Xaverian is daring to dream big. Coach Joe DeSiena recently asked his team what their goal for the season was and the answer was unanimous and unwavering.
“Everyone in our meeting said championship because we know we can make it to the [AAA] championship,” junior running back Tushaun Plummer said. “Nobody said just to make it to the championship or anything. We said championship.”
While DeSiena, who also played for the Brooklyn school, isn’t ready to make as bold a statement as his players, he isn’t shy about talking about the talent he believes he has in this team. He called the squad the one with the most team speed he has ever seen at Xaverian and one that can dictate the pace of the game on offense.
“We know we have a long way to go,” DeSiena said. “It’s going to be interested to see where it goes, but we feel we are as talented as any team we are going to face on our schedule this year.”
So what has him so confident?
The Clippers return a plethora of offensive weapons, one more dangerous than the next. Senior quarterback Greg Rando can make plays with his legs and arm. He looks to have improved his ability to deliver the football after his first full season under center. He’s said he has learned from the mistakes he made a year ago, which saw Xaverian lose in the ‘AAA’ quarterfinals to eventual champion St. Anthony’s
“He knows this offense like the back of his hand,” Plummer said. “He doesn’t need a play card. He could call all the plays by himself.”
Rando feels like it won’t matter whose number he calls this season with the explosive weapons he has. Plummer, who had six touchdowns last year, is a quick and shifty back and pass catcher. Sophomore Zach Kearney was moved up from the junior varsity midway through the season and immediately became a big play threat as he rushed for 774 yards and six touchdowns.
Xaverian lost Syracuse-bound receiver Mario Tull to graduation and junior running back Muhammed King left the school and will look to land at Fort Hamilton, according to DeSiena. Making up for those losses are sophomore wide receiver Kendall Thomas, nicknamed “Speedy,” and possession wide outs Sean Binckes and Will Badyna. There are a host of options to spread the ball around to.
“Home run threats all over the field,” Rando said. “That is the biggest difference from last year. We were more of a possession team, short yardage. This year I think we can really stretch the field.”
He will have to do so behind a young offensive line that will miss two-way starter Jaime Martinez. The unit, which DeSiena said is more athletic than last year, will be led by Chris Aiello. Some youth will carry over into the defense as well, but so will overall team speed. It can especially be said of junior linebacker Derrick Murrell and sophomores Zyrel Hardy and Chris Jones. Kearney will play strong safety and Plummer one of the corners. Xavier George will anchor the defensive line.
“They are faster, more physical,” Kearney said of the linebackers.
Added Rando: “You always have to know where they are. They confuse you.”
The Clippers, however, are pretty sure of what they are capable of if the talent comes together. They say they are a potential ‘AAA’ title contender coming off a season of close losses. Their high-powered offense will be one of the biggest keys and differences.
“We could score anywhere at any time on the field, DeSiena said…”This year we feel that the simplest play across the board to any position on offense can end up being a touchdown.”