It's been a pleasantly surprising start to the season for Holy Cross. A win against Xaverian along with coach Tom Pugh;s 200th victory last week highlights the Knights' 3-0 start, but nothing would top a victory against defending CHSFL champ and current No. 1 St. Anthony's (2-0).
The Knights have homefield advantage and a solid defensive attack, but quite frankly, most of the odds are stacked against them. The Friars boast tons of experience and depth — both of which were witnessed last week when Anthony Anderson stepped in for the injured Dariyan Riley to rush for 136 yards in a 51-0 rout of Fordham Prep. Riley is expected back this week and the Friars' defense is evolving into midseason form. Don't get wrong — Holy Cross will put up a fight, but this bout will end in a 22nd straight victory for the Friars.
My pick: St. Anthony's 35, Holy Cross 17
No. 8 St. Joe's Collegiate (3-1) at No. 4 St. Francis (3-1)
Just two weeks after facing No. 2 Aquinas Institute, St. Francis comes up against another strong team in St. Joe's Collegiate. Both teams possess big-time playmakers, with St. Francis anchored by Akeel Lynch (705 rushing yards and seven scores despite missing a game a half with injury) and the Marauders led by Elite 11 QB Chad Kelly. Ironically, this will be the first time these two will play on the same field. Last year, an injury held out Lynch, as Kelly went off for five scores in an easy win. And the year before that, Kelly was still playing in Pennsylvania, as Lynch had a career-high five touchdowns in victory. What's more is that both teams only loss came to No. 2 Aquinas Institute. Like Lynch, Kelly has been off to a great start, totaling 14 TDs through the air and on the ground. In other words, this matchup is primed to be a shootout.
My pick: St. Francis 38, St. Joe's Collegiate 35
Xaverian (2-1) at No. 9 Iona Prep (3-0)
Last week was the Justin Combs show, as Diddy's son stepped in at quarterback to score three touchdowns for the surging Gaels in a 28-7 win against Monsignor Farrell. The Gaels will need a similar effort from the versatile starter this week against a tough Xaverian squad. Quarterback Isaiah Kearney (a total of 644 yards and seven TDs) will keep the Gaels defense on its heels, but ultimately, I think Iona Prep's offense of Combs, Mario Biaggi and Shaquille Townsend will be too much for the Clippers.
My pick: Iona Prep 28, Xaverian 20
No. 3 Tottenville (3-0) at Erasmus Hall (1-2)
Many thought this game would be a matchup of undefeateds, but Erasmus Hall has sputtered in its first three games. Despite boasting All-State DB Wayne Morgan, the Dutchmen defense has struggled, surrendering 17 second-half points in a loss to Campus Magnet and 30 points last week against Clinton. Tottenville, on the other hand, has cruised to a 3-0 start behind the three-headed monster of QB Brandon Barnes, RB Augustus Edwards and WR Alvin Cornelius. The good news for Erasmus Hall is talented enough to rebound and still contend for a state title. The bad news is that Tottenville easily beat Clinton a few weeks ago and won't let up tonight.
My pick: Tottenville 31, Erasmus Hall 17
Brandon Parker covers New York for ESPNHS magazine and ESPNHIGHSCHOOL.com. Follow him on Twitter @brandoncparker or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.