WHITE PLAINS – The Stepinac football team is on a mission: win a second straight CHSFL AAA championship. The top-seeded Crusaders took another step toward completing their mission with a dominant 49-7 win over No. 5 St. Peter’s on Sunday.
Stepinac (10-0) will face second-seeded Cardinal Hayes for the league title at Fordham University on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 6:30 p.m. It will be the Crusaders’ third appearance in the championship game in the past five years.
“For many years, we were not considered to be a team that could be in the championship game,” said Stepinac coach Mike O’Donnell. “We’re ecstatic about it, but we’re also not looking too far ahead. We didn’t celebrate after today’s game, we’re on a mission and next week is the next mission.”
After a scoreless first quarter, the high-powered Crusders offense got in gear as senior quarterback Tyquell Fields was able to engineer long scoring drives, keeping St. Peter’s (6-4) defense on its heels with a no-huddle attack. Fields connected on three touchdown passes in the second quarter, a 15-yard fade to Morrison and two five-yard scores to senior Jesse Brown.
“I think we were asleep in the first quarter,” said Fields. “We had to wake up. We started to get rolling and started to get in a rhythm after that.”
Stepinac’s defense turned its pressure up in the second half, forcing turnovers and negative plays that led to quick-strike opportunities for the offense. David Melendez and Jordan Gunther each had a fumble recovery, with Gunther returning his 27 yards for a touchdown. Jaychar Howell and Atrilleon Williams had one interception apiece.
“When we first came out, they drove past our fifty-yard line and we all huddled in together and said we had to step this up, this was not our defense,” said Morrison, who is also a defensive captain in addition to his duties on offense. “After that we started playing how we usually play, we started getting after it, everybody gave 110-percent and that’s how we got it done.”
Fields finished with 224 yards and four touchdowns. Morrison had four catches for 66 yards and two touchdowns and Brown finished with 57 yards and two scores on six receptions. Malik Crawford and Kobe Miranda had one rushing touchdown apiece.
“I always say that once we play our best game, nobody can play with us,” said Morrison. “We’re an amazing team, we have so much talent. I give thanks to everybody on the team, we all clicked together.”
For the seniors like Fields and Morrison, next week’s title game represents an opportunity to continue their high school careers. Both plan on playing in college, but for now their tunnel vision is set on winning another league championship to get one more shot at a state title.
“I’ve been playing varsity for three years, and every year it gets tougher and tougher knowing it’s coming to an end,” said Morrison. “And now if we win this week, we’ll have our last state game and after that it’s college. I’m just trying to embrace it with my brothers and finish off strong.”