By Dylan Butler
As he prepared for his team’s game against Cardinal Hayes Sunday, Christ the King football coach Mike Cassidy wanted to change the game plan, giving the nod to Jose Duverge at starting quarterback as the Royals were preparing to throw the ball more than they had in their first two games.
But when Cassidy arrived at rain-soaked St. John’s University, he knew that the strong winds and driving rain would change the focus of the game.
“In this weather, a break here and there changes the game,” he said.
And it was the Royals who got all the breaks, scoring three touchdowns off Hayes’ mistakes in Christ the King’s 29-13 win.
Not too bad for a team that amassed just 87 yards of total offense.
“We’re developing a new offense and we told the defense they might have to go out and win a few games for us this year,” Cassidy said. “But the most promising thing is that the offense is progressing each week. As long as it gets better, we think it will be better next week.”
Of course some of Cardinal Hayes’ blunders made life a lot easier for the young Royals offense, like the four-yard punt by Nigel Brown that gave Christ the King (2-1, 2-0 CHSFL) a first down at the Cardinals’ 17-yard line. Four plays later Timmy Dusey found the end zone on a two-yard run to put the Royals ahead 9-0 with 2:15 left in the half.
Three plays later, it was another Hayes mistake that led to Christ the King’s second touchdown, as quarterback Melvin Mercer was picked off by Juan Martinez, who ran the ball back for a 26-yard score to give CK a 15-0 lead with 1:13 left in the half.
“I just dropped back in my restep and read the quarterback,” said Martinez, a senior cornerback. “It was a three-step back drop, I just saw the ball coming to me and ran it in.”
Cassidy was cautiously optimistic as the Royals walked off field at halftime. Sure his team led Cardinal Hayes 15-0, but Cassidy has been there before. It was just last year the Royals had a 21-0 lead at the break, only to see the Cardinals score 18 unanswered second half points.
“That was all we talked about during halftime,” Cassidy said.
Craig Nelson was determined not to let history repeat itself, as he took the low, bouncing kickoff to open the second half, found a seem and ran the ball back for a 79-yard touchdown 12 seconds into the second half. Justin Capace, who opened the scoring with a 28-yard field goal in the second quarter, threw the ball to Robert McGuire for the two-point conversion to put the Royals ahead, 23-0.
“Nelson is a track star, he’s the type of kid if he gets one step, he’ll go,” Cassidy said. “If he makes one move, no one can catch him.”
“I just saw the ball, saw a gap and I just ran,” added Nelson.
Capace added to his scoring total later in the third quarter as Kyle Council forced Mercer to lose the ball and Capace recovered for a 12-yard touchdown return to put Christ the King ahead 29-0 with 9:36 left in the third quarter.
The only question left in the fourth quarter would be if the Royals defense could pitch the shutout, but Cardinal Hayes (1-2, 1-1) scored two touchdowns in the final seven minutes to avoid the blanking.
Christ the King should face a stiffer challenge Saturday night when they host Chaminade (1-2, 1-1) at St. John’s University. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Kellenberg 29, Holy Cross 26. It looked as if Eric Giron’s 15-yard field goal in overtime would be enough to seal the win for Holy Cross (1-2), but Kellenberg rallied on fourth-and-two as James McNamara dove to catch Danny Marr’s pass in the back of the end zone to seal the win for Kellenberg (1-2) Saturday at Mitchel Field in Uniondale, L.I..
Woody Aime scored on an 8-yard run and a 9-yard reception from Dan Meara and Tom Arroyo also scored a touchdown for the Knights.
Holy Cross heads to Staten Island to face powerhouse Monsignor Farrell (0-2) Saturday at 7 p.m.
Reach Associate Sports Editor Dylan Butler by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 143.