WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- Archbishop Stepinac’s football team defeated archrival Iona Prep earlier this season. Saturday, the teams meet again with much higher stakes.
The Crusaders (11-0) and Gaels (9-2) kick off on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at Fordham University for the Catholic High School Football League Class AAA championship. The winner advances to the first-ever New York state Catholic League championship on Saturday, Nov. 29, at Hofstra University.
Stepinac beat Prep, 35-19, on Oct. 4. In that game, the Gaels led 19-7 in the third quarter before Stepinac rallied behind quarterback Tyquell Fields, who threw two touchdowns and ran for another score in the final two quarters. Fields completed 4-of-8 passes for 76 yards and three touchdowns. Brandon Coleman completed nine passes for 106 yards.
Stepinac is better known for its diverse ground attack. Malcolm Major has rushed for 644 yards and six touchdowns. Tyquawn Ennis has 625 yards and 10 TDs, while Gavin Heslop and Coleman have combined for more than 900 yards and 13 touchdowns.
Stepinac’s defense will be tested by Prep quarterback Robert Madison (2,118 yards, 23 touchdowns). Running back Stephon Smith (655 yards, three touchdowns) is the leading rusher for the Gaels, while wide receiver Qaadir Sheppard has 55 receptions and 13 touchdowns.
Stepinac has won the last two meetings against Iona Prep. The Gaels had won eight of the previous nine meetings. Prep leads the long-standing series, 39-26-1. The Crusaders are seeking their first CHSFL league title since 1954, while the Gaels have won three times, the last coming in 2008.
Because Stepinac could advance to the state title game, its Thanksgiving Day contest against White Plains has been canceled. A New York Sports Standard rule requires four days between games for football teams. Since Stepinac has a chance to play in the state title contest, it was forced to cancel the contest with White Plains. The schools could not work out an alternative date.
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