Tuesday, February 9, 2016

JFK wins last battle of the Bronx

By Andy Gross
Marisol Díaz/The Riverdale Press
JFK's Quarterback Anthony Cruz, No. 3, opts to run against archival DeWitt Clinton High School on Nov. 1.

Moments before kick-off, John F. Kennedy High School’s (JFK) senior quarterback Anthony Cruz huddled with his teammates and told them, “This is our last home game. I want everybody thinking this is our Super Bowl. Tonight, we are all seniors. We are going to be the kings of the Bronx.”

It was also the final home game for any JFK football team, as the school will close its doors for good at the end of the school year. 

True to his word, Cruz and fellow senior Caine Caldwell did plenty on the field to guide a very confident JFK squad to a decisive 40-20 season-ending victory on Friday against archrival DeWitt Clinton.

JFK (6-3) has won four in a row, averaging 41 points a game during that span, and enters the Public School Athletic League (PSAL) city championship playoffs with momentum.

The Knights will host Fort Hamilton on Saturday, Nov. 9 at noon. Clinton fell to a 5-4 record and will travel to Brooklyn next Saturday to play New Utrecht High School.

Friday’s victory was Cruz’s first against Clinton during his four years playing for the Knights.

Caldwell, who scored three touchdowns in the first half to give JFK a 24-0 lead, ran hard all night, gaining 142 yards on 14 carries. “I think given the situation, this was my best game ever,” he said.

Head Coach Andy Lancberg downplayed the hype surrounding the game. “They are a great program,” he said of Clinton. “It’s great to win, but I think it is all important. Every game is important to me. I think a game against Susan Wagner is important. It’s good for us. We can dial in for the playoffs.”

JFK opened the game by forcing Clinton to punt. Using good field position, Cruz hit senior tight end Cristian Perez with a 13-yard pass. Several plays later, Caldwell ran for a six-yard touchdown at the 8:23 mark of the first quarter. Cruz added the two-point conversion for an 8-0 Knights lead.

Emotions were high throughout the game, with a Clinton player ejected in the first quarter for allegedly throwing punches. There was a brief skirmish, but order was quickly restored amidst increased security.

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