By Joseph Staszewski
It is August. It’s OK to groan since the summer will sadly be over faster then we’d all like it to be.
For Queens teenagers, it means school will be in session again before they know it. For athletes, the football pads will be getting dusted off, the soccer balls rolled out and the volleyball nets hung as we get set to start the 2014-15 season in a few weeks.
The start to this column could be a downer already, especially if you are one of the kids waiting until the last minute to complete your summer reading assignment. Unfortunately, there is a little bit more bad news on the way.
It’s going to take some effort for this high school season to surpass what went on in Queens over the last year. I’m not saying it can’t be done, but if it is, I can’t wait to document every minute of it.
Here is what you have to top:
• Queens’ teams won 16 city or diocesan championships in the nine premier high school sports, including some of the five boroughs’ biggest prizes. It was not just what they won, but how they won.
• Francis Lewis claimed its first girls’ basketball crown since 1979 and did so by ending Murry Bergtraum’s 15-year reign over the PSAL.
• Cardozo grabbed the boys’ crown for the first time since 1999, thanks to sophomore guard Rashond Salnave hitting two free throws that will forever live in New York City basketball lore.
• Christ the King boys’ basketball did something that hasn’t been accomplished since the 1950s by winning four of the last five CHSAA Class AA intersectional crowns and added a second straight state Federation victory.
• Last fall saw six major titles come to Queens, the most of any portion of the season. St. Francis Prep collected the CHSAA state girls’ volleyball crown for the first time since 1986 and its boys’ soccer team regained the city championship. Christ the King established itself as a dynasty, winning Brooklyn/Queens for the third straight year, just as the McClancy boys did in the CHSAA Class A division. Cardozo claimed its second girls’ volleyball crown in the last three years.
Things finished with a bang. Cardozo, which won three major titles, made an unexpected run to the top of the PSAL Class A baseball world to claim its first crown since 1988. Senior Keith Rogers turned in one of the best all-around seasons in the PSAL in a long time.
The Beach Channel baseball team and Scholars Academy softball squad showed us anything can be overcome and strength can come from difficult circumstances. Two years after Hurricane Sandy hit the schools and their community hard, both went on to claim Class B city titles in dramatic fashion. The Dolphins staved off a wild Bronx Science seventh inning rally and Scholars scored six times in the bottom of the seventh for a stunning victory over Goddard in the final.
So for all the teams getting ready to kick off their season, this is what you have to beat. A tall task, I know, but you can do it.