WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. Archbishop Stepinac begins defending its Catholic High Schools Football League AA championship by hosting Holy Cross of Queens Sunday at 1 p.m. in a quarterfinal playoff game at the schools campus in White Plains.
Stepinac (6-2), the No. 2 seed in the CHSFL playoffs, defeated seventh-seeded Holy Cross 34-14 three weeks ago, but Crusaders head coach Mike ODonnell expects a tough challenge from the Queens team.
The score does not indicate how close the game was, ODonnell said. Holy Cross had a 14-7 lead in the second quarter. They are a young but very athletic team.
The Crusaders rely on quarterbacks Mark White and Daniel Hoffer, a run-pass duo that can move the ball from different angles. White has amassed more than 700 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns and Hoffer has completed 47 of 92 for 942 yards and seven touchdowns.
Vincent Narog has caught 20 passes for 555 yards and six touchdowns and Caleb Gilligan-Evans adds punch on the ground, rushing for 550 yards and eight touchdowns for Stepinac.
Holy Cross (4-4) returns key players Jordan Franklin, a linebacker and Brandon Peltzer to the defense and features quarterback Yainni Galavas and running back Shyheim Wingate. Galavas has completed 85 of 134 passes for 1,323 yards and 10 touchdowns. Wingate has gained 350 yards and scored five rushing touchdowns and has caught 26 passes.
Garfield Heslop, Ryan Wasylenko, Nick Shaw, Austin Taps and Narog lead a Crusaders defense that must be mistake-free if the Crusaders want to advance past the quarterfinals.
Stepinac is favored and should take care of Holy Cross before moving on to tougher competition in the semifinals.
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