So much can change in a year. Just ask Chaminade quarterback Sean Cerrone.
At this time last season, Cerrone was a backup, hoping to see playing time for a team just two years removed from a 1-9 season. Chaminade had gone 13 years without a league title and had lost 18 consecutive games to archrival St. Anthony's.
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Today, Cerrone is a senior embarking on his second season as the Flyers' starting quarterback. He's ended that long losing streak against their nemesis and owns a sweatshirt to commemorate a CHSFL AAA championship, which was earned thanks to his MVP performance.
Now that's change you can believe in.
Helping to lead Chaminade to a 17-16 victory over St. Anthony's in the title game established Cerrone as a top quarterback.
It also has put the Flyers in unfamiliar territory -- the team that every opponent in the league wants to take down. That's something Cerrone believes will only fuel Chaminade to be better.
"We definitely feel that pressure but we try not to worry about it too much,'' Cerrone said. "Our seniors this year know that feeling of winning it all because we were on the team as juniors last year, so now we want to work just as hard if not harder than we did last year to get that feeling back.''
Cerrone, who earned the starting quarterback job in Game 2, led the Flyers to a 10-1 record and was 9-1 as a starter. Chaminade's only loss came at the hands of St. Anthony's in the regular season -- a 24-23 defeat that Cerrone was determined to avenge when the teams met again in the championship game.
In the final, Cerrone ran for a 38-yard score in the first quarter to tie the score at 7 and put the Flyers ahead with an 11-yard touchdown pass later in the quarter. St. Anthony's tied it in the third and took back the lead early in the fourth when Cerrone was sacked in the end zone for a safety.
"It just kills your vibe. You're so excited, you're playing great against your rival, and then something bad happens that ends up giving them points and the ball, so it kills you,'' Cerrone said, reflecting on the championship game. "But it makes it that much better when you overcome it.''
Chaminade's defense forced the Friars to turn the ball over on downs in St. Anthony's territory late in the fourth, allowing Cerrone and the offense to set up Zane Wasp's 33-yard field goal with less than a minute to play to give the Flyers the lead.
"It's definitely a confidence- booster for this season having the championship, considering I wasn't even starting at the beginning of last season,'' Cerrone said. "It gives me confidence because I know I can be that much better this year.''
Cerrone spent time over the summer working on routes with tight end Jack Graffagnino and receiver Matt Isnardi. He also studied to better understand Chaminade's triple-option offense.
"I feel a lot faster out there. I'm more accurate with my passes and I'm getting better with my option reads,'' Cerrone said. "We're working a lot harder in practice now. No one is taking plays off and we're all sprinting to the ball. It's a lot of work and we're handling it well.''
So with all that's changed in the last year for Cerrone and Chaminade's football program, the question now is this: How can the Flyers repeat as champions and add another chapter to last year's storybook season?
The key, according to Chaminade coach Stephen Boyd, is to try to keep some things the same.
"Sean is a leader by example who demonstrates the right way to do things,'' Boyd said. "Every year is a new year and we don't compare years, but what we need to do is match the way we prepared last year . . . Everything didn't just go our way. We paved our own way and we earned the right to win. Things don't just go your way in this game. It's not baseball, it's football.''
2012 record: 8-3
Coach Rich Reichert, 27th season
KEY PLAYERS: Jordan Gowins, RB, 6-1, 215, Jr.; Steve Fletcher, C, 6-2, 260, Sr.; Greg Galligan, QB, 6-0, 180, Sr.; Joe Sotomayor, LB, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Naim Jones, RB, 5-11, 180, Sr.
ABOUT THE FRIARS: The new spread offense will provide more chances for Gowins and Jones to unleash their speed and power out of the backfield on opposing defenses. Galligan is a three-year starter at quarterback while Sotomayor and defensive end Joe Percival lead a 4-3 defense.
2012 record: 10-1
Coach Stephen Boyd, 5th season
KEY PLAYERS: Sean Cerrone, QB, 6-0, 185, Sr.; Rob Speranza, RB, 5-10, 190, Sr.; Aidan Lynch, LB, 6-1, 195, Sr.; Jack Graffagnino, TE/LB, 6-5, 260, Sr.; Dominick Borrelli, LB, 5-11, 185, Sr.
ABOUT THE FLYERS: Top offensive threats Cerrone and Speranza are returning. Matt Isnardi at receiver is also key, while junior running back Jack Tigh has impressed coaches in camp. Boyd has said he may experiment with a new pistol formation to compliment Chaminade’s option/wishbone offense.
2012 record: 3-6
Coach Tony Mascia, 23rd season
KEY PLAYERS: Ryan Alexander, TE/DE, 6-4, 240, Sr.; Ryan Rossi, RB/SS, 6-1, 205, Sr.; Pat Williams, FB/SS, 6-0, 215, Sr.; Nick Covino, DE, 6-3, 240, Sr.; Peter Leary, OT, 6-6, 285, Sr.
ABOUT THE TITANS: Leary and center Jeremy Perez will anchor a strong and experienced offensive line, while Rossi and Alexander are solid two-way players. Mike Caddigan returns at linebacker after tying for the team-lead in tackles last season. Junior quarterback Cam Hayes is a first-year starter.
2012 record: 3-7
Coach Kevin Hanifan, 18th season
KEY PLAYERS: Kyle Driscoll, QB 6-1, 195, Sr.; Dan Gallagher, DE, 6-2, 205, Sr.; Connor Goss, WR, 6-4, 195, Sr.; John Antetomaso, 5-8, 160 WR, Sr.; Sean Zaremba, MLB/RB, 6-1 205 Sr.
ABOUT THE FIREBIRDS: Driscoll threw for over 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He'll run a spread offense targeting Goss, Antetomaso and Giovanni Jean. Antetomaso had three kickoff returns for touchdowns last season. Gallagher, a two-year starter at defensive end, leads a 4-3 defense.
2012 record: 9-2
Coach Keith Schweers, 7th season
KEY PLAYERS: Jake Wiswall, RB/LB, 6-1, 225, Sr.; Lawson Prendergast, LB, 5-11, 215, Sr.; Ryan McCann, RB, 6-0, 205, Sr.; Kevin DeMaille Jr., ATH/DB, 5-8, 175, Sr.; Bryan Sinclair, ATH/DB, 5-10, 170, Sr.
ABOUT THE COUGARS: Senior Matt Brady is a first-year starting quarterback. Wiswall and Prendergast make for a dynamic duo at linebacker. Look out for Oscar Frisby, as he could play a bigger role after scoring two TDs on three carries in last year’s AA playoffs.