Stepinac's Goodman: The perfect leader
WHITE PLAINS -- When compared to a 12-game season that was almost always triumphant, the moment was nothing special -- just a measly punt in an exhibition. Remember that. This was no 50-yard touchdown pass thrown over two defenders or a spinning run to paydirt through and around half the Iona Prep student body -- both of which had been accomplished before.
Quarterback Tyrell Goodman of Stepinac led the Crusaders to the first 12-0 season in school history.
But if watching Tyrell Goodman produce those next-level highlights no longer opens Mike O'Donnell's eyes, this did: an 82-yard punt from out of trouble and into safety that helped Goodman's team win the CHSFL's Senior Bowl.
Thinking back, O'Donnell laughed. He may be impressed, but he knows he shouldn't have been surprised. No matter where Goodman played this year, one truth always prevailed about this year's Westchester/Putnam player of the year.
"Every place we went, he was always the best player on the field,' the Stepinac coach said.
That's saying something on a team with more than one Division I talent and in a league producing them by the fistfuls. But O'Donnell believes it.
In fact, while the 6-foot-2, 207-pound Goodman led the Crusaders to the first 12-0 season in school history, he also vaulted himself into elite company alongside eight-year NFL veteran Eric Ogbogu and dozens of others in Stepinac football lore.
"He's probably the best player I've ever coached,' O'Donnell said.
On the field, all Goodman did was provide constant evidence. He broke Joe Collins' school record for single-season passing yards with 1,686 and arrived at the mark with precision, completing 67.9 percent of his passes and tossing 23 touchdowns against just three interceptions. He also made the run game click in the Crusaders' spread offense, carrying 151 times for 1,172 yards and another 14 touchdowns.
Goodman also won every award O'Donnell could recall: league offensive MVP, CHSFL player of the week (twice), and MVP honors in the CHSFL AA championship and the Turkey Bowl.
He was physically dominant at times last year, too, but a rededication to running the offense correctly and making proper decisions raised his game. The coaches sat down and watched film with him after last season to point out critiques. For a few moments he shook his head but he eventually realized they were right.
"I had to take that next step,' he said.
Goodman's first one actually set his record-setting career in motion. That's when he enrolled at Stepinac after attending Roosevelt High School as a freshman and not playing football.
Not only has Goodman developed into an All-CHSAA quarterback, he's the reigning city champ in the javelin after taking up the sport just last year. And he recently made the honor roll last quarter for the first time he can remember.
"Coming here really changed my life,' Goodman said. "From how I carry myself, to how to be respectful. The teachers here have really helped me.'
Now he hopes recruiters continue to take notice. Goodman still must continue his upward swing in the classroom to meet NCAA Division I academic requirements, and O'Donnell believes his quarterback is closing in.
His progress and his football prowess have already garnered a scholarship offer from Stony Brook. Akron, James Madison, Delaware and New Hampshire have offered official visits, and Maryland recruiting coordinator Dave Sollazzo -- a Harrison native -- is scheduled to visit Goodman this week.
"I just want the best fit for me,' Goodman said, noting a conversation with his older brother. "That's where I want to go. I would love to play at a big Division I-A school, but I want to go somewhere that fits me and fits my style.'
If he wanted, Goodman's future could probably include a move to defense. He played one full quarter at outside linebacker this year and had three sacks in Stepinac's first win over Iona Prep since 2002. But it is not where he feels most comfortable.
"I definitely want to play quarterback,' Goodman said. "I just love the pressure.'
Coach of the year
Mike O'Donnell, Stepinac: In the long history of football at Stepinac, no team has accomplished so much. The Crusaders, who outscored opponents 470-86, finished 12-0 by winning their second CHSFL AA championship in four seasons and beating crosstown rival White Plains 42-14 in the 40th annual Turkey Bowl. Along the way, O'Donnell also led Stepinac to a victory over Catholic rival Iona Prep for the first time since 2002.
Here are the rest of The Journal News first-team all-stars:
Christian Conway, Jr., Bronxville: The newcomer made quite an impact in the Broncos' run to the first state title in program history, rushing for 1,617 yards and 23 touchdowns while averaging 11.0 yards per carry. He earned most outstanding back honors in the state semifinals and an all-section nod, while finishing third on the team in tackles (55) as a linebacker.
