Athlete of the Month: Gabe Gonzales

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross veteran basketball coach Al Callejas informed his players of his lung cancer diagnosis recently and his team immediately responded.

Led by junior guard-forward Gabe Gonzales, the Crusaders defeated Carbondale Area, 52-42, on Monday, Jan. 24, after noticing their coach shaved his head before a routine practice the previous Saturday. Gabe led the scoring with 17 points. Kaeden Carr and Will Kittrel each added 11 points for the Crusaders.

When coach Callejas walked into practice Saturday, Jan. 22, he was wearing a cap to hide his shaved head. When he removed the cap, his fight against lung cancer hit the players hard.

The next day every member of the Holy Cross basketball team showed their support for Coach Callejas by shaving their heads.

When the team took the court against Carbondale Area, the intense and fiery coach was brought to tears as each player was announced one-by-one.

Callejas, 67, and his family learned of the diagnosis this past October and he informed the team in early January. He started radiation and chemotherapy in early January. The treatments will continue and cause him to lose his hair. He thus shaved his head, but vowed to continue coaching, because “you finish what you start.”

Gonzales has been one of the leaders of the team. He is fifth in Lackawanna League Division III in scoring, averaging 12.9 points per game. He is third in the league in free throw percentage at .778.

The Crusaders continued to up their game with a 52-45 upset win over Mid Valley, Thursday, Jan. 27. The loss dropped Mid Valley to 13-3. Holy Cross upped its record to 10-5, including 5-2 in the league. It was a balanced Holy Cross scoring attack with Gabe and Logan Tierney each scoring 14 points and Will Kittrell and Kaeden Carr each adding 12 points each.

Son of Melissa Gonzales, Gabe is a two-year member of the Holy Cross basketball team.

He talked about the entire team’s support for Coach Callejas. “He is showing us support when he keeps coming to practice and coaching us,” Gabe said. “He believes in finishing what you start. He is there for us, so we want to be there for him. We all got haircuts and shaved our heads because he had the confidence to take off his cap. We wanted to show him our support.

“He wants us to keep pushing like he does. We will fight right along with him. We want to put a big smile on his face by winning.

“We are pushing, working harder and more motivated than ever to win for coach Callejas. We are in this fight with him.”

Gabe, a reflective young man, talked about what it takes for him to excel in high school basketball.

“The number one thing is you need to have confidence in yourself. Don’t be fearful. If you conquer fear, you can do anything in life.”

The hard-nosed junior said he has learned a lot from Coach Callejas. “I learned all the fundamentals of basketball from him. He pushes that. But he also prepares us for life after basketball. That is his biggest lesson.”

The talented sharp-shooter said his mom is his biggest role model. “My mom raised me by herself. She is everything to me. She has the biggest impact in my life. She has worked so hard. I saw her work for 12 years in different salons before she opened one of her own recently. She co-owns Nook Salon on Potter Street in Dunmore. I am so proud of her.”

Gabe has a 3.3 academic average at Holy Cross. He would like to attend college locally and become a physical therapist. His favorite musical artist is Drake.

He said there is great improvement in the Holy Cross team since the beginning of the year. “The defense and chemistry of the team is so much better. I like how we get everyone involved now. Anyone is capable of taking the open shot. We are very team-oriented. We have confidence in everyone. The chemistry is great.

“Our goal is to keep improving as a team. We want to win the league and district titles and go as far as possible in the state playoffs

Well spoken and optimistic, Gabe said he is appreciative of his years so far at Holy Cross. “I came in my freshman year as a transfer from Dunmore. At first it was a culture shock coming from a public school, but I soon made the transition and fit in. It’s been great. The faculty, staff and my teammates are the best. I have made a lot of great friends here.”

Athlete of the Month: Ron Prislupski

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross junior soccer player Ron Prislupski has a formula for achieving success.

And he is using it to his benefit, 

Son of Ron and Katie Prislupski, the All-Regional junior soccer player credits his dad with the formula.

“My dad always tells me to visualize success,” he said.

“So I always arrive an hour before a soccer match and go out on the field and practice plays. During the time I am out there, I visualize what I am going to do in the match. I practice my moves. I visualize success. My dad also teaches me to be humble. And being humble and having humility also leads to success.”¬†

Named the Times-Tribune Soccer Performer of the Year, the talented Holy Cross junior was named to the Pennsylvania Boys Soccer Coaches All-State team. He was also the Lackawanna League Division II Player of the Year.

