His given name is Kendall Thomas, but he is known by one simple, yet accurate nickname around Xaverian: Speedy.
St. Peter’s found out firsthand why the explosive sophomore earned the moniker as Thomas scored a pair of special team touchdowns to help lead the Clippers to a 55-7 rout in a non-league CHSFL contest Saturday afternoon on Staten Island.
Thomas scored on a 49-yard punt return and then took the opening kickoff of the second half 86 yards for a touchdown that put Xaverian in front, 49-0.
“I felt good,” Thomas said. “Like before when I said nobody could catch me, I believe I was the best out there today.”
Thomas dominated on the junior varsity level last year and showed a glimpse of why Xaverian coach Joe DeSiena holds him in such high regard.
“We definitely want to put teams in a position where they have to know where he is at all times,” DeSiena said. “We want to move him around, have him on punt and kickoff return. He’s going to have an opportunity to touch the ball in many different ways.”
“With this kid, once he gets into the open that’s it, he’s gone,” sophomore running back Laray Smith added. “No one is going to catch him.”
Thomas, though, is just part of Xaverian’s deep, versatile and quick offense. Smith rushed for three touchdowns, Isaiah Kearney punched the ball in for a 1-yard TD and Tushaun Plummer added a 1-yard touchdown run late in the second quarter.
“Whatever the defense throws at us, we feel we have the personnel and the ability to have a decent response to it.” DeSiena said. “There was a lot we didn’t showcase today.”
While the offense scored at will, the Xaverian defense was stout, giving the offense ideal field position. An interception by Josh Lawrence on the third play from scrimmage helped set up Smith’s first score, a 10-yard run. A strip by Tristan Philip early in the second quarter led to Smith’s second score that put the X-Men in front, 32-0.
Joe Magnavita picked up a fumble forced by Rocky Iannocone’s sack and ran it back for a 36-yard touchdown as the Clippers extended their lead to 53-0 in the third quarter.
“We have our first four games on the road and we told our guys there’s two things you must do on the road – you must have good special teams, especially early in the year when you sputter a bit,” DeSiena said. “And we want to hit people in the mouth on defense. Our defense flew to the ball. We want to take attendance at the football.”
The lone bright spot for St. Peter’s was Pat Walsh’s 3-yard touchdown run as the Eagles avoided a home shutout to open the regular season.
“Xaverian played well and we played bad,” Eagles coach Mike Cosentino said. “We have to do a better job blocking and we have to do a better job tackling. We didn’t do either. You don’t lose a game like this because you’re out-schemed, you lose a game like this because you’re not blocking and tackling.”
With the outcome all but determined at halftime, Xaverian players started to look ahead to a CHSFL-opening game at Chaminade next Saturday, a stiff test for a Clipper team that is a sleeper in the Class AAA this year.
“It’s hard to compete with us because we’ve got too much speed,” Smith said. “I feel bad for the other team.”