.

Junior quarterback Isaiah Decruz has also been impressive as he leads the huddle and gains important experience ahead of his senior year.

Guided by Youth

The Nazareth H.S., East Flatbush, varsity football team is going through a rebuilding phase with just four seniors — three of whom had never played football before joining the program. With most starters being freshmen and sophomores, the Kingsmen are gaining the necessary experience to be competitive in the near future.

“For us, it’s more than just football,” said Nazareth head coach Desmond Defreitas. “We’re teaching the kids how to be men through football.”

It’s been a learning process for the Kingsmen, yet their enthusiasm has led them to gain knowledge of being good teammates and playing the game the right way.

Senior quarterback Nick White leads the offensive charge. A former soccer player, White is a dual-threat through the air and on the ground.

It certainly helps to have some offensive weapons, and Nazareth boasts a strong wide receiver corps made up of senior Quidir Williams, junior Keenan Marshall, sophomore Gary Jarvis, and freshman Shaun Motayne. On defense, senior defensive lineman Amori Grant has been a disruptive force up front.

Competitive for All 4 Quarters

Down on Shore Road, the Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge, varsity football team is back in full swing. With a small roster of 34 players, many of the Clippers play on both sides of the ball and on special teams.

The team’s front seven on defense is shaping up to be a main strength. Senior middle linebacker Dave LaGanga and senior defensive tackle Chris Fieramosca lead the charge and are supported by senior outside linebacker Brendan DiLorenzo and senior safety Luke Carson.

Junior quarterback Bobby Benoit will look to find senior tight end Charlie Torres and junior wide receiver C.J. Manzola on the outside. Senior offensive lineman Joe Palombo is tasked with keeping his quarterback safe.

Xaverian’s junior kicker Leif Bostwick-Riddell is set to be a strong offensive weapon. It’s rare at this level to have a consistent kicker who can hit field goals in the red zone, so Bostwick-Riddell’s leg will help the Clippers put points on the board as they try to stay competitive in every game.

“I tell the boys that you never know what happens in the fourth quarter if you’re competitive throughout all four quarters,” said head coach Mike Jioia. “You have to give yourselves a chance.”

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