By Anthony Rondinelli
For the 2nd straight year in a row, Curtis H.S. defeated Erasmus Hall H.S. in a nail biter of a football game for the 2017AD NYC Grid Iron Championship. Coach Gambardella and the CHS Warriors came to Yankee Stadium in the Bronx with only one defeat. They had no intention of getting out of the Bronx with out the laurels of victory. Curtis, a team that shows all the qualities of champs. They can run, pass and come from behind. A defense that bends but when the need arises, they come through. Truly, the heart break kids. Erasmus, an incredibly talented and explosive football team that can hit an opponent from every which way. A fast and hard charging team that can never be counted out of any game till clock ticks off its last second. This was true tonight, as the game came down to one point difference in favor of C.H.S. 36-35 in the final seconds of the game. CHS pulled it out by holding on to the slim lead. Curtis showed a ball control offense as they ran into an ever increasing stiffening Erasmus defense. C.H.S.’sQB Barnes made some of the most incredible ”thread the needle” passes and CHS receivers like #1 Amad Anderson Jr. came through with great over the shoulder catches throughout the game. And there was the strong running of #17 Ty Son Lawton as he bulled and wiggled through the E-Hall defense.
When the game opened, Curtis dominated the game and the mighty Erasmus didn’t seem to be the team everyone had heard about. Curtis moved to two early scores and it looked like CHS was going to march to an easy victory. CHS scored again and the score was a lopsided 22-7 Erasmus came from behind in the closing seconds of the first half to make the score 22-15. Still, we were pretty confident as the first half came to a close.
After half time, both teams came out into a pouring rain, in what was a balmy and overcast day. The weather had changed and so did Erasmus. As the team that came out for the second half to meet CHS was fired up and it was an incredible transformation as CHS was about to find out. CHS kicked off a short kick trying to keep the ball away from Erasmus’ explosively fast backs. Erasmus took the ball on their 39yd line. Erasmus’ first play, was an off tackle as #2 Cruickshank, exploded through CHS like a hot knife through butter, as the fleet footed gazelle took off for an incredible 61 yd leaving CHS defenders grasping air as he ran by through and over top of the good guys for the TD. Followed by the PAT and it was a tie ball game.22- 22 . We looked at each other in the stands as we knew what we just saw was what we heard about this awesome foe. Maybe we aren’t going to glide to an easy victory? That fear was going to be realized sooner than we realized.
CHS took the kick off. The CHS offense began running and moving the ball in a ball control fashion as Lawton,#17 was barreling into the Erasmus defenders helped by other #1 Anderson and #3 Quincy Barnes as CHS was showing a strong running game. Lawton and Anderson brought the ball down to the 14 yd line then to the 6 inch line when #2 Richards got the call and delivered the score. CHS took the lead 29-22. It was not so much the score that made us worry, it was the transformation of Erasmus and the speed of their backs that we didn’t see in the first half. Containing these explosive backs at Erasmus was no easy task. However, C.H.S showed a balanced game in the air and on the ground. More importantly, CHS never dies. They are not a flashy team, they are like a never ending slow turning screw that never stops boring through their opponents and in true Warrior spirit. A trait I have observed in Gambardella teams; they never ever say die.
CHS kicked off and again a chipper of a kick to keep the ball out of the hands of a deadly foe’s super weapons, their lightning fast running backs. True to their talents within a few plays Erasmus’ #22 Shamar Logan exploded through the Curtis defensive line en route to another Erasmus score. Here now was the call that would prove to be the nail in the coffin for Erasmus Hall H.S. With the score 29-28, Erasmus decides to go for the two point conversion. With time ticking away so fast on the clock and the game so close, Erasmus seems almost unstoppable from 3 yards out. We look at each other, thousands grow quiet we are in knots squeezing each other. A hush grows over the crowd. The Erasmus QB begins to call signals, prayers are being whispered on both sides. The ball is snapped and with a great commotion and the sounds of helmets and pads Erasmus’ great backs slam into the CHS defensive line for the go ahead score. Erasmus drives into the CHS defensive line. The line gives, then like a steel cable snaps back and the Erasmus super back is brought down to a tomahawk slaughter as he is brought down before the goal line. The score stands CHS 29 Erasmus 28 but it ain’t over till its over, and no one heard the fat lady sing just yet.
CHS takes the kick with the clock ever drawing down and both teams feel the pressure. Anything can happen as both teams have arsenals that could put the wooden spike into the other’s hearts. A short kick and CHS takes the ball at their 42. a couple of short dives into Erasmus’ middle and a QB scramble by the epitome of the heart break kid #3 Quincy Barnes to the Erasmus 40 an a first down. Then CHS’s Barnes throws a ball into the flats and its off to the races as CHS goes down and deep inside of E.H.H.S. terroritory, only to have it nullified and called back by one of the many penalties on CHS. But fear not Curtis fans! Look up, faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, LOOK ! its a bird, its a plane, its SUPERMAN and when all else fails you do just that, its either God or superman, but the call has to be made, and with the point after stop God came through for good ole CHS but now it was time for superman and the very next play superman got the call by way of old reliable, Ty Son Lawton #17(alias, Superman) He took the hand off and right off tackle he ran right through the Erasmus defense, Tacklers bouncing off the man of steel like bullets off of superman’s chest. All the way for the score! CHS 35, the point after made it 36-28. Did I hear someone shouting Hoorah for Curtis? We started dancing with joy but Erasmus seemed unaffected. Calm and professional they had no intention of giving up. As I said, these kids are not quitters either.
CHS kicks off and after three plays is forced to punt. CHS drops back for the punt as Erasmus fakes the punt and pulls a doozey of a play and gets a first. But wait there is a flag, and its on E.H. CHS saved! Time is ticking and Erasmus punts it away 1# Anderson returns it the Erasmus’ 30. A couple of hard charging runs by CHS’s Lawton brings Curtis to the doorsteps of Victory as he carries the ball to the Erasmus one yd line and a first down for EL Warriors. But God must have been over on the Bklyn side as CHS is thrown for two short loses and tree penalties pushing the threatening Warriors to the 20 yd line. Erasmus gets the ball back and begins to march back as time is running out only 7:51 left. Enough time to score and hold. Erasmus passes and runs its way down to the CHS 26yd. line. Then one of their famous bolt lighting runs right through the CHS defense for the score and extra point and its 36-35
CHS gets the kick and Erasmus holds as CHS punts it away and it is a great punt to the 12 ydline Erasmus is pushed back to the 8 but comes out fighting their way to near mid field and stopped. CHS takes over the ball at 1:50 left and they too are forced to punt. Almost two minutes left and fear mounts, knowing how explosive Erasmus can be. CHS punts the ball and its a low driving punt. The Erasmus return back catches then looses the ball as it goes bouncing its way all the way back into the end zone. In panic the Erasmus ball player chases the bouncing ball back into the end zone where he makes a mad attempt to run the ball out. By this time the CHS warriors have the cavalry by the horse hairs as the Erasumus back is caught and buried. In my day that was a safety but the rules have changed and its now a touch back. What PSAL bull dinkies!!! Seconds are now on the clock and Erasmus attempts to make one last stand but like Custer their day had come and gone as the Warriors took the scalps of the Dutchmen in the final seconds of the City Championship. Once again, we are the champs! Hoorah for Curtis!