Cardinal Hayes football stars make college choices official

Shawn Antoine (l.) and Amir Crenshaw (r.) of Cardinal Hayes signed National Letters of Intent with Rhode Island and C.W. Post respectively with head coach C.J. O’Neil (c.) looking on.
Photo by Joseph Staszewski

Signing Day, just like their elusive CHSFL Class AA title was worth the wait for Cardinal Hayes’ Shawn Antoine and Amir Crenshaw.

The due led the Cardinals to their first ‘AA” title since 1981. They didn’t get to sign at Hayes, but had to send their National Letters of Intent from their mother’s office and Staples respectively after inclement weather closed the school on Jan. 5. A day later there we surrounded by trophies, coaches, teammates, family and friends as the celebrated making their college choices official. Antoine is heading to Division-I Rhode Island to play safety and Crenshaw is going to be a wide receiver at Division-II C.W. Post.

“It’s one of the best feelings of my life,” Crenshaw said. “This has been my goal since coming into Hayes.”

Antoine got a special feeling when he stepped onto the Rhode Island campus. First-year head coach Jim Fleming took over after helping the University of Central Florida to a Fiesta Bowl win over of Oregon as the defensive coordinator. Antoine saw the improvements the university made to its athletic infrastructure and the comments Fleming had to turning things around.

“They are just doing everything right to try to rebuild the program,” he said.

In Antoine the Rams get one of the CHSFL’s most dynamic defensive back. The hard hitter always made his presence felt in a game, including a big fourth-quarter hit against rival Mount St. Michal in the final on Thanksgiving Day.

“He’s just a kid who has a nose for the football and loves to hit and changed the dynamic of games at times,” Cardinals coach C. J. ONeil said.

Photo by Joseph Staszewski

Crenshaw could do the same with his size, speed and tremendous hands. He put the work in during the offseason and excelled in the No. 1 receivers role after the graduation of George Dawson. He caught 40 passed for 638 yards and nine touchdowns. Crenshaw also added a big fourth down grab for a first down late in the championship game.

“I think they got a steal,” O’Neil said. “That’s a young man who is a very hard worker and he is going to keep developing.”

C.W. Post showed and assistant coach Mark Verdi showed the most interest in Crenshaw. His aggressiveness and a chance to compete to play right away won Crenshaw over despite having Division-I schools like Sacred Heart and Lehigh also on him. He joins Mount St. Michael corner Kasim Thomas, New Utrecht’s Richard Wright and Brooklyn Tech’s Deion Mash in the list of New York City players signing with the Pioneers

“Coach Verdi says he knows a player when he sees one and he said when he saw me he knew that was his guy,” Crenshaw said.

Antoine said he and his teammates talked in the preseason about getting over the hump and bringing home a title. That was step one to a successful senior year. Signing to play college football just makes things feel that much more complete.

“Every year we were so close to getting there,” Antoine said. “This year we finally got there.”

Now their next stop is set.

Photo by Joseph Staszewski

Reach reporter Joseph Staszewski at Follow him on twitter @cng_staszewski.

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