Matt Tralli, Sr., Croton-Harmon: This three-year starter and all-section runner finished his career strong for the Class B state semifinalists. He gained 1,194 yards and scored 10 touchdowns on just 128 carries, caught 20 passes for 340 yards and seven touchdowns, and intercepted five passes and made 76 tackles. Tralli was named most outstanding back in the state regionals and outstanding defensive player in the state semis.
Sidney Weston, Sr., Iona Prep: After shifting from linebacker, where he was a two-year starter, all Weston did was win offensive MVP honors in the CHSFL AAA. He left little doubt after rushing for 1,948 yards and 31 touchdowns in just 12 games, including 560 yards in the CHSFL semifinals and final.
Duke Alvora, Sr., Harrison: One of the few four-year starters for the Huskies in the last generation, the 6-foot, 240-pound Alvora recovered in less than six months from a torn ACL. He started both ways all season for the Huskies, and displayed the versatility to play multiple positions along both lines.
Eric Cooley, Jr., Yorktown: This 6-foot-3, 245-pound all-section lineman anchored the offensive and defensive fronts for the emerging 'Huskers. He recorded 50 tackles and helped Yorktown pile up 4,029 yards of offense in just nine games.
Victor DiFusco, Sr., Mahopac: The 6-foot, 218-pounder is a linebacker and fullback who slotted in at guard much of the season without a hitch. He earned all-section honors and was named his league's top lineman after recording a team-best 97 tackles, as well as four sacks. DiFusco even scored the only touchdown in Mahopac's Class AA semifinal victory on a 51-yard run.
Joe Magardino, Sr., Horace Greeley: Despite standing 6-foot-1 and 245 pounds, Magardino provides the Quakers with just as much brain as brawn. He is a flawless center in their shotgun offense as well as a punishing defensive lineman capable of playing multiple positions along the front.
Stephen Shoemaker, Sr., Bronxville: At an athletic 301 pounds, the Yale-bound Shoemaker helped pave the way for a remarkable 3,989 rushing yards. He also ranked second on the state champs in tackles with 72 and had 11 sacks. He earned league lineman of the year honors and was named the most outstanding lineman in the state championship game.
Ryan Wagner, Sr., Mahopac: The all-section receiver and outside linebacker delivered in key moments for the Indians. Against arguably the toughest schedule in the section, the 6-foot, 182-pound Wagner caught game-winning touchdowns in dramatic wins against league foes Arlington, Ketcham and John Jay-East Fishkill, and stopped potential winning drives with interceptions twice.
Matt Wheeler, Sr., Scarsdale: Big plays were a speciality of the athletic 6-foot-2, 190-pound all-section wideout. He caught just 22 passes but they went for 530 yards and nine touchdowns. The 24.1-yards-per-catch average was only part of the impact he had as someone who performed on defense and special teams as well.
Brian Pickup, Sr., Rye: At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, Pickup was a disruptive force as a receiver and pass rusher. Never was that more apparent than when he led the Garnets to a dramatic 21-20 victory over Harrison that included three Pickup catches on the final drive, including a leaping touchdown with just 15 seconds remaining.
Donnie Simmons, Sr., Stepinac: The Syracuse-bound player was named the defensive player of the year in the CHSFL's AA division after he helped lead the Crusaders to the first unbeaten season in program history. He recorded 10 sacks, forced two fumbles and had an interception, and, at 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds, showed his supreme athleticism by returning a kickoff for a touchdown.
Austin Taps, Jr., Stepinac: In his first varsity game, the 6-foot-4, 225-pound tight end/defensive end caught four passes and had three sacks to help the Crusaders beat rival Iona Prep for the first time since 2002. He kept contributing to the tune of 9.5 sacks and three forced fumbles and 27 receptions for 369 yards and five scores.
Tanner Knox, Sr., Harrison: The bruising 208-pound fullback rushed for a team-best 1,135 yards on the Class A state runner-up in his fourth year as a starter. He received outstanding back honors in the Section 1 final and was named all-section for standout play in the backfield and at linebacker.
Michael Longo, Sr., Iona Prep: The 215-pound defensive anchor led one of the CHSFL's top-ranked defenses, earning him the nod as the AAA division's defensive player of the year. With an equally strong academic resume, Longo is considering offers from Ivy League programs, as well as Johns Hopkins.
