Donnie Simmons and Terrel Hunt finally spoke Friday night. The Syracuse-bound stars from Archbishop Stepinac and Christ the King and been playing a bit of phone tag throughout the season. When they connected the night before facing each other, Simmons had a prediction for the Royals quarterback.
“He was talking about he is doing a kick return,” Hunt said. “I said, ‘Yea you are probably not going to run one back. You’re a little slow.’ He surprised me.”
Simmons proved the CK quarterback very wrong as he took the opening kick 85 yards down the middle of the field for a touchdown. It was just the senior defensive end’s second attempt of the year and the first for a touchdown of his career. It got the host Crusaders rolling to a convincing 45-12 win over Christ the King in the battle of the lone unbeaten teams in the CHSFL Class AA-A division Saturday afternoon in White Plains.
Terrel Hunt and Christ the King saw their unbeaten league season ended by Archbishop Stepinac.
“It was a big hole and I just took advantage of it,” Simmons said.
Hunt called the play a smack in the face and it was one that bothered Royals coach Chris Higgins because of the amount of time his team has spent working on coverage because it has happened at times earlier this season. But unlike in previous games CK didn’t have an answer.
“It was kind of one of those games that you pick yourself up a little bit,” Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell said. “He knew he was going against another Division I player.”
Stepinac’s unrelenting blitz contained Hunt in the pocket, allowed Simmons to able to bring him down numerous times from behind and kept long pass plays from developing down field.
Key drops, including one by Kalief Joyer at midfield with room to run on the Royals opening drive, kept the offense stagnant or marching backward.
“With an offense like we have when you drop a ball or a sack, it completely destroys our flow and our momentum,” Higgins said.
The Crusaders offense, on the other hand, was crisp and efficient. Quarterback Tyrell Goodman (12-of-19, 171 yards) scored on a 10-yard run up the middle and hit Austin Taps for the 2-point conversion midway through the first quarter. Caleb Gilligan-Evans started the second quarter by punching the ball in from six yards for the first of his two rushing touchdowns to put Stepinac, ranked No. 3 in the CHSFL by The Post, in front 21-0.
CK went three-and-out after a 61-yard kick return by Darrius Pritchett on the ensuing drive.
Prezemyslaw Popek tacked on a 30-yard field goal and Goodman had a 15-yard rushing score to put Stepinac up 31-0 at the half. After the break, Goodman put up his third score of the game, hitting Vincent Narog (four catches, 94 yards) from 33 yards out to extend the advantage to 38-0.
Hunt put No. 10 Christ the King (5-2, 5-1) on the board by returning a tipped interception 60 yards for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and later found Joyner in the end zone from 10 yards out for a cosmetic score with 2:48 left in the game to make it 45-12.
“Terrel Hunt is a great, great player,” O’Donnell said “I think this kid [Goodman] is as good a player as there is anyone around here.”
His team, meanwhile, has proven to be better than any in the 'AA-A,' outscoring opponents 252-39, with just its regular-season finale against St. John the Baptist next week. Goodman called the victory a statement win heading into the upcoming 'AA' playoffs, where it was upset in the first round by St. Francis Prep a year ago. Simmons made the game’s first statement with his kickoff return.
“It set the tone for the game,” Goodman said. “We didn’t know that was going to happen. He just saw a lane and opened up. That got the crowd started.”