2009-06-26 / Sports

H.S. Football Star Kelly Heads West

By Elio Velez

Seamus Kelly breaks a tackle at the Empire Challenge on June 23. Photo by Damion Reid- Five Boro Sports. Seamus Kelly breaks a tackle at the Empire Challenge on June 23. Photo by Damion Reid- Five Boro Sports. Breezy Point's Seamus Kelly left the Hofstra football field on Tuesday night with a smile, even after his New York City all-star team lost to Long Island, 31-14, in the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge.

Kelly rushed for only 16 yards on eight carries against a stingy Long Island defense. But even though the 5-10 Kelly recorded only slight numbers in his final game, it doesn't overshadow the memorable career the runningback had at Xavier High School.

"It was a great experience here, being in the locker room. It was so professional and to play at this level, it's so amazing," Kelly said.

The 5-11, 190-pound Kelly bulldozed his way past opposing defenders in the CHSAA, especially in his final season in the fall of 2008. Xavier's explosive RB rushed for a career high 2,681 yards and scored 47 touchdowns.

In one game against Cardinal Hayes, Kelly piled up 478 all-purpose yards and scored seven touchdowns in a Xavier 86-42 victory. Kelly also captured the CHSAA Class A championship with the Knights in 2007.

But even with the impressive stats, and plenty of recognition from his peers and CHSAA coaches, Kelly will not be putting on a football uniform in the fall when he goes to the University of California- Berkeley.

Kelly will be putting on a rugby uniform, which is the main reason why he won a scholarship to the Division I Pac-10 school.

Kelly was intrigued by the sport when he arrived at Xavier as a freshman. He was interested in the intense physical nature rugby has and was intrigued after many of his friends and classmates had signed up to play.

And he would quickly enjoy his time at Xavier, who has perennially ranked among the top ten rugby teams in the country.

Kelly was an integral part in the Knights winning the national high school championship in 2007. The Breezy Point native also traveled to France and Ireland to play in prestigious tournaments.

But Kelly still regards football as his first sport and he had to eventually come to grips in the spring that he wasn't going to be playing football in college.

He was disappointed some football schools he was interested in attending didn't recruit him.

But Kelly wasn't going to accept playing at any school, even despite he said getting interest from Stonehill College, a Division II program near Boston.

The University of California gave Kelly a call and invited him to their campus. They were offering a rugby scholarship and the opportunity to play a school that ranked second in the nation. He accepted it.

"It hasn't set in that I'm not going to play football. At the end of January, things were breaking down," Kelly said. "California called me and I went out there and loved it."

Kelly is busy practicing and playing with the New York Athletic Club rugby team this summer. On a rainy day on June 20, Kelly recently competed in the Rockaway Rugby 7's at Fort Tilden.

Kelly says he is very excited to play on the West Coast, where he will start a new adventure

It'll be a new experience without football. But I'm ready."

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