All week long, Iona Prep prepared for the vaunted St. Anthony's run game out of the triple option. As it turns out, the Friars can throw the ball too.
Quarterback Charlie Raffa threw four touchdowns -- three of which went for more than 50 yards -- and receiver Brian Kensil had a career day as St. Anthony's completed its perfect season. The Friars earned the CHSFL Class AAA championship with a 41-23 win over Iona Prep on Saturday at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale.
It was the 12th straight finals appearance for the Friars (11-0), and their ninth title in that span. St. Anthony's coach addressed the team moments before taking the field, telling them a win would put them near the top of all-time Friar squads.
"Any time you go undefeated in this league, it's special...very special," Reichert said.
St. Anthony's started conservatively. Then, in a sign of things to come, Raffa hit Kensil on a 51-yard bomb to open the day's scoring. Mike Schillizzi ran in from 1-yard out a few minutes later, and it looked like another Friars rout.
But seconds later, Iona star running back Sidney Weston broke free for an 83-yard touchdown run. The Gaels (8-3) followed with a field goal, and suddenly it was 13-9.
Things didn't stay close for long, as it became apparent that Kensil would have a field day against the Iona 'D'. The senior wideout hauled in a 63-yard strike from Raffa to make it 20-9 in the second quarter.
"They kept sending their safety on the blitz on the play action, so we took advantage," Kensil said. "I had the single coverage against their short guys, so we went with it."
Another Weston scoring run briefly made things close, but Kensil used his 6-foot, 5-inch frame to out-jump his defender on a fade pattern for a 13-yard touchdown catch shortly before halftime. St. Anthony's was never really threatened again, and Raffa hit RB Brian Sherlock out of the backfield for a 63-yard TD in the third for good measure.
"It's just awesome for us, nobody expected us to be here right now," Raffa said after his team hoisted the Michael Cunnion Memorial Trophy as champions. "It was supposed to be a rebuilding year...everybody just came together."
Hero: Charlie Raffa. The senior quarterback used his legs (over 70 yards rushing) and his arm (258 yards, 4 TD's) to lead the Friars to the championship.
Turning Point: Up only 20-16, Kensil used his height on a fade route to haul in a 13 yard scoring pass from Raffa, making it 27-16, and halting Iona's first-half momentum.
Quotable: "It was my best game, it was my final game...it felt great," Brian Kensil said of his effort.
Bottom Line: St. Anthony's had options. Iona Prep did not. The Friars had the multi-purpose threat of Raffa, a three-headed backfield and the big-play ability of Kensil. Most of the Gaels' offense centered around Weston. He broke a couple of big touchdown runs, but it wouldn't be enough to keep up.
Key Stat: 158/3, as in yards and touchdown catches for Brian Kensil, saving his best for the last game of his Friars career.
CHSFL Class AAA Championship
Teams……………...…1.....2.....3.....4 – F
St. Anthony's........13...14....7.....7 – 41
Iona Prep.............6.....10....0....7 – 23
SA – Kensil 51 pass from Raffa (kick failed)
SA – Schillizi 1 run (Doktor kick)
IP – Weston 83 run (kick failed)
IP – Kapp 27 FG
SA – Kensil 63 pass from Raffa (Doktor kick)
IP – Weston 27 run (Kapp kick)
SA – Kensil 13 pass from Raffa (Doktor kick)
SA – Sherlock 63 pass from Raffa (Doktor kick)
SA – Gellineau 10 fumble return (Yacenda kick)
IP – Weston 66 run (Kapp kick)