By Joseph Staszewski
This season saw a resurgence of some of Queens’ most storied programs and one of its best teams taking things to the next level.
Holy Cross, behind arguably the city’s best defense, reached its first CHSFL Class AAA semifinals since 2009 by beating St. Francis Prep 20-13 in the quarterfinals. It was the first playoff meeting between the Francis Lewis Boulevard rivals since 1997. That’s because the Terriers went undefeated during the regular season and reached the league’s highest classification playoff for the first time in four seasons.
The year was also an extra special one for Flushing. The Red Devils earned their first PSAL City conference semifinals since the early 1990s. Campus Magnet and Bayside also had strong seasons. Here are the players who made plenty of memories on the gridiron.
All-Queens Player of the Year
Jordan Francklin, Holy Cross
Francklin was one of the city’s most productive players at running back and linebacker and takes home the crown as the borough’s best player for the second straight season. It was on defense, though, where he and the Knights really left their mark on their way to the CHSFL ‘AAA’ semifinals. Francklin was the recipient of the Vincent O’Connor Award, given to the CHSFL’s top defensive player, as the leader of the league’s best defense. He was all over the field every game, seemingly in on every tackle.
All-Queens Coach of the Year
Jim DeSantis, Flushing
It was a magical season for DeSantis and Flushing, which distinguished itself among the pack of talented teams atop the PSAL. The Red Devils went 9-3 and reached the PSAL City Conference semifinals, thanks to a gritty quarterfinal win over New Dorp. The Flushing players fed off DeSantis’ confidence in them and embraced fixing their mistakes even in easy wins to reach their full potential. This group developed year after year under DeSantis’ tutelage.
All-Queens Football First Team
QB/S Blessuan Austin, Campus Magnet
The senior was your prototypical two-way player, exceling at quarterback and safety. Austin threw for 578 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for 682 yards and threes scores. He added a touchdown grab and made 51 tackles on defense for the Bulldogs.
QB Terrance Chavis, Flushing
Chavis established himself as one of the city’s best signal callers by leading Flushing to the PSAL semifinals. The senior threw for 1,371 and 17 touchdowns while orchestrating an offense that was capable of big plays. He also used his legs to beat his rivals, rushing for 258 yards and two scores.
UTL Kevaun Dunn, Flushing
Dunn did it all. The Flushing senior was a receiver, safety and even the team kicker, a darn good one at that. Dunn caught 27 passes for 445 yards and four touchdowns. He had two interceptions and returned one for a 65-yard touchdown in a win over New Utrecht.
RB Justin Guerre, St. Francis Prep
There were few running backs as quick and as explosive to the outside. The senior led the Terriers to one of their best seasons in recent years by rushing for 1,246 yards and 15 scores. He added 329 yards and a touchdown receiving. Guerre posted four touchdowns in a game twice this season.
WR/DB Michael Hartgrove, St. Francis Prep
The senior emerged as one of the borough’s most versatile players. The athletic Hartgrove was the Terriers’ go-to receiver, making 23 catches for 417 yards and four touchdowns. He also collected four interceptions on defense.
DB/WR Brandon Jackson, Holy Cross
There may not have been a better big-game playmaker in Queens. He caught a game-winning, 57-yard touchdown pass against Mount St. Michael, had two interceptions again Fordham Prep and provided the key play of the season with a 56-yard punt return for a score in the playoffs against St. Francis Prep.
LB Chris Manfre, Holy Cross
Manfre personified the grittiness of the Holy Cross defense. He was active, smart and opportunistic. The junior returned an interception for a touchdown against Fordham Prep. He also saw some time running the ball and added a scoring run in a playoff win over St. Francis Prep.
RB/LB Brandon Pelzer, Holy Cross
The senior is a powerful force on the football field. Pelzer is a battering ram of a running back, plowing over defenders for the tough yards. He ran for 560 yards and eight touchdowns. Pelzer was also one of the leaders of a defense that six times allowed less than 10 points.
RB Joah Pryor, Campus Magnet
Pryor excelled in his first season as the Bulldogs’ top running back. He ran for 884 yards and eight touchdowns for a Campus Magnet team that came on late. Pryor provided great balance with quarterback Blessuan Austin.
RB/DB Deandre Ross-Lomax, Flushing
It was a break-out season for the senior back. Ross-Lomax could bust a big run with his speed or keep his legs moving for the tough yard. He ran for 1,517 yards and 14 touchdowns. Ross-Lomax also caught two scores and added four interceptions.
OL Joseph Stevens, St. Francis Prep
Stevens was the anchor of a line that helped produces one of the city’s highest scoring offenses. He was the leader of an inexperienced group that matured as the season went on. Stevens and his unit’s play opened the door for big years from Justin Guerre and quarterback William Gluck.
DE Louis Capace, Christ the King
RB/LB Layquane Ezeigwe, August Martin
QB William Gluck, St. Francis Prep
DE Jed Hendrixson, St. Francis Prep
OL/ DL Jared Labdes, Holy Cross
RB Trevon Moe Bayside
RB Tariq Oliver, St. Francis Prep
RB/LB Brandon Planter, John Adams
RB Chris Reed, Beach Channel
LB Elijah Rimpel, Bayside
LB DeShawn Scott, Flushing
WR Adam Singleton, Flushing
LB Demetrius Sumpter, Campus Magnet
RB/LB Nnamdi Uchendu, Springfield Gardens
DB Dwani Wiles-Singletary, Holy Cross