With the PSAL entering its postseason play this weekend, the entire state of New York is now in the midst of its most exciting time during the football season — the playoffs.
An epic battle between St. Joe's Collegiate and Canisius on Thursday proved just that. Marauders QB Chad Kelly showed why he made the Elite 11 this past summer, orchestrating a last-minute drive to help his team pull out a 48-47 win in the MMAA semifinals.
Down 47-40 with, Kelly drove his offense to the Canisius 6 with under a minute to play. Two incomplete passes and a run play that yielded negative yards brought up fourth-and-16. But Kelly showed his poise, connecting with Rod Payne for the touchdown before finding Yanni Zaulia for the decisive two-point conversion with 18 seconds remaining. Next, the Marauders will face St. Francis, which they beat earlier this season, 27-20.
Here are some other intriguing games to watch out for this weekend:
Iona Prep vs. St. Anthony's
When these two met on the gridiron two weeks ago, even though St. Anthony's escaped with a 21-20 win, there were some who weren't convinced that the Friars were the better team. The difference came when Iona Prep's two-point conversion try was stuffed with 24 seconds remaining, but coach Vic Quirolo said that had his kicker (and All-State goalkeeper) Alex Kapp been at the game rather than at a soccer commitment, they would have kicked the PAT and rolled the dice in overtime. Kapp is expected to play this weekend, which is welcome news for the Gaels, but is it enough? The Friars appear to be as close to full strength as they've been all season after standout players like Dariyan Riley and Brian Sherlock struggled with injuries. And though Kapp is slated to play, starting QB Mario Biaggi III might not due to an ankle sprain he sustained last week. If not, Justin Combs, who scored three times in last round's win, will get the nod.
My pick: St. Anthony's 24, Iona Prep 21
Campus Magnet vs. Curtis
Campus Magnet's season began with hope (a 24-20 comeback win against Erasmus Hall) while Curtis' started in defeat (a 40-12 loss to Boys & Girls). Both have had their ups and downs en route to a 6-3 regular season showing, making this weekend's first-round PSAL contest a closely matched one. Homefield advantage is in Campus Magnet's favor, but Curtis has a tailback Kevin Austin who could exploit the Bulldogs' struggles against the run this year.
My pick: Campus Magnet 24, Curtis 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.