Holy Cross football faces tough test in state semifinal at Bloomfield on Sunday

The Holy Cross football program finds itself in the semifinal round of the state playoffs for the first time since 2011.

In order to get to their first championship game since 2011, the third-seeded Crusaders will have to get past a talented and dangerous Bloomfield team, the No. 2 seed. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Sunday at Phil Rubin Stadium. Both teams are 9-2 entering the game. Holy Cross is trying to reach the state championship game for the sixth time in program history. Bloomfield is looking to reach its fourth straight final and 17th in program history. The Crusaders will have to win without senior standout running back Tom Ligi, who broke his left fibula in the third quarter of his team’s 42-36 quarterfinal win over New Fairfield.

Bloomfield, which averaged 40.3 points per game in the regular season, is led on offense by junior quarterback Darrien Foster. The signal-caller has completed 67.6% of his pass attempts (117-173) for 2,143 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 11 games.

As for Foster’s top targets, opponents have been seeing double. That’s because the top two receivers for the Warhawks are junior twins Davien and Davion Kerr. Davien posted team-highs of 35 catches, 834 yards and 11 touchdowns. Davion had 33 receptions, 641 yards and seven touchdowns. Davien has also run for 513 yards and four touchdowns on 50 attempts.

Davien has accounted for 19 touchdowns (11 receiving, 4 rushing, 3 punt returns, 1 kickoff returns) and 1,990 all-purpose yards. Davien averages 42 yards per kickoff return and 38 yards per punt return. Davion has 13 total touchdowns (7 receiving, 1 rushing, 3 interception returns, 2 punt returns).

Bloomfield’s running game is more by committee. Sophomore Edwin Rodriguez has team-highs in rushes (78), yards (525) and touchdowns (7). Senior Damion “DJ” Lewin-Gaynor has run 46 times for 365 yards and six touchdowns while fellow senior Ja’Den Jessurum has carried 33 times for 313 yards and five scores.

On defense, senior Howard Simpson leads the way with 86 total tackles (17 for loss), is tied for first with three interceptions, and is third in sacks with 4.5. Senior Ryan Phillips has 85 total tackles, including a team-high 22 for loss, and a team-best eight sacks. Sophomore Jayden Johnson has had a nose for the ball with a team-high three fumble recoveries and three interceptions (tied for first).

Holy Cross would love to get another huge performance from junior Marquis Campbell, though it will be tough to duplicate what he did against New Fairfield. Campbell ran 33 times for 208 yards and four touchdowns, and he also caught a scoring pass from sophomore Drew Caouette. Campbell had nearly 300 yards of total offense in the victory over the Rebels. He has 22 touchdowns in 11 games.

The Crusaders may also need Caouette to make some big plays with his arm. Look for Caouette to get sophomore Carsten Donovan and junior Dylan Gray involved in the passing game. Holy Cross will need its big guys – Josh Holland, Roehn Maldonado, Anthony Shivas, Don Shivas and Benjamin Iannantuoni – to establish control of the line of scrimmage. On defense, many of those same names will need to come up big in order for the Crusaders to try to shut down the Warhawks. Senior Kevin Matiz will be relied upon to convert extra points like he did against New Fairfield. Matiz made all six of his attempts on Tuesday night.

Holy Cross and Bloomfield each faced a common opponent this season. The Crusaders and Warhawks both played against Seymour. Holy Cross defeated the NVL foe, 28-21, on Sept. 23 in Seymour. Bloomfield knocked Seymour out of the Class S playoffs on Tuesday, 42-21, in a quarterfinal game.

PHOTO CAPTION: Holy Cross quarterback Drew Caouette gets off a pass as Roehn Maldonado blocks for him during a regular season game against Crosby at Jimmy Lee Stadium. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)