Quarterback Dante Torres of St. Anthony's scrambles against Stepinac during...

Quarterback Dante Torres of St. Anthony's scrambles against Stepinac during a CHSFL game at St. Anthony's on Saturday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The 22-team league is reduced to the eight teams between Long Island and Westchester. With the 14 league members in New York City still awaiting approval from Mayor Bill DeBlasio, the CHSFL moved on.

Stepinac, winners of three of the last five Class AAA championships, opened the season at St. Anthony’s in South Huntington Saturday in what turned out to be a thriller. The Friars came away with a 21-20 win.

"Coach [Chris] Taylor and I were walking out to the field and it felt like October football, it was so exciting," said St. Anthony’s football coach Joe Minucci. "It was March and the excitement was beyond belief."

St. Anthony’s, Iona Prep, Stepinac and Chaminade will comprise one division and St. John the Baptist, Holy Trinity, Kellenberg and Kennedy Catholic make up the other.

"We’ll play a four-game regular season schedule and then have a playoff," Minucci said. "I’m happy we were given the go-ahead to start the first full week of games."

St. Anthony’s will start sophomore Dante Torres, a 6-3, 180-pounder and a dual threat at quarterback. He’ll work behind a big and physical offensive line led by junior Michael Voltaggio, who at 6-3, 270 pounds anchors that unit. The Friars strength will be in the running game where depth is the key.

Senior cornerback Dante Antoine, a Stony Brook commit and a two-year starter, will lead a secondary that also has standout senior Emmanuel Green.

"They’re two very physical cover guys who come up in run support," Minucci said.

St. Anthony’s will host Iona Prep at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and then travel to Chaminade for a 1:30 p.m. start on April 1.

An exciting crossover is scheduled at St. John the Baptist on April 10. It’s been 30 years since the Cougars and Friars got together on the gridiron.

Chaminade returns a strong senior core off last year’s championship-winning team which defeated Kellenberg, 29-12, in the Class AA final in 2019. Halfback Mario Fischetti leads the offensive unit after rushing for more than 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns and Anthony D’Agostino leads the defense at linebacker.

It was tough sledding for the Flyers in Saturday’s opener. The Flyers dropped that one, 51-14, to Iona Prep.

"We played the best team in the state," said Chaminade coach Kevin Dolan. "They have nine Division-I committed players."

The Gaels shut down the Williams College-bound Fischetti and scored at will on the Flyers defense, leading 37-0, at the half.

St. John the Baptist second year coach Phil Alba will incorporate a run-pass offense with junior quarterback Kyle Chase looking for senior wideout Christian Maisel and junior Bryce Robinson. Mark Anthony Scott and Jayden Louis will be the featured running backs. Senior linebacker Christopher Annitto led the team in tackles last season and will anchor the defense.

Holy Trinity’s second-year coach Kahmal Roy has a strong core of three-year seniors. Quarterback Emilio Ramirez and wide receiver Jaden Sinclair will complement leading rusher Kam Robbins in the Titans offense. Two-way linemen Elijah Tobin, who has drawn D-I interest, and John Morales anchor the line. Holy Trinity opens the season at home against St. John the Baptist Sunday at 1 p.m.

Kellenberg senior Thomas Sluka is the big playmaker in the Firebirds offense. He’s a dual threat on every play.

Sluka moved to QB from receiver. His main target will be senior Maximus Mongelli, who had 20 receptions, 234 yards and three touchdowns in 2019. Senior Will Ligarzewski is the Firebirds hard-hitting middle linebacker and a player to watch.