New York High School: James McHale

CHSFL AA: Fordham 22, Kellenberg 21

November, 19, 2011
UNIONDALE, N.Y –As soon as Fordham Prep took possession midway through the fourth quarter, coach Pete Gorynksi started going through his playsheet. He knew from then that if the Rams scored he would skip the extra kick and go for two.

In the end, he looked brilliant after Logan Williamson found sophomore running back Jarred Moorer in the back of the end zone for a two-point conversion with 18 seconds left that gave Fordham Prep a 22-21 victory over Kellenberg Saturday in the CHSFL Class “AA” championship game at Mitchel Field in Uniondale. It was the Rams’ first-ever ‘AA’ title.

“I had the play,” Gorynski said. “What was I going to do, go home with it?”

He wanted the win, not overtime. Gorynski refused to give Kellenberg’s Matt McDaniels the ball with any substantial amount of time on the clock. So when Williamson caught James McHale’s five-yard touchdown pass to put the Rams within a point, the coach already had the play ready.

“I knew he was going to call that play,” Moorer said. “We had been practicing it for three weeks.”

Moorer didn’t think the ball would come his way. Goranski called a halfback option. Williamson rolled out right. Moorer figured the ball would go to junior running back James Drago. But Kellenberg swarmed Drago, leaving Moorer all alone. Willamson found him but Moorer tripped and juggled the pass before securing it on his chest when he fell to the ground.

“I just heard the crowd roar and everyone picked me up,” Moorer said.

That’s how Moorer knew that he caught it.

Moorer, who stands 6-3, also plays on the varsity basketball team. When the game ended, Gorynski grabbed Moorer by the shoulders. Gorynski always teases Moorer about playing basketball. Gorynski’s daughter played at Lehigh. He calls it a girl’s sport.

“You’ve probably scored a lot of deuces in your life,” the coach said, “but wasn’t that the sweetest deuce you’ve ever scored.”

Moorer nodded. “It was coach. It really was," he said.

When the game started – McDaniels broke loose for an 80-yard score on the first play of the game – it showed all the makings of high-scoring game. But a huge defensive play set things up for Fordham Prep.

McDaniels had been practically unstoppable the entire game. The senior quarterback finished with 343 rushing yards and had already racked up 200 at halftime. Now he was marching the Firebirds downfield again with less than 10 minutes to play and his team up 21-14.

But Fordham Prep senior linebacker JC Sullivan stuffed McDaniels, on fourth down-and-4 for a 3-yard loss. It was the third time the Rams stopped McDaniels from gaining positive yards in the game.

Moorer might have come down with the game-winning catch but Williamson was the hero for Fordham Prep. The junior had two rushing scores, caught the touchdown pass that set up the two-point conversion, then made the pass to Moorer that won the game.

“It was just a relief,” Williamson said. “I mean, I’m not a quarterback. I like to think I can throw the ball but when he caugh that ball, I just knew it was over. I knew we had it."

There’s no wonder Moorer thought the pass would go to Drago, the same reason Drago was double-teamed in the end zone. The Rams’ junior carried the bulk of the offense, finishing with 27 carries and 141 yards. McHale completed 14-of-21 passes for 145 passing yards.

For Kellenberg, it makes the second straight season the Firebirds lost in the "AA" final. Last year, Stepinac tagged them, 41-7. This game left a little more sting.

“We weren’t in that game,” Kellenberg coach Kevin Hanifan said. “This game we were in it the whole way. We were right there with 18 seconds left and made one mistake.”

Game of the week: No. 1 St. A's at No. 7 Fordham

September, 23, 2011
Let's be honest: Both quarterbacks want to be the lone starter. It's only natural.

Fordham Prep sophomore quarterback James McHale and junior signal caller Jack Trimble both would like that chance to run the show themselves, be the one quarterback who leads the Rams into battle.

They don't get that chance, though. Instead of an one-man operation, they play in a dual-quarterback system, each getting their chance to shine but still having to yield time to the other quarterback as well.

"It works out," McHale said. "Jack's a great quarterback and we're working hard and we can get it done together."

For the first time in head coach Pete Gorynski's 15 years, the No. 7 Rams are using the dual-quarterback system and it's been successful as they are off to a 2-0 start. The pair has combined for 433 passing yards and 97 rushing yards and three combined touchdowns.

McHale and Trimble will need to be at their best Saturday night when Fordham Prep hosts defending league champion and top-ranked St. Anthony's at 7 p.m at Coffey Field in the Bronx. St. Anthony's ended Fordham Prep's season in the semifinals last year.

"This is definitely our statement game. If we beat these guys, people will know last year wasn't just a one-hit wonder," Trimble said. "I'm talking to the seniors saying if McHale does well, I do well and our defense holds up, we got a good shot."

Gorynski will be the first to say he would prefer not to use a tag team combination at quarterback.

Heading into this year, with the two then-underclassmen vying for the starting job, Gorynski told them if he couldn't come to the conclusion that one was clearly better, he might use the dual-quarterback system.

Both quarterbacks tried to earn the gig, with McHale mentioning a summer clinic as a chance for one of them to create separation, but the two stayed neck and neck with each other. It wasn't a case where neither quarterback played well enough to warrant a starting role, but they both proved they deserved it.

"Looking at their different skills, they both possess different positive attributes that I started to view it as an opportunity to diversify our attack," Gorynski said. "It hopefully gives people a little bit of a hard time preparing for us because they have to prepare for two guys now."

Their system is simple. McHale runs the passing attack while Trimble controls the running game and the option. McHale starts the first quarter, Trimble comes in for the second, although McHale gets the two-minute drill. Depending on the game situation, the second half can go to either quarterback. Last week against Holy trinity, McHale received most of the playing time in the second half in the win.

The two quarterbacks believe this system allows them to push each other to do better. If one is leading the charge, the other has to be there with him carrying his load of the work. Neither guy wants to be the one who had the bad game. It's a friendly competition.

"During the games, if I see him in the first drive, the first quarter, going and scoring a touchdown, that just makes me wants to go in right away and score a touchdown just as much," Trimble said.

So far, McHale is 18-of-39 for 345 yards and two touchdowns this season while Trimble is 3-of-6 for 88 yards with 97 yards rushing and one touchdown. It's not the system Gorynski wanted to use, but the results are there.

"They've exceeded my expectations," Gorynski said. "Both kids have taken their skill set and maximized their opportunities."