There had been a thought going into last weekend that Stepinac and Iona Prep could meet somewhere to open the CHSFL playoffs. The permutations was numerous, but after Iona lost to Monsignor Farrell 10-7 in overtime on Saturday and Stepinac beat St. Joe’s by-the-Sea 28-14 Sunday, the dream matchup became a reality.
Stepinac, the No. 4 seed, will host Iona Prep, the No. 5 seed on Sunday, Nov. 10 at 1 p.m. In all likelihood, the winner will travel to top-seeded St. Anthony’s the next week in the semifinals.
It will be the first time Iona and Stepinac have met in a playoff game since 1993. Iona beat Stepinac 13-0 in that game at St. John’s University to win the CHSFL A Division championship. Hackley coach Phil Treglia was the quarterback that day for the Gaels. Former NFLer and Under Armour spokesman Eric Ogbogu was the star of that Stepinac team.
This year’s Iona-Stepinac rematch will be played on the same field as their Week 7 meeting, a game won 40-14 by the Gaels. That was their ninth win in the teams’ last 10 games. Iona Prep has beat Stepinac every season since 2003 except for 2009 (no game scheduled) and 2010 (Stepinac won 23-6).
Here are all of the seeds and matchups for the CHSFL’s postseason:
No. 8 Monsignor Farrell at No. 1 St. Anthony’s
No. 7 St. Joe’s by-the-Sea at No. 2 Chaminade
No. 6 Holy Cross at No. 3 St. Francis Prep
No. 5 Iona Prep at No. 4 Stepinac
No. 8 Kellenberg at No. 1 St. Peter’s
No. 7 Fordham Prep at No. 2 Cardinal Hayes
No. 6 Xavier at No. 3 Holy Trinity
No. 5 Mount St. Michael at No. 4 Bishop Ford
No. 4 Christ the King at No. 1 St. John the Baptist
No. 3 Xaverian at No. 2 Cardinal Spellman
For the CHSFL history buffs, here’s the story from Glenn J. Kalinoski on that 1993 game:
Iona Prep shuts down Stepinac 13-0
Mike Mangone makes playing defense seem easy.
“When you’re facing the wing-T you just follow the guards and they’ll take you right to the play,” said Mangone, Iona Prep’s 6-foot, 240-pound, two-way tackle. “That’s all you have to do.”
Mangone discussed his defensive philosophy yesterday after Iona Prep defeated Stepinac 13-0 in the Catholic High Schools Football League A Division title game at St. John’s University in Queens. It was the second time this season that Stepinac was shut out by Iona Prep, which has given the Crusaders their only losses of the season.
It was also the second time the 5-5 Irish shut down fullback Eric Ogbogu, the area’s leading rusher.
“Ogbogu is definitely a great runner,” Mangone said, “but against the AA teams we’ve played in our league we’ve faced tougher runners. He always seems to get about 200 yards every time he plays another team, but only about 40 or 50 against us. We knew he was their main threat and we knew they only run four plays on offense. So we just worked on that in practice last week.
“We also were able to get pressure on the quarterback and make him think twice about throwing the ball.”
Ogbogu entered yesterday’s contest with 1,629 rushing yards on 222 carries this season for Stepinac, the CHSFL’s A Division regular-season co-champ. But Ogbogu was held to a season-low 47 yards on 21 carries. His previous 1993 season low was a 52-yard, 16-carry performance in a 35-0 loss to Iona Prep last month.
“They always blitz four or five guys, so it’s hard to block them,” said Ogbogu, whose 7-2-1 team is ranked fifth in the Gannett Suburban Newspapers Conference II poll. “There were a few plays when I had one more guy to beat, but they would grab an ankle or do whatever it would take to stop me. Even their linemen caught me from behind a few times.”
Halfbacks Michael Senatore and Greg Hoffnagle were also victims of Iona Prep’s defense. Their strength is running to the outside (Ogbogu usually runs between the tackles), but Senatore gained only 10 yards on five carries and Hoffnagle was held to minus-2 yards on three carries.
Ogbogu was the only Stepinac running back who received a handoff after halftime. An 11-yard carry late in the game was his longest of the day.
“They have incredible speed on defense,” Senatore said, “so it was hard to get any long runs. It was frustrating as the game went on because you keep thinking that at any time Eric can get us back in the game with a long run, but they wouldn’t let it happen.”
Stepinac converted 2 of 12 third-down opportunities, managed only four first downs and never moved the ball beyond Iona Prep’s 35-yard line. Senatore was forced to punt nine times and quarterback Philip DeSosa was intercepted twice.
“By not letting them score, we made sure they never had any momentum,” Iona Prep safety Chris LaMotta said. “They’re the kind of team that’s dangerous when they get on a roll.”
Iona Prep’s offense couldn’t get on a roll for most of the first half. But fullback Matt Carlo turned a draw into a 49-yard touchdown run 2:07 before halftime.
“Rob Cerone blocked for me and I cut to the right sideline, ” said Carlo, who ran for a game-high 59 yards on nine carries. “ I had to get past a lot of people, but I knew I would be able to keep my balance and knock the defenders down.”
The Irish concluded the scoring with 9:33 remaining in the game when Phil Treglia threw a 4-yard scoring pass to Dan Daly.
“It was just a bootleg pass that we use a lot on the goal line and it usually works,” said Treglia, who completed 11 of 19 passes for 69 yards.
Fullback Paul Conte took most of the handoffs for Iona Prep. He ran for 58 yards on 21 carries.
“Winning this game is just part of our goal,” Mangone said. “If we beat New Rochelle on Thanksgiving we’ll finish the season with a winning record.”