Ten months removed from a heartbreaking end to their perfect regular season, the Christ the King Royals football squad is off to another hot start ahead of their Saturday showdown against the St. Anthony’s Friars.
To this point, the royals stand at 2-0 on the season after picking up wins against Xavier and last week at Poly Prep.
In their season opener on September 10against Xavier High, which ended in a 24-12 Royal victory, the Middle Village-based unit picked up right back where they left off last year with an effort spearheaded by their stout defense.
The Royals have allowed just a combined 25 points in their first two games.
Last season, the Royals only allowed 12.5 points per game, and head coach Jason Brown says that defense has been key in this early portion of the season.
“Defense has been our rock so far, it’s been very solid,” Brown said. “Anthony Lang, Jonathan Coste, Kylon Coombs, Randy Pringle, Nick Hunter and Anthony Young are all guys who’ve been big for us. The season is going as we expected.
The front part of our schedule is very tough,” he added, “but if we get past it, sky’s the limit.”
As a result of the Royals falling short of a Catholic League Championship last year, in a game Coach Brown and crew feel they should’ve won, the simple message the third-year varsity head coach has been trying to get across is to “finish.”
The word is even embedded on the back of their Royal football helmets as a reminder.
“That’s going to be our motto until the day I’m no longer coaching,” Brown said. “It’s absolutely because of what happened last year. We need to finish, it’s very important.”
One major adjustment that Royals football is tackling thus far is getting new starting quarterback Demetrius Wilson adjusted to his new role.
Last year the King offense was led by David Navas, who threw 12 touchdowns to only two interceptions on the season. Navas, who now plays ball at Chestnut Hill College in Pennsylvania, leaves some pretty sizable shoes for Wilson to fill.
Coach Brown provided a level of optimism in regards to his junior quarterback, who is 17-of-31 with 291 passing yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions so far this season.
“He’s learning the offense, he’s very athletic,” Brown said of Wilson, who also has 29 rushing yards and a rushing TD to his credit. “One’s he gets it, sky’s the limit. It’s just a matter of him getting it.”
Needless to say that the ground game is essential for a team that averaged 227.3 rushing yards per contest last season. To return one of those core members is even more critical, especially when considering he was third in yardage and led the team in touchdowns.
Siddiq Muhammad, now a senior, ran for 403 yards on 31 carries (team best 13 yards per carry) and scored 11 touchdowns in eight 2015 appearances. Muhammad missed the season opener against Xavier but returned with a vengeance at Poly Prep, torching the defense for 128 yards on 12 carries.
“He’s going to be very important this season, he had a great game,” coach said. “At times he was pressing and trying to do too much. He had two fumbles, but we’re looking for him to do big things.”
In what coach Brown describes as a good barometer for his boys, the royals’ upcoming contest against St. Anthony’s will take place at Franklin K. Lane at 1 p.m. on September 24. Typically a quality football squad, the Friars are coming off a 48-29 road win at Chaminade High School, putting them at 1-1 on the young season.
“I expect nothing but the best from them,” Coach Brown said of the pending match-up. “It’s going to be a good test to see where our program is.”
Follow Bryan Fonseca on Twitter at @BryanFonsecaNY.