Local teams take top titles
By KEVIN DEVANEY JR.
THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: November 19, 2007)
HEMPSTEAD - Before the clock even expired, the Stepinac football team ran onto the field and a large stack of white hats were passed out to the players.
The hats read: "Stepinac champions."
Nobody ever accused this Stepinac team of being short on confidence. The Crusaders had every reason to be, based on yesterday's 47-12 thrashing of Christ the King of Queens in the Catholic High School Football League AA Division championship game at Hofstra University's Shuart Stadium.
Rashaad Slowley scored three touchdowns in the game's first eight minutes as Stepinac cruised to its eighth straight win and captured its first CHSFL title since 1995.
"Winning this championship has been the goal since the beginning of the season," said Slowley, who rushed for 126 yards on 22 carries. "We got to the semifinals when I was a sophomore, and we didn't have a great season last year. To go out as a senior with a championship is the perfect ending."
Yesterday's game was over soon after it started. Stepinac scored on its first five possessions, including a 36-yard run by Maurice Easterling, a Yonkers resident who also had two interceptions from his safety position.
Brian Boulhosa caught an 11-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Joe Collins late in the second quarter, and Stepinac's linebackers scored two touchdowns in the first 41 seconds of the third. Anthony Mateo recovered a fumble in the end zone on the first play of the third quarter, and Blake Rziemieniewski returned an interception 28 yards on the second play.
Stepinac has scored 45 points or more in six of its last eight games. The defense has forced 40 turnovers in 11 games.
The Crusaders (9-2) still have a game remaining, against crosstown rival White Plains in their annual "Turkey Bowl" on at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at Highland Middle School's Parker Stadium.
"No team in Stepinac history has ever won 10 games, and this group has that chance," Crusaders coach Mike O'Donnell said. "We won nine games in 1997 and 1995. If they can go out and win a 10th game, it will definitely go down as one of the best teams we've had at the school."
Stepinac wasn't the only Lower Hudson Valley varsity team to claim a championship yesterday.
Byram Hills' boys soccer team won the Class A state title with a 1-0 victory over Burnt Hills at the National Soccer Hall of Fame fields in Oneonta.
Two volleyball teams also came home with the top prize. Hen Hud won its second straight Class A state title by beating Burnt Hills 3-1. Haldane won its first state championship since 1998 by topping Randolph 3-1 for the Class D crown.