Mike O’Donnell knew what was coming next week for his Archbishop Stepinac club. A win over Bishop Ford would set up a clash with Christ the King, which is the other CHSFL ‘AA-A’ with an unblemished league record.
“We talked about that before the game a little bit,” he said. “You want to take care of business and do the right things and get yourself in the best position you can for the following week.”
His team didn’t disappoint. The Crusaders cruised to a 40-0 win over the Falcons in a CHSFL Class AA-A game at Aviator Sports Complex Saturday night. They used a combination of big plays on the ground and key defense stops to take control of the game and never looked back after Ford looked impressive on its opening series.
“We thought we were going to score on the first drive because we were moving the ball,” Falcons sophomore quarterback Xaviah Mattocks said.
Ford drove into Stepinac territory, but Syracuse-bound defensive end Donnie Simmons pulled down Devon Mitchell from behind, short of a first down on 4th-and-1 from the Crusaders 40.
On Stepinac’s fifth play from scrimmage, Caleb Gilligan-Evans broke a 46-yard scoring run to make it 7-0 with 3:19 left in the first quarter. He ran for 138 yards on six carries and added a 45-yard TD run in the second quarter.
The Falcons got into Crusaders territory thanks to a 32-yard run by Bryan Lopez on a fake punt. But it would again stall thanks to a key sack of Mattocks by Simmons and Austin Taps.
“They run the clock down a lot and they really keep themselves in the game,” Simmons said. “They can make big plays. We just have stop that.”
Ford (1-5, 0-5) couldn’t do anything about Stepinac quarterback Tyrell Goodman’s highlight-reel run. The senior ran the ball up the right side, juked his way out of grasp of three tackles before cutting it back up the left side of the field. He made one more player miss at the 20 to complete a 70-yard touchdown run for Stepinac (6-0, 5-0) with 8:29 left to play in the second quarter. He carried the ball eight times for 99 yards.
“I just seen the whole team drifting one way so I said, ‘Hey let me cut back the other way,’” Goodman, who has interest from Stony Brook and Akron, said.
After halftime, Lance Ladson had a 60-yard touchdown run, Goodman scored on the ground from 7 yards out and Ryan Wasylenko capped things off in the fourth quarter with a 5-yard scamper into the end zone. Ford will look to regroup against winless Spellman next week.
“I thought we had a good plan,” Falcons coach Jim Esposito said. “They are better athletes. They made some real good plays.”