Every kid who grows up with a football envisions turning in a performance that leaves a crowd chanting his name.
Maximus Mongelli of Kellenberg has an idea what that might look like from watching the 2000 film ‘Gladiator,’ but he didn’t get the authentic experience on Sunday after a series of stellar receptions led the host Firebirds to a 37-29 win over Chaminade in the teams’ featured 7-on-7 Catholic High School Football League game.
The CHSFL isn’t admitting spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Mongelli, a senior wide receiver, caught 12 passes for 101 yards, three touchdowns and a one-point conversion for the Firebirds. He made four fourth-down receptions that went for touchdowns or first downs.
"He runs perfect routes and he catches anything that’s around him," Firebirds coach Kevin Hanafin said. "He makes [catches] in traffic. He makes them when he’s getting knocked around. And he’s only made himself better since playing well last season by putting on 15 pounds of muscle."
Mongelli – whose father, Michael, named him after the character from ‘Gladiator’ and who is the last of four Mongelli brothers to play wideout for Kellenberg – caught touchdowns of 1, 18 and 3 yards. All were delivered from junior quarterback Ethan-Kiyh Greenwood.
Greenwood finished 25-for-36 passing for 206 yards and five touchdowns as the feature-game victory moved Kellenberg to 3-0.
Chaminade (1-2) rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half behind some long catches by Michael Cawley, who had four receptions for 98 yards and one score. Mario Fischetti had a touchdown and a conversion catch and Brendan Connors had a touchdown catch for the Flyers. A six-yard touchdown strike from Tyler Burke to Justin Barbarino cut the margin to 37-29 with 38 seconds left but Kellenberg was able to run the clock out.
The Flyers won the second varsity game, 53-40.
"Playing this style [with no line play or rushing] isn’t ideal but it will make us better for 11-on-11," Cawley said. "You saw our passing game, but it is much better when you pair it with our running game."
Indeed, the Flyers have a star in senior running back Fischetti, who is mulling an offer from Williams College. "I look forward to us playing them in 11-on-11," he said, referring to scheduled return of tackle football in March. "I’m looking forward to doing what I do."
Greenwood wasn’t supposed to be the starting quarterback, but stepped into the role when senior Thomas Sluka suffered a lat strain. Mongelli’s rapport with him has grown fast. It started with some small workouts in the summer, but accelerated once the team started to practice. With no running plays, quarterbacks and receivers at Kellenberg get 60 reps a day instead of the usual 20.
"Maximus is so reliable, you only have to put it close," Greenwood said. "He’s not a big target, but he plays like one."
Sluka is expected to return before this five-week 7-on-7 season concludes and Hanafin said there will be competition for the starting job behind center.
"I haven’t been perfect and I’ve made some mistakes," Greenwood said. "But I am looking forward to the chance to compete for the starting job."