Holy Cross Players in Learning Stages as Football Resumes

By Steve Svetovich

After a one year suspension due to lack of participation, Holy Cross head football coach Dave Gatto build together enough players to field a team this season.

“Nobody figured we would be playing this year, but we are,” said coach Gatto, now in his third year as Crusader head football coach after serving four years an an assistant.

There are 21 players on the Holy Cross roster this season, with only a five-game schedule due to COVID-19. 

“We are expecting a couple more players to join the team,” said Gatto. “Most of the guys who came out for this year’s team never played before. We have only two seniors, eight juniors, seven sophomores and four freshmen. We were trying to get to 19 or 20 players to field a team and we did. 

Holy Cross coach Dave Gatto

“It is going to be a learning experience.”

Coach Gatto is assisted by Vince Coviello, Chris Coviello, Joe Giorgio, Jake Gatto, T.J. McDonnell and Jim Talarico. 

“I have a great coaching staff.” 

Holy Cross lost its first game of the season, 56-7, to powerhouse Lackawanna Trail, Friday, Oct, 2, at Clinton Township.

Holy Cross scored late in the contest on a two yard touchdown burst by Wyett Walchak. A Logan Tierney 39-yard kickoff return set the Crusaders up at the Lackawanna Trail 35. A personal foul penalty aided the touchdown drive. Walchak booted the extra point.

The Crusaders will play another powerhouse, Old Forge, Saturday, October 10. Holy Cross will finish the short season against Montrose, Holy Redeemer and Susquehanna.

Junior Sean Herbert, who never played football before this season, is the team’s quarterback. “He’s a good athlete and a smart kid,” said Gatto. “He can move and he’s learning a lot. He never played before, so we are happy for him.”

Herbert worked out on conditioning and lifting with the football team last season before the decision was made to not field a team for 2019. 

He worked out on his own getting ready for 2020 and even served as a recruiter getting enough other students to suit up this season in order to field a team.

Other players on the team include senior lineman Robert Kane, senior fullback/linebacker Brandon Ludovici, junior wide receiver Zach Luciani, junior linemen Nick Cabets, Matt Tucker and Gurpreet Lahl, junior backs Gavyn Grems and Cameron Moczulski, sophomore tight end/middle linebacker Tierney, sophomore two-way tackle Andrew Naim, sophomore center Vince Tananna, sophomore guard Cody Schoonover, sophomore running backs Walczak and Fred Strein, sophomore tight end Bobby Staples, freshman tackle Chris Petrucci and freshmen receivers Kevin Whelen, Connor Art and Brandon Art.

Holy Cross continues to play its home games at Monsignor Crotti Field at Saint Anthony’s Playground, Dunmore.

Holy Cross has a male enrollment of 109 students.

“We re a very young team,” said coach Gatto. “Most of these kids never played football before, but they really wanted to play. They are willing to learn. 

“We were willing to throw them into the water. The attitude has been great so far. Our first two opponents are extremely tough, but we feel the team will be very competitive the final three games.

“We are a small school. Last season, a few of the seniors left. The perfect storm hit us and knocked us out, so we could not field a team. 

“Our principal, Ben Tolerico, was in favor of us fielding a team this year. We put a team of 21 together and expect a couple more. So we have something going for now and the future here at Holy Cross. And the enthusiasm and attitude has been great. They are learning week by week.” 

Holy Cross plays in the Lackawanna Football Conference Division IV.

Logan Tierney Aiming to Lead Holy Cross to Respectability

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross sophomore Logan Tierney plays several roles on the Holy Cross Crusaders football team. 

He is a two-way starter at middle linebacker and tight end. And he also returns kicks.

A 39-yard return on a kickoff helped lead Holy Cross to its first score of this season in a 55-7 loss to tough Lackawanna Trail. 

Tierney is one of 21 players currently on this year’s team. Holy Cross did not field a team last season due to not having enough players. 

He also starts as a power forward for veteran coach Al Callejas on the Holy Cross basketball team. 

Son of Angela and Thomas Tierney, Logan has an impressive 3.3 academic average at Holy Cross. His favorite subject is history. 

The sophomore scholar-athlete said his parents are his biggest supporters.

