Caution: Zack Kearney is slippery when wet.
“I kind of like the rain,” he said. %u2026 “It made me play better.”
The Xaverian freshman running back turned the corner and was into the open field down the left side line and appeared to have a clear path to the end zone. Then in the midst of heavy rains and wind, Kearney came to a complete stop at the 5-yard line and ducked as Kellenberg’s Gary Lamb and Quesnel Senatus were racing toward him. Lamb went past one side and Sentus the other.
Kearney found the end zone.
“It just kind of happened,” he said.
The run was the play the Clippers had been waiting for in the second half. The 27-yard touchdown with 1:49 left in the third quarter put a cap on Xaverian’s 17-0 win over Kellenberg in a CHSFL Class AAA game at Mitchel Field Saturday.
“Every time we give Zack the ball, that one play that we expect, it’s just great when he does it,” quarterback Greg Rando said. “It’s amazing. It gets the whole team going.”
Xavierian coach Joe DeSiena said his club made a commitment to running the football after halftime with the weather the way it was. Rando throwing three first-half interception didn’t make the decision any tougher either. He told his team to be patient and that the big run would come.
“[Kearney] can do things in the open field that people don’t see,” DeSiena said.
He was pleased with the fact that his team started a bit faster than it had in the past, something that was stressed in the week of practice leading up. Xaverian (4-3, 3-3 CHSFL ‘AAA’) took a 7-0 when Rando connected with Syracuse-bound wide receiver Mario Tull for a 75-yard touchdown pass over a defender and down the middle of the field with 6:35 left in the first quarter. Mike Marando added a 20-yard field goal in the third quarter to make it 10-0.
“I wasn’t expecting that play to come to me,” Tull said. “It was a big touchdown; it was a big catch. I had to keep my eyes on the ball.”
The Clippers’ defense stifled the quarterback Anthony DiLorenzo and the Firebirds (1-6, 1-5) all night. It stopped them twice on fourth down in its end of the field and sacked DiLorenzo in the fourth quarter to end any hope of a late comeback.
Xaverian knows it will need to be much better next week, though, when perennial power St. Anthony’s makes a trip to Kings Bay on Friday night. The players said they know that with this game over they are already preparing for the Friars and understand the importance of this week of practice. DeSiena believes there won’t be much motivation need.
“We are getting ready potentially to get the biggest regular-season win in school history,” DeSiena said. “If that don’t get them going, they are not football players.”