2007-11-23 / Sports

Locals Help Xavier Win CHSFLA Division Championship

Xavier celebrate their CHSFLA championship at SUNY Maritime College. Xavier celebrate their CHSFLA championship at SUNY Maritime College. Xavier High School's varsity football team this season had a distinct Rockaway presence. It was their contributions on the football field which gave the Knights the opportunity to capture championship glory.

On Saturday, November 17, Xavier High School defeated St. John the Baptist to capture its first CHSFLcrown since 1996.

The game was played before a spirited, capacity crowd at SUNY Maritime College in the Bronx.

But the win did not come easily for the #2 seeded Knights.

The score was 14-14 at halftime, and four minutes into the fourth quarter, #1 seed St. John's was winning, 27-14.

With 7:20 remaining in the game, Xavier exploded for 31 points for a 45- 33 comeback victory.

Senior running back Jimmy Kowalski rushed for 344 yards and scored three touchdowns on the day. Breezy Point native Seamus Kelly racked up 77 yards on 13 carries and three touchdowns.

Kelly also contributed a game-saving tackle in the fourth period, allowing Xavier's momentum to continue.

Seamus Kelly (left) enjoys the moment with Xavier President, Fr. Daniel Gatti, S.J. Seamus Kelly (left) enjoys the moment with Xavier President, Fr. Daniel Gatti, S.J. Kowalski then gave Xavier their first lead of the game with a 57-yard touchdown to make the score 30-27.

St. John the Baptist made a late charge, but their comeback hopes were dashed when safety Mike Erickson intercepted the ball at the Xavier 3- yard line.

Kelly sealed Xavier's win with a 3- yard touchdown run and later added a 13-yard score.

Belle Harbor's Sean Kearney added a fourth-quarter interception to seal the deal.

Xavier were led by head coach Chris Stevens and assistant head coach Brian McMahon, a Rockaway native.

Nine of Xavier's forty-five players are area residents, including Tommy Ryan, Joe Laporta, Joe Drennan, Kevin McMahon, Mike Scannell, Kieran Carley and Ryan McCarty, plus Kelly and Kearney.

On Thanksgiving Day, Xavier hosts perennial archrival Fordham Prep at the Aviator Sports Complex at 10 a.m.

Expect a sellout for this one, especially with this year's game being played in Xavier country.

This Jesuit high school football classic dates back to 1886, and is one of the oldest sports rivalries in the nation.

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