“No matter whether I have a good game or bad game, they are always behind me and always have my back. If it’s a bad game, they tell me I will bounce back the next one.”

He talked about the potential growth of the team and the football program at Holy Cross. “We are going to be a decent team this season and in the future. We need to be patient and develop as a team. We certainly have the potential to develop this year and in the future.”

Logan said he is learning a lot from Holy Cross head football coach Dave Gatto. “He teaches us that no matter what type of adversity or road blocks we have as a team, that we just have to stick together as a team and push through it.” 

Unlike many of his current teammates who have no prior football experience, Logan played midget football in Valley View leagues. He has grown to love the game.

He enjoys playing the middle linebacker position on defense and said to excel you need to practice tackling, move well and be strong. He said you need to both block and catch well to be a good tight end in high school football. 

Logan said he likes Holy Cross a lot and wants to graduate with honors and “absolutely” play football in college. 

“Those are the goals,” he said.

He enjoys listening to music in his spare time and particularly likes the Zach Brown Band who he saw in concert. 

Logan said he was “very ready” to play football this season after his school’s one year hiatus. “I could not wait to get started. We will get better week by week. We need to be patient. More than half of the kids on our team never played before. I think only seven played before. But we will still work hard to get better and compete.”

Athlete of the Month: Leahy O’Conner

Athlete of the Month - Leahy O'Connor2By Steve Svetovich

Leahy O’Connor knows how to seize an opportunity. Take his experience at Holy Cross High School, for instance. Leahy enjoyed Holy Cross to the fullest.

Son of James and April O’Connor, Leahy, 18, was a four-year member of both the baseball and basketball teams at Holy Cross. When he wasn’t practicing or playing a game, Leahy concentrated on academics and will graduate with a highly impressive 3.9 grade point average.

Leahy will attend college at the University of Pittsburgh where he will study pre-law in the fall.

“I have been looking at the University of Pittsburgh for a long time,” he said. “My dad and my aunt both went to colleges in Pittsburgh. I have been to Pittsburgh a lot and love the city. I am really looking forward to it.”

The scholar-athlete learned his work ethic from his parents. “My parents taught me the value of hard work and about how to overcome failure in order to succeed,” Leahy said.

Leahy was named honorable mention as a junior and was selected first-team all-league as a senior for basketball. 

Athlete of the Month LeahyHe averaged 12.5 points per game as a small forward this past year for the Crusaders under veteran basketball coach Al Callejas.

He scored 650 career points at Holy Cross.

A superb center fielder on the baseball team, he batted .273 as a junior. He was disappointed over the cancellation of his senior baseball season due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was devastating not to play baseball,” he said. “We thought our team would strongly compete for the league and district title and even go further. It was tough not to be able to play as a senior.”

The hard working senior said he learned a lot from Holy Cross basketball coach Al Callejas. “He teaches you how to overcome difficulty. And that is how you become a success.”

Leahy also enjoyed playing for Holy Cross veteran baseball coach Sandy Menichetti. “He is a lot of fun to play for. He teaches us how to enjoy what we are doing while still working hard. He wants us to have fun, but still give our best effort.”

Leahy said his best academic subject is English. He is a member of Student Council, the National Honor Society and the History Club at Holy Cross.

He is very proud of the Holy Cross basketball team’s achievements this past year in winning the league and district titles and advancing to the second round in the state playoffs.

“Our hard work really paid off,” he said. “We worked hard the entire summer to get ready for the season. We were in the gym 10 months of the year working extremely hard. Our team success is really special because we put in the effort and it paid off.”

Leahy, who is a huge fan of the late Tom Petty, said he loved his four years at Holy Cross.

“It was just a great experience,” he said. “The atmosphere is the best. Everybody accepted me there. Seniors became friends with me when I was a freshman there. Likewise, I made sure to make friends with the freshmen when I was a senior. 

“That is the kind of school it is. It is close knit.”

And Leahy is not the kind of a young man who sits still. He is keeping busy during the COVID-19 pandemic studying and working. He works at a gas station in Archbald and does some landscaping work at Marywood University. 

“I’m trying to save some money for college,” he said. “I’m looking forward to Pittsburgh.”