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Young Holy Cross team hopeful in loss

Holy Cross senior Shyheim Wingate had a touchdown catch and a pick six. Photo by Thomas Bricker
TimesLedger Newspapers

Holy Cross has sure grown up quickly over the last four weeks.

“I would say we’re ahead of schedule,” Coach Tom Pugh said.

It wasn’t a victory Sunday at Bayside Athletic Field, but in many ways the Knights will take a 29-19 loss against nine-time Catholic High School Football League ‘AAA’ champion St. Anthony’s. This is a team, after all, with just two seniors starting on defense and four starting on offense.

Holy Cross (3-1, 2-1 ‘AAA’) already has a 15-13 win over Xaverian, which walloped Iona Prep — the only team not named St. Anthony’s (3-0, 3-0) to win a title in the last decade — Sunday. An argument could be made that Pugh’s young group is the second-best team in the league.

“It was just a really good football team,” St. Anthony’s Coach Rich Reichert said.

If not for a few costly mistakes — especially a Yianni Gavalas fumble early in the fourth quarter, which led to the Friars’ go-ahead score — Holy Cross might have stunned St. Anthony’s with a victory. Shyheim Wingate, whose pick six gave the Knights a 19-14 lead with 2:03 left in the third, also had a fumble in the Friars end and Gavalas threw an interception in the red zone in the third quarter.

“We made some mistakes that shouldn’t have been made,” Gavalas said. “We could have won.”

Gavalas thought he was down on the fumble and outside of some misfortune, he actually ran the offense very well. Reichert said he was impressed with the left-handed quarterback, who was 8-of-20 passing for 124 yards and two touchdowns to sophomore Brandon Pelzer and Wingate.

“I really like their quarterback,” Reichert said. “He hangs in there, took some shots. Good player.”

There’s no shortage of tests upcoming for Holy Cross. The Knights meet Mount St. Michael next week and have a date with Archbishop Stepinac in Week 6. Neither of those teams are St. Anthony’s, though. All those young players got to lay eyes on the league’s top team and, for that, Pugh was happy.

“It’s a big game,” he said. “It’s early in the season and they’re thrown into a big quagmire of pressure. They’ll overcome it. Now they know what it’s like to play in the big show. It’s good.”

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