By Joseph Staszewski
The St. Francis Prep seniors want the final chapter of their high school career to be a comeback story.
The rebuilding Terriers struggled and did not win a game in the AAA division of the CHSFL last season after graduating the core of two of its best teams in recent years. Now a veteran group is hungry to rebound after a move down to the AA.
“You don’t want to be that team remembered for the bad things, we want to maybe get a good comeback story,” said senior center Nick Zovich.
It is Zovich and the offensive line that have St. Francis Prep believing it can make a run at the AA title. The group is all seniors with Alex Bracco, John Manolopoulos and 5-foot-10, 300-pound right tackle Chris Nelson.
The Terriers will again rely on its traditional belly series running game, with a few wrinkles led by speedster A.J. Hoy and physical back Josh Angevine, a junior varsity call-up. New head coach Rich Carroll, who takes over for the legendary Vince O’Connor who died at the age of 85 in February, wants to see his team control the ground game.
“We are looking for three yards and a cloud of dust,” Carroll said.
J.J. Mooney is SFP’s top returning receiver and Carroll is hopeful for a breakout year from Kauris Zypher.
There is still a competition for who will lead the Terriers offense under center. Senior Chris Torres and last year’s junior varsity quarterback Josh Angevine are battling for the job.
There isn’t a question who the defensive leader is, with senior safety Marco Minichino back. Carroll described him as the team’s best athlete. Senior Ryan Gardiner returns at linebacker and fullback and classmate Zypher is back at cornerback. After missing games late last season with concussions, Minichino wants to finish his time in Fresh Meadows strong. “It’s my last year so I am trying to go out with a bang,” he said.
St. Francis Prep added a new weapon with Baldwin transfer Justin Hollis, who play in the secondary and possibly spend some time at running back.
Carroll has been impressed with this team’s resolve after a tough campaign playing against some of the league’s best clubs. The players believe facing quick and physical opponents will only have them better prepared for its current competition.
“I think we can bring that to the AA,” Zovich said.
What they would like to really bring back because of it is a AA crown.
“One of the things we talk about is you have a chance to be one of the great stories of St. Francis Prep football,” Carroll said. “Because nobody [on the outside] is expecting a lot for these guys.”