For two straight weeks, all the talk that surrounded the Xaverian football team has been about losses – on the field in terms of back-to-back defeats and off the field in terms of the dismissal of star receiver Kendall (Speedy) Thomas for an incident during detention.
“For two weeks all the attention was put on who wasn’t on the field as opposed to who was still on the field,” Clippers coach Joe DeSiena said.
On the field Friday night, the X-Men made a huge statement in a 42-6 thrashing of St. Francis Prep in their home opener at Kings Bay.
“We just wanted to let everybody know that what we were ranked in the preseason and all the hype we were getting, it’s not a joke,” quarterback Greg Rando said. “We’re here to play in the ‘AAA,’ we deserve it, we earned it and we’re ready to go.”
Led by sophomore sensations Zach Kearney and Laray Smith, Xaverian (3-2, 2-2) has forged a reputation as a team that can run. But against the Terriers, the Clippers proved they can air it out, even without Thomas, who is now enrolled at Thomas Jefferson.
Rando was 21-of-29 for 262 yards and four touchdowns, three to junior Tushaun Plummer, who also rushed for a 12-yard score.
“Me and Greg have been playing together since we were young so it wasn’t too hard connecting on those balls,” Plummer said. “We have the chemistry.”
Plummer, who had seven catches for 89 yards, was especially pumped to be playing at Kings Bay Friday night after opening the season with road games against St. Peter’s, Chamiande, Fordham Prep and St. Anthony’s.
“This is my home field and I’ve been playing here for about nine years,” Plummer said. “We had four straight away games and coming back home was great for me. I know this field like the back of my hand.”
Rando also threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Zyrel Hardy and connected with junior Sean Binckes four times for 78 yards, including a 30-yard reception in which Binckes nearly dragged the entire St. Francis Prep team on his back to the Terriers 9-yard line.
Two plays later, Rando found Plummer for a 7-yard TD pass to put the Clippers in front, 21-0, at the half.
“He’s our big third-down guy, a big target, comes through in the clutch,” Rando said of Binckes. “He’s exactly what we need in this offense. We have playmakers all over the field, but we have to have that one guy who is reliable all game.”
The 6-foot-3, 195-pound junior receiver, though, was even more impressive with his blocking, according to DeSiena.
“A lot of these touchdowns tonight are attributed to him getting his face dirty blocking,” he said of Binckes, who missed the first two games of the season with a back injury suffered in preseason camp. “He’s a huge part of our offense.”
Smith added a 15-yard rushing score to cap the scoring for Xaverian, which saw its shutout bid snapped on a fourth-quarter 10-yard keeper by quarterback Brendan Stackpole, who was the leading rusher for St. Francis Prep (0-5, 0-4) with 85 yards on 23 carries. The senior was also 4-of-12 passing for 83 yards.
While the Clippers admittedly didn’t play mistake-free football, all that mattered was a win, especially a convincing one with games against Monsignor Farrell, Iona Prep and Holy Trinity on the horizon.
“Confidence hasn’t been a problem with our team. We got stung a little bit the way everything went down the last couple of weeks,” DeSiena said. “This is exactly what we needed.”