The Friars had several options, and used them all. The outcome really isn't an option for the St. Anthony's football team so much as a foregone conclusion these days.
On a chilly night in South Huntington, the Friars' triple-option offense was too hot to handle for Fordham Prep. St. Anthony's dispatched the Rams, 39-14 in the Class AAA semifinals, advancing to their 12th straight CHSFL championship game. The Friars will face the winner of Saturday's Iona Prep-Holy Trinity game in the finals next week at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale.
The Friars' 18th straight win was No. 200 for coach Rich Reichert, who is now 200-48-3 in 24 seasons.
"A lot of gray hair up there, but it's been a great journey," Reichert said in an endzone ceremony after the game. "Talk about dream jobs, this was always my dream job."
The Friars' dreams of a perfect season remain, due to their triple-option, which the Rams simply had no answer for. St. Anthony's marched down the field on their opening drive, with QB Charlie Raffa either running it himself, or pitching to his three-headed backfield of Brian Sherlock, Joseph LoCascio and Mike Schillizzi, whose 1-yard touchdown run capped off the 80-yard march.
Fordham did answer on their first drive. QB Max Kinder hit Devin Rice on a 37-yard strike and ran it in from one yard out himself to tie things up at 7.
It took all of 16 seconds for the Friars to regain the lead for good. On the first play of their ensuing drive, Raffa hit Dariyan Riley, who took it 61 yards for the touchdown, and the rout was on.
"We were pretty balanced today, you got to throw the ball a little, you can't be one-dimensional to win the whole thing," Reichert said.
The Friars continued to show off their various dimensions in the second quarter. Sherlock took a pitch from Raffa and went 34 yards to make it 20-7, and after a James Mercurio interception, Raffa found Brian Kensil on a 10-yard touchdown pass, increasing the lead to 26-7. Kinder was picked off at the goal line by Timothy Stackpole as time ran down in the half.
It was more of the same in the second half. Durelle Napier recorded the third interception of the day for the Friars, and Kensil made a beautiful one-handed scoring catch on a 34-yard strike from Raffa despite being held, making it 32-7.
"We ran a lot off the ball, a lot of counter," Raffa said. "They couldn't really stop us running the ball and we put in some play action...got it wide open to Kensil every time."
Sherlock's 5-yard scoring run with 4:41 left capped the Friars' scoring, and James McHale's 43-yard touchdown catch soon after was one of few bright spots for the Rams, as their season ends.
Friars players were quick to credit their offensive line for the victory, and proud to be a part of No. 200 for Reichert.
"We're very privileged to be his 200-win team, it's fantastic," said Schillizzi. "We come in and work hard every week for him, he puts in his time for us and we're just glad we can repay him with that."
The Friars (10-0) have one more game as they try for a perfect season. On this night, it was all about their veteran coach, who gave his players something to think about as preparations begin for the CHSFL championship.
"The faces may change [over the years], but the message that we send to you never will: if you do the right thing, work hard and trust each other, good things will happen," Reichert said at the postgame ceremony.
The Friars hope they can give their coach one more "good thing" next weekend in the finals: Another trophy.