Bergen Catholic football leaves no doubt in dominant win over Don Bosco for state title

EAST RUTHERFORD − Bergen Catholic will stand proudly and firmly atop the New Jersey high school football kingdom for the second consecutive year.

The Crusaders repeated as Non-Public A champion with a thoroughly dominating 45-0 victory over Don Bosco on Friday night at MetLife Stadium to avenge their lone regular-season loss.

Bergen Catholic (11-1) entered the game ranked No. 2 behind Don Bosco (9-3) in the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey Top 25 and will, no doubt, supplant its arch rival when the final rankings are released in December.

"It was a humbling experience," Bergen Catholic coach Vito Campanile said of the 31-7 home loss to Don Bosco on Sept. 24, "but it also stoked a passion and a fire in our guys that really, really developed throughout the year."

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The Crusaders achieved the unthinkable, reaching a 33-point lead to trigger a running clock against the state's top-ranked team. Senior Saeed St. Fleur's 4-yard TD run at 1:00 of the third quarter extended the lead to 38-0 and was his third score of the night.

"Nothing went our way tonight," Don Bosco coach Dan Sabella said. "Really one-sided game, and it hurts, and you can't put your finger on one thing in this one. We got beat up in every phase and it hurts a lot."

Bergen Catholic stretched the lead to 31-0 at 7:23 of the third on a 7-yard TD run by St. Fleur. The score came two plays after a Don Bosco bad snap on a punt gave the Crusaders a first down at the 1-yard line.

The Crusaders eliminated any hope of a Don Bosco second-half comeback by taking a 24-0 lead on a TD just 17 seconds into the third. Senior quarterback Jack Duffy scored on a 4-yard run, one play after senior linebacker Joseph Barry returned an interception 10 yards to set up the first-and-goal.

Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A football championship on Friday, November 25, 2022. BC #7 Saeed St.Fleur celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter.
Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A football championship on Friday, November 25, 2022. BC #7 Saeed St.Fleur celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown in the second quarter.

The Crusaders led at intermission, 17-0, after sophomore Guy Bartolomeo kicked a 30-yard field on the final play of the half that cleared the crossbar by just a few feet.

They stretched their lead to 14-0 at 5:04 of the second quarter with a seven-play, 55-yard drive. St. Fleur turned a screen pass from sophomore Dominic Campanile into a 13-yard TD.

Bergen Catholic won the toss, elected to receive and needed just four plays to take a 7-0 lead, on an 8-yard run by junior Kaj Sanders. Two plays earlier, Campanile completed a 48-yard pass to fellow sophomore Quincy Porter during a four-play, 59-yard drive.

The Crusaders' defense made two huge fourth-down stops in the first quarter. On a fourth-and-1 at the 16-yard line, junior defensive lineman Elijah Kinsler stopped senior quarterback Nick Minicucci for no gain. On a fourth-and-seven at the 23-yard line, senior Don Bosco Dan Parisi caught a short pass but was stopped a yard short.

"We knew we had the best defense in the state," said senior two-way standout DJ Samuels, who scored the final TD on a 4-yard run. "We knew the first game [against Don Bosco] was a fluke, and we were going to prove that to all of them."

What it means

Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A football championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Friday, November 25, 2022. Bergen Catholic head coach Vito Campanile and his team celebrate defeating Don Bosco.
Don Bosco vs. Bergen Catholic in the Non-Public A football championship at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford on Friday, November 25, 2022. Bergen Catholic head coach Vito Campanile and his team celebrate defeating Don Bosco.

This was a historical night for the Campanile family, with Vito guiding Bergen Catholic to a state title a few hours after his younger brother, Nick, coached DePaul to a 19-17 win over Red Bank Catholic in the Non-Public B championship.

It also showed that Vito Campanile’s season-long plan to use a two-QB system, with his son Dominic sharing time with Duffy, was ultimately a huge success. There were certainly questions after the 24-point loss to Don Bosco.

“It could have been a problem if the other kid [Duffy] wasn’t one of the best character kids I’ve ever coached in my life,” Vito Campanile said.

“When we had doubters, we channeled that energy,” Duffy said, “and we put it onto the field, and we really put on a show tonight.”

COOPER:On Friday night, Bergen Catholic was 'New Jersey football at its finest'

By the numbers

Bergen Catholic amassed 453 yards, including 250 rushing. St. Fleur carried 17 times for 161 yards and two TDs, and he caught three passes for 24 yards and a score.

Dominic Campanile was 10-for-19 for 177 yards and one TD, while Duffy was 3-for-3 for 26 yards and ran for a score. Porter, now in the conversation for All-State honors despite only being a 10th grader, had five catches for 106 yards.

It was a tremendous credit to Bergen Catholic's defense that Don Bosco totaled just 130 yards. Junior Logan Bush carried 13 times for 62 yards.

They said it

"We just had a passion for that since that day," Vito Campanile said, alluding to the 31-7 loss to Don Bosco. "I think it was the best thing - the hardest thing that happened to these kids - but the best thing that happened to them."

This article originally appeared on NorthJersey.com: Bergen Catholic NJ football leaves no doubt in epic win over Don Bosco