Quarterback Sean Cerrone was a little known junior when he led Chaminade to its first CHSFL football championship in 14 years. With a title defense before him and an inexperienced team all around him, the senior signal caller was undoubtedly cast as the key component to another championship run. Saturday, served as Cerrone's first big test as Chaminade hosted highly-regarded Iona Prep.
The quarterback shook off a rough first half and led the host Flyers to a 22-7 win over Iona Prep, in a CHSFL AAA game before a crowd of 1,400. Cerrone, who completed 10 of 22 passes for 101 yards, also threw interceptions on three consecutive passes and fumbled on the Flyers' final drive of the first half setting up Iona's lone score with 38 seconds left.
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"Oh, it was a tough half, my pre-snap reads weren't very good and we had a few bad breaks," Cerrone said. "Our defense really held it together."
Cerrone's athleticism and feel for the triple option keyed the Flyers' opening score. He directed a four-play, 80-yard drive, capped by his 1-yard touchdown run midway through the first quarter as Chaminade took a 6-0 lead. The key play came on an option right as Cerrone unloaded a perfect pitch to halfback Rob Speranza just before the backside pursuit got to Cerrone's legs. Speranza, who finished with 158 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, bolted down the home sideline for 64 yards.
"He's just amazing, a real playmaker," said Chaminade tight end Jack Graffagnino, who had two receptions for 28 yards. "No matter what's happening he controls our huddle and keeps us focused. And he makes so many big plays."
The Iona Prep defense limited those plays the rest of the half. The Gaels recorded three interceptions, one by way of a deflection at the line and two with tight coverage downfield on 50-50 balls.
"He has big enough shoulders to lead us even when things aren't going his way," Chaminade coach Stephen Boyd said. "He rebounds and moves forward after mistakes. The team believes in him. And the key to his success, is he never allows himself to get too high or too low. He handles everything with enthusiasm and confidence."
Chaminade defensive back Owen Rogers intercepted quarterback Robert Madison in the back of the Flyers' end zone to thwart a Gaels second quarter drive. Rogers was the beneficiary of excellent coverage by Tom O'Connell, who knocked the ball away from the intended receiver, and to an alert Rogers for the touchback.
Cerrone then directed a seven-play, 80-yard scoring drive, keyed by two completions to Graffagnino, and capped by a Speranza 39-yard scoring run with 3:19 left in the half for a 12-0 lead. Cerrone's well-timed pitch sent Speranza around right end where a key block by Matt Isnardi sprung the halfback loose.
"This is a team that will continue to improve with each week," Boyd said. "We'll have some growing problems, but we expect to be much better when it matters most."
The second half belonged to the Chaminade defense and kicker/halfback Jack Tigh. Junior defensive tackle Brian Goulard, who had two sacks and seven tackles, also blocked a 41-yard field-goal attempt. And defensive tackle Ted Capsis added four tackles for a loss and a fumble recovery.
"I came through clean and blocked the attempt and all I could think about was picking it up and running for a touchdown," Goulard laughed. "Doesn't every lineman want to score? It's our dream."
Tigh added a 21-yard field goal and scored on a 48-yard run where he cutback against the secondary and scored untouched for the final margin.
"It was a great run," Cerrone said. "We eliminated our mistakes in the second half and won a close physical game."