Championship football is upon us, meaning dreams will be realized and crushed simultaneously, often in thrilling fashion.
So was the case Thursday when St. Joe's Collegiate and St. Francis faced off for the MMA title. The Marauders entered with the upper hand after beating the Red Raiders earlier this season. Plus, Chad Kelly was attempting to become the first QB in state history to pass for 3,000 yards and run for 1,000 yards in the same season. The Elite 11 quarterback gained 325 total yards to surpass the mark, but in the all-important contest, the Marauders came up short, falling 37-16.
Star tailback Akeel Lynch, who missed their first meeting with an injury, scored on the first play from scrimmage with 62-yard run. The senior finished with 164 yards and two scores, giving him a school-record 2,131 yards for the season, but a turf toe injury sidelined him for most of the second half. But the Red Raiders didn't skip a beat, as Alex Misterman (153 rushing yards, one TD) scored to give them an insurmountable 23-8 halftime lead.
St. Anthony's vs. Archbishop Stepinac
The championship bouts will continue tonight as St. Anthony's battles Archbishop Stepinac in hopes of winning its 10th CHSFL AAA title in the last 11 years. The Friars, who have reached the last 13 title games, enter as the hands-down favorite after beating the Crusaders, 55-29. Friday's contest is likely to be a bit closer, but with the Friars' experience and wealth of talent, my guess is they will once again hoist the trophy at night's end.
My pick: St. Anthony's 35, Archbishop Stepinac 24
Kellenberg vs. Fordham Prep
This one is bound to be a bit closer than the AAA final, as these two teams already played a classic matchup earlier in the season. Then, Fordham Prep pulled out a 29-28 win on a late two-point conversion. The Rams lost four straight following that thriller, but have righted the ship to reach tonight's AA championship. The question here will be, is two better than one? Kellenberg relies heavily on standout QB Matt McDaniels while Fordham Prep uses a dual-QB approach with James Drago and Logan Williamson.
My pick: Fordham Prep 24, Kellenberg 21
Brandon Parker covers New York for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.