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Archbishop Stepinac Opens Summer Football Practice

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Drawing talented student-athletes from all over Westchester County and the Bronx, Archbishop Stepinac's successful Catholic High School Football League program opened summer football camp this week at the school's Mamaroneck Avenue campus.

"We have 56 players out on varsity and several very talented younger kids up this year," Crusaders head coach Mike O'Donnell said at afternoon practice Tuesday. "We have our field from the start of practice this year, and things are going very well so far."

The blue-clad Crusaders varsity team went through a series of stretching drills then moved to a defensive drill to start off Tuesday's afternoon practice session. An impressive group of junior varsity players broke off for its own practice session on a separate part of the complex.

Stepinac suffered through a nomadic preseason last fall, practicing at several sites while the school's all-sports (football, soccer, lacrosse) and baseball turf fields were installed. The project was completed in October in time for the annual meeting between the Crusaders and New Rochelle-based rival Iona Prep.

The Crusaders, who were 9-3 last season and reached the CHSFL Division AAA title game before losing to powerhouse St. Anthony's of Long Island, sent several top players to Division i and Division II colleges, including lineman Austin Taps (Penn), linebacker-fullback Caleb Gilligan-Evans (Holy Cross) and tight end Vin Narog (Sacred Heart).

"The guys are all at school and doing well," said O'Donnell, who led the Crusaders to a perfect 12-0 record and a CHSFL Division AA title in 2010. "We are back in AAA, so that means we will see the best competition. We've had a good couple of years – great support from everyone getting the facility done – and we keep adding new features."

Stepinac opens its 2012 season hosting public school Monroe-Woodbury at 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, and will host Brooklyn's Xaverian the following week.

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