Rob Speranza, Sean Cerrone lead Chaminade to win over Kellenberg

Chaminade's Robert Speranza Jr. runs against Kellenberg. (Sept. Chaminade's Robert Speranza Jr. runs against Kellenberg. (Sept. 7, 2013) Photo Credit: Patrick E. McCarthy

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It was to the point, late in the first half, that the only thing still in question was which Chaminade play could be considered the game's brightest highlight.

How about Rob Speranza's dazzling 83-yard touchdown scamper in the first quarter? Or Matt Isnardi's over-the-shoulder grab for a 49-yard score in the second?

Can't forget about Sean Cerrone, on a quarterback keeper, sprinting 79 yards untouched for another second-quarter touchdown.

Spectacular plays, certainly, and each contributed to host Chaminade's 47-20 victory over Kellenberg Saturday in the CHSFL season opener.

But we'll credit bonus points for level of difficulty. Thus, the highlight winner was Speranza, for his one-handed, 74-yard touchdown catch in the second.

"Right as the ball left my hand, I cringed, thinking I overthrew him," said Cerrone, who lofted the pass after spotting Speranza in single coverage up the left sideline. "I didn't think there was any way he was catching it."

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But the running back lunged, extended his left arm and grabbed the ball, without breaking stride, and outran the pursuit. "I was just hoping to get a hand on it," Speranza said with a grin, "and it stuck."

That play, which gave the Flyers a 34-6 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the half, left even teammates marveling.

"It's scary that we're getting used to Rob doing things like that," tight end Jack Graffagnino said. "That's the kind of player he's become."

And this is the kind of team Chaminade has become -- one with the poise and confidence to shake off two first-quarter turnovers and the talent to make it moot with a 34-0 run.

Coming off last year's CHSFL AAA championship, the Flyers' first since 1998, "We don't feel pressure," Cerrone said, "we try to apply it."

They succeeded. Cerrone threw three touchdowns and ran for two more, and the defense forced three turnovers and held a potent Kellenberg offense to 13 points.

Lineman Theodore Capsis had a sack and his sliding interception in coverage with 2:20 remaining sealed the victory. Defensive back Kevin Hannan also had a pick.

Cerrone's first-quarter fumble on the 5 set up Kyle Driscoll's 2-yard TD pass to Connor Goss, which put the Firebirds up 6-0. But Cerrone responded with a 16-yard strike to Graffagnino on a corner route, giving Chaminade a 7-6 lead with 5:09 left in the first.

Then 1:27 later, Speranza's 83-yard sweep right as OL Steven Alonso sealed the edge made it 14-6. Cerrone's 79-yard run up the middle behind Gerard Arnold put them up 27-6.

Daniel Gallagher's interception return for a touchdown -- off David Jaskolski -- and Driscoll's 35-yard TD to Goss pulled Kellenberg within 34-20 in the third. But Cerrone scored on a 7-yard run with 5:34 left in the quarter, and John Tigh's 6-yard plunge capped the scoring with 7:47 to go.

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And with this performance, Chaminade served notice: There will be no title hangover. "No way," Graffagnino said. "Our skill players are back, the line is great, and we know what we're capable of. I don't think anybody is doubting us this year."

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