Facing two of the strongest teams in the Southside Catholic Conference in the first two weeks of the season, the St. John Fisher (SJF) varsity football team came away winless.
The Falcons lost a close one to Most Holy Redeemer in their opener and had to settle for a tie in Week 2 against St. Catherine of Alexandria.
But, in the team’s Homecoming game on Sept. 18, SJF left no doubt in claiming its first win, a solid 30-14 victory over St. Christina on a beautiful, sunny afternoon at Beverly Park.
SJF improved to 1-1-1.
“The first three teams we faced, they’re probably some of the best in the league,” said SJF Coach Mark Fennell. “We’re 1-1-1, and we’ve hung around; but it’s nice to actually win one instead of saying, ‘Good game, good effort, boys!’ The kids played awesome, and it was a really good Homecoming for them.”
Quarterback Emmett Dowling starred for the Falcons, throwing for 128 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushing for 72 yards and a TD.
Down 8-0 after an early St. Christina score, SJF marched down the field on a 78-yard drive that ate up six-plus minutes off the clock.
Dowling capped it off with a short pass to Gavin Urchell with the receiver speeding his way through the defense for a 5-yard score. Dowling added a 31-yard TD on a pass into the end zone to Charlie Wingate.
Getting behind the defensive back, Wingate went up and fought to bring down the ball.
“The explosive plays downfield were there today,” Fennell said. “It’s been unlikely to hit [the first two weeks]. Emmett made a great read on the throws. We caught the ball today. That’s been an issue where we’ll miss a pass by this much or drop a wide-open pass.”
Dowling extended the 14-8 halftime lead with a 2-yard TD plunge late in the third quarter. Killian Lacy added a 9-yard TD run early in the fourth.
On defense, Owen Lynch delivered a timely sack on a St. Christina drive to start the fourth. Vinny Stubitsch added an interception.
St. Christina scored on a long TD run early in the second, but the score was called back due to a holding penalty.
SJF answered with the Wingate TD reception to regain momentum.
“We were dead from the start [energy-wise],” Fennell said. “It could have been really bad when they had the TD called back. It could have been ugly the other way, but the kids regrouped and took advantage. They grinded. We’ve lost a few kids to injuries, but we’ve had other people step up—a very workmanlike win.”
For St. Christina (2-1), Matt Molesky had a big day, finishing with 9 carries for 97 yards and 2 TD, scoring on runs of 2 and 65 yards.
The loss was disappointing, but St. Christina Coach Jay Ullrich said his team is capable of big things during the final four weeks of the regular season.
“We’re 2-1 right now, and we have a great team,” Ullrich said. “Today the chips didn’t fall our way. We’re going to get better, and we’ll see SJF again in the playoffs. They’re a great team, well-coached, and it’s a great rival to have.”
Ullrich credited linemen Declan Gill, Brian Killen and Danny Mahoney for their strong play, along with QB Jake Sellis and his crew of running backs, including Molesky, Conor Hunt and Jimmy McDermott.
JP Gainer and Ronan Haran have also played well for the Cardinals.
“For us to lose, could it be a good thing? Yes,” Ullrich said. “We’ll get better in the long run. We have 37 kids, and it takes 37 kids to win. That’s what we pride ourselves on.”
The SJF roster includes Emmett Dowling, Jake Carroll, John Fennell, Patrick O’Connor, Vinny Stubitsch, Shane Daley, Michael Fitzgerald, Jake Roney, Sean Godfrey, Seamus O’Leary, Jimmy Lotito, Finnegan Fitzpatrick, Tony Rusch, Colin Harrigan, Nate Killeen, Lacy, Charlie Wingate, Eamon Maloney, Terry O’Connor, Dan Urbon, Gavin Urchell, Jacob Murdoch, Dan Killeen, John Nechvatal, Gavin Namors, Rusch, Declan Fitzgerald, Bansley, Sean Sloyan, Brian Guinane, Tommy Buker, Brian Ortell, McDonagh, Declan Stanley, Mann, Ryan Hitz-Easton and Lynch.
Fennell is assisted by Jay Fennell and Mike Hugelet.
The St. Christina roster includes Conor Hunt, Sean Loughney, JP Gainer, Jake Sellis, Joe Garvey, Peter Conneely, Holden Partacz, Ronan Haran, Aidan Leary, Matt Molesky, Marty McMeel, Jim McDermott, Matt Mulllins, Jace Zlotkowski, Randy Kuber, Quinn O’Neill, John Higgins, Jack Hughes, Jack O’Brien, Liam Dalton, Joseph Macis, Kevin O’Connor, Dominic Czaszwicz, Jack Lorenz, Ryan Lotus, Dan Foster, Michael Town, Nick Mayoski, Dan Keating, Dan Mahoney, Jack Egan, Ben Perek, Greg Zaber, Brady Costello, Seamus Heenan, Brian Killen and Declan Gill.
Ullrich is assisted by Brendan Gill, Bill Matt, Dan Town and Nick Sellis.
St. Christina 32
St. John Fisher 7
TJ Burgos led St. Christina with two rushing touchdowns in the junior-varsity game as the Cardinals scored 5 rushing touchdowns.
Also scoring were Tyler Palacz (21-yard TD run), Ty Lotus (11-yard TD run) and Brennan O'Boyle (5-yard TD run).
Jack Schapendonk led the St. Christina defense with a blocked punt and a fumble recovery, and Santino Cantore added a fumble recovery.
For St. John Fisher, Colin O’Connor made key contributions on both sides of the ball, picking off a St. Christina pass on defense and running in a 23-yard TD late in the fourth.