By Joseph Staszewski
Brendan Stackpole stood behind the postgame St. Francis Prep huddle with his head down and arms draped at his sides.
The Terriers quarterback had just received words of encouragement from the team’s moderator, Joe Licata, and his coaches, who told him it was early. The senior takes losing tough, especially the school’s annual game against rival Holy Cross.
But this contest has an added meaning for Stackpole. His father Tim, a firefighter and St. Francis Prep alumnus, was killed Sept. 11, 2001, nine days before Brendan’s first Pee Wee football game.
“He was the reason why I wanted to play football when I was younger, the reason I wanted to play quarterback,” Stackpole said. “He bought me my first football.”
The Terriers were routed by the Knights for the second straight year 31-6 at the Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale, L.I., Friday night. Stackpole again scored his team’s only touchdown, a 1-yard run up the middle to cut the Holy Cross lead to just 17-6 with 3:52 left in the third quarter. He completed seven of 13 passes for 64 yards and rushed for 11 on the ground.
“It’s a special time for him,” said legendary SFP Coach Vince O’Connor, who also coached Tim. “I was very pleased with his play .… He’s a good leader.”
Stackpole’s family was in attendance, including his younger brother Terrence, a sophomore on the SFP junior varsity who wears their dad’s No. 32, which was retired by the school. The Stackpoles skipped their annual 9/11 tradition of going to dinner in Manhattan before visiting Ground Zero.
“I know he would be telling me right now, like my coaches, it’s a long season,” Stackpole said.
St. Francis Prep had an opportunity to get back into the game after Stackpole’s score, especially after pinning Cross back on its own 17. The Knights then drove 83 yards on seven played and capped it with a 7-yard touchdown run by Kedar Hunter to make it 24-6 with 42.9 seconds left in the third. Stanford-bound receiver Devon Cajuste had 175 yards of total offense, including a 63-yard touchdown grab before the half.
“We had a chance,” Stackpole said. “That was tough. It was like the wind got taken out of our sails.”
One bright spot for SFP was 5-foot-7, 158-pound running back Casey Beaudoin. The junior rushed for 77 yards on 13 carries and showed speed and shiftiness to the outside. His 14-yard scamper helped spark the Terriers scoring drive. Frank Campisi had 40 yards of total offense and Tanner Brandimarte showed glimpses at wide receiver.
“I had great blocking throughout the whole game,” Beaudoin said.
It was a game Stackpole said he enjoyed playing in, his first Battle of the Boulevard as the Terriers starting quarterback. It was a realization of a goal he repeatedly told his father about.
“Everyone told me look how far you have come,” Stackpole said. “You have come a long way. Just go out and enjoy it. I did have fun tonight. It just would have been nice to have gotten a ‘W.’”