The bitter chill of last November’s shocking, championship-game defeat was nowhere to be found Monday.
Like football programs throughout the state, St. Anthony’sopened fall practice full of optimism and potential. Coach Rich Reichert yelled encouragingly as 94 varsity players sprinted up and down the field to complete the second of two morning practices.
The Friars have won 10 of the last 12 CHSFL Class AAA championships. And the South Huntington parochial school is the top seed in the Catholic league once more. But St. Anthony’s still must live down its 17-16 loss to rival Chaminade last November.
“There is a bad taste in our mouth,” said Reichert, kicking off his 27th season at the helm. “We had to wait nine months to get back. Third and two inches…”
St. Anthony’s had two chances to convert a first down late in the game and failed. Instead of celebrating another title, the turnover allowed Chaminade to kick the go-ahead field goal.
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One step the Friars have taken toward regaining their edge: Longtime Offensive Coordinator Fred Gallagher installed a new offense. St. Anthony’s will ditch the triple-option for the fashionable hurry-up spread.
“It’s easier for the coaches to dictate who gets the ball,” Reichert explained. “In the triple-option the defense can dictate that. That’s what teams were starting to do.”
The triple-option also saw quarterbacks take a heavy toll. It left the signal caller vulnerable to getting hit on nearly every play.
St. Anthony’s returns senior quarterback Greg Galligan along with running backs Jordan Gowins and Naim Jones. Now Gowins and Jones, each explosive runners, will see plays designed with them in mind.
St. Anthony’s also ran fewer offensive plays in the old scheme. Reichert said the Friars averaged 50.5 offensive plays per game the last two seasons.
“We were one of the lowest and it probably kept other teams in games,” Reichert said of his team’s offensive touches. “We think with the athletes we have on offense we can do more. If we get 15 more plays we can score 10 more points.”
Look out Chaminade, Iona Prep and Holy Trinity. After a long, but busy off-season, the deposed champs from South Huntington aim to be kings of the CHSFL once more.