The road to the Catholic High School Football League title has gone through St. Anthony's for more than a decade. The Friars have become the measuring stick for the CHSFL.
"We've put ourselves in a position to win consistently by continuing to build the program," said St. Anthony's coach Rich Reichert, who has 230 wins, the most in Suffolk history. "The winning takes care of itself when the players follow the expectations of the coaches, get in the weight room, and reach their goals."
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St. Anthony's had won seven straight CHSFL titles from 2001-2007 and another three from 2009-2011. They were temporarily dethroned by Chaminade on Zane Wasp's last minute field goal, 17-16, in last year's thrilling final.
That loss had the Friars come back with a vengeance this season, winning 11 straight games against CHSFL opponents, including two lopsided wins over the champs from Chaminade, 38-10, and 35-0 in the final.
St. Anthony's (11-1), which lost its home opener against St, Joseph of Buffalo, 20-14, earned its 11th crown in the past 13 years with its most dominant performance in any championship game.
"We were so balanced on offense," said St. Anthony's center Steven Fletcher, who is headed to Princeton. "We were running inside and out on the edge after a few halftime adjustments. It's a great finish for the seniors."
One senior in particular, quarterback Greg Galligan, drew praise from the line and the halfbacks.
"Greg became a leader and gave us the added dimension of an excellent passing game," said junior halfback Jordan Gowins.
Galligan's timing on the speed option and his big arm kept defensive units off balance. He would stretch the defense with wide receiver Nick Esposito or throw to the flat to Jones for big plays. And when defenses would take away the flat pass, Gowins gashed them through the middle.
"He turned into one of the best quarterbacks on Long Island," said St. Anthony's offensive coordinator Fred Gallagher Jr. "And the offense just improved every week."
St. Anthony's also grabbed the spotlight at the Suffolk County Football Coaches Association banquet when a committee of Suffolk coaches and media named Gowins the third junior ever to earn the 64th annual Carl A. Hansen Award, which is given to Suffolk's top player.
Gowins had a spectacular season. The 6-1, 205-pounder rushed for 2,012 yards, scored 24 touchdowns and averaged 11 yards per carry. He had scoring runs of 55, 67, 70, 75, 78 and 94 yards this season and another six scores from 39 to 49 yards.
"He's deceptively fast and a big-time player headed to a big-time college," Reichert said. "And we get to see him grow for another season here at St. Anthony's."
That spells trouble for the rest of the CHSFL.