Speedy Clippers seek deep playoff run
A year ago, Xaverian opened eyes in the CHSFL with a plethora of speedy young talent. Clearly the league has taken notice, ranking the Bay Ridge school as the top city squad, behind perennial powerhouses St. Anthony’s (LI) and Iona Prep, which met in last year’s title game.
The Clippers have virtually every game-breaker back this year, raising expectations and leading some to believe Xaverian could become the first city team to win the CHSFL title since Monsignor Farrell in 2000.
Clippers coach Joe DeSiena, though, doesn’t want his team buying into the hype.
“My job is to make sure we don’t get caught up in preseason expectations,” he said. “We are well aware every single team in the CHSFL can beat us if we don’t play our best. We were fortunate enough to have some guys make a name for themselves as sophomores and some real good juniors.”
Those players are a year older and DeSiena hopes a year more mature.
“We felt last year we had the potential to beat anyone and we encountered some distractions and this year is really about focusing on each individual practice and being able to realize our full potential,” he said.
The returning skill players read like a Murders Row for the Clippers – sensational junior running back Laray Smith, who has interest from UConn and Rutgers, junior Zach Kearney, who will likely start at quarterback, diminutive senior receiver Tushaun Plummer and receivers Sean Binckes and Jonathan Badyna, who was called up midway through the season last year.
“Obviously coming up from JV, it’s a different game, the speed, the hits,” said Badyna, who will also play linebacker. “I feel more confident coming into the year and much calmer.”
A lot of the Clippers success hinges on the huge void Greg Rando left on the quarterback position. DeSiena will either go with a converted Kearney or a pure pocket passer in Greg McGoldrick. Either way, there’s varsity inexperience at the most important position on the field.
“We have two completely opposite players and we have to decide what direction our team wants to go in so that’s a big decision,” DeSiena said.
Kearney, though, said he’s up to the challenge, especially with sure-handed Binckes, Badyna and Plummer as his main options.
“I look at it as I’m going to have some good passes and if I have some bad passes, they’ll make me look good anyway,” he said.
In addition to Smith, DeSiena has promising sophomore Zyreal Joseph in the backfield.
“He’s going to be a phenomenal player,” DeSiena said. “He’s going to play in the slot and motion into the backfield so he’ll get some carries. He can catch the ball. He’s a specimen.”
Defensively, Xaverian returns 10 of 11 starters, including linebacker Derrick Murrell and Chris Jones, as well as defensive linemen Rocky Iannocone and Joe Magnavita.
“We don’t have any superstars on the defense,” Magnavita said. “We’re just a bunch of blue collar guys who are going to come hard hitting, fast paced.”
Xaverian will get challenged right out of the gate, taking on Monroe-Woodbury in a non-league game at Middletown HS in a battle of teams ranked in MSG Varsity’s tri-state top 25.
“Monroe Woodbury is a team that’s going to mimic St. Anthony’s and Iona Prep,” DeSiena said. “It’s the best opportunity for us to get ready for where we want to be at the end of the year.”
Be sure to check out MSGVaristy.com tomorrow for a look at the No. 2 team in our NYC preseason football rankings.
Contact Dylan Butler at firstname.lastname@example.org
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