Xaverian battles valiantly despite playoff loss

Xaverian's Laray Smith(23) gets by a tackle.

Joe DeSiena hates to lose, which made the feeling as he walked across the field Saturday night following Xaverian’s 14-7 loss to Fordham Prep in the CHSFL Class AAA quarterfinals a rarity.

“This performance was their finest hour,” the Clippers coach said. “They came out and played with all their passion, all their heart, 27 guys dressed for a ‘AAA’ football game and they were able to go out there and give an 8-0 team every bit of what they could handle. The result obviously isn’t what we wanted, but I’ve never been more proud of this group of guys than I am right now.”

With Xaverian playing without five starters, including leading rusher Zach Kearney and receivers Zyrel Hardy and Will Badyna, who missed the game because of academic suspension, few gave the Clippers a chance against Fordham Prep.

But the shorthanded Clippers actually played better Saturday than they did at nearly full strength when they fell to Fordham Prep, 27-17 in Week 3. That was the first game Xaverian played without sophomore sensation Kendall (Speedy) Thomas, who was expelled following an incident during detention five days before that battle of then-undefeated teams.

“I’m really proud of the way we answered the challenge this week,” DeSiena said. “It could have been very easy to say we’re down five starters and we’re going to curl up and play damage control.”

In fact, led by sophomore running back Laray Smith (31 carries, 158 yards), Xaverian (4-5) took a 7-0 lead with 3:55 left in the third quarter when Tristan Philip recovered a fumble by Tushaun Plummer on an 11-yard reception

Then, two plays into Fordham Prep’s next possession, Rams quarterback Max Kinder was picked off by Ryan Gordon.

Xaverian appeared on the verge of a major upset, but Kinder connected with Ben Andreycak for a 33-yard touchdown pass and Steven Broccoli, who missed a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter, added the extra point to tie the score at 7 with 8:44 left in regulation.

“Fordham did some-

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