By Chris Boccia ’17
From the opening kickoff on Sunday afternoon, the Flyers were off and running – perhaps even soaring – in the team’s matchup with the Monsignor Farrell Lions.
Chaminade entered the week-four contest on the heels of two defeats, including its 48-29 loss on Ott Field on September 17 to St. Anthony’s. The following week’s travels to St. Peter’s were no kinder for the varsity football team, as a 41-8 rout sent the boys home with hanging heads.
To return home though, to the confines of Gold Star Stadium, was an appealing set of circumstances for Coach Dolan’s group, with a game that could right the ship for a 1-2 Flyers team set for Sunday, October 2.
Under the overcast swath of an impending downpour, Chaminade awaited a 3-0 Farrell team. The Lions, having defeated powerhouse Archbishop Stepinac and St. Peter’s, took to the turf riding high, though they were soon to be rudely awakened.
Kick returner Matt Maron ‘17 took the opening kick back into the Farrell red zone, setting up the Flyer offense with excellent field position. After the Dolan-led offense failed to score six, the Flyers would kick a field goal and set the Lions with a long field on the ensuing Farrell possession. Within minutes, it was 3-0 Chaminade, those points spurred by impressive special teams play.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebackers James Errante and Luke Pacher played key to a near-shutout half in which the Lions managed just a field goal.
Offensively, quarterback Matt Chmil ’17, along with impact running back Frank Tangredi ’17, led another pair of Flyer field goals before the half. Entering the break, Chaminade held a 9-3 lead.
That upper hand wouldn’t stand for long. On the first possession of the third quarter, the Lions were driven by a 75-yard run, which set up the offense at the Chaminade five-yard line. There, quarterback Frank Patalano found his dynamic running back James DePalma for a quick-pass touchdown. After a successful extra point attempt, the Lions had a 10-9 lead.
Again, the momentum shift would be short lived. Chmil led a flawless drive to answer, one which culminated with a precision pass to regain the lead. On a third down and seven at the Farrell nine-yard line, Chmil’s three-step drop was greeted with a closing pass rush. He scrambled and evaded defenders, managing to reverse course and trek out of the pocket toward the visitor’s sideline. Receiver Dominic Doria shuffled in the endzone and pulled down Chmil’s pressured toss, besting his coverage with his imposing 6’3” frame. In hopes of bumping his team’s lead to seven, Coach Dolan opted for a two-point conversion attempt. The Flyers punched it in, and the lead was 17-10.
From that point on, the Flyers held control, stifling a multitalented group of players on defense and playing even better on special teams. The unit’s success was founded not only in Maron’s opening kick return, but also in Packer’s blocked punt in the third quarter. Not to mention, of course, kicker Liam Dvorak’s perfect day.
The greatest show of special teams’ ability, though, came on senior Kevin Jacoby’s block of a Farrell extra point that would have tied the game at 17. Instead, the Lion’s mark was 16, underscoring Flyer control.
Later, with six minutes on the game clock, the Flyers held possession at around midfield, before a forced fumble resulted in a Farrell takeaway. Before hopes at a Farrell comeback could be redeemed; however, a strip-sack led to a pileup. Soon to emerge was a Flyer football, and another turnover.
With two quick changes of possession, time remained for a Farrell comeback – unless Chaminade could put the game to bed with another score. At the ten-yard line, Chmil found junior wide receiver Chris Nicholas, who slanted across the end zone for a clean touchdown pass. After Dvorak’s point-after attempt was good, the Flyers extended the lead to their largest of the day. It was 24-16 with dwindling time for a Farrell ignition.
Finally, the Lions comeback efforts were totally quelled when cornerback Campbell Goulet ’17 picked off Patalono in Farrell territory with under two minutes to play, an interception that all but sealed the game.
With varsity football’s 24-16 victory over a formidable Monsignor Farrell unit, the Flyers flashed an impressive, cohesive offense with big-play ability and an aptitude to play a game of field position. Such assets, paired with a bounceback performance from the defense, which suffered two straight 40-plus-point outings, was a hopeful sign for a team budding with talent.
Newly ironed after its upset victory, proving the team competitive following its forgettable 2015 campaign, the Flyers will hit the road for Holy Cross and Cardinal Hayes in the coming weeks, with the latter matchup representing another potentially telling test of team strength.
Look for the Flyers at home on October 22 and 29 when the team will host Fordham Prep and Stepinac respectively at Gold Star Stadium. The Flyer faithful have now seen viable reason for hope as Chaminade sits at 2-2, positioning the future well within the range of championship capability.