“Brick by brick”. A quote often recited by Head football coach Ted Florio, it is a mantra which reflects the culture he has built here in the past year and a half. A program set on hard work and sacrifice is not always successful but preparation is key, games aren’t won in the offseason, but they can be lost, as failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Coach Florio explains, “We had a great offseason where guys dedicated themselves to the weight room and sacrificed their summer to improve themselves for the upcoming season.” The culture that’s been created and the hard-work the Gaels have put in all year have culminated in a big way recently.
On September 19th, Kennedy Catholic defeated Nazareth 26-18 through a great team effort. But the Gaels benefitted specifically from spectacular efforts by junior quarterback David Keogh and junior wide receiver/safety Alex Benson (who was named Player of the Week for the NYCHSFL). Keogh passed for over 200 yards while Benson recorded 4 total touchdowns, 2 interceptions, and a forced a fumble in a pivotal moment for the Gaels. With showings like that, most players would seek the attention for themselves, however, both cited brotherhood with their teammates, a family-like mentality within the squad, and credited the coaching staff when questioned about what clinched the win.
Ask anyone, the game was in no way a wire to wire rout, in fact, the Gaels began the game particularly slow. No game is without adversity, and to fight through this sluggish start, the Gaels needed a spark. None other than Alex Benson provided it. Coach Florio in one word described the athlete Benson is: “explosive”. At a pivotal moment early in the game, Benson made a terrific play on the ball, and using his big play speed, ran the interception 90 yards back to the house. David Keogh recalls, “It really took the energy out of Nazareth”.
The momentum swung in Kennedy’s favor. This is when some of the under the radar difference makers started to shine. Sophomore Eddie Longest and Junior Liam McManus carried a tough workload up front throughout the night. They were involved in all 3 phases of the game and played pivotal roles for the Gaels. Another group that deserves mention are the linebackers, as they added a speed element that Nazareth’s offensive linemen had trouble with. Led by their leaders, the Gaels put forth a great all around showing.
While the 26-18 victory over Nazareth should be celebrated, it is by no means the end of the road for Kennedy Catholic football. Rather, it is seen as a springboard by which the team can ascend to new heights. Asked about what this win means going forward, Coach Florio responded: “The men have bought into the process what it requires to be successful. They have proved that although we are extremely young, we have a solid future. As a coaching staff, we are happy with the progress we have made over the past year.” While Florio answered with a more coach-like and calculated response, Alex Benson had a more competitive one, “We have the mentality that we can compete with anybody when we do what we are coached to do. We proved that against Nazareth”.
The victory is an accomplishment that should be applauded. We look forward to more success in the future. But for now, the win can be summed up in one sentence.
It’s a great day to be a Gael.