Making their varsity debut a year ago as seventh-graders for St. John Fisher, Owen Winters and his teammates endured an injury-plagued season as a young team that struggled to click.
This year, Winters and his fellow eighth-graders weren’t going to endure a second straight losing campaign.
Exacting some revenge from a regular-season loss, St. John Fisher (SJF) rolled to a 36-0 victory over Most Holy Redeemer (MHR) on Nov. 3 at Marist High School to win the Southside Catholic Conference Gold Ball trophy.
“This was really important for us,” Winters said. “As seventh-graders, we played a little scared. We came out thinking we were going to do really well this year. We came out and did it.”
The Gold Ball was the first for St. John Fisher since 1998.
Winters was a huge part of the victory, throwing for 115 yards and 2 touchdowns as well as rushing for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns.
Running a spread offense, SJF Coach Mark Fennell said he had a special weapon at quarterback in Winters.
“To be able to have a dual-threat QB who is actually a dual threat who can pass and run, it’s everything,” Fennell said. “We have receivers who can catch, and Owen was on the money today and played an all-around game.”
Winters opened the scoring with a 14-yard run late in the first quarter. After the defense forced a quick 3-and-out, Winters hit Jack Perry behind the MHR secondary for a 32-yard TD.
The rout was on as SJF (9-1) took a 22-0 lead into halftime.
The high-flying win came after the Falcons lost 18-7 to MHR in late September playing in extremely muddy conditions at Beverly Park.
“We couldn’t do anything that game,” Winters said. “We got some revenge. Our line is great at blocking. We know we can run the ball and score.”
The SJF offensive line includes Luke Spatz, Joe Nolan, Joe Chirillo, Tommy Sheerin and Michael Moonan.
Tom Sloyan added 49 rushing yards and a receiving TD, a pretty 20-yard catch in double coverage in the end zone.
“You’ve got to be confident in your offense,” Sloyan said. “It means a lot that we won. It’s been a long time.”
Elijah Nelson added a late rushing TD for the Falcons.
Spatz, Cooper McAlilly (forced fumble, 2 sacks), Nolan (fumble recovery) and Sloyan (INT, sack) all delivered key plays.
MHR finished with a 9-1 record.
Although disappointed with the loss, Coach Mark Phelan took nothing away from a memorable season.
“We have a great group of kids. They worked really hard,” Phelan said. “They’ve gotten so much better throughout the season. I couldn’t be prouder. I thank the parents for sending me such great kids. It makes it easier.”
The SJF roster includes Aidan McIntyre, Winters, Jake Schied, Tim Harrigan, Marty Riley, Ed Condon, Kevin Hogan, Michael Carroll, McAlilly, Tom Perry, Perry, Jack Callaghan, Nolan Daley, Sloyan, Nelson, Marty Mann, Brendan Harkins, Jackson Barrins, Liam Callaghan, Patrick Hermanson, Matthew Erickson, Cormac Lacy, Jake Frederking, Michael Zablocki, Spatz, Nolan, Chirillo, Sheerin, Floyd Webber, Conor Sullivan, Richard Willis, John Danaher, Matthew Urbon, Nathan Alfultis, Joe Moonan and Moonan.
The MHR roster includes Jack Tomkins, Kevin Tomkins, Quinn Lyons, Charles Blake, Patrick Mangin, Daniel Morris, Rowan Smyth, Thomas Amado, Patrick Gilhooly, Noah Gertonson, Brendan Doran, James Czerwinski, Connor Callahan, Daniel Terri, Casey Wollenberg, Colin Dickman, Leo Niksic, Matthew Harmon, Christian Oldenburger, Ashton Gray, James Crane, Matthew McKee, Thomas Demro, Francis Degnan, Timothy O’Hara, Theodore Aguilera, Conor Graefen, Lucas Molenhouse, Edward Maloney, Nolan Smith, Gerald O’Hare, Daniel Egan.
Phelan is assisted by Luke and Matt Phelan.