Matt McDaniels moved from flanker to quarterback this season and the Kellenberg offense really took flight. The senior signal caller accounted for 2,938 all-purpose yards and led the Firebirds to the CHSFL AA finals.
"The spread offense is geared for an athlete like Matt," Kellenberg coach Kevin Hanifan said. "He's elusive and makes people miss. He's an exceptional athlete and flourished in the leadership role."
For his accomplishments, McDaniels was named the Joe Riverso Offensive Player of the Year in the CHSFL. The senior rushed for 2,009 yards and 19 touchdowns. He also passed for 923 yards and eight scores.
Only a two-point conversion run with 18 seconds left separated the Firebirds from the CHSFL title. Fordham Prep drove the field and scored to get within 21-20. The decision to go for two and the win to avoid overtime was an easy one for Fordham.
"Fordham coach Pete Gorynski told me he had to go for two because he feared putting the ball back in the hands of McDaniels,"
Hanifan said. "He had a great championship game."
Kellenberg lost, 22-21, but it was McDaniels who left an indelible mark on the title game. He rushed 27 times for 351 yards, including an 80-yard touchdown run in the loss.
"He wants to go to an engineering school," Hanifan said. "He has a lot of Division II coaches looking at him. He really had a phenomenal season and he has a decision to make."
In a year that the St. Anthony's football team relied on defense to win its 10th CHSFL AAA title in the past 11 years, it was the line play of Pat McHugh that keyed the Friars' march to the crown.
McHugh, a Newsday first-team All-Long Island selection, won the National Football Foundation's top scholar-athlete award from the CHSFL. The Friars defensive front forced numerous turnovers and wouldn't allow teams to run on them. They shut out Stepinac, 14-0, to win the AAA title. "They don't come better than McHugh," said St. Anthony's coach Rich Reichert, who tabbed McHugh as one of Long Island's top line prospects back in August. McHugh will play football at Yale.
Four Long Island players were among the student-athletes honored as part of the Catholic High School Football League's annual Msgr. Peters Golden Eleven awards, presented to players who exemplify academic and athletic excellence. Local players honored by the National Football Foundation were Holy Trinity's Michael Williams, St. John the Baptist's Jordan Normile, Chaminade's Matthew Fiore and Kellenberg's Douglas Black.
The Suffolk County Football Coaches Association recently selected Griffin Rock as its James LaBue award winner, given to the top scholar-athlete.