Narendra Itwaru hadn’t played football since he broke his leg in two places during Monsignor Farrell last season. On Saturday, the senior-to-be intercepted four passes to earn MVP honors as Stepinac won the fifth annual Big Apple Shoot Out at White Plains High School.
The Crusaders beat the host 18-7 in the same stadium where they made their dramatic comeback in last year’s Turkey Bowl. Stepinac edged Grand Street 13-11 in the semifinals to advance to the championship.
Itwaru left his imprint on the annual 7-on-7 tournament. He will be in his third year as a starter after Stepinac promoted him to the varsity midway through the 2011 season. Itwaru slotted in at safety and the team reshuffled its defense; improved play on that side of the ball helped the Crusaders reach the CHSAA AAA championship game.
White Plains beat Rye Neck 32-17 in the other semifinal, ending a surprising and solid showing by the Panthers. They were 4-0 before the semifinal defeat, including wins over Iona Prep, Fordham Prep and New Canaan by a combined score of 115-53, which they followed up by besting Sleepy Hollow in a quarterfinal game.
Stepinac, White Plains, Rye Neck, Grand Street and Sleepy Hollow were joined by Rye, Panas and DeWitt Clinton in the tournament after each of the 20 teams played three games apiece earlier in the day. DeWitt Clinton dropped out, giving Stepinac a bye into the semis. White Plains beat Panas and Grand Street beat Rye in the other quarterfinals.