Holy Cross will have some solid returning players for 2023 football season

Holy Cross football’s 45-21 loss to Bloomfield in the Class S state semifinal round Sunday may have ended a season, but it also provided a look at the future.

One thing that was reinforced…Marquis Campbell is going to be a big-time problem for opposing defenses next season. The 5-foot-10 junior wide receiver/safety was thrust into the running back position after senior star Tom Ligi went down with a broken left fibula in the 42-36 quarterfinal win over New Fairfield.

All Campbell did over the second half of the New Fairfield game and the Bloomfield semifinal was carry the ball SEVENTY-TWO times for 538 yards and SEVEN touchdowns. Workhorse doesn’t even begin to describe that kind of effort.

Campbell was a terror against Bloomfield. He touched the ball 42 times on offense (39 rushes, 3 receptions) and compiled 383 total yards. In the pass game, Campbell hurt the Warhawks out of the backfield on swing passes or as an outlet for sophomore quarterback Drew Caouette when he was under pressure. When Campbell carried the ball out of the backfield, he kept his feet moving and ran through tackles, which led to some chunk plays.

Campbell is also a pain on defense and a threat to take an interception back for six points. He will be a handful as a senior.

Caouette gained a wealth of experience as a full-time starting quarterback. He’ll have Campbell, sophomore Carsten Donovan and junior Dylan Gray to throw to next season. Caouette will be protected up front by Benjamin Iannantuoni, Roehn Maldonado and Anthony Shivas. Iannantuoni and Maldonado were juniors while Shivas was just a sophomore.

All of those guys played defense as well. Maldonado forced two fumbles against Bloomfield, one of which was recovered by sophomore James LaFleur. Gray intercepted a pass to thwart a two-point conversion. Sophomores Adrian Acosta and Nicholas Damato also made plays on defense against the Warhawks. Acosta provided assistance to Maldonado on the hit that forced the second fumble. Damato intercepted a pass.

Holy Cross will be looking for others to step in and fill some big shoes next season. Ligi is gone, along with fellow seniors like David Kacprzyski (sack, tackle for loss, pass deflection, fumble recovery against Bloomfield), Dillon Fernandes (sack against Bloomfield), Kevin Matiz (3-for-3 on extra points against Bloomfield), Donald Shivas and Josh Holland. The Crusaders also lose Ryan Ciampi, Dario Sosa, Dustin Sannasi, Zak Morales and Joseph Daniels to graduation.

Holy Cross does return some pretty solid talent for 2023, and it will be motivated to get back to the playoffs for a third straight season. That hasn’t happened for the Crusaders since they made it each season from 2004 to 2006. The 2006 team won the Class SS state championship over Stratford.