There have been years where Stepinac-Iona Prep resulted in countless trips to the end zone for the Gaels. Just ask Caleb Gilligan-Evans, who scored a touchdown as a freshman in what was otherwise Iona’s day in 2008.
“They were monsters,” Gilligan-Evans said.
For the Crusaders, their senior running back is the only player on either side with such a vivid memory of a lopsided rivalry. Stepinac has worked to bridge the gap in recent years, beating Iona 23-6 in 2010 and entering this year as, perhaps, a slight favorite.
The teams renew their rivalry — one that began in 1950 — on Stepinac’s new turf Saturday night. The Crusaders hope to help settle a four-decade-long score that has usually favored their No. 1 foe.
“They’ve definitely gotten our kids’ attention,” Iona Prep coach Vic Quirolo said this week.
Stepinac’s improvement has been because of star players like Gilligan-Evans and TE/DE Austin Taps (pictured above), who credited the presence of offensive coordinator Joe Spagnolo and defensive coordinator Jon DeMarco and their work with head coach Mike O’Donnell.
Iona Prep mainstays like Kameron Tedder (pictured above), Justin Combs and Chris Cooper find themselves fueled by last year’s loss. The sting remains, Tedder said.
“I feel like we have something to prove,” Tedder said.
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