St. Anthony's, Chaminade renew storied rivalry in AAA title game

St. Anthony's RB Brian Sherlock breaks tackle attempts

St. Anthony's RB Brian Sherlock breaks tackle attempts by Chaminade in the CHSFL high school Division AAA football game. (Oct. 21, 2011) (Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

St. Anthony's and Chaminade.

A great rivalry in the 1970s and '80s has been dormant in recent years as St. Anthony's has dominated, winning 10 of the last 11 CHSFL AAA championships.

St. Anthony's entered 2012 with a 29-game winning streak and was favored to add another championship. After two early- season stumbles against nationally ranked Bergen Catholic (N.J.) and Iona Prep, the Friars rebounded to finish the regular season 8-2.

One of those early-season wins came against Chaminade, a 24-23 victory that hinged on a failed two-point conversion by Chaminade (9-1) with 1:15 remaining after the Flyers elected to go for the victory instead of kicking the extra point to tie. Halfback Rob Speranza was stopped on the conversion try and Chaminade again failed to beat St. Anthony's, a streak dating to 1998. It turned out to be the Flyers' only loss.

Now the rivals meet again for the CHSFL AAA championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Mitchel Athletic Complex.

St. Anthony's enters the game led by a defense that has allowed only 26 points in the last four games and an offense that has outscored playoff opponents Monsignor Farrell and St. Joseph by the Sea by a combined 77-8.

St. Anthony's has a fine group of running backs: Anthony Anderson, who had six touchdowns and led the team with 682 yards rushing; Jordan Gowins (483 yards, 12 touchdowns), Naim Jones (496 yards) and Brendan Femiano (470 yards). Toss in quarterback Greg Galligan's 397 rushing yards and you have a formidable ground attack.

Chaminade was tested early in the season when it pulled out a 34-31 victory over Iona Prep in its third game. Chaminade won the rematch, 41-16, in a CHSFL semifinal.

Star receiver Tom Zenker had a big impact in that playoff win over Iona Prep with six catches for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Speranza added two TDs on the ground.

Fourth-year coach Stephen Boyd has made an impact on the Flyers, who have improved on a five-win 2011 season.

History and tradition will permeate the CHSFL AAA title game Saturday afternoon as two storied programs renew a rivalry that once was one of the best.

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