By Sean Lynch
Section 9 Football Insider Staff
Monroe-Woodbury quarterback Steven Campione left Dietz Stadium with a familiar feeling after their Section 9 Class AA semifinal loss to Newburgh Free Academy last season.
It was the Crusaders second consecutive postseason loss to the Goldbacks.
“It’s a bitter feeling that doesn’t go away any time soon,” Campione said.
He injured his leg late in the first quarter, but stayed in the game and completed 14-out-of-26 passes for 159 yards in the 42-20 loss. Campione had a breakout year in his debut season as the Crusaders starting quarterback. He threw for 1,256 yards, 16 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He also rushed for 589 yards and a team-high nine touchdowns.
Campione experienced the first postseason loss against Newburgh Free Academy as a sophomore backup to Richie Martucci in the 2016 Class AA final. He remembers vividly what happened that game. The Crusaders recovered a fumble late in the fourth quarter that gave them a chance to win the game but a sack killed their momentum and they turned the ball over on downs losing by three points.
“One of our biggest victories last season was beating Newburgh in the regular season,” Campione said. “Our team knew we would probably play them in the postseason again so beating them was a huge confidence booster.”
All seven Class AA football programs return their starting quarterbacks from last season. Campione has one goal in mind — he wants to be better than all of them.
“I don’t want to be in fourth best quarterback in the section, I want to be the best,” Campione said. “I’ve been working on my arm strength a lot lately and I’ll continue in the summer. One of my weaknesses last year was hitting my receiver in stride on the deep ball; it won’t be a weakness this year.”
Campione won’t have 6-foot-5 wide receiver Johnny McCormick to throw to or shifty running back Bradley Byrnes to hand off to next season, but he’s still confident the younger guys can step up and make a name for themselves. “We have four guys ready to take snaps out of the backfield,” he said. “We lost all our receivers except for Jack (Dembia), but I’m excited to throw to some new faces and I’m eager to work with them this summer.”
Monroe-Woodbury also return four-out-of-five offensive lineman from last season, or as Campione calls them“the guys that help me stay upright.” The Crusaders averaged 202.3 rushing yards per game last season, third in Section 9 Class AA.
Like most football players, Campione can’t wait to play under the lights again.
“Nothing beats playing at home on a Friday night and feeling an adrenaline rush before game-time,” he said. “I want to look back at my senior year with no regrets and I’m ready to do whatever it takes to help our team be successful.”