TV cameras rolled, flashes popped, poms poms waved and a packed house stood in anticipation. This is what Friday Night Lights is supposed to look like.
Instead of Texas or Florida or western Pennsylvania, this slice of Americana took place before a crowd of 5,100 at Cy Donnelly Field in South Huntington, a fitting setting for one of the biggest regular season games in Long Island football history.
football players carried the weight of the program’s history on its back and the challenge of facing New Jersey power Bergen Catholic, the No. 17 team in the nation.
The glare of the spotlight proved too much for all but one figure. Bergen Catholic quarterback senior Jon Germano threw for 300 yards, four touchdowns and ran for another as the Crusaders downed host St. Anthony’s, 59-21.
“They outplayed us,” St. Anthony’s Coach said. “They were more physical and much more skilled on offense. They had their way with us. They’re a real good football team.”
The – the second-longest in Suffolk history – into the season opener. Now it’s history.
What the boisterous crowd and TV audience witnessed was the worst Friars loss since Reichert took the helm in 1987. St. Joseph's-Montvale (N.J.) handed St. Anthony’s a 49-7 home loss to open 2001. According to team statistician , no Reichert-led Friars team had given up 50 points to a foe – until Bergen Catholic.
“We wanted to make a statement with this game,” Germano said. “We’ve been working hard since January. We felt we had a great team. We focused on getting better every day and going 1-0 every week.”
St. Anthony’s (0-1) trailed 24-0 in the second quarter and never recovered. Every once in a while a great tradition runs into and even more imposing juggernaut. Bergen Catholic (2-0) was just that impressive.
Germano hit wideout John Feaster for a 66-yard touchdown strike with 6:37 left in the opening quarter. Ryan Rose’s extra point put the Crusaders in front 7-0.
“Their quarterback played great,” said Reichert, who admitted BC and its QB looked that much better in person than on tape. “We didn’t get to him and we couldn’t cover their receivers. We just didn’t match up.”
BC jumped ahead 14-0 when linebacker Danny Grasso recovered a fumbled pitch in the end zone.
A.J. Gallagher hauled in a 24-yard pass from Germano to make it 24-0 with 7:50 left in the half.
It wasn’t just that Bergen Catholic, from Oradell, N.J., was making big plays. The Crusaders were physical too.
Former All-Long Island and Pac-10 center Alex Fletcher, watching his alma mater from the sideline, came away impressed by Bergen Catholic. “These hits are borderline scary,” he marveled. “I’ve never seen high school kids hit like this. They’re dropping the hammer.”
Sophomore running back Jordan Gowins gave the Friars something to cheer with an explosive 52-yard touchdown run to make it 38-14. He added another fourth-quarter TD.
The Crusaders will next head out to Las Vegas, Nevada to face the currently undefeated Bishop Gorman Gaels (2-0). The Gaels are ranked 14th in the nation and first across all of Nevada.Teams 1 2 3 4 F Bergen Catholic (N.J.) 14 17 14 14 59 St. Anthony's 0 7 7 7 21