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Stepinac Dropped by Iona Prep at New Home Field

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – Archbishop Stepinac High School dedicated its new all-sports turf field Saturday for the Joe Riverso Memorial Game with rival Iona Prep, and the visiting Gaels were up for the event that drew more than 2,000 people, topping the Crusaders 30-17 in the Catholic High School Football League game

“This field is a dream come true and the result of the work of so many people,” Stepinac’s Chairman of the Board of Trustees William Plunkett said in his introductory remarks in the pre-game dedication ceremony. “We want to thank everyone who has made this day possible.”

The new facility includes the football/soccer/lacrosse field that was used the first time Saturday and will have an all-weather baseball field for the 2011-2012 spring season.

Iona Prep (5-2) stunned the high-flying Crusaders and their fans on the game’s first play from scrimmage when wideout Justin Combs took a reverse handoff and found receiver Omari Buster for an 80-yard touchdown strike. The Gaels placekicker Alex Kapp added a 25-yard field goal to make the score 9-0 and the Crusaders never seemed to get going.

Stepinac (5-2) played its first official home game of the season after having won four straight on the road. Iona built a 16-3 halftime lead and pushed it to 23-3 early in the third quarter on quarterback Mario Biaggi’s 30-yard run before the Crusaders responded.

Quarterback Mark White scored the first of his two touchdowns to pull the Crusaders to within 23-10 but the Gaels scored again to take a 30-10 lead. White added a scored late in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring.

The evening’s festivities began with the school band, cheerleaders, football team, administrators and alumni removing a tarp at midfield that covered a large red “S”. White Plains Mayor Tom Roach, Deputy Westchester County Executive Kevin Plunkett, (Class of’74), Bob Hyland (Class of’63), former NFL great and member of the Stepinac Foundation Board and Father Thomas Collins (Class of ’79) spoke during the ceremonies.

Athletic Director and Head Football Coach Mike O’Donnell was cited by several speakers for his work in inspiring the revival of the school’s athletic fields. “It’s all beautiful and we’re really thrilled to be practicing on our own field,” O’Donnell said. “We want to thank everyone who helped make this happen.”

Stepinac will host Fordham Prep Saturday at 7 p.m. in its regular-season finale. Iona Prep will visit St. Anthony’s next Saturday at 7 p.m. in its final regular-season league game. They still have the traditional Turkey Bowl game against White Plains on Thanksgiving and league playoffs as well.

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