It doesn’t get any better than being the first undefeated team in 60 years of Archbishop Stepinac football, or so the 2010-11 Crusaders thought.
On Tuesday, the team was honored by Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and NFL star Bob Hyland, a proud Stepinac alumnus.
“Undefeated seasons don’t happen too often and in fact—it’s the first time in their school history that it’s happened to them,” said Astorino at a news conference. “They accomplished a lot and they deserve to be recognized, and we’re all proud of them.”
The team won the 2010 Catholic High School League AA title, conquered White Plains High School at the Turkey Bowl on top of achieving a 12-0 season.
Hyland, who was in attendance to commemorate the team’s success, graduated from Stepinac in 1963. He played in the NFL as a guard for 11 seasons with a variety of teams including the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, Chicago Bears and the New England Patriots. His career spanned from 1967-1977, he won a Super Bowl ring while playing for the Packers.
“I was able to make most of the games and this was a very special season,” said Hyland, tearing up as he congratulated the boys.
Astorino welcomed the team and school officials into the Westchester County Office Building to present them with a proclamation in recognition of their success.
“I, Robert P. Astorino, County Executive of Westchester, do herby proclaim January 18, 2011 to be the 2010 Stepinac High School Football Team’s Day in Westchester County with heartfelt thanks and warmest good wishes for much continued success and satisfaction in your professional and personal activities on behalf of all who live and work within our county,” the proclamation reads.
The Crusaders presented the county executive and Deputy Westchester County Executive Kevin Plunkett—who is also Stepinac alumni—honorary jerseys and championship hats.
“I’m very proud," said Plunkett. "I’ve followed Stepinac football since I started in the school in 1963 and to be here today with the team that’s undefeated—with their coaching staff and all the players, with Bob Hyland who was one our best players of all time at Stepinac—is indeed a special day, and I know the county executive feels the same way.”
“It was unbelievable year,” said Head Coach Mike O’Donnell, who has been nominated by the New York Daily News for coach of the year. “It really was a team effort and it was very nice to invite us in and honor us.”
Quarterback Tyrell Goodman, a 17-year-old from Yonkers who is a high school senior at Stepinac, was named Class A Co-State Player of the Year by the New York State Sports Writers Association (NYSSWA) for his excellent performance on the field.
Stepinac’s 17-year-old defensive line Donnie Simmons, a White Plains resident, plays alongside Goodman, and was also selected by the NYSSWA All State Class A 2010 Team.
“[Being honored is ]A great feeling, knowing we’re coming from White Plains and that the school’s in White Plains," said Simmons. "It’s a great accomplishment to know that, arguably, we’re one of the greatest teams to come out of Stepinac. It’s just a good feeling to have.”
“We’re all proud of Stepinac and what they did on the football field but it’s more than the athletes, it’s the student athletes that makes you so proud because they’re so good in the classroom and then they exhibit their athleticism on the field.” said Astorino.