The CHSFL Class AA title is on the line Saturday night at Mitchel Field as sixth-seeded St. John the Baptist takes on No. 7 Xavier live on MSGVarsity.com at 8 p.m.
The teams met in Week 2 with St. John the Baptist coming up with a 14-0 victory at Aviator Sports Complex.
In that game, Bryan Sinclair had a 90-yard touchdown run and quarterback Greg Egan connected with Michael Bode on a 63-yard touchdown pass on the final play of the first half.
“They’re a very physical defensive team and they did a great job,” Xavier coach Chris Stevens said. “In that game we actually had twice as many offensive plays as they did and moved the ball within the 30s, but just didn’t score.”
The following week, the Cougars lost in double overtime to St. Francis Prep, but have reeled off seven straight victories, including playoff wins over Holy Trinity (52-6) and Kellenberg (34-18) to reach the final.
While St. John the Baptist (9-1) has a running back-by-committee, Christian Turri is the leader. The senior has rushed for 823 yards and nine touchdowns, including a 65-yard scoring run on the Cougars first play from scrimmage against Kellenberg last weekend.
Xavier (8-2) also lost to St. Francis Prep in overtime – 41-35 in Week 5 – but has won five straight games to reach the title game, beating No. 1 seed Mount St. Michael (40-36) and No. 2 seed Fordham Prep (38-21) in the postseason.
The Knights are led by the CHSFL’s top rusher in junior Trey Solomon, who has gained 2,131 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. He’s elevated his game in the playoffs, rushing for 482 yards and nine touchdowns in the last two wins.
“He never stops,” Xavier running back Ryan Kilgallen said of Solomon following the Turkey Bowl win over rival Fordham Prep. “He’s one of the most physical guys on this team, one of the strongest guys and he’s only a junior. He’ll be back next year. He just carries us. When he’s going off, we’re going off and we just follow what he does.”
Will St. John the Baptist repeat its efforts from Week 2 and capture the CHSFL Class AA title? Or will Xavier, which has 11 players displaced because of Hurricane Sandy, rally to avenge the regular season defeat and claim the crown?
Find out Saturday at 8 p.m. right here on MSGVarsity.com.