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St. Francis Prep running back John Mendez insured that his team’s hopes of making the ‘AA’ playoffs stayed alive Friday night.
Mendez, who didn’t play last year because his baseball schedule overlapped with football, had two touchdowns and ran for 270 yards in a 34-20 victory over Christ the King at Mitchell Field in Uniondale, L.I.
It took just 20 seconds into the game for the senior to make an impact.
Mendez scored his first touchdown of the game on the first play of the evening for the Terriers offense. SFP quarterback Tom Cani handed the ball to Mendez, who found a hole and ran it all the way into the CTK end zone for a 59-yard score. Mendez would score again with just 1:10 remaining in the first quarter on a 66-yard run to make it 13-0.
“My offensive line created a big hole for me all night and gave me a chance,” Mendez said. “We’re very excited for our next game. We need to win these games and get to the ‘AA’ playoffs.”
Mendez didn’t score again, but his presence would be felt on every drive as he carried the ball 14 times. Mendez wasn’t the only running back to make a difference in this game as senior Casey Beaudoin also had two touchdowns for the Terriers (3-4, 3-3 ‘AA-A’).
After James Coleman connected with wide receiver Jordan Fuchs for his first of three touchdowns on a 51-yard pass for Christ the King (1-6, 1-5), SFP drove down the field and its drive ended with a 6-yard rushing touchdown by Beaudoin for a 21-6 lead at the half.
Beaudoin scored again in the fourth quarter on a 14-yard run and finished with 11 carries for 110 yards.
“We prepared and worked hard all week,” Beaudoin said. “We’re back to traditional SFP football.”
Joey Troina also added a touchdown for the Terriers on a 1-yard pass from Cani, who only threw the ball four times but connected on three passes.
Coleman, who replaced Matthew Gluick two weeks ago due to his ability to both run and pass the ball effectively, connected with Fuchs twice more in the fourth quarter, but CK was always playing catch-up.
“We definitely have chemistry,” Coleman said of Fuchs. “When in doubt, I throw it up to him.”
Coleman completed 7-of-19 passes for 129 passing yards. He also carried the ball 27 times for a total of 252 yards.
For as much chemistry as Coleman and Fuchs had, legendary SFP Coach Vince O’Connor knows that all the chemistry he needed Friday was found in his running backs.
“This is our best game yet,” said O’Connor, who is in his 58th season as head coach. “Mendez has a great sense of the field and played great tonight.”
While there was jubilation on SFP’s side, for CTK it was a hard loss to swallow.
“I’ve been talking about this game since camp,” Royals Coach Chris Higgins said. “If we’re going to compete in Queens we have to be able to play these teams well. O’Connor and [Holy Cross Coach Tom Pugh] are legends, they’re the benchmark here.”
SFP hopes to keep the momentum going.
“You lift up everyone’s spirits with a win like this,” O’Connor said. “It’s always a great feeling when you get to hear your fans cheering. This win was special.”
©2011 Community Newspaper Group
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