Cardinal Spellman steadied itself after Xavieran landed the first punch, but could not survive the onslaught that came late in the second quarter.
The Pilots, who lost twice to the Clippers in the regular allowed two touchdown in the final 4:30 before the half on their way to falling 31-14 in the CHSFL Class A title game at Mitchel Athletic Complex last Saturday.
“They were a better team today, but these guys didn’t quit,” Spellman coach Willie Cawley said. “They went hard and they gave us all they had.”
Xaverian (8-3) connected a 68-yard option pass for a touchdown over the middle from Phil DePaulis (9 of 7, 184 yards) to Vincent Finizio on its first play from scrimmage. Finizi was a thorn in Spellman’s side again when he intercepted quarterback Marcus Ciccone at the Clippers 1-yard line, but it didn’t phase the Pilots.
Spellman answered with a 6-play, 40-yard scoring drive to pull with 7-6 with 5:11 left in the first quarter. Lenward Williams capped it with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Pilots couldn’t avoid the big play after that and Xaverian scored the final 24 points of the first half. A 63-yard kick return from Brandon Peterson set up a 30-yard field goal by Christopher Monti to make it 10-6.
“They found a weakness and we took too long to adapt,” Williams said.
A bobbled punt put Xaverian on a short field leading to a short Peterson touchdown run After a Spellman punt, Peterson took quick pass over the middle 73 yards for a score help put Xaverian up 24-6. DePaulis tossed a 22-yard touchdown pass to Julius Arcaro to make it 31-6 right before the break.
“We felt if we could stop 22 [Peterson] we could really be with them,” Cawley said. “They make big plays and that’s how they beat us.”
The Pilots showed no quit to the end, the type of heart that allowed this group to get to this point after the program has struggled in recent years. Williams, who ran for 85 yards on eight carries, scored from 7 yards out on the games final drive and Ciccone drove past the pylon for the two-point conversion to make it 31-14.
The defeat was a disappointing end to a strong season for Spellman, which went 6-and placed second in division during the regular season. It was the Pilots first Class A title game appearance since it last won in 2008.
“We know that whatever happened this was the first step of bringing back the program,” Williams said. “We are really proud of that.”
Cawley asked all of his senior to standup in the final huddle and thanked them for getting helping rebuild the program. He called the contributed of Williams, Arzu, Daijon Jones, Raymond Andino and Omar Gonzalez special.
“They were very good,” Cawley said. “For four years they were very good. They carried this team.”