Kellenberg’s Matt Sluka had one major thought floating in his head before his team’s CHSFL AA championship game against Fordham Prep.
The quarterback was well aware that his counterpart was the Rams’ 6-5 Matt Valecce, a Boston College commit.
“I came in knowing I gotta to play big,” Sluka said. “There was a great QB on the other side, and I had to step up and help the team.”
Step up? Help the team?
How about touchdown runs of 64, 11, 16, 32 and 52 yards, and another score on a pass as top-seeded Kellenberg scored 33 unanswered in the second half and rolled to a 54-19 win over No. 2 Fordham Prep on Saturday at Mitchel Athletic Complex. It is Kellenberg’s first league title since 1999.
If that wasn’t enough, Sluka was 6-for-8 on PATs, accounting for 42 of the Firebirds’ points in one of the more memorable performances in CHSFL championship game history.
“He’s an athletic kid with unbelievable poise,” Kellenberg coach Kevin Hanifan said. “Athletically, you saw what he did. He was running over people, running around people, and running away from people.”
Sluka, named the game’s offensive MVP, finished with 227 rushing yards on 17 carries.
But this was far from a one-man show. Frankie Roder added 154 yards and a TD on the ground, and Jordan DeLucia added 114 rushing yards and two TDs (one by pass), as Kellenberg churned out an impressive 506 yards rushing.
Still, Kellenberg (11-0) was in a battle as Fordham Prep scored on the final play of the first half to cut the Firebirds’ lead to 21-19.
“Everybody realized this is the championship, there’s nothing else after this,” Sluka said. “We might as well go out and do the best we can, and it all worked.”
Especially for Sluka, who scored on three of his touchdown runs in the third quarter to give Kellenberg a 41-19 lead with 3:09 left in the period.
The Firebirds’ defense settled in and kept the Rams (9-2) and talented Valecce under control. He finished 27-for-46 passing for 375 yards, with three touchdowns and one interception by Aiden Fitzgerald. Daniel Wilson and Brendan Whitehead each had a sack for Kellenberg, and defensive MVP Shawn Hughes had a team-high nine tackles.
The game completed an amazing turnaround by Kellenberg, which went 1-8 last season.
“We didn’t want to go out without a perfect game,” Hughes said. “We just tried to make the second half as perfect as we possibly could.”
And now Kellenberg has a perfect season, too.