Senior wide receiver Tommy Brown tucks the ball away and sprints for the end zone in a game against St. Francis Prep.
By Dylan Grismer ’22
In a normal world, early September would be marked by the lining of fields, crashing of helmets, and cheering of the crowd with the start of the varsity football season. Hundreds of Flyer student-athletes would return to campus, excited for their respective seasons to begin. But, like many things in the year 2020, sports are not the same. While fall sports like soccer and cross country are continuing almost completely as usual, the football season was completely revamped. However, despite these setbacks, the Flyers are back on the field and competing like never before.
For months, many wondered if a football season would even take place. With several big-name NCAA football conferences like the Big 10 and Pac-12 originally postponing their seasons, and a resolution for a season nowhere in sight, the future of Chaminade Football in 2020 looked grim. Despite sad feelings and setbacks, the Flyers Football program did not back down. Head Coach Kevin Dolan ’85 and the rest of the coaching staff held weekly Zoom meetings to discuss strategy in place of summer practices and constantly encouraged their players to find creative ways to improve while at home. Then, in a surprise to everyone, the Catholic High School Athletics Association announced that there would be fall sports in 2020. Unfortunately, football programs were told that they would only play a 7-on-7, non-contact, touch football league. This was established in hopes of having the season normally in the spring. Although it was not what many people expected, the idea of having a football season in 2020 excited many players and coaches across Long Island.
Playing 7 versus 7 football with no pads, no helmets, and no contact is certainly not an easy feat. As many players put it, it is “a completely different game”; masks must be worn on the sideline, there are less players on the field, and no spectators are allowed at any game. In addition, teams take turns driving down only half the field and are only permitted to run pass plays. But, even though the game has changed tremendously, it has been a blessing just to be out on the field again.
Junior quarterback Thomas Stueber expressed his gratitude for the fall season: “It’s been really nice getting back into the football environment and competing again. It might not be the same, but it’s preparing us all for the spring season. Once we get all 11 of us out onto the field in full pads, we will be ready to play and go compete for another championship.”
It should be noted that this concept was not drawn up as a replacement for the season; it was meant as an opportunity for the players to safely get back together and find some sense of normalcy. So far, many players have been enjoying the season. It is not uncommon to see players laughing with each other or tossing the ball around on the field before practice. But, once the joking is finished, the work ethic and level of competition has been absolutely outstanding. It is clear that the Flyers were ready to play in 2020.
So far the Flyers have shown their high levels of skill and determination in every game. With a big win over rival St. Anthony’s and a very close game against Kellenberg, it is adamant that the Flyers are seeking to defend their AA title from last year. Many players from last season have picked up right where they left off. On the offense, senior running back Mario Fischetti ’21, a star of the Flyers’ 2020 campaign, is continuing his monster season from last year. Fischetti recently committed to play at Williams College and has been making receptions and scoring touchdowns left and right for the Flyers, despite running plays not being allowed. Chaminade’s quarterback duo of Tyler Burke ’21 and Thomas Stueber ’22, as well as Rob Dimilia ’21, have put in tremendous offseason work and are showing it out on the field. The Flyers wide receiving unit, lead by senior Mike Cawley ’21, has also been impressive. Cawley, who had four receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown against Kellenberg, has been an X-factor on the offense so far. Brendan Connors ’21, Parker Warantz ’21, and Tommy Brown ’21 have all been making big plays as well.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Flyers have no shortage of star players. Linebackers Anthony D’Agostino ’21 and Jake Borgia ’21, defensive back Luke Concannon ’21, and safety tandem of Matt Vassallo ’21 and Joe Merino ’21 have all played lockdown defense so far. Considering that only D’Agostino and Vassallo were starters in 2019, many other players have risen to the challenge of taking on a starting role. Junior defensive backs Hagan Wagner ’22 and Terrell Mompoint ’22 have shown their ability to compete at the varsity level by playing with the starters as well. Assistant Head Coach Mike Dolce ’99, who is the defensive coordinator as well as a new father, has done a terrific job of adjusting the defense to this new style of play. With these players on the field, it is obvious that the Flyers are destined for success the rest of this fall and into the spring season when real competition begins.
Football may not be the same in 2020, but in a year like this, it is hard to find anything that is the same as it used to be. But, even though their season has been completely changed, the Chaminade Flyers have shown extreme resiliency and competitive spirit every day. They all know it is a blessing just to be back out on the field, and they both have taken advantage of every aspect of it and will continue to find success.
“I want to use this opportunity to teach the boys real football and not phony plays with oddball formations like some teams are doing,” expressed Coach Dolan. “It gives me and the other coaches the opportunity to find guys who either never played before or played very little last year, and also to remind our brothers in football that we have not abandoned them. I love winning as much as anyone, but I’m saving those passions for the spring.”
You can watch the Flyers compete via the LocalLive livestream on our website, www.chaminade-hs.org.