ESPN- New York
Posted Sunday, October 24, 2010 by Espn.com
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – At the beginning of the season, the Archbishop Stepinac High School football team laid out three goals.
The first would be to defeat rival Iona Prep, in its opener, on Sept. 11. The Crusaders downed the Gaels, 23-6.
The second goal was to win the Catholic High School Football League’s AA-A Division title. Stepinac achieved goal No. 2 with a commanding 45-12 win over Christ the King Saturday afternoon.
The last goal is much loftier.
“We would like to win our remaining games and then go on and win the AA Championship at the end of the playoffs if we could,” Stepinac head coach Mike O’ Donnell said. “We set goals early in the year and we’re trying to tackle them out one at a time.”
Considering how well the Crusaders played in their division clincher against Christ the King, that third goal seems quite achievable.
In a matchup of two teams that were undefeated in league play, Stepinac showed its mettle in Saturday's win. The Crusaders were able to move the ball at will, shut down the Royals’ Division I-bound quarterback Terrel Hunt and even add a special teams score in the rout.
“This definitely was a statement game because Christ the King was one of the best teams in the league and definitely has one of the best quarterbacks in the league,” Crusaders senior quarterback Tyrell Goodman said. “The score on the scoreboard showed that we came out and played our hearts out and we didn’t stop.”
While both teams are expected to be top contenders in the playoffs for the AA Championship, Stepinac (7-0) clearly played like the better team Saturday, taking it to the Royals (5-2) from the opening kickoff.
Donnie Simmons is committed to Syracuse and is recognized more for his standout play as a defensive end. He took the opening kick 85 yards for a touchdown that gave Stepinac a 6-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game. Simmons said that was his first career kickoff return for a score and he just took advantage of a big hole in the coverage.
“It was a great momentum shift where the whole mentality was concerned,” Simmons said. “Everybody was revved up, the offense was scoring, and that’s what we gotta do.”
Offensively, Stepinac marched up and down the field. The Crusaders, who entered the game second in points scored in the league, successfully mixed the pass and the run, combining short passes with its strong running game.
Goodman rushed for 57 yards and two scores, including a 12-yard score to give the Crusaders a 31-0 lead heading into halftime. He completed 12-of-19 passes for 171 yards with an interception and a touchdown, the latter of which was a 33-yard strike to Vincent Narog to boost Stepinac’s lead to 38-0 lead in the third quarter. Caleb Gilligan-Evans also rushed for two scores.
While Goodman went out of his way to say that he did not look at this as a battle between him and Hunt, who has committed to Syracuse. Goodman had the better day between the two signal callers. O’ Donnell believes his quarterback made a statement with his play.
“His completion rate is unbelievable for the year, and he realizes that if he plays small ball, he’s very effective and they really can’t cover people the way he throws the ball,” O’ Donnell said. “He’s got such a powerful arm and the receivers do such a good job catching the ball. It’s good to see him have such a good day today.”
On defense, the Crusaders showed why they had allowed just 27 points coming into the game. A relentless pass rush left Hunt, one of the best quarterbacks in the state, on the run all day. He never had time to allow plays to develop down the field. When he dropping back to throw, he was continuously on the move trying to avoid sack-hungry defenders. He was sacked three times and admitted he was frustrated.
With Stepinac’s defense clamping down, Christ the King struggled to sustain drives and did not score an offensive touchdown until Hunt hit Kalief Joyner with an 11-yard pass to make it 45-12 with 2:48 remaining. The Royals previously scored on an interception return for a touchdown by Hunt.
“We just had to contain [Hunt] so he wouldn’t have the chance to run out the pocket and to score,” Simmons said. “So what we did was we basically we contained him inside so he wouldn’t really make any big plays.”
After the game, players from both teams admitted they were surprised at the result. What was expected to be a close game had been turned into a one-sided affair for the home team that clinched a division championship.
“It was a great win, our team did excellent,” Goodman said. “We just kept executing and we didn’t stop, we kept going. Coaches did a great job, line did an amazing job and the defense, it showed on the scoreboard. Our defense did what they had to do and stopped one of the best players in the league.”