Friday night not only marked the end of the season, but the end of an era for the St. Anthony’s football program.
The No. 1 Friars fell to No. 5 Cardinal Hayes in a CHSFL AAA semifinal at home, 26-25, through a steady rain, signaling the end of longtime coach Rich Reichert’s career.
Reichert, who announced his intent to retire at the conclusion of the season, coached St. Anthony’s for 32 seasons, going 266-66-3 and winning 14 league titles, according to Newsday records.
St. Anthony’s (7-2) won the first meeting against Cardinal Hayes this season on Oct.12, 56-32.
Sofian Massoud found Michael Escobar for a 4-yard pass for the winning touchdown with 9:19 remaining, as the Cardinals retook the lead for good at 26-25. Massoud’s pass on the two-point conversion attempt was incomplete.
St. Anthony’s punted after reaching the Cardinals’ 40-yard line on the next possession, and Cardinal Hayes ran out the final 5:18 to seal the victory.
Trailing 14-13 early in the third quarter, St. Anthony’s quarterback Greg Campisi shifted around multiple defenders in the open field and trotted across the goal line 20 yards later, giving St. Anthony’s their first lead of the night. The Friars were unable to convert the two-point conversion, and the lead remained 19-14 at the 8:25 mark.
An interception by Makhi Murphy returned down to the Cardinals’ 3-yard line about two minutes later set up Campisi for a touchdown run on the following play, extending the St. Anthony’s lead to 25-14. Massoud responded with a 4-yard touchdown run with 3:49 remaining in the quarter, bringing Cardinal Hayes within 25-20 before failing on the two-point conversion attempt.
Campisi lofted a deep pass down the middle of the field and connected with Gregory Randall for a 57-yard touchdown one minute into the second half to bring the Friars within a point on the prior drive. Campisi completed 11 of 17 passes for 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Kyle Angus put the Friars on the board 38 seconds prior to halftime after hauling in a 1-yard touchdown reception from Campisi. Angus gave St. Anthony’s a much-needed injection of energy two plays earlier with a dazzling 43-yard spin-and-run down the left sideline.
Jalen Smith put together a solid running attack for Cardinal Hayes throughout the night. He followed up an 18-yard carry down the right sideline with an 11-yard burst to the end zone at the 2:31 mark of the first. Quarterback Sofian Massoud tacked on a two-point conversion run, extending the Cardinal Hayes lead to 14-0.