The McGann-Mercy Monarchs had already shown their offense could put up big points, thanks in large part to the running game led by halfback Patrick Stepnoski. Against The Stony Brook School Sept. 16, Stepnoski rushed for five touchdowns and the Monarchs put up 35 points. But it wasn’t enough for a victory.
Going into their home opener last Friday against Wyandanch, the Monarchs needed to show their defense could step up. And they needed to show some versatility on offense by throwing the ball to take some of the pressure off Stepnoski.
Under the lights in front of the home fans, the Monarchs accomplished both.
Quarterback Keith Schroeher completed 8 of 15 passes and threw for two touchdowns in a 20-0 victory as Mercy improved to 1-2 in Division IV. In their first two games the Monarchs gave up a total of 75 points.
“It was important that we got this first one under our belt,” said Mercy coach Jeff Doroski, who earned his first victory as head coach of the Monarchs. “We wanted to come home and have a good showing. We needed to work on some things defensively and we had a good week of practice. They came out and played really well on the defensive side of the ball.”
Doroski said the biggest key on defense was discipline. The goal was to net let the Warriors’ top players get free for big plays.
“We had to contain their speed,” he said. “Our defensive ends and outside linebackers did a really good job of doing that. It really worked out well.”
The Monarchs led 18-0 at halftime. Schroeher scored on a 10-yard run in the first quarter and he threw for two more in the second. Stepnoski caught one and Bernie Schrage had the other. Mercy added two more points in the second half on a safety.
Stepnoski carried the load on the ground with 190 yards on 28 carries.
“We knew we were going to be able to establish a run game and mix in some of our play-action,” Doroski said. “Keith did a really good job throwing the ball. We had some other guys come up and make some catches, Brian Merle, Berne Schrage and Christian Lynch.”
While the Monarchs made big strides in the win, Doroski said there’s still plenty of work to be done.
“We have some things we need to fix like lining up the wrong way, penalties that pushed us into long distance downs, which we don’t need to do,” he said. “We know there’s room for us to get better.”
The Monarchs have a big opportunity Saturday on homecoming. Mercy hosts 0-3 Southampton, a team the Monarchs haven’t beaten since 1991, when Doroski was a senior at Mercy.
The Mariners have struggled so far this year and have only scored one touchdown. They’ve been outscored 131-6.
“They’ve been a little snake-bit,” Doroski said. “I think they’re a better team than what they’ve showed. They’re always going to be excited to play us. It’ll be a tough game.”
Kick-off Saturday is scheduled for 2 p.m.