History doesn’t play football. But when you face St. Anthony’s, you’re playing more than the teenagers lined up across the way.
That was the monumental task facing St. Joseph by-the-Sea Saturday night in the CHSFL Class AAA semifinal. The Staten Island team was staring down more than two decades of tradition.
The Friars had played in 18 of the last 19 CHSFL title games.
Make that 19 of 20 after top-seeded St. Anthony’s shut down the No. 4 Vikings, 35-8, on a cold, windy night in South Huntington.
“We figure it out as we go along,” St. Anthony’s Coach Rich Reichert said. “We were 0-2.”
After back-to-back losses to Bergen Catholic and Iona Prep, the Friars sat at 0-2, the worst start since 1980. Injuries also conspired against Reichert’s team. But St. Anthony’s has gotten healthy over the last few weeks and each unit has begun to click.
“We’re peaking at the right time,” said Reichert, who won the 219th game of his storied career.
The Friars (8-2) rushed for 224 yards while the defense held St. Joe’s double-wing offense on downs four times. John Puckhaber and Jared Katz set the edge of the Friars’ defense, funneling the Vikings to the middle of the field.
“It’s all about first down,” Reichert said. “You can’t let them dictate second-and-5.”
Nothing could stop the Friars’ rushing attack. Senior Anthony Anderson led the way with 105 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries.
“We have a special backfield,” said sophomore Jordan Gowins, who added 41 yards and a pair of scores on four carries. “We have athletes. Any one of us can break it at any time.”
Archrival , in the other semifinal. St. Anthony’s last faced No. 3 Chaminade in the 2002 title game. They’ll meet again with the title on the line next Saturday 4 p.m. at Mitchel Athletic Complex.
The Friars won a 24-23 thriller over Chaminade Week 4, stopping the Flyers’ two-point attempt in the final moments.
The last time St. Anthony’s failed to reach the final? Sixteen long seasons ago in 1997.
Gowins' 4-yard touchdown run put St. Anthony's up 21-0 with 47 seconds left in the half. He also broke a 23-yard touchdown run on third-and-10 to push the St. Anthony's lead to 35-0 early in the fourth.
Nicholas King scored on a 5-yard run with 3:43 left to put Sea (8-2) on the board and end the Friars’ string of eight straight scoreless quarters. That was with starting safety Michael Strack sidelined on crutches.
“After that second loss, Coach Reichert talked to us, told us we weren’t going to lose another game,” Anderson said. “We all bought into that. We came to practice every day and worked hard. Now we have a chance to win another championship.”
CHSFL Class AAA SemifinalTeams 1 2 3 4 F St. Joseph by-the-Sea 0 0 0 8 8 St. Anthony's 7 14 7 7 35
SA – Galligan 21 run (Musgrove kick)
SA – Femiano 12 run (Bacon kick)
SA – Gowins 4 run (Musgrove kick)
SA – Anderson 1 run (Bacon kick)
SA – Gowins 23 run (Fuentes kick)
SJS – King 5 run (Alberino kick)