The Stepinac High School Football Team concluded their 2017 season by winning the Catholic High School Athletic Association (CHSAA) New York State Football Championship.
On Saturday, Stepinac beat Canisius High School, the Champions of the Monsignor Martin Conference, 49-28, in West Seneca, NY, to bring home the New York State Championship Plaque. It is the second time in three years that the Crusaders have won the New York State Catholic High School Football Title.
Stepinac (10-2) started out slow, behind 14-9 at the half., but the Crusaders outscored Canisius, 26-0, in the third quarter to put the game away.
Stepinac quarterback Michael Nicosia completed 10-of-18 passes for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Nicosia ends his Crusaders football career as the All-Time Leading Passer in Stepinac history. Nicosia has recorded over 5,000 yards passing in his two years playing varsity football.
“This is one of the best feelings I have ever experienced in my four years at Stepinac High School,” said Nicosia, regarding winning the NYS Football Championship.
One of the main ingredients of the third quarter surge by the Crusaders was the running of junior Malik Grant, who pounded the middle for 130 yards on 11 carries. Also, Atrilleon “Trill’ Williams was just being “Trill” by scoring three touchdowns in the game. Williams scored two by “air” from Nicosia and one by “land” on an 18-yard run.
Williams’ touchdown in the catch while on his back in the third quarter was so remarkable that it was selected the Number 1 play on Saturday, on ESPN’s Top 10 Plays of the Day.
The Crusaders defense followed-up on their outstanding CHSFL AAA Championship performance against St. Anthony’s by holding Canisuis scoreless in the third quarter. They also sacked Canisius’s star quarterback Jayce Johnson five times and intercepted him twice.
“It feels perfect! I never thought we would make it this far into the season. It is unbelievable that is all I can say,” said junior defensive end Douglas Simmons, the CHSFL Sack Leader with 19 sacks this season.
“We had a great group of parents that came to Buffalo and lined up to wish us well before the game. And then to come back into White Plains and have a Police escort, that is special for the student/athletes and for the community,” commented O’Donnell. “And then to have parents and fans waiting for us to return to the school late Saturday night, it was a really nice thing,” acknowledged O’Donnell, concluding his 30th season as the Crusaders Head Coach.