Episcopal, SSSAS open with wins

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Episcopal, SSSAS open with wins
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By Jim McGrath

 All four of Alexandria’s four high school football teams have started regular season play, with Episcopal (1-0), Bishop Ireton (2-1), St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (1-2) and Alexandria City High School (0-3) having various degrees of success and struggle. 

We previously previewed the ACHS and BI varsity football teams. This article takes a look at the SSSAS and Episcopal squads. 

Episcopal and SSSAS started their formal practices in late August and began their seasons with victories. Episcopal will play its second game this Saturday, while SSSAS, which dropped its second and third games after their initial victory, will host Flint Hill on Saturday at 1 p.m. 

Episcopal 

Mascot: Maroon 

Region/District: Interstate Athletic Conference 

Coach: Kadeem Rodgers 

2022 Record: 7-2, with a 5-0 record in the IAC 

Schedule 

9/9 – St. Michael the Archangel W 26-22 

9/23 – Trinity Episcopal 

9/29 – at Collegiate 

10/6 – SSSAS 

10/14 – Landon 

10/21 – St. Albans 

10/28 – at Georgetown Prep 

11/3 – at Bullis 

11/11 – at Woodberry Forest (The Game) 

The defending IAC champion finished 2022 with a 7-2 record and were undefeated in league play. Coach Kadeem Rodgers hopes to run through the IAC schedule again this year, as another 5-0 run would set the Maroon up nicely for the annual season-ending showdown with rival Woodberry Forest in the South’s longest running matchup – so long that it is simply referred to as “The Game.” 

The Maroon will open their season at home against upstart St. Michael the Archangel Saturday at the Hummel Bowl. 

This year’s roster is stacked with 18 seniors, including a number of players who earned All-IAC and all- VISAA (Virginia Independent League) honors. 

The offensive line will be headed by Kyle Park. At 6’3” and 333 pounds, the senior guard will be a handful for every defensive unit that Episcopal faces. 

Quarterback Alex Brady at 6’2”, 202 pounds, also made the first team-IAC last year and he will be back to spearhead the Maroon offense. Brady will be joined in the backfield by standout running back Cedric Benning, who will continue to benefit from the tutelage of running backs coach Ray Lawry III, the leading rusher in Old Dominion University history. As a unit, the group should improve on last season’s 17-point per game average. 

Linebacker Luca Farinaccio (6’1” 212 pounds), a first team VISAA selection, will key the defense. Last season, Farinaccio contributed 82 tackles – 14 for loss – and a pick-six interception. The defense, which allowed just over 11 points per game in 2022, should be equally as stout. 

Other players to keep an eye on will be senior outside linebacker Brice Ebaneth, junior receiver Judah Ofori-Ansah (5’10”, 170 pounds) and Jabari Berry (sophomore center). 

Season to date 

The Maroon opened up their 2022 campaign on September 1 with a narrow 26-22 win over St. Michael the Archangel of Fredericksburg. 

After the game, Rodgers commended his squad. 

“I’m proud of the grit our team showed today against a very strong opponent.” 

St. Michael was a lower-level VISAA school but had recorded 41 wins in their last 51 games, dating back to 2018. In 2022, they won the VISAA Division 3 title, but have now moved up to Division 1. 

“Our senior leaders stepped up and they all made major contributions today,” Rodgers said. “They refused to lose.” 

In particular, Rodgers mentioned Benning, Farinaccio, Brady, Ebaneth and John Rogers. However, it was the game-saving interception by Ofori-Ansah that sealed the win. 

“Our younger guys followed our 18 seniors’ lead. When you play for the guy next to you – you go above and beyond.” 

They will host Trinity Episcopal on Saturday. 

St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes 

Mascot: Saints 

Conference: IAC (Interstate Athletic Conference) 

Coach: Vashon Winton 

2022 record: 4-4 

Schedule 

9/1 – O’Connell @ The St. James W 31-14 

9/8 – Maret (D.C.) L 17-51 

9/15 – Bishop Ireton L 18-27 

9/23 – Flint Hill 

9/29 – Potomac School 

10/6 – at Episcopal 

10/14 – Georgetown Prep 

10/21 – Bullis 

10/28 – at St. Albans 

11/4 – at Landon (Maryland) 

The Saints opened their season in fine fashion, with a 17-point win over O’Connell on September 1. 

SSSAS ran up a 17-0 halftime lead before allowing all 14 Knight points in the fourth quarter. Senior running back Bryce Gunn (6’0”, 190 pounds) led the offensive attack with 145 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. Gunn looks to improve mightily on last season’s tally of 306 rushing yards. Mason Tull (6’0” 180 pounds) scored the other touchdown on the ground. 

Junior quarterback Loui Goin (6’0”, 180 pounds) was functional in the aerial game, completing five of 12 passes for 65 yards, but most importantly, zero turnovers. Three of those passes went to senior receiver Luke Pascal (6’4”, 200 pounds) who gained 35 yards. 

On the other side of the ball, the Saints picked off three passes, with Pascal, Jack Murphy (6’2”, 175 pounds) and Soren Ebbesen (5’9”, 165 pounds) each collecting an interception. Linebacker Armer Harrison (6’2”, 190 pounds) scooped up an O’Connell fumble for the Saints’ fourth takeaway. 

Kicking will be an integral part of the Saints offensive game and kicker Carter Stimson (6’2”, 175 pounds) nailed all four extra points, while adding a 41-yard field goal. Stimson also adds support at receiver and cornerback. 

Middle linebacker Colin Cross (5’8”, 160 pounds) led the defensive unit with 13 tackles – six solo. 

SSSAS (1-2) followed the O’Connell win with losses to Maret by a 51-17 score, and Bishop Ireton 27-18, with the latter being Ireton’s first win over the Saints in at least a decade. Goin threw for two touchdowns in the Ireton game, but the Cards pounded out 229 yards on the ground, including 145 from senior quarterback Omar Diallo. Aaron Rocke added four catches for 52 yards and a score. 

The Saints will host Flint Hill on Saturday. 

 

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