The remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole blew through Long Island, bringing heavy rain and winds. But St. Anthony's didn't let the weather system disrupt homecoming as the Friars football team blew out visiting Xaverian, 43-21, Friday night in a CHSFL game. St. Anthony's (4-0 overall, 3-0 CHSFL) rotated 11 different players in the backfield and rushed for 318 yards, led by quarterback Charlie Raffa (61 yards on 7 carries) and fullback Mike Schillizzi (60 yards on nine carries and one touchdown). Xaverian (2-2, 1-2) kept its first team offense on the field late in the game and scored touchdown against the Friars' reserves.
Hero: Raffa led four scoring drives in the first half as the Friars took a commanding 29-7 lead into halftime. But it was a super sub who earned some of the spotlight too. With kicker James Doktor sidelined after being injured last week in Staten Island, senior Tony Yacenda stepped in and stepped up. Yacenda drilled the ball on kickoffs, powered five extra points through the uprights on a windy night, handled punting duties and even converted a two-point pass. The latter play took advantage of a Xaverian tendency to rush 11 players on extra point tries. Yacenda saw the rush coming and instead of kicking the ball, tossed a perfect strike to wide-open tight end Chris Hand for a 15-0 edge.
Turning Point: The Friars jumped on Xaverian mistakes all night, beginning with a bad snap on a Xaverian punt. The coaching staff prepared St. Anthony's players for a miscue from center and it happened early when the Friars swarmed under the punter at the Xaverian 11-yard-line. Dariyan Riley scored moments later on a 4-yard touchdown run for a 7-0 Friars lead with 7:50 left in the first.
Quotable: "I just thought we controlled the line of scrimmage," said St. Anthony's coach Rich Reichert, who recorded career win No. 194. "Once we do that, we have good backs. So you've got to give the line a lot of credit. We told them before the game this game would be won on the line of scrimmage."
Bottom Line: Yes, Xaverian quarterback Gregory Rando burned the Friars on a few big plays. And yes, running backs Isaiah Kearney and Laray Smith broke free from time to time. But the St. Anthony's defense held its ground when it mattered and forced four turnovers. The defense recovered two fumbles, intercepted two passes and blocked another punt in the third quarter. Junior defensive end Bryan Rhodes had a big night, and no moment was more significant than on fourth-and-1 from the Friars' 10 late in the second quarter. He shot through and stopped Kearney for a 1-yard loss to end the threat.
Key Stat: All hail the king and queen of St. Anthony's homecoming. Seniors Nick Mattea of Farmingdale and Marilyn Freeman of Melville, wrapped in golden capes, wearing crowns and holding scepters, rode a golf cart festooned with balloons on the track ringing the football field at halftime.
Who's Next: St. Joseph by the Sea (Staten Island) @ St. Anthony's, Oct. 8, 7 p.m.
TEAMS………………….1…..2…..3…..4 – F
Xaverian……………….0…..7…..7…..7 – 21
St. Anthony's………15…14…..7…..7 – 43
SA – Riley 4 run (Yacenda kick)
SA – Kensil 23 pass from Raffa (Hand pass from Yacenda)
X – Kearney 2 run (Marando kick)
SA – LoCascio 5 run (Yacenda kick)
SA – Schillizzi 8 run (Yacenda kick)
SA – Sherlock 1 run (Yacenda kick)
X – Hardy 50 pass from Rando (Marando kick)
SA – Ellerbe 3 run (Yacenda kick)
X – Smith 12 pass from Rando (Marando kick)