Finally, after more than three weeks, Iona Prep and Stepinac will return to the field today as their CHSFL playoffs finally begin. The quarterfinals were wiped out twice by the remnants of Superstorm Sandy. Top-seeded St. Anthony’s opened up with a 42-0 shutout of No. 8 Monsignor Farrell on Saturday night.
James Carlucci will be at Iona Prep for today’s game. We’ll have updates on that one and on Stepinac’s game down in Staten Island. Check my Twitter feed @LoHudInsider for live updates and check here later for final scores, recaps and stats.
Sunday’s games —
CHSFL AAA quarterfinals
Iona Prep 41, Xaverian 20
Chaminade 21, Holy Cross 0
St. Joe’s by-the-Sea 22, Stepinac 20, OT
CHSFL AAA quarterfinal
Iona Prep 41, Xaverian 20: Second-seeded Iona Prep marched past seventh-seeded Xaverian 41-20 in the CHSFL AAA Division quarterfinal Sunday at Iona Prep.
Senior wide receiver Chris Cooper caught eight passes for 179 yards and four touchdowns, and senior running back Shaquille Townsend scored twice. With 4:43 left in the first quarter, senior quarterback Mario Biaggi threw a 24-yard strike down the middle to Cooper for the game’s first score.
“It was a good read by Mario,” Cooper said. “We repped that play in practice constantly, and when the opportunity came around, we just handed it to them.”
On the Gaels’ subsequent possession, Biaggi used his feet to get the ball to Xaverian’s 5-yard line, setting up Townsend’s first score of the day.
With 2:38 left in the second quarter, Xaverian’s senior running back Laray Smith broke free for a 24-yard touchdown run, which, following the extra point, made it 14-7 Iona Prep. But Biaggi’s 24-yard run and 41-yard touchdown pass to Cooper comprised a lightning fast two-play, 23-second drive that pushed the lead back up to 14 before halftime.
“That chemistry goes back to spring,” Biaggi said regarding his three TD passes to Cooper. “We work on routes every day. Me and Coop have good chemistry, and it shows when we connect on passes.”
Townsend ran 52 yards for a touchdown 30 seconds into the second half. Following a 30-yard catch by Townsend, Biaggi threw a 5-yard pass to Cooper with 5:31 to play in the third quarter. Minutes later, junior quarterback Nicholas Kryza connected with Cooper for a 59-yard touchdown reception.
Biaggi finished with 200 yards passing and another 85 yards rushing.
“(Biaggi and Cooper are) our captains,” Iona Prep coach Vic Quirolo said. “We were kind of out of sorts at times today, and those guys really gave us a big boost when we needed it.”
Iona Prep’s defense allowed just seven points through the first three quarters. The Gaels’ defense was led by senior outside linebacker Aaaqil Sheppard, who had three sacks.
“Aaaqil Sheppard I thought really got pressure on the quarterback,” Quirolo said. “Kyle Bonci was all over the field. Those two guys I thought really played well.”
Iona Prep will look to avenge its 34-31 Week 3 loss to No. 3 Chaminade in the semifinals this Sunday at 1 p.m. at Iona Prep.
“I know we lost to them earlier in the season, but I know coach is going to prepare us well so we could have a good chance at beating them,” Cooper said regarding the Gaels’ match up with Chaminade
St. Joe’s by-the-Sea 22, Stepinac 20, OT: In a CHSFL AAA quarterfinal game at No. 4 St. Joe’s by-the-Sea, the No. 5 Crusaders were stopped on a two-point conversion to end the game.
Ryan Burnett rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, but he was stopped short on the two-point play in overtime. Danny Hoffer had 12 completions for 101 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 47 yards on seven carries.
“The kids played their hearts out,” said coach Mike O’Donnell. “We just came up on the losing end of it.”
Stepinac led 14-0 at halftime, but the Vikings rallied back to tie the game at 14. A 38-yard field goal attempt fell short for the Crusaders with 37 seconds left in regulation. Stepinac won 17-14 on a last-second field goal during the regular season to hand St. Joe’s its only loss.
In overtime, St. Joe’s scored first. Stepinac stopped the Vikings on their two-point conversion but the play was called back due to a face-mask penalty. St. Joseph converted on their second attempt.
Justin Thomas caught a 14-yard Hoffer pass to bring Stepinac within two but the Crusaders were unable to convert.
Stepinac wraps up the season on Thanksgiving day at White Plains at 10:30 a.m.
“It’s one of the biggest games of the year,” O’Donnell said. “We want to send the seniors out the right way.”
CHSFL AAA semifinals
At higher seed:
No. 4 St. Joe’s by-the-Sea at No. 1 St. Anthony’s, TBD
No. 3 Chaminade vs. No. 2 Iona Prep, 1 p.m. (Sun.)