Justin Guerre didn’t need to be convinced when St. Francis Prep first convened in the preseason and the subject of revamping the offensive playbook was broached.
A year ago, Guerre was on the junior varsity team that reached the semifinals, losing to eventual champion Chaminade. If the Belly could work for the great St. Francis Prep teams of the past and if it helped lead the Terriers to a deep JV playoff run, then it should be good enough for this year’s varsity squad.
The results have been stunning. After opening the season with a non-league loss to Washingtonville, the Terriers have won three straight league games, scoring 30-plus points in each victory. That includes a 48-24 win over Christ the King in a CHSFL Class AA-A matchup Friday night at Mitchel Athletic Complex in Uniondale.
“Anything that helps the team win,” Guerre said. “As you could see, it’s working so far.”
Kadir Wisdom didn’t need to be sold on the new/old system either. After all, gridiron success hasn’t come easily for the Terriers in recent years. A change, any change, was for the better.
“About 90 percent of the stuff we run I learned this year and I’m a three-year starter on varsity,” Wisdom said. “It really starts from the coaches and the offensive line. It’s just a team effort. It’s not just [me and Justin] out there.”
Indeed, the entire team bought in, the most necessary component for Belly success since it’s a true team concept with a lot of sacrificing for each other. These Terriers run it as good as some of the school’s powerhouses, according to legendary coach Vincent O’Connor.
“I think the fun of being something that has a history to it, that has a success to it, not every kid gets that chance in any sport,” O’Connor said. “Their parents don’t know what the Belly is, but they know and after a while it worked and we’re winning.”
Guerre set the tone for St. Francis Prep (3-1, 3-0), returning the opening kickoff 67 yards to the Christ the King 13. Two plays later, and following an illegal motion penalty, he scored a 17-yard touchdown and Ramel Joseph added the two-point conversion to put the Terriers in front, 8-0 with 10:48 left in the first quarter.
“We just want to come out strong,” Guerre said. “Every play from the opening kickoff to the final whistle, we just want to play hard. When I got the ball, I just ran hard, looked for an opening and ran my fastest down the sideline.”
Guerre scored his second touchdown on his second rush, an 18-yard score with 6:16 left in the first quarter. A 15-yard touchdown by Wisdom gave the Terriers a commanding 22-0 lead heading into the second quarter.
Wisdom, who had six carries for 126 yards, added a 20-yard touchdown, Ruben St. Marc had 4-yard score, quarterback John Hurley had a 1-yard TD and Alberto Miro had a 2-yard touchdown run for the Terriers, who take on Xavier at Hofstra next Saturday.
Tyquan Morales had a 10-yard TD and Jordan Fuchs, who had nine catches for 91 yards, had a pair of remarkable touchdown receptions for Christ the King, which fell to 1-3, 0-3 in the CHSFL and was again done in by a host of mental mistakes.
While the Royals are still searching for their first league win under first-year coach Tyree Allison, the Terriers continue to roll with their old school approach.
“That was our plan, we wanted to bring Prep back, pride and tradition,” Guerre said. “We wanted to bring it back.”