With every breath taken by the players Saturday night, steam came out of their mouths. That's how cold it was on the turf at St. Anthony's. But the Friars were hot, and their opening-round CHSFL playoff performance left visiting Farrell breathless.
St. Anthony's, with six different players and three different kickers sharing the scoring, dismantled Farrell, 42-0, in South Huntington to advance to the semifinals against the winner of Sunday's St. Joseph's by the Sea-Stepinac game at a site and date to be determined.
The Friars (7-2) didn't show much rust from a three-week layoff caused by superstorm Sandy. In fact, they seemed to benefit from the break in routine. "Those three weeks were good for everyone," said fullback Anthony Anderson, who led all rushers with 103 yards on 11 carries, including a 15-yard TD run in the first quarter. "For me, it was good to do well against Monsignor Farrell, because that's the game I got hurt in."
Anderson suffered a lower leg injury in that game, a 42-34 victory for St. Anthony's on Oct. 12. Though he has played every game since, he acknowledged he wasn't 100 percent until Saturday night. I got to rest up and then get plenty of practice," Anderson said. "The last time, I took a helmet to the leg because they like to tackle low. I knew they'd try to do that again, so I was ready with a straight arm and I hurdled some guys."
Another player who used the three weeks off to maximum benefit was flashy sophomore running back Jordan Gowins. He had suffered an ankle sprain against Chaminade in Week 4 and hadn't played until Saturday. The layoff allowed him to be available for the entire CHSFL playoffs, giving St. Anthony's yet another weapon.
"Having Jordan rested and healthy is very big for us," said quarterback Greg Galligan, who scored from a yard out in the second quarter to provide a 21-0 halftime lead and threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Michael Russo in the first quarter. "He's a really good player."
Gowins ran hard all night, showing both speed and power, and scored on a 1-yard run early in the third quarter to make it 28-0. "Those three weeks off helped me a lot," he said. "My ankle felt a lot better. I did hesitate a little out there and I got a little winded."
St. Anthony's defense, let by cornerback Fifi Familusi, linebacker Anthony Leggio and linebacker Dan Carlone, among others, stopped the Lions twice on fourth-and-1 near midfield in the second half and did not allow a legitimate scoring chance.
"We were very crisp," Galligan said. "The three weeks off helped us and hurt us. It helped getting Anthony and Jordan some rest, but it hurt because we were just starting to get hot."
No worries there. St. Anthony's won its seventh straight game, after losing to Bergen Catholic and Iona Prep to start the season, and seems ready to defend the CHSFL title it has won for the past three years and 10 times in the last 11 years. "We were itching to play," Anderson said. "We've got the hunger to resume our journey for another championship."