Campione’s big day leads M-W back to Class AA championship game

By Doug Johnston
Special to Section 9 Football Insider

Kingston — Monroe-Woodbury quarterback Steven Campione was too much for Pine Bush’s defense as he put up five touchdowns (three passing and two rushing) in a 58-33 Section 9 Class AA semifinal win on Sunday at Dietz Stadium.

“All around it was a good performance, we executed well on both defense and offense,” Campione said. “Offensive line is where it all starts. The receivers made their catches. Everything just fell into place.”

Monroe-Woodbury’s win set up a rematch with rival Newburgh for the Class AA championship at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Dietz. Newburgh (8-1) defeated the Crusaders 21-17 earlier this month.

Against Pine Bush, it was evident that Campione was going to have a dazzling game after the game’s opening drive. He drove the Crusaders down field while going six-for-six on the drive. The drive was capped by a 21-yard touchdown run by Dylan Wynn to make it 7-0 with 8:41 left in the first quarter.

Campione completed 19 of 22 passes for 237 yards and connected on his first 10 passes of the game. He added 176 rushing yards on 12 carries in, perhaps, the best game of his career and added two touchdowns. Jack Dembia, Danny Abrahams and Alex Jaoshvili all caught touchdown passes for the Crusaders.

Monroe-Woodbury’s offense put up 590 yards of offense and Pine Bush had 499. Campione’s close friend, Pine Bush quarterback Haakon Meland, also had a big game. He rushed for 179 yards on 29 carries with a touchdown. Fullback Xavier Martinez added 112 yards and three touchdowns for Pine Bush (4-5), last year’s Class AA runner-ups.

Monroe-Woodbury (6-3) will now focus its attention on Newburgh, the four-time defending Class AA champion. The Goldbacks have won six in a row against Monroe-Woodbury. Saturday serves as the latest edition of the best rivalry in Section 9. Newburgh vs. Monroe-Woodbury is usually the biggest game of the year.

The rivalry goes back two decades. Back in 1997, NFA defeated Monroe-Woodbury 20-14 to win the Class AA championship. The teams’ would meet for the title for the next four years in a row and seven of the next nine years. Since ‘97, Monroe-Woodbury and NFA have battled for the Class AA championship 13 times with Newburgh winning seven times.

“We formed a great bond over the years and just don’t want to break it now,” Campione said. “Newburgh is someone that we looked at since January, when the weight room work went in. We know what it all leads up to and were going to go out there and give our best performance and see what happens.”