WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The fifth-seeded Stepinac High School football team will travel to face fourth-ranked St. Joseph by-the-Sea on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.
The two teams will meet in the quarterfinals of the Catholic High School Football League Class AAA playoffs.
Stepinac finished 3-5 this season and defeated St. Joseph, 17-14, in week six on the road to hand the Vikings their lone loss of the season. Crusaders running back Ryan Burnett had 18 carries for 119 yards and a touchdown in that game to lead the team.
Mike Pizzutti kicked a 24-yard field goal with seven seconds remaining to lift Stepinac to the win.
The Crusaders also held the Vikings to a season-low in points that day. St. Joseph scored at least 22 points in each of its other games and averaged nearly 36 points per game in its eight regular season games. The Vikings also eclipsed 45 points four times this season.
Another superb defensive effort would be the recipe for a repeat for Stepinac on Sunday. The Crusaders struggled to score points this season as they averaged almost 19 points per game. They allowed a little more than 24 points per game and gave up more than 30 points four times this year.
Stepinac will certainly have its hands full on Sunday but the Crusaders have shown they can beat the Vikings. Also, St. Joseph has been vulnerable on defense in several games this year as the Vikings have allowed 35 points or more three times this season.
Crusaders senior quarterback Daniel Hoffer has enough experience to lead the team Sunday, but it will take a complete team effort for Stepinac to knock off St. Joseph for the second time in a little more than a month.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.