Football: Monarchs pull to 2-2 with homecoming shutout

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Keith Schroeher, left, and Rudfil Paul Jr. celebrated Paul's two-yard touchdown reception in the second quarter.
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Bishop McGann-Mercy's Rudfil Paul Jr. headed into the end zone.

The Bishop McGann-Mercy Monarchs had not beaten the Southampton Mariners in 20 years, and they had not won a homecoming football game in three years.

They took care of both streaks on Saturday.

With help from Keith Schroeher’s throwing arm and Pat Stepnoski’s legs, the Monarchs made their homecoming game a happy occasion for their fans by putting up a 28-0 defeat of Southampton and evening their record in Suffolk County Division IV at 2-2 as the regular season reached its midpoint.

“For us to take the next step as a team and a program, we knew we had to start winning games like this,” McGann-Mercy Coach Jeff Doroski said. “It’s a new life for us. We have four games left to play. We’re 0 and 0 going into the second half of the year. Again, every game for us is going to be important from here on out.”

McGann-Mercy’s passing game worked, with Schroeher completing 9 of 15 passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns. The senior quarterback threw a pair of touchdown passes to Christian Lynch (three catches, 61 yards) and another to Rudfil Paul Jr. (four catches, 65 yards). He had one interception.

When the Monarchs didn’t pass, they could hand the ball to Stepnoski, the senior running back who covered 147 yards on 23 carries. One of those was a nine-yard touchdown run.

It was the second straight shutout posted by McGann-Mercy’s defense. Eight days earlier, the Monarchs were 20-0 winners over the Wyandanch Warriors.

The defense once again rose to the occasion on Saturday. Stepnoski and Bernie Schrage led the team with six tackles each. Pat Marelli made five stops. Lynch recovered two fumbles. Brian Murray had three tackles, two sacks and a fumble recovery.

“Defensively, we caused some turnovers,” Doroski said. “We’re starting to be a better defensive team. We’re tackling.”

And undoubtedly gaining momentum.

“They’re more confident,” Doroski said of his players, who will next face the Hampton Bays Baymen (1-3) on Thursday night. “They’re more sure of themselves when they’re out there. We can see their level of play improving, and that’s across the board at every position.”

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