Bubby Manns, Sr., New Rochelle: Standing about 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, Manns still packs a wallop as one of the section's hardest hitters. Along with Jordan Lucas, this all-section linebacker led a stout Huguenots defense that allowed just 70 points during a run to the Class AA state semifinals.
Lucas Myer, Sr., John Jay: Despite playing four games with a broken leg, Myer, an all-section selection, still led the Indians with 107 tackles. His performance helped them defeat unbeaten Poughkeepsie and earn a share of the League A-North title. Albany, Stony Brook and UNH are among the programs recruiting Myer.
Thomas DiCarlo, Sr., Eastchester: With a team decimated by graduation and injury, DiCarlo, a four-year starter, was among the section's most indispensable players. His 50.5 tackles were the second most on the Eagles. As a quarterback, the all-section pick rushed for 1,018 yards and 13 touchdowns and passed for 665 yards and six scores.
T.J. Foley, Sr., Mahopac: Foley was named co-back of the year in his league after leading the Indians to the first Section 1 final since the state playoffs began in 1993. He threw for 786 yards and eight touchdowns and rushed for 523 yards and five scores, while anchoring the defensive backfield with 47 tackles and an interception, which sealed a victory over Ketcham.
Jordan Lucas, Sr., New Rochelle: Lucas earned all-section and league back of the year honors by shining in all three phases. He proved as much with 142 yards of offense and two touchdowns, an interception and a fumble recovery in an MVP performance in the Class AA final. Penn State, Maryland, Syracuse and several Division I-AA programs have expressed interest in him.
Dillon Mitchell, Sr., Bronxville: Football Championship Subdivision programs like Holy Cross and Bucknell have recruited the all-section quarterback/defensive back, who earned MVP honors in the Broncos' victory in the Class C state final. He starred on a defense that posted five shutouts. At quarterback, he passed for 662 yards on just 25 completions and rushed for 940 yards and 13 scores while averaging 12.9 yards per carry.
Justin Ciero, Jr., Horace Greeley: The 6-foot, 200-pound Ciero earned the league back of the year and all-section honors as one of the section's top dual threats. He produced multiple 100-yard games as both a passer and as a runner, and appeared on his way to another commanding performance in the Section 1 Class A final before suffering a broken foot.
Conor Prunty, Sr., Lakeland: Prunty is believed to be the first Lakeland player named all-section as a junior and senior. He eclipsed 100 yards rushing against playoff-bound John Jay, Horace Greeley and Somers and finished the season with 810 yards and 13 touchdowns rushing as well as three passing touchdowns.
Eric Reid, Sr., New Rochelle: Reid started the season 33 for 33 on extra points until a bad snap in the Class AA state semifinals cost him a chance to extend his streak. Still 33 for 34 and one deep kickoff after another provided the Huguenots with a sure thing on extra points and a field-position weapon on kickoffs.
QB -- Hime Rraci, Sr., John Jay
RB -- Matt DeBiase, Sr., Westlake
RB -- Caleb Gilligan-Evans, Jr., Stepinac
RB -- Steve Ricciardi, Sr., Harrison
OL -- John Brennan, Jr., Croton-Harmon
OL -- Kevin Chen, Sr., Tuckahoe
OL -- Ali Marpet, Sr., Hastings
OL -- Henry Palermo, Sr., Bronxville
OL -- Brian Warager, Sr., White Plains
OL -- A.J. Wolf, Jr., Hackley
LB Brian Byrnes - Sr, Stepinac
Jeff Clack Sr Stepinac
Nick Euvino, Sr , Stepinac
Garfield Heslop, JR , Stepinac
Joe Mattiaccio, Sr Stepinac
Vincent Narog , JR Stepinac
Congratulations to all the Crusaders!
CHSFL All League-
Caleb Gilligan Evans
CHSFL Senior Bowl
Other Awards won :
AA CHSFL Offensive Player of Year: Tyrell Goodman
AA CHSFL Defensive Player of Year : Donnie Simmons
AA CHSFL Lineman of the Year Finalist : Joe Mattiaccio
MSG Varsity Team of the Year Stepinac Crusaders
MSG Varsity Regional Player of the Year: Tyrell Goodman