High expectations for ‘Speedy’ Xaverian receiver

The Brooklyn Paper
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Even after watching his team impress in the first-ever New York 7-on-7 Championship Saturday at St. Anthony’s HS in South Huntington, L.I., Xaverian football coach Joe DeSiena wasn’t about to make any bold predictions about the upcoming season.

“We’re going to be very fast, I’ll leave it at that,” he said. “I’m excited about our potential, but we have a lot of work to do. We’re a young team in a very tough league.”

Fast and young also describes rising sophomore receiver Kendall Thomas, appropriately nicknamed “Speedy.” He did earn big praise from the Clippers coach.

“We have to figure out ways to get him the ball and let him do his thing,” DeSiena said. “He’s still young, we’re expecting him to make mistakes and we have a lot of things to work on. But we definitely feel we have the fastest guy in the league, maybe even the city. That’s how confident we are with him.”

Last year, Thomas tore up the junior varsity, scoring 26 touchdowns in a multitude of ways. The 5-foot-8, 145-pound speedster, who also runs track at Xaverian, is excited about the jump in competition and he echoes his coach’s sentiments.

“I believe I am [the fastest],” Thomas said. “Right now it’s a catch-me-if-you can thing. I’m doing good, showing my speed off, scoring these touchdowns. I have a good shot this year.”

Clippers rising senior quarterback Greg Rando knew Thomas was special the first moment he saw Thomas on the field last year.

“I was on the sideline and he ran right by me and I thought ‘Oh my God, this kid is fast,’” Rando said. “He was 14 running up the sideline like a deer.”

Rando will try to get Thomas the ball in the open field as much as possible this year. The two are using 7-on-7 tournaments like the one at St. Anthony’s as a chance to work on their timing. The Xaverian offense will also feature rising sophomore running back Zack Kearney, who rushed for nearly 800 yards as a freshman and rising junior Tushaun Plummer, who was also a Post first team all-Brooklyn defensive back.

“We’re very athletic, a lot more athletic than last year,” Rando said. “We have a lot more explosiveness and firepower. It’s going to be different. This year we home run threats all over the field.”

If Xaverian’s performance Saturday is a precursor to the fall, the Clippers may open some eyes in the CHSFL Class AAA.

Xaverian went 4-1 in the touch football tournament, beating perennial powerhouses St. Anthony’s and Holy Cross. The Clippers lone loss was in the last minute to Long Island’s Roosevelt HS.

“We lost a game and it was really important to see how we were going to answer that,” DeSiena said. “It’s a young team and in our league traditionally young teams don’t do well. We feel we’re young, but real talented. We were looking to see how the team was going to respond to that loss in the second game and we won three straight, beating St. Anthony’s in the next game.”

The 12-team tournament, which also featured city CHSFL squads Holy Cross and Cardinal Hayes, was won by Christ the King. But more importantly, it served as a fundraiser for Lauren’s First and Goal Foundation, which provides financial assistance for brain tumor research and cancer services, offers financial and emotional support to families living with pediatric cancer and increases awareness of the disease.

It is named for Lauren Loose, a 13-year-old pediatric brain tumor survivor and daughter of Lafayette College defensive coordinator John Loose.

“This is a special tournament for us because it helps a good cause,” Holy Cross assistant coach Tony Marden said. “It always feels good to be a part of something like this.”

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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