The Kellenberg football team had one goal this season — win every game. The Firebirds passed with flying colors.
Kellenberg went 11-0 for the second consecutive season, winning every game but one by at least 20 points. That one game was a 33-32 win over St. Peters on Oct. 20. Two weeks later in the CHSFL Class AA quarterfinals, Kellenberg defeated St. Peters, 48-14, beginning its playoff run.
The Firebirds averaged 41.6 points per game during their two-year reign. According to coach Kevin Hanifan, the 22-0 record was mainly a product of the effort his players put into the football program. Three years ago, under the same coaching staff, the Firebirds went 1-8. Now, they are celebrating the winningest period in school football history.
“It’s unbelievable because we got everybody’s A-game. From day one, we knew nobody was going to lay down in this league,” said Hanifan. “We executed when we had to, and we have some great athletes.”
Most notable among those great athletes was quarterback Matt Sluka. Sluka, a Division I talent in either football or lacrosse, quarterbacked all 22 wins for the Firebirds. In the championship game, he went 5-for-5 for 111 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 109 yards and two touchdowns in a 41-6 win over Xavier, completing a stellar senior season in which he ran for more than 1,100 yards and scored 23 touchdowns, while adding another 1,200 yards and 15 touchdowns through the air.
“You can’t coach what he does,” said Hanifan. “We try to put him in the right space, but he just does stuff that you couldn’t draw on a board. You’d be crazy to even try.”
As talented as Sluka is, his job was tremendously augmented by running back Jordan DeLucia. DeLucia ran for 1,370 yards and 19 touchdowns, while adding another 268 yards and two touchdowns on the receiving end. The tandem was an unstoppable force.
“It’s unbelievable, never losing a varsity game,” said Sluka, who played two seasons of varsity football. “You can’t do any better than that.”
FIREBIRDS’ road to the championship
St. Peter’s, 48-14
Fordham Prep, 47-20
CHSFL Class AA championship