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High Expectations For Senior-laden Hawks

For most of the league’s history, Monsignor Martin football has been made up of two divisions.

It’s a setup that has worked well for the Cardinal O’Hara Hawks as they have won all 11 of their championships in that format, including claiming the last six Division A (small school) titles before the league went to one division in 2011.

This year Monsignor Martin will return to two divisions; Class A (large schools) will include Canisius, St. Joe’s and St. Francis and Class B (small schools) with Bishop Timon, St. Mary’s of Lancaster and O’Hara.

“Yea we’re excited, we did want the chance to beat the bigger schools (for the overall title),” Hawks coach Shaquille Dudley said, “but us being in Class B gives us a chance to be top dog. We can play smaller schools like us and compete to be one of the top small schools in the area.”

The change couldn’t have come at a better time for the Hawks who return eight starters from a competitive 2017 team.

“I’m very excited about this year,” Dudley said. “When these seniors came in as freshmen I knew this was a special group. We have about ten seniors. That means we have maturity and confidence. I have guys that are accountable and can lead this team.”

Senior QB CJ Masters will be one of those seniors leading the way in 2018. The quarterback’s junior campaign was cut short when he suffered a dislocated shoulder injury in Week 6 against St. Francis. He ended the year with over 500 yards passing and six touchdowns.

“He has a very high IQ and gets the ball out of his hands quickly,” Dudley said of Masters. “He’s a master of the offense and this year we’re going to give him some freedom to run it. One of the keys to success this season will be keeping him upright and healthy.”

At 6′ 3″, 300 pounds, senior Stephen Boyd Jr. was a force to be reckoned with on both the offensive and defensive lines last year. The lineman had 49 tackles and proved to be a strong blocker earning him recognition as one of two Trench Trophy Underclassman of the Year Award winners in December.

“He’s a very strong and intelligent kid,” Dudley said. “A National Honor Society-type kid. He knows what both the offense and defense are doing. For being 300 pounds, he can really move.”

In the backfield for O’Hara will be seniors Brandon Broadnax and Jamall Lewis Jr.

Broadnax was the Hawks’ leading rusher in 2017 with 701 yards and four touchdowns. He also made nine catches for 125 yards.

Lewis Jr. ran for 256 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He was a big piece of the Hawks’ defense leading the team with 86 tackles last season.

Also coming back is last year’s top receiver WR/DB Jermaine Haynes Jr. He finished 2017 with 15 catches for 364 yards.

The Hawks are also expecting big things from seniors TE/DL Zach Randall, WR/DB Matthew Buckley, OL/LB Remir Velazquez and OL/DL Vincent Russo.

O’Hara loses a pair of four-year All-Catholic players in TE/DL Michon Dudley and QB/WR Nasir Benton, who stepped in for the injured Masters last season.

Dudley has been impressed by sophomore transfer OT Jack O’Rouke so far this preseason.

While the Hawks would certainly like to win a MMAA Class B Championship this year, they’re putting their focus on getting the little things down first.

“The kids aren’t thinking that far ahead,” Dudley said. “We’re thinking more day-to-day, week-to-week. The players are focused on learning how to run their routes and learning schematics. We’re more focused on short-term goals; not on winning a championship.”

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