Jerell Smith, a running-back on St. Francis Preps football team, was looking forward to playing in the Empire Challenges annual all-star game. He had been waiting since his freshman year to perform in the senior exhibition, and it was a dream come true when he learned he had been selected to represent the team from New York City.
I was hoping that I could show people what I could do, he said. If I could just get my hands on the ball once, I would have taken it to the house.
It was not to be. Smith didnt see much action in New York Citys 10-7 win over Long Island last Thursday at Hofstra University. He watched from the sidelines as both teams fumbled the ball a total of 11 times in what was a virtual repeat of last years 7-6 snoozefest.
I couldnt believe what I was watching, he said.
With only one CHSFL coach roaming the sidelines per team, Smith sensed a little home-style cooking in favor of the PSAL and schools from Long Island.
He stepped into the huddle a grand total of four times: twice to block and twice on passing plays. After gaining 1,400 yards rushing and scoring nine touchdowns for the Terriers, Smith wasnt even allowed to play his natural position, even though he was not the only player reassigned for the game.
He was inserted into the game as a wide-receiver, a slap in the face for a player who was recruited late by Arizona State, Kansas State, Utah and Princeton but chose the prep school route at Phillips Academy.
I was very disappointed with what took place, he said after the game. Catholic schools dont get the respect that the other leagues get. We dont get the press. Its all about politics. We had to follow the receivers coach up and down the sidelines, but he looked right past me.
Holy Cross Tom Pugh, the special teams coach and the CHSFL representative from New York City, made an effort in practice to inform the other coaches about the Catholic league players, but once the game started they went with the kids they were familiar with.
You try and tell the other coaches about what our players can do because they know more about their own guys then they do us, he said. They havent seen us.
Christ the Kings Andre Redd, a defensive back in high school, didnt play his natural position either. He started at wide-receiver and made a crucial catch on New York Citys touchdown drive. On 3rd-and-9 from the New York City 33-yard line, Fort Hamiltons Anwar Isaacs completed a 24-yard pass to Redd for a drive-sustaining first-down that led to a touchdown reception by Lehmans Lynell Suggs to tie the score at 7.
Redd, returning punts and kick-offs, finished the game with two receptions for 42 yards and returned a punt for 17 yards and a kick-off for 20.
Baysides Drew Williams was ejected in the third quarter for retaliating after he was clipped from behind. Following a senior season in which he gained 1,037 yards rushing and scored 10 touchdowns, Williams, a resident of South Ozone Park, is headed to Allan Hancock Community College in California.
Holy Cross Bernrich St. Louime tore his ACL in his right knee playing pick-up football a week before the game and didnt play. The defensive lineman is headed to C.W. Post in the fall.
Reach reporter Mitch Abramson by E-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 130.
©2004 Community News Group
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