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Stepinac Varsity loses to Cardinal Hayes

Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 by The Pit Reporter

Saturday, October 28, 2006
With results of games played on October 29, 2006


Stepinac falls to Cardinal Hayes
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(Original publication: October 28, 2006)

NEW YORK 2 At 5-foot-8 and 140 pounds, that Maurice Easterling is a freshman certainly isn't a surprise. But put him on a football field and that knowledge becomes less and less believable.

Easterling, a ninth-grader at Archbishop Stepinac High School, has shown a capability to play well beyond his years during his first year on the varsity squad. With blazing speed and an array of moves, the precocious player more than handles his own against teams with defenders twice his size.

Last night, while most of his own team struggled, Easterling's talents were on display once again. The freshman had 92 total yards and a touchdown and added 71 yards on two kick returns before being sidelined for the second half with a hip injury in the Crusaders' 39-20 loss to Cardinal Hayes in a CHSFL AA game at SUNY Maritime.

"I play every game hard," said Easterling, a Mount Vernon resident. "I'm just about running and cutting. When I get the ball, I try to score every time."

The loss halted a three-game winning streak for Stepinac (3-5). Still, head coach Mike O'Donnell was pleased with his offense, in particular Easterling, who is expected to be ready to play when the playoffs start next weekend.

"The kid is going to be very good," O'Donnell said. "He's exciting, he's a very good athlete, and he knows how to play football. We're looking for a bright future from him."

After falling behind 19-0, the Crusaders broke through when Joseph Collins hit Easterling on a screen for a 3-yard touchdown with 6:16 to play in the second quarter. But right before the half, the Cardinals (5-3) responded with a backbreaking score. Getting the ball at midfield, it took Hayes quarterback Cory Watson two passes and just over 40 seconds to find the end zone to make it a three-possession game again at 26-8 heading into halftime. While running backs Frank Hogan and Kevin Mayfield each had well over 100 yards on the ground, it was Watson who did the most damage with his arm and his feet.

"Actually their quarterback was probably their biggest weapon," O'Donnell said. "Hayes played great and we basically couldn't stop them."

Collins, a sophomore, finished 8 of 20 for 127 yards and two touchdowns. Junior Rashaad Slowley had 119 yards of total offense and a 19-yard touchdown reception, and senior Greg Datino added 19 yards rushing and a touchdown. Slowley also came close to catching two other touchdowns, one on the last play of the first half and the other on a fourth-down play early in the third quarter. On the first play he was ruled to have trapped the ball and on the second he caught the ball but was ruled out of bounds. Both plays ended good Stepinac drives.

Despite the near misses, O'Donnell is optimistic about his offense, led by the young trio of Slowley, Easterling and Collins, heading into the postseason and beyond.

"Our younger guys are going to be pretty good," O'Donnell said. " They do give us a bright future".

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