One-trick Clippers: Xaverian tops Spellman with dominant ground game

Senior stars: Xaverian’s senior leadership showed its strength on Oct. 8 as, left, Danny Welsome and Julius Arcaro led the Clippers to a 29–14 victory over Cardinal Spellman.
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The Xaverian football team is one-dimensional — but this year’s squad is happy about that.

The reigning champs grabbed a big-time victory on Oct. 8, taking down Cardinal Spellman 29–14 in a repeat of last season’s Catholic High School Football League A Division title game. The Clippers didn’t try anything fancy to get the win — the team just ran and then ran some more, controlling tempo and racking up 284 yards on the ground.

It might be one-dimensional, but it also worked — and that’s all Xaverian cared about.

“We decided to just run the ball,” said Xaverian coach Michael Jioia. “If you can average four yards or so a carry, we thought we could push it into end zone.”

The Clippers (4–1) jumped out to a 15–2 lead after the first half, grabbing momentum after a handful of early miscues and penalties forced the team to go back to the drawing board.

“This year, we’ve got a lot of young guys on the team,” said senior quarterback Julius Arcaro. “But between the coaching and kids stepping up at the right time, everyone really contributed to this.”

Xaverian settled into its ground game in the second half, led by Arcaro under center. The senior was the spark that made the Clippers offense go in the victory, racking up 120 yards on the ground — including a 30-yard touchdown run — as well as 136 yards and a touchdown throw through the air.

“We want to keep the clock on our side and keep our defense off the field,” Jioia said of the game plan. “We know with their offense they can score at any time, so we were trying to control the ball with our offense.”

The Clippers won the battle of the trenches in the win, pushing Spellman (4–1) around on both sides of the line. Xaverian’s offense refused to go down on first contact and, throughout the second half, the defense delivered big-time hits in the Pilots’ backfield.

“It was a good fight,” said senior tackle Danny Welsome “They put up a good fight, but we really executed, and we did what we had to do. We got out of it with a win.”

It wasn’t a picture-perfect finish — Xaverian missed a field goal attempt early in the fourth after Spellman staged a goal-line stand — but the Clippers put the game away down the stretch. Sophomore running back Roberto Auguste — who racked up 136 rushing yards on 20 carries — cemented the victory with a 50-yard touchdown sprint, breaking through the Pilots’ secondary with just under 5 minutes on the clock.

“The sophomores are starting to come alive now,” Jioia said. “It took some time, and we said in camp we were trying to make them football players. They’re starting to get there.”

But the Clippers won’t have much time to celebrate the victory.

Xaverian takes on Spellman again on Oct. 21, and the two teams will likely see each other in the postseason. But first the Clippers face off against Moore Catholic on Oct. 14 — the only squad to defeat Xaverian this season.

This is a different team though and, after another win over Spellman, the Clippers are ready to run towards the next challenge.

“We’ve got to take care of Moore Catholic next week,” Arcaro said. “The first time we faced them, they were very strong and athletic and got the best of us. But I feel like this is a new team coming off this win.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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