While every high school football player across Long Island is hoping the country has the coronavirus pandemic in a place that will allow them to play 11-on-11 tackle football come March, don’t be surprised if the ones at St. John the Baptist want it just a little more.
The Cougars have witnessed impressive growth as they’ve competed this fall in the Catholic High School Football League’s 7-on-7 format and, if they can perform as they did Saturday at Chaminade, they’d like to see what it looks like in the more traditional game.
St. John the Baptist put on a display of dynamic athleticism to build a 25-point halftime lead and then weathered a Flyers comeback for a 38-25 win in the team’s featured game at Gold Star Stadium.
"The season in March, we’re all praying for it," junior quarterback Kyle Chase said. "To see how we played against a good program like Chaminade makes us want to see the kind of damage we could do in a [traditional] football season. We’ve got players on the field in synch and we’re prepared for what defenses throw at us."
Chase is surrounded by electric players on offense. Mark Anthony Scott Jr. showed panache as he both got behind the Flyer defense for a 31-yard touchdown reception and caught a dump-off pass and eluded three Chaminade defenders for a seven-yard gain at one point. Though just 6-1, Christian Maisel played above the masses to pluck a pair of interceptions and catch a 40-yard TD pass. Bryace Robinson also made a leaping catch for a 6-yard touchdown.
"We have some really good athletes, but it comes down to execution and we executed it today," Baptist coach Phil Alba said.
Chase completed 13 of 17 passes for 126 yards and three touchdowns and Randolph Ramnarace – the other part of a quarterback combo – was 6-for-12 passing and threw the 40-yard score to Maisel for SJB (2-2). Vinny DiMAria also caught a TD pass for the Cougars, who led 27-2 at halftime.
Thomas Brown had two touchdown receptions and Michael Cawley one for Chaminade (1-3).
SJB won the second varsity game 46-28.
St. John the Baptist hopes that if there is an 11-on-11 season, it can turn the page on a half dozen years of mediocrity; its last title game appearance was in the 2014 CHSFL AA championship.
"We have players who make plays this year," said two-way player River Lewis. "Our offense and our defensive secondary are way improved from last season."
Added Scott: "We made ourselves better during the pandemic and it’s showing. We can’t wait until it’s 11-on-11. We’d like to see our offense against the best teams on Long Island."