Optimism Kicks Off H.S. Football Season

Bishop Ford’s offense lines up against St. John the Baptist’s defense in a recent game won by St. John’s 14-6.

“Dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you’re willing to pay the price.”

These famous words were spoken by two-time Super Bowl champion coach and Sheepshead Bay native Vince Lombardi.

Though Lombardi spent his senior year of high school playing football at St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows, all six local Catholic high school teams hope to echo Lombardi’s words as they gear up for an exciting CHSAA schedule.

Bishop Ford H.S., Park Slope

Coming off a 3-7 season, the Bishop Ford Falcons will look to put together a competitive attack each week in the AA. Though the team was very young last year, the players are ready to perform at a high level.

“We’re executing very well on offense,” said Jim Esposito, entering his 11th season as Bishop Ford’s head coach. “We have a lot of young guys on defense and need to be a little more disciplined.”

The Falcons return nine starters on offense, including senior tailback and Week 1 Player of the Week Devon Mitchell, junior quarterback Xaviah Mattocks and sophomore tight end Rodney Gonzales.

Christ the King R.H.S., Middle Village

The Christ the King (AA) Royals are led by third-year Head Coach Chris Higgins. Last season, quarterback Terrel Hunt carried the team to a 6-4 record.

However, Hunt is now playing at Syracuse University. In fact, the Royals are only returning three starters on both offense and defense.

Higgins isn’t looking for any one player to replace Hunt, but rather he expects contributions from senior tight end Kalief Joyner, junior quarterback Matt Gluick, junior wide receiver Jordan Fuchs and junior running back/linebacker James Coleman.

“We’re getting better every day,” said Higgins. “I expect more out of this group than any other group I’ve had in the past.”

Holy Cross H.S., Flushing

Like the Royals, the Holy Cross Knights lost a big-time player – wide receiver Devon Cajuste to Stanford University. The Knights (AAA) are coming off a 4-6 season in 2010.

Head Coach Tom Pugh, entering his 38th year, is excited with the crop of talent he has this season.

“We’re very young and very fast,” said Pugh. “We’re excited with the speed we have.”

Senior quarterback Yianni Gavalas, senior running back Shyheim Wingate and senior tight end Pierrot Senat will look to set the example for the younger players.

Nazareth R.H.S., East Flatbush

Last year, Nazareth Head Coach Anthony Barnes led a revival of the school’s football program after a fear of losing it altogether. Barnes and assistant coaches Giscard Rondeau, Gary Gooden and Dwight Shaw are all alumni of the school.

The Kingsmen will play an independent schedule this season before officially joining the CHSAA next fall.  Since the team only has 38 players, many see time on both offense and defense.

Junior wide receiver/safety Brandon Townend is the team’s captain, while junior running back Kai Bryant and senior linebacker Shaquille Stewart also will serve as leaders.

“I’m very excited and optimistic about our future,” said Barnes. “We’re coaching up our youth now to fill in the gaps for next year.”

St. Francis Prep, Fresh Meadows

The L’il Terriers had a tough season last fall (1-9) in AA, but that hasn’t stopped Head Coach Vince O’Connor from being very enthusiastic about this year’s squad. This fall will be O’Connor’s 58th year at the Prep.

Though his team currently lacks experience, O’Connor is confident that his players will eventually gel.

“They have a good spirit to them,” said O’Connor. “They’re an intelligent group of guys and understand what needs to be done.”

Senior quarterback and first-time starter Tom Cani assumes the role left by Brendan Stackpole.  Junior running back Ramel Joseph and senior wide receiver/free safety Bob Myers can be impact players.

Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge

The Xaverian Clippers of the AAA are expected to bounce back from a 5-5 2010 season. The X-Men return several key seniors including wide receiver Sean Binckes, the team’s captain and author of a bi-weekly football journal in the New York Post.

The Clippers also will rely on a two-headed running back tandem consisting of juniors Isaiah Kearney and Laray Smith. Senior captain TuShaun Plummer will be a force on both offense and defense.

Head Coach Joe DeSiena has high expectations for this talented group.

Coughlin to Host ‘Champions’ Gala


New York Giants Head Coach Tom Coughlin, known for his devout Catholic faith, will host the seventh annual “Champions for Children” gala on Friday, Oct. 28, at Cipriani in midtown Manhattan.

Coughlin is the founder and president of the Jay Fund Foundation, a non-profit organization that provides emotional and financial assistance to families who have a child battling cancer.

The foundation is named after the late Jay McGillis, who played safety at Boston College in the early 1990s, when Coughlin was the coach there. McGillis lost an eight-month battle to leukemia in July 1992.

Coughlin always admired McGillis for his determination as a player and also the courage he showed during his fight with the disease. Coughlin started the Jay Fund Foundation in 1996, and to date, the organization has donated over $3 million.

The “Champions for Children” gala is the Jay Fund’s most profitable fundraiser and raises over $500,000 annually for families in the N.Y.C. area.  The event is open to the public, and many current and former Giants players will participate.

For more event information or to purchase tickets, call 212-627-1000 or email

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