WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The Crusaders are finally home.
After a long summer of practice and nearly a full season of Catholic High School Football League play, the Archbishop Stepinac football team will play its first real home game – the Joe Riverso Memorial Game - Saturday against rival Iona Prep of New Rochelle on a brand new turf field.
“We are very excited to start using the field,” Stepinac’s longtime football coach Mike O’Donnell said. “The fall teams have been traveling all over the area on something like 20 different fields. Coming home is a welcome sight. It’s almost like Christmas morning when you were a little kid. We can’t wait to open out presents.”
The evening will begin with a 5 p.m. dedication of the complex to be attended by White Plains Mayor Tom Roach Deputy Westchester County Executive Kevin Plunkett, (Class of’74); former Mayor Joseph Delfino, William F. Plunkett, Jr. (Class of’58), Chairman of the Stepinac Board of Trustees; Bob Hyland (Class of’63), former NFL great and member of the Stepinac Foundation Board; Father Thomas Collins (Class of ’79), Stepinac High School President; Jim Scully (Class of ’80), President of Stepinac Foundation and other guests.
“The dedication of the field and game will be a great celebration of a lot of hard work, generosity and commitment by many people,” longtime Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell said. “It started out as a dream and now has become a reality. All the funds have been raised by alumni, family and friends donations. All of the people involved see the progress and bright future of Archbishop Stepinac as an independent school in the White Plains area.”
The new artificial turf playing fields were built on the site of the school’s old grass fields and will provide all-weather playing surface for football, baseball, soccer and lacrosse as well as for the school’s physical education curriculum. In addition, it will feature a modern track, replacing the former, five-lane asphalt-rubberized track.
“It feels great to finally be able to play at our own home field and be able to walk out of our locker room for both practice and games,” Stepinac senior co-captain Austin Taps said.
The defending CHSFL champion Crusaders (5-1), have split their two “home games”, played at White Plains and Purchase College, and won all four away games, boasting a strong defense that has allowed 23 points a game while the offense has scored just under 30.
Running backs Mark White (435 yards and six touchdowns) and Caleb Gilligan-Evans (245 yards and five touchdowns) carry the load on the ground behind quarterback Daniel Hofer who has completed 27 of 58 for 649 and five scores.
Iona Prep (4-2) is coming off a loss to Chaminade but brings a balanced offense that averages 155 yards passing and 165 yards rushing, led by quarterback Mario Biaggi, who has thrown for 550 yards and rushed for 230. Shaquille Townsend is the Gaels leading rusher with 480 yards and seven touchdowns.