On Saturday, September 22, the Archbishop Stepinac High School Crusaders from White Plains, New York, visited Xaverian in the second half of a home-and-home series between the two schools.
“We have a connection with Archbishop Stepinac, as Xaverian Brothers taught there at one time,” said Xaverian Headmaster, Brother Daniel Skala, C.F.X. “Their football program is one of the best in New York, and we are always looking to compete with the best of the best. We are very grateful that they were willing to come to Westwood.”
The game on September 22 was the perfect cap to Xaverian’s Fall Family Fest. More than 300 members of the Xaverian community (both alumni and current families) were in attendance. The event began at 10:00 a.m. and included a barbeque, music, games, root beer floats, face painting, and even bouncy houses for the younger fans.
When asked what makes Fall Family Fest so special to the school, Mr. Joseph Sotelo, a Theology teacher, said it’s simple: “It’s the fact that you can take something you love everyday and share it with your family.” Mr. Sotelo attended the event with his wife and two daughters and when he saw one of the lunch cashiers with whom he interacts everyday he says that she exclaimed, “Oh my goodness, it’s your family!” Excited for the upcoming game, Mr. Sotelo said, “Having fun and a good showing from the fans is what counts.”
At game time, Xaverian fans young and old streamed from the back field to the home bleachers to cheer on the Hawks. The fiery defense started strong, quickly forcing the high-powered Crusader offense off the field. Senior captain Cooper DeVeau got the scoring started for the Hawks on a 64-yard screen pass from sophomore quarterback Michael Berluti to take a 7-0 lead early. Late in the first quarter, senior captain Mike Masse capped off a 10 play, 69-yard drive with a 1-yard run to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Hawks established their will with a strong running game in the first half, as senior captain Mike Saliba took a handoff 74 yards into the endzone to give the Hawks a comfortable 21-0 lead at the end of the first half.
They picked up right where they left off coming out for the second half forcing a fumble with Cooper DeVeau scooping up the ball and taking it 47 yards for his second score of the game. This time, the Crusaders answered with Shawn Harris catching a 13-yard pass from quarterback Joey Carino to put the Crusaders on the board and make the score 28-7. As the Crusaders kicked the ball off to Xaverian on the ensuing kickoff, the Hawks special teams came through with a 90-yard kickoff return by sophomore Connor Garland to make it 35-7 Xaverian.
Shawn Harris caught two more touchdowns for the Crusaders, but it wasn’t enough as Xaverian came out on top by a final score of 42-19 after sophomore Luke Thorbahn scored a touchdown to seal it for the Hawks.
“The team worked hard in practice and finally put it all together with a great team win on all sides of the ball,” said assistant coach Gary McNeill. “The great crowd fired up the team and coaches in winning the game,” McNeill elaborated.
With the win over the Crusaders, the Hawks improved to 2-1 with three games remaining in the regular season.
“Fall Family Fest is meant to bring all of the constituents of the community together -- parents, alumni, faculty, and students,” said Brother Dan. “It was a beautiful fall day with games for the children and a BBQ for all, followed by a great football game. It's a wonderful example of Xaverian community at its best.”