A second time All-Regional selection, he smashed school and Lackawanna League scoring records by netting 72 goals and now has a school record 110 for his career. He totaled 17 assists.

With great speed to beat defenders, he has ball skills and the vision to go through traffic and is a highly accurate shooter and passer.

He led the Crusaders to their first District 2 soccer title since 2009 and a state playoff berth.

He led the nation in goals per game.

An unselfish soccer performer, the scholar-athlete also excels in the classroom with a 4.0 academic average. His best academic subject is Math.

A three-year soccer performer at Holy Cross, he was named to the Lackawanna League Coaches All-Star team as a freshman.

A member of Student Council and the National Honor Society, he is a two-year member of the Holy Cross track and field team. He earned a silver medal in the 800 relay and bronze medal in the 800 meter run,

Well spoken and articulate, Ron said he wants to play soccer on the collegiate level. “I want to major in finance in college and play soccer. I will choose a college where those two go hand in hand. Beyond that, I would like to play soccer on a professional level.

“My immediate goal is to help lead Holy Cross to a state soccer title next year.” 

A hard worker and confident, Ron said Holy Cross soccer coach Joe Dodgson is teaching him a lot. “He says it all starts with a game plan. He tells us we have the talent to get the job done. He tells us not to get frustrated and good things will happen.”

The motivated junior who plays the striker position on the soccer team, said he was excited when he heard on Thanksgiving day about being named Performer of the Year. “I was very happy. It is a great award. It was also nice to see my teammate Drew Smith being named with me to the All-Region team as a midfielder. That was equally exciting news.”

Ron, polite in nature, said he enjoys music and would like to see Drake in concert.

He is thoroughly enjoying his experience at Holy Cross. “I love it,” he said. “Coming here is one of the best decisions I ever made in my life. The teachers, students, coaches and administration here are all so friendly and helpful. They all contribute to your success. 

“It is like one big family.” 

Holy Cross’s Tierney Sets School Rushing Record in Win Over Montrose¬†

By Steve Svetovich

Holy Cross junior standout Logan Tierney set the school’s single season rushing record in the Crusaders 36-0 win over Montrose Friday, Oct. 29, at Montrose.

The talented back now has a Holy Cross single season record of 1,338 rushing yards. 

The win improved the Crusaders to 4-6 overall, with a 1-3 mark in Division IV.

The junior sprinted for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in the Lackawanna Football Conference Division IV win over Montrose.

Tierney bolted for 128 yards in the first half alone as the Crusaders built a commanding 28-0 lead.

On his second carry of the third quarter, he burst through the right side for a 7-yard gain and the school record.

The stalwart back set a goal earlier this season to rush for 1,000 yards while helping his team win games.

He has more than exceeded that goal. 

Holy Cross first year head football coach Joe Giorgio called his record-breaking junior back a tremendous football player on both sides of the ball. “He’s a special player.”

During the Crusaders first scoring drive, Tierney carried the pigskin on five of the first eight plays before Holy Cross quarterback Nate Cobley hit Bobby Staples for an eight-yard touchdown and an 8-0 lead followed by a two-point conversion run by Tierney with 3:14 left in the first quarter. 

Tierney’s first touchdown came on a one-yard plunge on the Crusaders next possession. 

Montrose then drove inside the Holy Cross 10 mostly due to two long completions from Hudson Aukema to Nate Porter. 

Holy Cross ended the drive with Sean Herbert intercepting an Aukema pass attempt.

Tierney then carried the football six times in the Crusaders next drive. He capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown bolt which gave the Crusaders a 20-0 lead following a failed two-point conversion attempt with 7:38 left in the half. 

The Meteors fumbled on its next possession granting Holy Cross the ball on the Montrose 10. Cobley then hit Jonathan Jones for his second touchdown pass as Holy Cross built a 28-0 halftime lead after a Cobley two-point conversion run. 

Tierney piled up 34 more yards rushing on the Crusaders first drive of the second half. 

Nick Cabets finished off the drive by plunging in from one yard out for a touchdown. Holy Cross converted on a two-point conversion run and had a 36-0 lead with 2:45 left in the third quarter. 

The stingy Holy Cross defense continued to hold Montrose scoreless for the rest of the contest. 

The win was the Crusaders first shutout since Oct. 15, 2015, against Columbia-Montour Vo-Tech. It was the team’s first shutout against a Lackawanna Football Conference opponent since Oct. 16, 2010, when the Crusaders shutout Mid Valley.