Stepinac completes undefeated season
WHITE PLAINS -- Stepinac quarterback Tyrell Goodman glowed as he basked in the aftermath of perfection.
Stepinac quarterback Tyrell Goodman breaks a tackle by Jaeshon Brooks of White Plains during Thursday's Turkey Bowl game.
He wanted to articulate the significance of Thursday's 42-14 win over rival White Plains because he knew how much it meant. Twelve wins, zero losses. An undefeated season for the first time in program history. A permanent place in Stepinac football lore.
Goodman searched for the right words to describe the euphoria rushing through his body, but his mouth lagged far behind his mind.
At that moment, he didn't need to say much. The smile on his face and the twinkle in his eye suggested that he understood exactly what his team accomplished.
And when he finally spoke, he summed it up about as well as anyone ever could.
"This team is going down in the history books as the greatest team Stepinac ever had," Goodman said. "We're all part of history."
Goodman ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the 40th annual Turkey Bowl at White Plains High School. Caleb Gilligan-Evans also rushed for two scores, propelling the Crusaders to a blowout victory before they settled in for Thanksgiving dinner.
Stepinac had just four days to prepare for White Plains after beating Kellenberg in the CHSFL AA championship last Saturday, but it seemed unfazed by the quick turnaround.
Afterward, coach Mike O'Donnell stopped short of calling this team the best he ever coached. But he acknowledged that with a 12-0 record, it instantly climbs near the top of the list.
"We talk all the time about, 'How do you want to be remembered?' " said O'Donnell, who joined the Stepinac coaching staff 30 years ago. "They want to be remembered as one of the best teams in the history of the school. And they'll be remembered."
White Plains (6-3) hung tough for the first 24 minutes and went into the locker room at halftime trailing 14-7. The Tigers maintained possession and managed to keep Stepinac's dynamic offense mostly on the sideline.
Eventually, Goodman simply took over. He rushed for 172 yards on 18 carries and finished 7-of-10 passing for 77 yards, demonstrating why he is considered perhaps the area's best player. Goodman looked unstoppable at times, running around -- and sometimes through -- many potential White Plains tacklers.
Late in the fourth quarter, Jeff Clack intercepted a Michael Trapp pass and returned it for a touchdown to put a loud exclamation point on the game. As he sprinted toward the end zone, he pointed straight ahead, as if officially stamping the undefeated season.
"It's so unbelievable it hasn't hit me yet," Clack said.
As the clock ticked toward zero, the party began on the Stepinac sideline. The players poured coolers of Gatorade on their couches, then spilled onto the field to celebrate.
"We're going to keep celebrating now," Goodman said. "Then it's time to go eat turkey."
After a 12-0 season, Stepinac deserved it.